Friday, September 4, 2009

Satanism, Scabanti, Shame.


In Standard Nine. 1988, I am expelled for Satanism. For 2 days, until my father makes a deal, makes them take me back for a caning, six of the best, then spends the evening with my grandmother’s sewing kit making me a pair of underpants padded.

I wrote an ironic essay on the basic hypocrisy of Christianity. Including local examples, the younger Religious education teacher, married, who we had spotted kissing a maths teacher by the wood work room, we thought, my cousin Terry, Christian guitarist with too much happiness for my liking at that point, some preacher caught “Fucking a Whore” as I, bad mistake, profanity, destroying my argument, put it. Early signs of my predilection for always striking to close to home. The essay was theoretical, realized then that I couldn’t hand it in, left it on my desk, someone else did for me. Early signs of self sabotage.

Let me say this now, as I have said before and said again. I know my father, my mother loved me, I know my father did, was human, struggled to express these things, none of what followed is his fault, really, really not. But then I felt the gap. Thought I had created it, acted like I didn’t care, for reasons still unknown to me.


When compiling the memories I felt I should explore it came to my recall the story of Jimmy Scabanti. Now when it comes to the moment that I must write this memory down, I find it dim around the edges. Something to do with Kevin and a fight at school, getting home late or detention, clearly it was Kevin’s fault but I could not blame him, at them moment of truth before my parents I blurted out “It was Jimmy Scabanti”, who I then proceeded to describe as an Italian boy from “the wrong side of the tracks”, Scabanti was mean, but through no fault of his own, his father had abandoned his abusive and crippled mother and so on, he was the perfect scapegoat. Soon the legend of Jimmy Scabanti grew, Kevin and I used him for any situation we need to. Dirty school clothes? Fight with Jimmy Scabanti. Out of pocket money? Bought food for the Scabanti family. Need to go to the sports club disco? Must help Jimmy with his homework and boy, is he stupid, it might take all night,

But Scabanti grew out of our control, others started to use him too, and parents do talk, soon there were conflicting reports of the nature of the Scabanti family doing the rounds and one morning after Kevin and I had been out separately and presented different Scrabanti-isms, his parents, mine and another set were talking at the local takeaway, compared notes and came home determined to finally have a talking to Jimmy Scabanti’s mother. We could not produce her. The artifice collapsed. For years afterward anytime anything couldn’t be explained, Kevin would blame it on Scabanti.


Just after Christmas, my parents are away. Amanda and I are alone in the house. I think, there may have been a party, there may have been other people, but we are in my bedroom, fumbling. It was not how it should have been, this was before the break up of course. I am poking around in her panties, feeling proud that I have finally got this far and ashamed at myself for not loving her. I feel dirty for lying and giddy with power, the contradiction in feelings puts me in an unknown, indefinable place. It’s not so much that I enjoy being caught between the two, but that I know I can never fully understand it. The feeling does not last for long, the power and lust take over momentarily and then I am flooded with shame.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

3.10 Phillipa & Amanda


There were two girls. One I tortured myself with teen love for, one I ended up with. Let’s invoke that literary cliché and say, Let’s call them Phillipa and Amanda. They can correct me if I am wrong in doing this, saying this.

I wrote a seventy-two page poem for Phillipa, I was 16, she probably younger. I told her she could only read it in the distance, when she was twenty one. I was young, I was foolish. I fell for Phillipa, deeply, out of some literary duty to being a teen, isolated, emo in a blazer. The Smiths to blame for my unrequited love fantasy. I can’t quite recall how it happened, Phillip O was friends with a girl, or seeing a girl called Simone, or was he seeing Maxine? Anyway. Philip was in the art class with me, a surfer, wanted to be, ended up, an architect, with Maxine, I think, point is, he was cool. In that he got girls, had a crude surfers humour (Body Boarder, whatever, this distinction reduced them to nerds in the end), but was aloof and educated. Unlike Phillip Hunt, Hunt the Cunt as, I couldn’t understand, they called him, I didn’t want to be like Phillip O, I just wanted to understand what made him so attractive to women. They displayed their brand of toilet humour openly forever homoerotically, scatologically, pissing and shiting in each others board bags, vomiting, fucking each others girlfriends, getting changed together, all that crap so enhanced by my, via Morrissey, discovery of Oscar Wilde and my, via Hunt, my discovery of Genet. Lost Track.

Phillipa Green.
Spring, Summer, Phillipa Green, do you like Ice Cream?
Was the first line in the long adolescent ramble, I spent nights walking the long distance hitching, cadging rides, sleeping in the park once, to just pop over, was in the area kind of visit, using the older sister, via Philip to see Phillipa. Olive skin’d little Phil, round faced beauty of an adolescent fantasy, long neck, eye lashes, sharp words, don’t even think about it attitude.

That’s it. Phillip was seeing Tracy, Simone’s friend, Maxine’s friend, carry on.

Phillipa would come out to the under 18 nights at Nello’s, I’d stand around on the edge of the crowd, looking up at Hunt, standing next to Frankie, who was looking up at Hunt, next to Pseudo, who was looking up at Frankie, next to Russell who was copying Pseudo by looking up at Frankie, in our blazers and crazy ties and socks, Goss, hovering around skirting between fashion and surf and girls, us watching the fashion, the tide of girls, only Hunt and Frankie having access, being older, Frankie maintaining an Ironic Kerouac distance, Hunt, wanting to fuck them all and Fuck them All, talking about Rimbaud and me looking at Phillipa, talking to Surfers and over eighteen guys and all this around me and desperately wanting her, desperately on the road outside the eighties neon nightclub with the dancing cages and the Stock Aitkin and Waterman, and the cars slowing down, Umbilo boys shouting insults, calling us bum boys, Hunt, saying under his breath, just because they want some, to shock us, it registering but me, holding on to my Dorian Grey, wanting little Phil. It could only end badly. I mean, I was typing out a minor work of poetry on my spectrum, with my dot matrix printer.

Phillipa had a friend, a ball of Jewish energy. Oh, did I mention that all these girls were Jewish, all my early life all friends female all girlfriends Jewish, me hankering after my supposed heritage. Ananda. I called her Amanda because I was a WASP, simple. Somehow we end up, “going out” I think I had to actually ask her to be my girlfriend before I kissed her, I just wanted to kiss her, so I asked her to be my girlfriend. Kissed her on the beachfront at night on a hill, by the Tropicana hotel (later to return to this hotel for a drug deal and binge and failure) all lit up in yellow and green neon, feeling deliriously high, wandering through the promenade crowds, holding hands and saying nothing, wandering through the hotel lobby, watching the magician slash lounge pianist, through the crowds at Basement, floating did I say, floating, in the joy of the fact that I had worked out how to kiss girls, you asked them, they would always answer, even if the question wasn’t always plain, the answer either.

Phil seemed really happy for me. Hunt thought I was mad. We were standing in the LA hotel outside the door to the main dance floor club, across from the beer garden concrete, maintaining an ironic distance, him in cowboy boots, white Levi’s, red felt blazer, corduroy waistcoat, pocket chain, black shirt, long hair, black cowboy hat bad guy style, me in brown waistcoat made from floral upholstery, suede jarmins from Grey St, red dyed jeans, white shirt, so on, both books in our pocket, actually there to check out girls we couldn’t have, but could shock by quoting obscure French poets in their oxford translations. Hunt scared people, girls, girls pitied me when I tried the same moves, Hunt fascinated me, he had been a fashion model, now working as a photographer for a new fashion magazine and a trendy shop in town called ID3 where we would all hang out and pretend to know Mark Collins the model who owned it with Glady, try talk to Melanie, the girlfriend, who I was to later develop a crush on. Drink Horlicks and Honey milkshakes in the arcade.

Standing in the LA hotel, I tell Hunt about Ananda, he plainly says to me, have you slept with her yet, no have you fucked her. I’m 16, He’s 19, maybe. I am mortified. I know I should have. He says, you better, before she discovers that you’re in love with Green. I will not describe the distance or fumbling that took place on the blue embroidered bed cover that New Year eve. The drinking of gin from belly buttons, forced romantic that would haunt me. It felt like conquest, knew in the instant after, it was defeat.

I tried to maintain the relationship with Amanda. Eventually, I think it was her who said, why don’t you just break up with me. Why do we actually have to say it, I thought, isn’t it embarrassing enough. Said, Will you break up with me? No, you need to say you’re breaking up with me. Okay, I’m breaking up with you. Little Phil was not actually horrified, more dismayed, in a kind of, I thought I’d gotten rid of him kinda way. I will spare you the details of all the crushes that came after, always Lolita obsessed, Gina, Tarryn, even though not old enough, me. Always brown or olive, tanned, dark hair. Every little fucking obsession could be an entire novel, every day. But this is not a diatribe on teen love. I am taking you somewhere. My editor promises me, this all has a final point, a resting place, a moment for reflection, a final shucking off of stories, lies, a moment of truth. Promise.