(The following people are all real, names changed.)
Jack had a plan to skin a rat and wrap the skin around his penis. He would then assault a cat. He had it mapped in detail. He hated cats and to his mind the cat would understand the indignity of being assaulted by a rat wrapped penis. He had a list of cats he wanted to get.
Wanda wet herself at work. Every day she would shout I’m leaking and run, gold droplets falling between her shoes. She’d return, sodden underwear in hand that she’d stuff in her handbag. She ate butter by the spoonful. She described childbirth as pointless agony and parenthood as the worst mistake of my life. She hated her daughter and husband, would refer to them as parasites and cancers. She showered in her clothes and hang them to dry over night. She’d put them on, wet or dry, in the morning. Saves me hours on laundry.
The Scotsman in the pub was an IRA sympathiser. He terrified a drink out of us and we sat and listened. He used to smear Vaseline on broken glass and skim it under the riot shields of the police.
Albert would buy a pre packaged sandwich and then dissect it at his desk, weighing each ingredient on scales he had in his drawer. He entered details in a book before binning the sandwich. It had started as an effort to launch a law suit against the sandwich company but had become something more. His log book was filled with scrawled entries on chicken salad sandwiches going back years.
Graham and Rupert were my housemates for about a year. Both were Etonions, from the confused dilluted sediment of the Upper Class. Graham planned his holidays around a website that rated Eastern European countries for the hygiene and prices of their prostitutes. He targeted countries that had recently been at war. Rupert was afraid of his own urine. Each morning he would let out screams from the bathroom and emerge shaking. He described the English aristocracy, of which he was a member, as the most persecuted ethnic minority in history. He had hundreds of issues of Readers Wives pornography under his bed.
Chris loved the Princess of Wales. He wrote to her every day, declaring his love or threatening her for not responding. His desk was covered in her pictures. When she died he fell apart and went on stress leave. He came in after the funeral and sent a company wide mail about how beautiful the funeral had been, how he’d been close enough to feel the beautiful Princes in their grief before the police pushed him back. When he returned to work he pulled down his pictures of Diana and replaced them with pictures of a television presenter called Jill Dandao. Two weeks later Jill was shot on the front door step of her house. Chris went on stress leave again.
Caitlin was obsessed with kudos. After the Sydney Tower stair climb one year she watched co-workers being back slapped for running up and raising money for kids. She talked about how she would do the run next year. She would quit the smokes, loose the weight and run for the kiddies. Team members said that sounded great, they’d totally sponsor her to do the run. A manager came down late that afternoon and asked Caitlin if she had done the run, they’d heard she’d been in the race today. She puffed out her cheeks and stood up with a wince.- Did my bit for the kiddie bless ‘em. No one said a word, no one mentioned that during the race she'd been downstairs taking several cigarette breaks in a row and had eaten 2 Mars bars upon her return. She accepted a donation from the manager and sat back down.
The Barman in Cambodia told us about a woman he used to live with who’d let her brain fry a little too much on one substance or another. The walls of their place ran with little geckos each evening. Joe came home one day to find his housemate eating a bag of cheese balls, flicking them on the floor for the geckos. He came home another night to find the geckos closer to her as she flicked more on the floor in a barely lit room. Several weeks later he came home to find her sat nude pouring balls in her lap as the geckos scampered up her legs.
Greg was blind in one eye but hadn’t told his doctor. He’d lost the sight after a lengthy binge on vodka and cider, but wasn’t sure which binge it had been. He was in a Business Admin class with me and we paired up for smoke breaks. He was in debt. He’d been unemployed for a long time; hence he was on the course. I’d been out of work for 9 months, aside from glue gun jobs and warehouse work. He told me about his eye. The one thing I do have is insurance. Do you know what an eye is worth? He laid out his plan, showed me the nail he kept in his pocket. He was looking for uneven paving slabs, trip hazards. When he found a good one he was going to have a fall, land badly on a discarded nail, loose an eye, cash in.
I watched as a guy wandered into our courtyard and stole underwear from the line. I chased him, though it wasn’t my underwear it seemed the right thing to do. Run for the honour of someone else’s underwear shouting OI at the top of my voice. He ran, stuffing them in his pocket to take home for whatever purpose they may serve.
An ex told me about a partner she’d had who would drink the contents of his condom after sex.
I hang (in a buffalo stance) for the bus each morning and am aware that though I’ve met a large amount of seemingly unhinged people there must be many more I haven’t encountered. Normal folk with a dungeon full of distressed cats, a wardrobe full of unwashed girls’ gym socks, an overwhelming fear of cheese or an earnest intent to kidnap a royal. Everyone of these people had parents or carers – with these folks somewhere along the line they skewed to an extreme that they don't consider extreme, for them it is just life. They are a rat skinner, an incontinent butter eater, a Royal obsessive.
Or worse, an underwear theif.
Everyone somehow ends up beautifully or irreparably bruised. No one grows up untarnished. Somehow, at sometime, in some way underwear theft must seem like a good idea.
Toes told me recently – Next year is my last birthday. Five is enough.
Bear told me – When the zombies come I am ready Dad, I know I need to shoot them in the head with an arrow. Or hit them and pop their head.
I’m a parent; I like photos of empty car parks and unlit tunnels. I like music that sounds like broken bus engines. I spent one year eating nothing but KFC, drinking only Guinness and coffee. I enjoy flashing myself at Jehovah’s Witnesses when they come knocking and telling them my wife is dead when they ask to speak with her. Between that and my red wine habit – what kind of people am I raising?