Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Bottlo *

So many people I see in this bottlo appear to be alive only because there’s nothing else to do. At least that’s what they might think. What is the point then?

I found myself just the other day watching a bloke as he left the bottleshop. I couldn’t help muttering out loud to myself “what is the point of your life?” You see it gets to you after a while, the endless parade of hopeless souls.

- “Where’s the other bloke?” Here’s another one on the back seat of a car load of hopeless souls, having just secured their pre-lunch 6 for $10 bourbon-n-cola cans.

“I don’t know who you mean mate” He’s looking for some sort of discount or deal. I’m really not in the mood for this.

“You know…the other blokes?” He gesticulates in description. Indicates two blokes to me.

“They’re not here”

They drive out of the bottlo. When I’m sure they won’t hear me I mutter “Actually mate, I know where they are, they’re around your mum’s house working on a new mong race”

I don’t think I used to be this unsympathetic.

Is it every man for himself? Is it? It must be. Because otherwise what else could this all mean in a society where so many people are struggling through they’re lives. What am I referring to by ‘This’? The hopelessly under-educated and socially dysfunctional people I see every morning. They’ve got no money but they spend it on grog anyway. They limp and drag their feet slowly up the hill toward us. Like a scene from a zombie movie. The Dead Living.

How can we be so rich and have failed so many?

A Young guy left his wallet on the bar last night. It’s gone. Well actually he’s not sure where he left it. He’d had more than a few. He checks in the bottlo the next morning. Has anyone found it or handed it in? He had $300 in his wallet last night. The entire remains of his social security. After the young guy has left the bottlo, I’m standing there wondering how he could be so bloody stupid as to “get on the piss” with all the money he has stored in his wallet. How could anyone be that stupid? As if on cue – enter stage right: his dad. His 68 year old pensioner alcoholic father has come in to pick up his pre-breakfast 6 for $10 bourbon and cola cans …but more from him in a bit.

Why does…how can…such a wealthy society fail so many of its people?

This morning I just want to cry.

I feel paralysed by rage. What is my rage about?

My rage is about my inability to make a life with meaning. I can’t even just ‘blah’ on about financial goals and rewards anymore. Because I can see it’s not gonna be enough to just make money. On its own that is not going to give me meaning. Although as the comedic like to observe, it might dull the pain of the emptiness.

“You want a bag for that bottle mate?”

“Nah mate. We’ll smash that before we get home!”

I flew into a rage before. I’ve been doing some boxing training for a couple of years now. Just to get fit. My ex-girlfriend said to me recently that I seemed to her to be “more violent” than I used to be. “More aggressive somehow”… funny thing is, that little argument I had with her just made me want to cry…I mean I was sitting there trying to defend myself against her assessments and then that welling up in the eyes, a slight feeling you might choke, then a calm…a loss of self and then a strange sad remorse. Things lost. Things once, now gone.

“Did anyone hand in a wallet?” Now the Dad’s doing his bit. “My son was in the bar last night. He had $300 in his wallet. Says he put it on the bar. When he remembered to look, it was gone.”

I want to jump the counter and shake this poor old man. Ask him what the fuck he’s doing, why is his son a moron? What sort of fucking example are you setting by buying booze before breakfast every morning?!

I’m so full of rage at the moment. It begins to consume me.

Maybe it’s just because I have been recovering from a flu. It’s been a while since I wanted to punch anything. I came close to punching the duty manager this morning. Fortunately for us both, he scurried away. Unfair weight advantage. I guess I am more capable of violence than before. Better able. Maybe my ex was right. I felt the boxing drills this morning. I felt the boxing hands pour out of me. I was sick last night, but the hands exploded out of me. Flurry and fury. I had to write up five cans and 2 cartons to breakages.

The training probably has made a difference.

“You got any specials on beer mate?”


“What the bloody hell else would I want?”

“Just there” I wave my hand across, indicating the long line of display slabs and blocks six feet from his car window. The ones covered in paper signs marked “Specials”.

“How much is VB?”

“$38 mate”

“Bullshit” He drives off.

“Yup nice one. Petrol is $1.50 a litre mate. Enjoy that $2 you're gonna try save!”

Later though, when I think about it more, I develop some sympathy. I can’t really blame this guy and his ilk. I mean all they want is some beers after work and the price keeps going up every three months. Then they try to remember the last time they’re wages went up.

After I punched some boxes, punched a door, pushed over the ladder and kicked the shit through a beer sign, I did some primal screaming…

Well all I really wanted was to have a cry. I must be depressed. Isn’t that what they’d say?

Rage and feelings of futility, inability to cry…or inability to stop crying. It’s gotta be a textbook outline of depression. Doesn’t it?

Fuck all that. I just want some meaning.

- “Has your son asked the bar manager if they have found a wallet this morning?”

“Yeah well I dunno you see…my son was so angry….so angry… he was screaming and yelling and carrying on. Blimey… I’m only a pensioner you know. I told him there’s nothing I can do. I’m broke. The boy’s smashing stuff up. Stupid boy does his whole fortnights money in a night!” He stares out of the bottlo at nothing in particular. We share a moment of silent contemplation.

-“What was he doing with all of his money in his wallet?” I ask.

The father taps the side of his head with his finger. Rolls his eyes back and pushes his tongue out the side of his mouth. He repeats these actions several times. I’m not sure who he is referring to but apparently somebody isn’t right in the head.

I’ve started having daily chats with this 66 year old alco' who lives across the road. He’s a nice enough bloke I suppose, but he’s bloody hopeless really. I’m pretty sure the only reason I think he’s nice enough now is because his age has taken the edge of his ability to be an aggressive drunken asshole. This is my male role model.

Where have all our fathers gone? We lost our fathers in the War. What fucking war?! Well there must’ve been one and we didn’t notice, because there’s scarcely a viable male leader in sight. I’m pretty sure I could benefit from the counsel of a male elder. There simply aren’t any though. Maybe I’ll evolve. Maybe I’ll become my own male figure, my own role model and my own source of inspiration. Or maybe I too will break apart, or be absorbed by consumption. Fade away… or whatever it is that happens to the men of this generation.

I’m scrambling for some meaning here… but this is and has become the whole point hasn’t it?

I shut the shop and go home. The lights are on but nobody’s home.


* "Bottlo" is an extract from a semi-fictional novel-in-progress of the same name. While it is based on some of my experiences it is not about me so please do not be alarmed ;-)

'Bottlo' First published on the creative arts blog Fabulist Savannah

Listening to: The Ramones (Mixed Mp3's) whilst brambling with a scythe in Normandy! True story ;-)