Authors: Richard Glover
don’t know whether to describe what follows as a comedy book, or just the world’s weirdest love story. The main character is my partner who, as you will read, is formidable.
This book is also about turning forty, flirting, cooking, and being a Girl Magnet.
In order to avoid legal action, the wife character is called Jocasta. I have spent many years trying to convince the newspaper-reading public of her unfair ways and fierce nature.
Alas, she grows more popular with her every outrage.
Women, I’ve been told, have taken to quoting her behaviour, with some suggesting she is some sort of
Hopefully, with the length afforded by a book, I can finally white-ant this emerging fan base, and fully catalogue her crimes.
Not that I don’t enjoy being with her. Especially
I first met Jocasta when I was twenty-one. I was pimply and unattractive, and she did things in bed that no other woman was willing to do.
For instance: staying
the bed when I hopped into it. It certainly set her apart from the others.
I hope you enjoy our adventures in the years since. Particularly, any mention of our two children.
They have negotiated a deal which pays them $1 for every mention. The least you could do is laugh. As for Jocasta, she has eschewed any payment, but simply wishes it noted: the real Debra is much, much nicer than the fictional Jocasta.
Although — natch — just as sexy.
So, if you have a true love, and a weird life that looks normal — but only to passing outsiders — you might enjoy this book.
It may be the world’s strangest love story or things just as weird might be happening in your household right now.
Frankly, I suspect it.
grounds,’ says Jocasta
as the credits roll, ‘did you think it would
I go to bed defeated. I am fed up with
Hollywood. Disenchanted with the Finns.
And let down by the Australian
t’s Finnish,’ says Jocasta. ‘Wasn’t that some sort of tip-off?’
I’m standing in the living room, wondering what the Finns ever did to Jocasta. Why this anger? Why this emotion?
‘Plus,’ she says, hitting the rewind button, ‘it’s the fourth time in a row. Four times i let you go to the video store, and four times the result is an absolute stinker.’
I feel she’s being a bit unfair on
the Finnish movie we’ve just finished watching. For a start, she insists on calling it
‘Look on the box of
says Jocasta, ‘and you can see all the warning signs. “Sumptuously photographed” — that means there’s no plot. And “deadpan humour” — that means it’s a festival for misery-gutses.’
I try to remember what made me reach for it at the video store. The sticker claiming some vague connection with the Cannes Film Festival? The rave review from the
The promise that the movie ‘will leave you delighted and happy’?
(‘That,’ says Jocasta, ‘is the mere relief at its being over.’)
There are always five or six of us at the video store, walking up and down, staring at the new releases. We may look like lost souls, condemned to wander and pause and wander again, but really we’re full of hope.
This time we’re going to choose something wonderful — an undiscovered gem, a real surprise. We’ll take it home like an offering and, at the end of the movie, our partners will lean over with a grateful kiss. ‘You’ve done it again,’ they’ll say, ‘that was just wonderful.’
But it never quite works out like that.
Every week, at the end of the film, Jocasta and I have the discussion. ‘on what
grounds,’ she asks, ‘did you think it would be good?’
‘Well, what about this review?’ I say, pointing to the word ‘hilarious’ in big print.
Says Jocasta, pointing to the small print: ‘Do you generally base your cultural decisions on those of Chattanooga Radio KWYZ?’
‘Or what about this?’ I say gamely. ‘The
said it was “thought-provoking”.’
‘Yeah,’ says Jocasta, ‘provoking the thought: “Why do I ever let my dickhead husband choose the video?”.’
The next week I’m back there, wandering the aisles. Never again, I mumble to myself, will I trust Chattanooga Radio KWYZ.
all those videos are off my list. Plus movies recommended by the
Plus anything vaguely Finnish.
This time, I think, I’ll base it on track record. This film says it’s got the same Best Boy as
The Big Chill;
and this one is from the caterer that brought us
Romeo and Juliet.
i make my selection. i take it home. And, afterwards, we have the discussion.
grounds,’ says Jocasta, ‘did you think it would be good?’
I read from the box: ‘it’s from the actor that brought us
‘And,’ says Jocasta, completing my sentence, ‘hasn’t made a good film since.’
She reaches for the video and slips it back into the box. ‘There are rules for these things. For a start, you should always ignore any film which combines three famous actors with a title you’ve never heard of. With a cast like that, there’s got to be a reason it sank without trace. Also, when they say “beautifully acted and directed” it’s because they forgot to include a plot. And when the box mentions the special effects, or the soundtrack or the stunts, it means it has nothing else going for it. OK?’
‘OK,’ I affirm.
I return to the shop. I wander the aisles. Finnish films: out. Anything recommended by an American radio station: out. Ditto: Patrick Swayze. Finally, I’ve got it. My skin prickles with delight. If I’m unable to pick a film that’s got some quality to it, at least I could get something
Forget the reviews. Forget the stars. Forget Finland. This time my choice will be entirely based on the censorship rating.
This one has a very provocative cover, but I notice the Australian Censorship Board was utterly unimpressed. ‘Low Level sex scenes,’ it says, its disappointment obvious. Another film on offer can only manage occasional obscene Language.
Finally I make my choice. High Level Sex Scenes. Drug Use. Really Bad Language. This film has got it all. I take it home.
Late that night, giggling with expectation, we begin watching, Jocasta nuzzling closer to me, her finger tracing a lazy pattern on my chest.
grounds,’ says Jocasta ninety minutes later, as the credits roll, ‘did you think it would be pornographic?’
I go to bed defeated. I am disappointed with Chattanooga radio KWYZ. Fed up with Hollywood. Disenchanted with the Finns. And let down by the Australian Censorship Board. All in all,
now doesn’t seem so bad.
‘Maybe I pre-judged it,’ says Jocasta. ‘Shall we get it out again?’
ll the jobs, done in one day. We’ll knock off the lot,’ says Jocasta as we drive towards the local Mega Mall, the kids already fighting over who gets to hold the shopping list. It’s Saturday morning, and we’re going on a journey, as many people have before us. For instance: Dante.
We’re in Ikea, and already The Space Cadet is swinging on a hat stand named Klug. All the products have insistently swedish names. The couch is called Toj, the desk is Brok and the lamp is Blag — names that sound like members of ABBA. Hopefully, I’ll soon have my bum in a Bjorn, and my feet on a collapsible Frida.
We need a lamp for the lounge, and compare the five on offer — the Tovik, Skimpa, Bodge, Blag and Barf. These are not the sweet sounds of home-making. These are the sounds of gastro-intestinal distress. Finally, Jocasta asks the sales assistant if she can have a Barf. But the Barfs are all sold out.
I prise The Space Cadet off a tent called Pog, and chase him and Batboy out of the store. Jocasta and I discuss the way all our society’s virtues have been turned into product names. Praise is a margarine, Kindness is a soap, Courage a lipstick. And now, just like Nelson Mandela, we must begin our long walk to Freedom.
We stumble into Freedom Furniture. It’s a store with no Swedish connection, yet the names still sound like Terge and Flurg. Is this the cultural cringe? Why not a couch called Barry, an umbrella stand named Tony, or, for that matter, a poof named Adrian? We proceed to the lighting section. While Freedom may light the path ahead (especially in its outdoors section), it cannot tastefully light our lounge.
Depression is setting in. In quick succession, we visit Suzie’s World of Lights, Mr Lighting, and The Light Master. All have well-developed ideas of style and restraint: ideas derived from those of Mr Elvis Presley, Las Vegas, circa 1969.
‘We’ll give up on the lamp,’ says Jocasta grumpily, and so we move onto Item Two on the list: the birthday presents for the boy and girl in The Space Cadet’s class.
Visit Toys U Buy, Mr Toys, and World of Crap. Large quantities of extruded plastic tosh have been packaged into brightly coloured boxes, helpfully coded as to gender. Everything in the store, however small, appears to cost $29.95. Except for the stuff that costs $149.95. Purchase 2 kilos of blue crap, and 2.5 kilos of pink crap. Load into car.
Item Three is a chest of drawers for The Space Cadet. Naturally, we head straight for Cheap and Nasty World (‘the store where the repayments
last longer than the product’). Everyone here is exactly our age, with exactly two kids and exactly no money. We’re all hoping that by the time this stuff falls apart, we’ll be able to afford better — although, looking at the products and at the customers, this seems unlikely. We buy 35 kilos of flat-pack chipboard, which has been vaguely glued together into the shape of drawers.
We leave Cheap and Nasty World (‘where we’re confident to stand on our reputation — but never our chairs’) and get caught in a surge of people. It’s a river of parents and hungry children, all marching towards Mr Hamburger World. We end up at the counter, and place our orders. somehow, it reminds me of Cheap and Nasty World and Toys 4 Profit. The food is pre-digested, extruded, portion-controlled. It’s soft and easy to chew, almost as if someone has already digested it. That thought has implications, and I fight them off.
The kids are depressed, and so are we. somehow Batboy talks us into a visit to Time-Waste-Zone, the game arcade. Apparently, if you spend $20, you may very well win a piece of plastic crap. Batboy and I have a go on the skiing machine, which is — in its way — quite amazing. There’s a video screen, and skis and stocks. For $2, it is a little bit like skiing.