Rhesus & Tea-bags

A little piece of her fell from the sky. At least that’s what she’ll tell you. It’s in her blood, you see. This “Rhesus Factor”. A phenomenon of a missing protein. 

Doctors say it’s a problem. That you might struggle to have children. And maybe that’s true. But to say she has something missing is to suggest that she isn’t whole. And that’s not the story she’ll tell you. 

She’ll tell you that a piece of her fell from the sky. That this piece that is missing, that piece is a product of another world. Something far away. Something greater than ourselves. This missing piece is not a gap. It’s an opportunity. In fact, it’s a superpower. 

RHESUS WOMAN! The unbound!

She’s not quite sure what the superpower is of course. But she’s damn sure she has one.

She’ll tell you tales of psychic providence. Unexplained moments of uncanny coincidence. Dream sharing and mind dancing. Proof of some cosmic entanglement. It’s all about quantum physics. That’s what she’ll say. 

And you know what, I totally believe her. Not the psychic stuff of course. Or the dreams. Or the quantum entanglement. That’s all bullshit. But she does have superpowers. I know that for damn sure. Just not the ones she talks about.

I wonder if you’ve ever imagined life as a tea-bag?

Must be quite unassuming for the most part. Spending the better part of your life wrapped up in a finely woven blanket. Smoothly stacked amongst your perfectly packed little brethren. Always standing at the ready for your one moment in the sun.

Must be quite something. When you’re plucked unceremoniously from your everlasting crypt and SPLOOSH. The warm embrace of comfort. A home crafted entirely for you to meet your destiny. And the silence. Sweet and beautiful silence. A great calm that you have never known. Every thread of tension falling away. And you are utterly undone. Your essence unleashed into the world. A freedom of expression you’ve never known.

Oh to be a tea-bag. 

It would be quite something I reckon. And I say that because I’ve been there. I’ve totally been there.

I sat with her and we played our songs and we sang together and she spoke some words that I could not hear for the failures of my brain. Words and sentences were thrown from her mouth into my eyes but my eyes can’t hear shit.

Because she was tea-bagging me. She was totally tea-bagging me.

The warm embrace of comfort. My higher brain functions, utterly undone by the sweet vibrations from her face. And for a moment, I forget that I am totally alone in this world. I forget that I suffer from pervasive and chronic forms of anxiety. That I could be in a million places, with a million people, doing a million things. I forget that I should be terrified that I’m wasting my moments here. I forget that I have been unable to connect, really connect with another human for as long as I’ve been counting. And that I have no greater fear than taking a woman to bed.

I forget it all. And for a moment, I’m a tea-bag. Swimming in the warmth of her company. And there’s nowhere I’d rather be. Nowhere at all.

That is her power. At least for me.

I wanted to tell her this. I really did. But like all rhesus renegades, her super-power carries its own curse. For all those words she tried to tell me, the ones I could not hear through her muggy water. I should have been listening.

Because she was busily telling me not to fall in love with her.

The thing about a tea-bag is, it doesn’t know that it’s just another tea-bag. It has one moment in the sun. One beautiful moment. And then it’s done. Cast into the gehenna of compost with those that came before. 

I could have been good for one more brew I reckon. But she’s just not that into you, mate.

Black Motif

Dude looked exactly like I’d hoped. Rocking a black motif. Black jeans, black shirt, black jacket. Black everything. Head to toe. RayBans indoors. The whole thing.

It was day one of film school and I was frothing for this guy. Straight out of film noir and into my eyeballs.

Loved to tell his stories too. Tales of his high-school sweetheart. How he was old mates with Christopher Nolan. All those times he hung out with Guy Ritchie. Even that one time he hung out with Madonna.

Elliot, the film-school guy. Loved his stories. Cold, hard wisdom dribbled out of his mouth. Cold, hard indy-film secrets. I was in the right place. This was some good shit.

It’s all about squashing and stretching, it turns out. This magic of film. 

Take a week, a month, or a year. Some drawn out process. Some lengthy period of change, or growth in your story. Take it all, and squash it all down. A year in a second. Days rolling by unnoticed.

Then take a moment in time. Something short. Something important. And stretch it all the way out. Dive deep into this glorious moment of profound tension and don’t let it go.

Squashing and Stretching.

I was married for seven long years. She was my first love. And I sure had designs on her being my last. 

But you know what, thinking back, I can’t really tell you where those seven years went. We had our moments. But I think it was mostly about watching a lot of Star Trek. Or knocking out those 5 weeklys and 2 new-releases for 10 bucks. Back when people cared about such things.

So there’s that. Seven years, squashed down to a sentence of Video-Ezy deals.

And then there’s the day it was over. Out walking on suburban streets, through a tiny little park that was overdue for a mow. Someone should definitely write the council.

It’s the kind of day where the air is so perfectly mild, that you can’t even feel it on your skin. The smell of gum trees burning bright orange, the way they do in summer sunsets. The odd magpie wandering around, just close enough to make you feel uneasy. 

And I’m talking about this job. A big career boost for me. A bold new life in San Francisco. The land of the bloody free. I’m excited. Babbling about this wild new adventure. Cheeky grin to boot. 

She’s watching the ground as we walk.

“I don’t really want to go to San Francisco”, she says.

Fair enough too. She had family here. A job. Australians aren’t really fans of the US, oddly enough. I couldn’t blame her. 

It didn’t take me long.

“I don’t really want you to come” was my reply.

She didn’t look up from the ground. 

I couldn’t feel the air on my skin and I couldn’t feel anything from her. I couldn’t even really feel anything from myself. It was just quiet.

This isn’t how I imagined it breaking. I thought there’d be pots and pans being thrown. Plates smashing against the walls. Lawyers, screaming, and burning clothes.

But there was nothing left for all that. Video-Ezy had long since closed down. They weren’t making any new Star Treks for a long time now. There’s only so many times you can rewatch that shit.

And so we finished our walk. Held hands, and went to bed. Ended a chapter that had already been rambling on, a few sentences too many. 

Stretching. That had been our game. Seven seasons, a movie, and the end.

The Good Man

My father is a frugal man. He grew up on a farm, you see. A farm not far North from the town I grew up in. Jump on the highway North, for about an hour, and you’ll come across it before long.

But I suppose you could say, he’s the kind of man that can fix anything. Even if it really isn’t broken. Every corner of the family home has a little piece of wire wrapped around it, holding it together.

We have a classic set of plastic barbecue chairs in the backyard, held together by perfectly engineered little metal brackets. It might look a bit silly. It definitely looks a little bit silly. But it works.

So it will come as no surprise when I tell you that the dining table in my family home has been there since before I was born. It doesn’t have the original paint. It doesn’t even have the original legs. My father has saved it from the scrap-heap time and time again.

I did the math, I must have sat at that table somewhere close to 10,000 times. 10,000 times. And tonight would be the last time.

“Mum and Dad, I love you. There are certain things that I’ve done. That my wife and I have done. But none of that really matters right now. Regardless of any of that, I have to tell you, I don’t want to be a Jehovah’s Witness anymore.”

They’d known something was up. I’d told them I needed to talk. But they are not prepared for this.

“We knew something was up”, said frugal father Kernich, “when you said you needed to talk. But we were not prepared for this.”

It’s like I said.

They’re quick to accept it at first. “This will change things”, is my mother’s first response. And she isn’t wrong. We are all painfully aware of what this means. To leave the faith is to face a quick path of exile. That doctrine is clear. For my parents, there would be only one path forward. I was to be shunned. Totally, completely, and immediately. A choice, they imagined, that I was making for myself.

“This will change things”. My mother says again. I think it’s her way of processing the moment. My father is mostly rocking ever-so-slightly in his chair. The way a person rocks when they’re preparing to say something. Like standing on the edge of a jetty staring nervously at the water.

“I don’t understand”, my mother finally musters, “why are you doing this?”

“I don’t believe it, Mum. I’m not sure I ever have.”

“Then why did you do it? Why did you get baptized? I wish you’d done this back then. Don’t you see how things would have been much better?”

It’s a complicated paradox. Baptism. We don’t baptize infants in this church, you see. You wait until you’ve “come to accurate knowledge” and have “made the truth your own”. A process I’d evidently fumbled my way through. I did for a girl, in truth.

But had I never got so sanctimoniously dunked, my parents’ options would be ever so slightly more flexible at this point. An unbaptized child leaving the faith is a minor heathen compared to the raging apostate I would soon be labeled.

And so here we are, my mother, wanting to revisit the dream of an unbaptized child. Funny how, at this moment, that seemed like such a lovely option. Minutes ago, she probably couldn’t imagine anything worse. But I have some proper worse shit for her. Sorry, mum.

“How are you going to live your life?” My Dad is getting in on the questions now. “Where will you get your ethics from?”

“I don’t know Dad.”

I really don’t.

“Maybe if you tried studying the Bible a little more.” My Mum started pleading. “Just a little while, Josh. Just give it one more chance.”

“No, mum. I’ve studied enough.”

“Just one more chance, Josh.”

“No, mum.”

My Dad is distracted with his own line of questioning. He isn’t satisfied with my answers. Or perhaps the gravity of this moment is really hitting him. This may, in fact, be the last chance he gets to speak to his son.

“Be a good man, Josh. Just be a good man.”

It’s one of those moments where your dear friend, who’s worn glasses their whole life, takes them off in front of you. And you see this other person you don’t even recognize. That was my Dad. Because this thing he’s saying to me. It is kinda the first thing he’s ever said to me. The first real thing. The first thing not shrouded in doctrine and the weight of someone elses ideas about how to live his life. The first words I’ve heard come straight from his heart.

“Be a good man.”

And I cried.

Things move quickly. There isn’t so much more to be said. Or maybe there’s too much. Either way, I’m being herded out the door.

“You didn’t have to come to see us, Josh.” My mum is saying. “You could have called us up or sent a message.”

“Yes he did,” my Dad injects, “He’s a man.”

There he is again. My Dad being a proper Dad. He sure chose his moment. Because I’ll remember him forever by this moment. A Father facing down the worst reality he might have imagined from his son and facing it with grace and pride.

Be a good man. I think he was showing me how. In his own way.