Man and Superman and Supermarket – the Tissue Issue

When the alarm went off, I began to suspect something was wrong.  Queuing up at my local supermarket is something I’ve done many, many times before.  Mostly without incident.  The closest thing to an altercation I’ve ever experienced is when the person serving at the checkout informed me they were fresh out of ‘ooshies’ whilst standing in front of an extremely large pile of ‘ooshies’.  I don’t really even know what an ‘ooshie’ is or whether you should treat it with a pill or an ointment; I only knew I had to secure the ooshies that were rightfully mine.  But that squabble was merely a close shave.  Now I was in deep.

As security staff formed a half circle, one of whom was holding a net, I started to panic.  Scanning the exits for an escape route, I momentarily considered taking a lettuce hostage, in the vain hope that they might reconsider and lettuce go, but it quickly became obvious that I was a goner.  I would be captured, I would be humiliated and I would be punished.  I could feel their hands grabbing me as I tried to wriggle free.  My crime was as unforgivable as it was obvious – I had foolishly attempted to buy a third box of tissues.

Do you ever feel as if you’ve missed a meeting?  A really important meeting at which everyone else has been given vital information – probably through a PowerPoint presentation or similar?  As a result, everybody else on the face of the planet knows something you don’t.  In this case, I was blissfully unaware that there were limits on how many boxes of tissues you could purchase at any one time and that these limits were strictly enforced with any attempt to violate them inviting retribution of an almost Biblical variety.

I’m not sure how I missed this seemingly essential piece of information.  Whether I’d blocked it out and had simply failed to pay attention I couldn’t say; but whilst ignorance may certainly be bliss, it does nothing to get you an extra box of tissues.  Instead of a box of super soft two-ply facial tissues, I was now being offered a very large quantity of ignominy.

It had all been going so well until things turned well and truly sour.  The person at the checkout was in the middle of scanning my groceries when a look of disgust took her face hostage and demanded a sizeable ransom.  ‘I’m sorry,’ she said, whilst sounding anything but sorry, ‘you can only have two boxes of tissues at a time.’  Those forming a queue behind me all inhaled at once from shock.  I could tell my fellow shoppers were angry.  I began to fear for my safety when one of them was heard to ask a staff member which aisle they’d find ‘tar’ and ‘feathers’ in.

Caught unawares, I was forced to make a choice between defiance and acceptance.  I could either demand to know by what earthly authority this seemingly arbitrary limit had been imposed or I could simply accept my fate and mumble an apology before departing the store accompanied by both my groceries and my shame.  I considered the former.  I chose the latter. 

As I clutched at the handles of my shopping bags, I was informed that my picture would be kept on file as a reference, lest I should lose my senses and decide to try again.  I would not, under any circumstances, be permitted to buy any more tissues.  Possibly ever.  My tissue privileges were to be revoked.

Having overlooked this apparently significant new limit with respect to Kleenex, I began to wonder what else I’d missed.  It seems likely that every time I leave the house from this point, there’s a chance that I might violate some new rule and end up tearing a dirty big hole in the social fabric as a result.  For shame!  Nobody wants to be the one who ruins it for everyone else.  I am now plagued with doubt.  Normally, I only feel this uncertain on bin night (is it recycle week or garden waste week?  I’m forever relying on my neighbours to get it right – I’ve no idea).

Just as when you break wind in an elevator, people are slow to forgive you when you attempt to buy an extra box of tissues.  I should count myself lucky that they left me to store security and didn’t call the authorities.  No one wants to be taken in for questioning by the officers of Tissue Squad.  Who knows what the penalties would be in the event they felt that prosecution was warranted.  It would be ironic, I feel, if I were sentenced to hard to time for a box of extra soft tissues.  Doubtless, as the judge handed down my punishment and I would weep uncontrollably, only to be denied access to the tissues I so sorely needed.  Oh the humanity.

I left the supermarket before things could get any worse.  If that’s what they do for tissues, goodness knows what happens if you try and secure additional supplies of milk.  It’s a funny, mixed up world.  One that’s still recovering from a gigantic shock.  For now, I’ll make do with the tissues I have and, should the worst happen and I should catch a cold and run out, make do with old newspapers and slow moving pets.  But, for now, let me say to you – cherish your tissues.  You never know when you might need them.

Amazing Feets In A Soccer Shocker 

It’s been a while.  In fact, it’s been so long that I was not so much a little rusty as completely demolished by the elements.  For decades, I’ve successfully avoided anything that might be described as ‘organised sport’; preferring, instead, the more disorganised kind.  But there was nowhere to hide other than the boot of my car.  And just like the boot of my car, there was no getting out of it. I was going to play soccer.

I’ve been watching soccer all season.  More specifically, I’ve been watching a nine year old play each week and have experienced the unforgettable highs and best-expunged-from-your-memory lows as I’ve felt every pass, goal and kick of the season.  Each week, without fail, I offer to take the field if I’m needed.  And, each week, without exception, the nine year old informs me they’re not that desperate.

This, however, was different.  Whereas I’d been baying at the sidelines for weeks, the official season was now over and all that remained was a ‘Family Fun Day’, the highlight of which was a ‘Parents versus Kids’ soccer match.  Despite being repeatedly advised that this was occurring, my body refused to believe it and I was ambling along in a state of Saturday morning stupor. That was all about to change.

I have a history of not being selected.  In primary school, my depth of my primary athletic ambition was to be selected second last.  There’s nothing worse than watching your more gifted peers pause as they try to decide between you and the wheelie bin for their team.  I had assumed ‘Family Fun Day’ would follow a similar format.  Potential players would be considered before being ushered off in the general direction of the bench.  I was prepared to accept my fate.

But things took an unexpected turn.  I arrived and was advised that I was ‘needed’.  By that I inferred that so few adults were willing to risk life and limb with a hoard of rampaging nine year olds, they were willing to take anyone.  I then began to wonder if the other adults knew something that I did not.  Exactly what level of danger was I exposing myself to? But within moments it became clear – it’s not that they were accepting anyone.  It’s that they were acceptingeveryone.    

As I understand it, in soccer each team is only allowed to field a certain number of players at any given time.  This rule does not apply to a ‘Parents versus Kids’ soccer match. Instead, there were about thirty children on the field, all of whom came up to my rib cage, and around fifteen adults.  We were outnumbered but had a distinct height advantage.  As the whistle blew and all hell broke loose, it occurred to me that I had no real understanding of the rules, despite having watched numerous matches.  ‘Offside’ has been explained to me on multiple occasions but remains as mysterious and confusing as the multiple-dimension Spiderman-verse.

There were people everywhere.  My primary aim was to ensure that I didn’t totally ‘Boris’ a nine year old by knocking one over.  More than anything, I didn’t want to injure a child and have to apologise to their parents.  As the ball flew across the pitch, I took off like a shot.  

A couple of things became very obvious, very quickly.  Firstly, running up and down the pitch wasn’t a problem because I run pretty much everyday.  This contrasted with some of the adults who, having started off strongly, were soon reduced to planting their hands on their hips and turning a deep shade of puce as they tried to draw breath.  The second thing was that I had absolutely no ball skills at all. In fact, the first time the ball came anywhere near me, I fell over.  

I used to fall over all the time as a kid.  Then, suddenly, you reach an age where falling over is a really big deal. With the assistance of another adult and a small crane, I returned to my feet and kept running.  I took some shots at goal (I missed) and managed to intercept and make a few passes.  I was having a great time until the inevitable happened – I had to go toe to toe with my nine year old.  Unfortunately, ‘toe to toe’ in this instance means we kicked each other.

He was the goalkeeper.  I was near the goals when the ball arrived.  Both of us charged at the ball and sunk our boots in – to each other.  A shooting pain ran up my foot as we collided.  The agony was so intense that I feared the limb was in danger of falling off altogether.  I looked down at my meagre sneaker and then at his football boot and realised that I had come off second, if not third or fourth best.  In addition, he wasn’t crying at all whereas I was a human puddle of tears.

It’s my first time playing in a ‘Parents versus Kids’ soccer match.  You could put it down to a lack of skill but, truth be told, it’s probably because I’m not a parent.  But I’m something.  Even though we were on opposing teams, I could hear the nine year old yelling out messages of encouragement to me as I played.  It meant a lot.  And even if playing a soccer match in which you kick a nine year old doesn’t sound like the most responsible thing, there was no place I’d have rather been.  The following day my foot was aubergine purple, but it was worth it.  I felt, if even for a few moments, like I was part of something.  And that, of itself, was amazing. 

The Email Avalanche and the Deceased Comedian

I immediately sat bolt upright.  And not just like any-old regular bolt, either; that’s rusted and sitting in an old pomade tin at the bottom of the toolbox your father gave you when you moved out of home when you were eighteen and that you’ve seldom had cause to look at since.  Not at all.  I’m talking about one of those oversized, chrome masterpieces you get from Bunnings that looks as though it could hold the Sydney Harbour Bridge together.  I’m talking about a very serious bolt. And the thing that caused me to become bolt upright was an email from my local cinema.  This, it must be said, it a most unusual thing.

It seems that everything you do in life now generates an email.  Whether it’s buying a pair of shoes or ordering a chair, you are inadvertently making a lifetime commitment.  Whether you agreed to it or not, you’re destined to be flooded with unsolicited correspondence for the rest of your days.  So it was with the cinema.  Once, I must have decided that catching a movie would be a pleasant way to spend an afternoon, never realizing that I’d be hearing from them for, well, eternity.  Frankly, the incessant nature of these unwanted, uninvited emails is almost enough to make me wish I’d never seen Police Academy 8: The Next Generation at all.  Almost.

I now get so many of these emails now that they barely register.  Worse than that, I rarely believe what they’re telling me.  It simply can’t be that the furniture shop I bought a small stool from seven years ago is still having a clearance sale.  If it never ends, it can’t really be said that it’s a sale.  It’s just normal business.  When a certain on-line food ordering service tells me that today is international cheese pizza day, I take it with a grain of salt, even though said pizza is already pretty salty to begin with.  When an email has, as its subject title ‘Hurry’, I am overwhelmed by lethargy.

But this was an email I couldn’t ignore.  As it appeared on my phone, it loudly declared, ‘Luke Heggie’s dead’.  I had no idea who Luke Heggie was, but I was both devastated and confused.  Devastated because despite the fact that I was utterly unfamiliar with his work, I certainly didn’t wish him any harm and I could only assume from the nature of the announcement that his passing was somewhat unexpected. Confused because I wasn’t sure why a cinema would be making this kind of declaration; unless, of course, Luke’s demise was somehow connected to an incident involving the popcorn machine. Worried, I quickly opened the email.

Then came the rest of the message.  ‘Luke Heggie’s deadpan humour….’, went the email.  Though they have a lot in common the words ‘dead’ and ‘deadpan’ are decidedly different.  It is, on balance, far better to be described as ‘deadpan’ rather than ‘dead’.  Clearly they were unaware that by sending out a group email the text would be displayed in such a way as to create wholesale panic if not an outpouring of raw emotion.  This is why cinemas aren’t allowed to make sensitive announcements.  They can’t be trusted.

I can’t have been the only one to notice.  I wonder if the proprietors turned up to work the next day only to encounter a small Luke Heggie shrine, complete with candles, poems and a couple of stuffed toys, blocking access to the Choc Tops.  Perhaps some kind of small vigil of devoted fans, quietly telling jokes to one another.  The resulting funeral would be odd, also.  Personally, I’ve never been to a funeral where the advertising was brought to you by Pearl and Dean.

Ironically, given the email, they were seeking to promote a live performance.  Which, although conceivably deadpan, would be the absolute polar opposite of dead.  Phew.  That said, a live performance at a cinema is kind of at odds with the whole point of the cinematic experience.  I’m just saying. I don’t know if he’ll be doing his regular routine or, instead, reading from a movie script.  If so, they should really say which script he’ll be reciting.  Nobody wants to turn up to their local cinema to hear someone read through Police Academy 8: The Next Generation.  You’ll have to take my word on that.

Having been fooled once, I am now treating all my emails with suspicion.  I once bought a towel and, for my troubles, I’m now being asked the somewhat loaded question: ‘what’s the perfect sheet set for you?’  To be honest, it’s not a subject I’ve devoted much time to.  Many of these emails claim that the offer ‘ends tonight’.  Sure it does.  Some of them claim to be celebrating holidays I’ve never heard of. (Surely there’s no such thing as ‘International Bean Throwing Day?  It’s got to be a joke.  I’m hoping).

From now on, I’ll be ignoring my emails.  Instead, I’ll be relying on my preferred mode of communication – Bat signal.  And although I’m delighted to hear that Luke Heggie is very much in the land of the living and delighted that he’s got an upcoming live performance, I won’t be going.  After the emotional rollercoaster I’ve been on this week, I’m not sure I could take any more.  Instead, I’ll be staying home where it’s nice and warm.  To watch a movie.