How To Charm Police Officers


Ladies, this one’s for you.

I’ve my share of run-ins with the boys in blue, usually all in the form of getting hauled over for some sort of vehicle infringement. I’ve never copped a fine or had an altercation, although there were plenty of times when it was warranted.

I put it down to an innate knowledge of how to subtly manipulate a situation to the advantage of both parties.

Some of this advice might offend or strike you as being shameless and outdated, but please bear in mind it works.

How to charm (male) police officers:

1.       Always, always, ALWAYS be polite: mild and unassuming works best. Smile like you’re happy to see them.

2.       Adopt an air of slight confusion – look enquiringly into space as they ask when your last trip to the mechanic was. Don’t be afraid to mention the words, I think my father…

3.       Be wide-eyed and ardent – of course I’ve paid my registration. I just forgot to put the sticker on. If the sticker is still in its envelope in your car, they’ll slap it on for you.

4.       Make the most of your femininity and all the opportunities that come with it – wear a helpless little smile when you confidently tell them you will certainly change your busted headlight at the next available service station. They’ll do it for you.

5.       Act dumb and concerned. No, I wasn’t aware that there is a minimum legal tyre tread. How do my tyres look? Oh (look crestfallen when they inform you your tyres are illegal).

6.       If you are wearing a knee-length dress or skirt at the time– hitch it up a couple centimetres.

7.       If you have long hair and you’re wearing it up at the time – shake it out.

8.       Visualise that you are the most wholesome, innocent person in the world – this inner conviction will shine through your face.

9.       Don’t be afraid to say any of the following when they ask how your day has been: baking, sewing, fundraising, dress shopping, cooking, vacuuming, gardening, visiting parents.

10.   Exude an air that says, “Oh, thank goodness you have pulled me over! Without you, I might never have known there were so many dangers with my car. Thank you, officer. I don’t know what I’d do without you. You’re my hero. I’ll follow your directions to the letter.”

And it goes without saying that you must always wish them a pleasant day once they’ve let you go with a warning and a fatherly shake of the head.

Everybody wins. They get to be the hero and you get to spend your money on more important things, like shoes.

And that, ladies, is how you charm police officers into never issuing you a fine.

Google Nights

We’ve all been there: clambering  aboard the crazy, zigzagging Google train to nowhere in the early wee hours of the morn, pursuing indiscriminate topics that would be difficult to explain your interest in come the light of day.

Personally speaking, these bouts of mass data gorging usually coincide with looming assignment deadlines. I get the most persistent urges to find out about the most pointless stuff when I’m supposed to be studying.  Like now. I have also managed to trick myself into believing that blogging about it will assist my assignment in writing itself, despite history repeatedly suggesting otherwise.

I’ve had a lot of questions answered by my dear friend Google over the past week – answers to questions I didn’t even know I had until my eyes saw the Google logo. It doesn’t help that I’m interested in, well, nearly everything.  Some examples of my most recent Google searches:

·         What attracts gay men to each other? (queried with sincere ignorance, respect and curiosity)

·         If stars are so far away from each other, how come they all appear roughly the same size?

·         Evidence of time travel throughout history (with surprising results)

·         How do blind people think? (ie, they cannot visualise their thoughts)

·         How does 7th Heaven end?

·         Why did Shannon Doherty leave Charmed?

·         Are we players in someone’s dream?

·         What the fuck is wrong with people?

·         Examples of spontaneous human combustion

·         Is the dress in Pretty in Pink meant to look bad?

·         Molly Ringwald teeth.

And so on.

Procrastination disguises itself in a number of sophisticated ways. My experience is usually with the more blatant, unsophisticated ways, but I can assure you they are equally effective in providing distraction, just as Best and Less is equally as effective as David Jones in providing a means to hide human nakedness.

The Google train is a long and pointless train, and it’s mighty hard to find a stop at which to alight as it doggedly traverses the lonely and desperate landscapes of procrastination and escapism.

Once you board the Google train, you will never be happy. You will formulate more questions, and crave more answers. Each will be as stupid as the next. It will be like John Farnham, always making one last appearance. But it never ends. It can’t end. The Google train is a train to nowhere. And it will take you during your darkest, most vulnerable Google Nights.

There, you join invisible forces with schmucks the world over, Googling about Molly Ringwald’s teeth when you should be using your uni subject as an intellectual whipping post.

Molly Ringwald would be ashamed.
And it is with that thought that I conclude this post. Molly Ringwald had to wear that hideous, homemade pink dress to her pretend prom when she filmed in Pretty in Pink.
She’s had enough shame to deal with in this lifetime without me adding to it.

Why It Won’t Hurt Me Not To Hate Lance Armstrong


“Lancey, Lancey, pudding and pie,

Fleeced the world and made it cry!”

Do you know who I feel the most sorry for in this whole crazy, messed-up affair?

Lance Armstrong.

I feel sorry for a man who needs to win so desperately. I feel sorry for any human being who treats other people badly, as it is truly a sign of ill-feeling within oneself. And we all know how uncomfortable that can be in some measure. Imagine it on a huge, ginormous, self-inflicted Lance-Armstrong-sized scale. Blrgh.

My heart literally breaks for the guy. I couldn’t imagine living with such a manic desire to prove my worth to people, and fabricating a web of lies so intricate that it is impossible to see where the true man starts and the liar ends. I doubt he knows himself. What a nightmare.

Of course, he doesn’t need my puny amount of pity. No doubt he would find it excessively patronising. Who the hell is this pale, two-bit blogger who rides a 1970s Melvin Star, he might say. And he’d have a point. But for the record, the pity is there.

In saying I feel sorry for the guy, I am in no way taking his side.  Far from it. I feel sorry for the people he has wronged, and for the damage he has done to the sport. For those poor blokes who rode clean and typically got used to wipe the Champs-Elysees by Armstrong and his dopey pals. Those guys, the ones who persisted in riding clean in the face of inevitable athletic and professional decimation, are the real champions.

By all accounts, Lancey has acted like a Grade A asshole for longer than anyone cares to remember. He has ruined countless lives and acted in a thuggish, calculated manner towards people he once called friends.

It is doubtful he has many friends left now though, and he will likely never be able to undo much of the damage he’s caused.

A glutton for accolades and public admiration, he will have to live the rest of his proud life with the knowledge that there are not many people left who respect him. His word has lost all credibility. His children will never escape the association of their history-making fraudster Dad, the object of the world’s unanimous (and probably long-standing) contempt.

From king of the castle to vilified criminal. Ouch.

But on the whole, I  do feel sorry for the guy. Not because the public is going apeshit for his blood, but because of how unhappy he must be as a person, and how that won’t end any time soon. Perhaps he has always been unhappy.

Nobody is perfect. There are a trillion sides to every story. Just as one simply doesn’t walk into Mordor, one simply doesn’t act like a sociopath if one has a heart filled with gambolling kittens and fragrant cherry blossoms. This much is obvious.

It won’t hurt me to not hate Lance Armstrong. It would be a confirmed waste of energy. There are far more worthy avenues to channel my discontent, like at the monsters who recalled Wonka Mudsludges from the Australian chocolate market, and, in doing so, recalled a piece of my childhood forever.

I hope Lance has the courage to do the right thing, as I believe it is the only way he will be able to find peace and respect himself. He is no doubt a flawed human being, and in that he shares a commonality with every other person in human history, to varying degrees.

I hope he has the opportunity and ball to make amends. I hope those he wronged can move on and feel vindicated. I hope they get what they need to feel good about life again.

But hating is beneath anyone. It’s ugly and doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t help Lance or anyone else become a better person.

 And as such, he’ll receive no hate mail from me.

Just a polite note praising the title choice of his famous book, It’s Not About the Bike.

Credit where credit is due. In this instance, the man spoke the truth.

The Time I Searched All of Manhattan and Couldn’t Find a Slip

This is possibly the most bizarre story of them all (when you really think about it)…
Back in 2005 or 2006, I was in New York during the summer. New York summers are some of the most humid and uncomfortable you can experience. Although I was thankfully out of the smog-choked city of Manhattan, where I was staying in the suburb of Jamaica, Queens was not much better. Before I left Australia, I had taken the unusual step of buying a couple of skirts to wear, having experienced a New York summer before and finding that even shorts aren’t always the most comfortable option.

One morning I was walking with my friend to the local deli when she commented lightly, “Well, I must say, I can see straight through that skirt!”

I froze with embarrassment. That morning I had put on my new white skirt for the first time and, impressed with the swishy, feminine feelings it gave me, had worn it out quite confidently. Now I was being informed by my friend that, in the unforgiving rays of New York sunlight, it revealed everything.

My friend examined it. “Where is the lining?” she demanded. I looked at her blankly. She sighed. “Most skirts have a lining sewn on, like a second layer, to prevent them from being see-through.”

I was crestfallen, and confused as to why my skirt had no lining. It was not the success I’d dreamed it would be. I didn’t have many outfits with me and, being so busy during the day, did not have time to do untold loads of laundry at the public Laundromat. The skirt was an indispensable part of my shoestring wardrobe for the next three weeks, and I had to come up with a solution.

It didn’t me take long to conclude that it was necessary to find a tan-coloured slip (or half-slip, to be exact) to wear underneath my skirt. I had grown up with a mother, aunty and grandmother who had an abundance of slips and camisoles and other such practical, lady-like items.  I learnt early on that when you have a see-through skirt, you  must wear a slip underneath. Simple.

Jamaica has an abundance of cheap, dollar clothing stores, and so I walked downtown to see what I could find. Nothing. I searched shop after shop. I received nothing but rude service and uncomprehending remarks, such as, “A what? Uh, no. Sorry.  We don’t doo daaat.”

To be fair, Jamaica is a predominantly black suburb and they probably don’t deal with skinny, English-sounding white girls politely enquiring whether they sell slips in their dollar stores. Size 28 denim cut-off shorts plastered with sequins? You bet! Six inch white faux leather stilettos with bright red cherries stamped on them? Hollaaa! Slips? Wha…?

After two hours it became apparent to me that I would have to venture further afield to find my slip – into Manhattan itself. Now, being distinctly disinterested in fashion at the time, and usually preferring to spend my money on candy instead of clothing, I shuddered at the idea of a day in one of the world’s great shopping meccas. Such excursions typically bored me and I would usually come up with an excuse not to go. Today was no different, although, I reluctantly supposed, I was probably in the best place in the world to find a slip. I mean, if you couldn’t get one in Manhattan, where could you get one? And at least there would be good coffee there.

On cue, visions arose of polished, ladylike sales clerks from a big department store ushering me into the women’s undergarments section, beaming and nodding as they showed me an extensive and dazzling array of slips. I would promptly select my tan half-slip without any ado, and the sales clerks would be relieved from having to perform some sort of persuasive song-and-dance number, like Lumiere and and the enchanted serving staff did in Beauty and the Beast when they were trying to convince Belle to eat some dinner against Beast’s wishes.
So I caught the subway into Manhattan and started the hunt.

First I hit up all the small, boutique clothing stores lining the pavement. Nothing. Some cute clothing, but nothing even close to resembling a slip. I managed to stumble across some big department stores – Bloomingdales and Macy’s – and eagerly sought out the women’s lingerie section. They had nothing. I nervously approached a  sales clerk in Bloomingdales, waiting for the capable ushering to begin. Again, nothing, only a look of unparalleled confusion.The sales clerk in Bloomingdales had no idea what I was talking about.
Now, I’m aware that my abilities to exemplify and discourse about fashion are largely unproven, but a slip is called a slip in any English-speaking country. You can’t get it wrong. Those who would suggest that I wasn’t clear enough in stating my objective must remember this: my mind was so uniquely uncluttered by any other knowledge of fashion at this point in my life that I was  able to be perfectly clear about one of the few things I did know about – slips.

Anyway, in pure desperation, after more than three hours of fruitless searching, I decided it was time for one last, soul-destroying measure. I went into Victoria’s Secret. Wearing cargo shorts, a bright red T-shirt and a back pack. Like a ten year old.

“Do you have any slips?”

“Any what?”

“Slips – you know, it’s sort of like a skirt you wear underneath a skirt.”

“Oh no, I’m sorry, we don’t have anything like that.”

Victoria’s Secret thought slips were weird and didn’t stock them. Now I’ve seen it all.

Sadly, there is no happy end to this story. In the whole of New York (well, a sizeable chunk of it) I could not find a slip, much less someone who even knew what a slip was. I was too poor (but mostly too disinterested) to buy new clothes, so I slunk around in the same stinky old shit day in and day out for three weeks, looking like a complete toss-pot. I longed to be transported to Capalaba Park Shopping Centre for ten minutes so I could just go into K-Mart and buy a damn slip, such was my desperation. Did you hear what I just said? Have you ever longed to be transported to Capalaba Park Shopping Centre?

This was seven years ago. Tonight, I Googled “slips” and found out that they actually do stock them in Macy’s. Perhaps my meaning got lost in my accent all those years ago, or perhaps some smart ass Manhattan sales girl thought it would be funny to pretend that I was talking nonsense. Both are equally plausible and equally funny to think about.

Either way, that’s the story of the time I searched all of Manhattan and couldn’t find a slip.