It's been about a week since I started answering the question 'how are you going?' with the blunt answer 'I feel like shit, the world tastes like sawdust', or an entire Hamlet soliloquy (III) communicating more elegantly the world-is-sawdust feeling.
My friends now seem to have divided into three distinct categories:
1. The disbelievers
(not the band) but people who see me and hear what I am saying and then dismiss it as flippant word-vomit and carry on talking about their shoes, dog, band, ex-girlfriend or housemate.
2. The ignorers
They seem to listen to what I am saying and receive the information as truth but then decide it is irrelevant and carry on as normal. Spencer is leading the charge in this group (I) with Mr X a close but different kind of second. Mr X may in fact not be an ignorer but just a close-card-holder, it can be difficult to tell with him but then at other times he is jumping around all floppy and winsome like a four-year-old child. He is an odd mixture of warm and aloof.(II)
3. The warm lights in a dark world:
Two of my friends have been cheering me up and making me feel loved and welcome, for some reason this seems to make Spencer angry(I). These are the best kinds of friends, the ones who listen and then respond. I'm fortunate they have chosen a kind response but really any response is better than none.
(I) How do you solve a problem like Spencer?
He's not a complicated man. He thinks a lot, acts inappropriately a lot, occasionally deigns to write a song, plays in a band, drinks too much, deliberately says the wrong things and stays up too late. He's just like everyone else in the Inner West except that he is my friend and I might want to punch him in the face. Just once. Maybe.
You see last Friday night Spencer, R and I were sitting together at an after-party for a record launch. R was being deliberately kind to me but every time she said something Spencer would raise an eyebrow and suppress a smirk. I've known him too long to miss signals like that, to me it was the fair equivalent of a flashing neon sign. Ordinarily I might have just let it go, like the thousand other arch expressions, wry grins and outright sneers that Spencer produces in the course of any conversation, but not this time.
The combination of exhaustion and world-is-sawdust had me feeling vulnerable and raw enough to actually feel all of Spencer's slings and arrows. I am used to him being the first illustrate my shortcomings with an anecdote from his arsenal of my failings. He has a story about me for everything from bad dancing, interpersonal ineptitude, ignorance, bad taste in music, absence of fashion sense, being afraid of things, giving terrible speeches to general hard-hearted and fuckwittedness. I usually endure these stories with humour as most of the time they are not meant to sting.
This time Spencer's raised eyebrow seemed to indicate that R had no idea who she was talking about, that I was much more of a fuckwit than she suspected and that perhaps I wasn't worthy of being taken under her kind wing. This made me want to punch Spencer in the face for R's sake if not mine. R has seen me act appallingly often enough to have made an informed decision.
I wanted to perform a fluid ninjaesque leap across the table and punch him in the face whilst emitting loud volumes of violent yelling but all I did was leave the party. Since then I've been trying to talk with Spencer so I can work out if I do want to punch him or if he was just having one of those moments. I want to explain to him that he must have missed something in all those years of talking with me because I feel both more tender and more violent than he seems to understand. But you know, he's busy...
(II) A beginner's guide to impersonating Mr X.
First make yourself very tall, make your hair very tall, wear black-rimmed glasses and a Rolling Stones t-shirt.
1. Sit down quickly. Cross your long legs haughtily.
2. Ignore DS and stare at your telephone for at least three full minutes.
3.Turn suddenly and fully back to the conversation.
4.Smile disarmingly, reveal something personal, say something generous and kind.
5. Re-cross legs haughtily. Steal cigarette directly out of DS's hand without asking (smile disarmingly or act as though this is normal and everyone does it all the time).
6. Give cigarette back. Re-cross legs haughtily.
7. Ignore DS for at least three full minutes.
Repeat ad infinitum.
(III) An Entire Soliloquy from Hamlet
I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation
preuent your discouery of your secricie to the King and
Queene: moult no feather, I haue of late, but wherefore
I know not, lost all my mirth, forgone all custome of exercise;
and indeed, it goes so heauenly with my disposition;
that this goodly frame the Earth, seemes to me a sterrill
Promontory; this most excellent Canopy the Ayre,
look you, this braue ore-hanging firmament, this Maiesticall Roofe,
fretted with golden fire: why, it appeares no other thing
to mee, then a foule and pestilent congregation of vapours.
What a piece of work is a man, How noble in
Reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving
how express and admirable, In action how like an Angel!
in apprehension how like a god, the beauty of the
world, the paragon of animals. and yet to me, what is
this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no,
nor Woman neither; though by your smiling you seeme
to say so.
—The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (Act II, Scene ii, 285-300)
Additonal notes to be yelled out loud
A STERILE PROMONTORY!
RICHARD E. GRANT!
NO OTHER THING THAN A FOUL AND PESTILENT CONGREGATION OF VAPOURS!
I AM BOTH MORE VIOLENT AND MORE TENDER!
THIS EXCELLENT CANOPY THE AIR!
QUINTESSENCE OF DUST!
HUG ME YOU FUCKWITS! (because I can not shake of this feeling of doom and I have become afraid)
HUG ME YOU FUCKWITS!