Sunday, 14 November 2010

I'm good at melting things

I seem to be quite good at melting things. This isn't even a childhood story, this is something that just happened the other day.

I had just haphazardly attached together some scraps of material so that it vaguely resembled a sleeve cuff; a sewing sample for my fashion course. It looked horrible. "Pressing fixes everything," I said, optimistically, and I went to switch on the iron. Being incredibly lazy, I couldn't be arsed to get the ironing board out. I decided I'd just iron on the bed, it was relatively flat and sort of firmish - what could possibly go wrong?

Nothing actually went wrong at that point, except for the fact that the sewing sample refused to be ironed on account of the squishiness of the bed. I was still too lazy to get the ironing board out, despite the fact that it was roughly 4 metres away in a nearby cupboard, so I just transferred the fabric and the iron to the nearby floor. The carpet, I figured, was probably wool, which wouldn't melt. The mistake here was putting my trust into one of the many cheap pieces of tat that came with the house. This is the house that had a newspaper from 1953 and a dead bird in the fireplace, concealed only by a plywood panel (in my bedroom, might I add). This is the house that had miniature stalactites dangling coquettishly from the plumbing pipes, which had simply been hammered over at the ends to (attempt to) prevent water from leaking out of them.

This is the house with the nylon carpets.

The sewing sample was ironed, but as I pulled the iron away, I noticed that some carpet fibre came with it. The carpet fibre looked longer, stringier and more stuck to the iron than I had anticipated. The carpet felt harder, crustier and generally less carpet-like than I had anticipated, too. Oops. Well, that was that. Thankfully, it's a minging old carpet anyway.

The carpet was not the first thing I have melted. A couple of years back, I got a new computer (I have a different new computer now, making the one in the story an old computer, but for the purposes of this tale imagine that it's shiny, novel and very exciting). The monitor was slightly wider than I was used to and I struggled to arrange the junk on my desk to fit it in. I ended up settling my lamp on the left of the monitor. I often have the lamp on, because light seems to not actually come through the window of this room - it gets to the glass, then stops. Normally, having this lamp on wouldn't cause a problem. Well, it didn't before, anyway.

My Dad wandered into the room, and asked me what the funny smell was. I hadn't been able to smell anything, despite the fact that the air I was breathing in was a mixture of toxic plastic fumes from the monitor, which was slowly and cheerfully melting in one corner, thanks to the careless placement of my desk lamp. Needless to say, I got into fairly deep shit for that one, and I was forced to endure the presence of a shiny new melted blob in the corner of my shiny new monitor for a few years to come.

Friday, 22 October 2010

The Facepaint Incidents

That there on the left is me, at the tender age of something or other. As you can see, I have a moustache (and braces). Children (especially female ones) aren't particularly hirsute, so you have probably gathered that it was drawn on with a Sharpie or something - along with my eyebrows - but I really can't remember why. I have some vague recollection of being in an old-timey war play at school, which is perhaps why I was dressed like a tiny, distressed version of my grandpa, but why was I holding my flute case? Why does this photo even exist? I'm not sure, but some part of my psyche clearly LIKED the moustache because this photo set the stage for a further two embarrassing, Sharpie facial hair incidents in the future. Why do my humiliating stories always come in multiples? Do I never learn?

In addition to the war play, I was also in a play called the Pinafore Pirates, in which I had the part of an Irish pirate cook. I had to sing in an Irish accent, which is strange, because I can neither sing nor do an Irish accent. The song went, "I cook plum pudding and caviar, spotted dick with a sauce tartar, something something something, woe betide me if a slip I make (oh woe betide him if a slip he makes) for then I'd have a finger in every pie, but you wouldn't know the difference, and neither would I." I get the feeling I'm missing out key parts, but that's what I recall. However, as I said, I couldn't sing, and I had to have special singing lessons to teach me to reach the high notes. Actually, that was the most embarrassing thing about it, but when it came to the actual production, I discovered that I was going to have a beard painted on my face and I was going to wear pink/black/red/green/orange checked trousers. As a slightly more bitter adult, I honestly can't imagine myself ever donning such trousers, and looking back all I can hope is that they must have had to force me into them with a shoehorn or something. If I find out that I put them on willingly, I'm disowning my childhood self. Sadly, the parents of many of my friends still remember me as 'Sam O'Nella'.

However, it all pales in comparison to the non-play related facepaint incident. This happened at a friend's birthday party. There was a facepainter there. There was no need for me to get my face painted. It was completely unrequired. However, I wanted it to happen, which just makes my humiliation ever more sour.

When I narrate this tale, I generally try to tell people that I wanted pirate makeup, and I was hoping to be a nice girly pirate with an eyepatch and everything, and that the facepaint lady got it wrong, but then a little, nagging voice says in the corner of my mind, 'but you went to that party wearing camo gear and you totally wanted army facepaint'. I didn't really want anything girly at all. I can't remember what I asked the nice lady to do to my face, but I probably have myself to blame for what happened. I was going through a boyish stage of my life where I played with plastic bugs and threw rocks and called other kids by their surnames, so I doubtless had visions of some kind of awesomely tomboyish facepaint job that would go perfectly with my desert-camo top and shorts. I doubt I visualised facial hair, however, but that's what I ended up with. I guess I could have pulled off some stubble with my army gear, but what I got was a cavalier goatee.

What facepaint lady would agree to do this to an innocent girl? Or, indeed, interpret 'cavalier beard' from whatever gobbledegook I was saying? I may have asked for something stupid, but I maintain that she was evil and she probably spent the rest of the party laughing - whereas I spent the rest of it hiding in the toilets, which was apparently the solution to a lot of my childhood embarrassments.

UPDATE! I've just found - horrifyingly enough - a photo of me with my cavalier goatee. I'm really quite appalled that this photo exists, but I feel obliged to show you:

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Why I hate swimming

I'm trying to think about what to write for my very first post in Egg On Face. What would really put across the idea of this blog? How about the time that I exposed my prepubescent non-boobies to the entirety of my swimming class without even noticing? Yeah, that'll do.

I hate swimming. Bad things seem to happen to me when I go swimming. Now I can't even smell the faintest whiff of chlorine without having flashbacks of my horrible pool-related experiences. I wouldn't be surprised if my hatred of swimming is so deeply embedded in my being that my descendents will have a visceral aversion to large bodies of water (now THAT'S science).

There was this time when I went to someone's swimming party. Apparently it's not enough for some people to have your own child's selection of cronies under your custody and have to produce jelly and cake and little cubes of cheese and pickled onion on sticks that nobody ever eats - no, some people have to add a vast, chlorinated death pool to the mix, with slides and things on which children can get stuck and break things. Predictably, I almost turned this swimming party into a pre-teen fatality party.

Did I mention that I can't actually swim? Actually, by this stage in my life, I probably can, a bit. I think I can vaguely move my arms and legs in a way that would propel me to the shore if I were ever unlucky or foolish enough to fall into a lake. It would probably be hilarious to watch, but it might enable me to survive and to keep my lungs mostly free of water. At this almost pre-teen fatality party, however, I apparently couldn't swim for beans (I probably couldn't swim in beans either, but that actually might be fun to try - but only because I really, really like beans and could just eat my way out if I absolutely had to) but nevertheless I thought it would be an excellent idea to go down one of the slides. This was a mistake.

I enjoyed the slide bit, probably because it didn't actually involve any swimming. For a few glorious seconds I was slipping down a yellow, plastic-y chute with only a few centimetres of water skimming my bum, and there wasn't any in my lungs and I wasn't drowning. And then there suddenly WAS water in my lungs and I suddenly WAS drowning.

I tend to tell people that what happened was that I hit my head on the bottom of the pool at the end of the slide and couldn't work out which way was up, but I think that the reality probably was that I just couldn't work out which way was up because I was being stupid. So yes, I was drowning. I don't really remember how long I was under the water in this incredibly shallow pool that I probably could have stood up in if I'd really tried to (or even if I'd only tried a little bit) - but I do distinctly remember my life flashing before my eyes. I think I was only about 9 years old, which isn't a lot of life to have flash before your eyes, so perhaps I wasn't under there for very long - who knows? Anyway, the next thing I knew, I was being unceremoniously jabbed by something, and my head suddenly broke the surface of the water and I wasn't drowning anymore.

I looked around for my saviour, and it took me a short while to actually spot him because he was standing about 5 metres away on the edge of the pool, poking at me with a long, metal stick. The lifeguard hadn't wanted to get his uniform wet by jumping in to help me (even though he'd probably have just got wet up to his knees by merely wading in - let's face it, it was pretty shallow - I could probably drown in a saucer) so he had decided to just poke at me with a pole until I reached the surface. I felt a little bit like a turd he was trying to fish out of the water without having to touch it.

So, that was one of my bad swimming experiences and we haven't even got on to the non-boobies one yet. The non-boobies experience was the reason I spent a great deal of my time at school trying to avoid swimming lessons. There were times when I 'accidentally' managed to be late for the bus and it left without me, or I 'accidentally' forgot my swimming kit, but I couldn't do this very often without getting into deep poo. By the time I reached the age of 11 or so I had a pretty good excuse not to go because it turns out that I'm horribly allergic to chlorine, which explained why I'd looked like a cooked lobster after every swimming lesson - but until I was aware that I could actually use this excuse, I was doomed to learn to swim. Not very well, though, given the aforementioned pre-teen fatality party incident.

My very first swimming lesson really did set the stage for my future hatred of all things pool-related. I'm not even sure why I went to that party, to be honest, because after this experience, I'm pretty certain that I at least for some time resolved to become a hermit and never talk to anyone again. Why I thought a swimming party would be a good idea after this, I'm really not sure.

I was already at a disadvantage with my very first swimming lesson, sadly, because while it was MY very first swimming lesson, it certainly wasn't the very first swimming lesson of every other person in my class. Ergo, they could swim, I could not - so I already knew I was doomed to flail around at the edge of the pool with a happy-go-lucky, flamboyantly coloured flotation device while everyone else did lengths like NORMAL children. Little did I know, but this lesson I wouldn't even be getting into the pool at all, which would have been super had it not been for the circumstances.

I had a school swimming costume, because we were all supposed to look the same. It was a black, racer-back one-piece thing, and I didn't know how to put it on. Not only that, but I had to wear a swimming cap, but I would cross that bridge when I came to it. First, I had to get into the costume itself. Everyone else was already heading towards the pool. The teacher told me to hurry up. I probably put both legs into one leg hole a few times, but I did eventually manage to do it... or so I thought. I hauled on my swimming cap, with most of my hair still sticking out of it (defeating the purpose of wearing it in the first place) and shuffled my way towards the pool, where the rest of my classmates were sitting on a bench along the side, waiting for me.

Every head turned towards me.
There were a few sniggers.

I looked down, and saw nipple.

A racer-back costume has a thin strip of material down the back that is meant to go between your shoulder blades. In this case, the thin strip of material was down the front and it went in between my non-boobies. So basically, every single person from my class at my school has at some point seen my nipples. It's over a decade later and this thought still creeps me out.

Admittedly, said nipples did look like two buttons on an ironing board at that age so it wasn't so very bad (though they don't look that much different now, so I don't know quite how comforted I am by this). At the time, though, I was mortified, and all I could think to do was run straight back to the changing rooms and hide for the duration of the lesson. A few years later, I realised that the entire class would have also seen the thin, front portion of the costume wedged up my bum like a badly designed thong as I waddled off, crying. I sometimes wonder how many of them remember me this way.

So, that is why I hate swimming to this day. I do actually own a bikini and sometimes when I go on holiday, I will allow a body of non-chlorinated water to reach my shins for about ten minutes, but then I'll get sick of it and complain loudly about how cold it is and sit on the shore, shivering, while everyone else has fun. It's just not worth risking the horrors that are bound to happen.