Ten underrated past times

So I like to potter.  You know, avoid any sort of commitment to anyone or anything beside my own self.  Through this remarkably selfish attitude that has seen my sporadic involvement in charitable exercises rejected due to a pressing commitment to my keyboard, my favourite cafe or some sort of remote sporting event, I have become very good at passing time.  Passing time to me is an obsession.  How come time is so important to us, how come it doesn’t stop when I want it to and why do I have to work when I offer so much as a human being.  You know, the usual thoughts that we all come up with.  As a man with a pottering pedigree I have decided to come up with the ten (I was going to do twelve, but come on, let’s not go too crazy here) most ridiculously petty, yet underrated past times.

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1.  Cafe trips by myself. 

I’ve always found that when you are really trying to think and there are people around you yelling or just annoying you subtly with their presence, a cafe is a fine establishment to attend by yourself.  Of course, you will need to take with you some accessories, namely a laptop to pretend you are working on something difficult, a notepad for scribbling and a mobile phone to make it appear like you are someone important and you do have friends.  I’ve found that the quieter the cafe is, the less likely people are going to feel sorry for you when you are by yourself.  If you are going to head into a cafe such as Proud Mary or Pillar of Salt on a Friday afternoon by yourself then you will more than likely look like a bit of a charity case.  You might even receive a free coffee or two if you can well up a few tears and act particularly pathetic.  However, I would not recommend this.  The greatest thing about the cafe trip by yourself is that you do not have to write conversation topics on your hand when you are faced with the daunting task of a date with a girl that you have absolutely nothing in common with.  Sure, talking about who has the best haircut in the AFL is fun with your best mates but it is not exactly riveting first date banter for the lucky lass sitting with you.  Another tick for the solo coffee date is that people might pick you as the mysterious writer type, particularly if you are writing a few notes and appear to be concentrating extremely hard on something.

2.  Sitting in parks

Parks across the world are pretty neat.  Some are a city highlight like Central Park in NYC or Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris and others are just a spot to walk the dog and perve on Sunday morning yoga sessions.  Each to their own but the park experience is a very diverse and intriguing one.  One of my favourite date spots is the park.  For some reason many women are terrified by this idea of my desire to take them to a park.  I suppose this is justified as it does come across as particularly forward in your advances but I really do enjoy sitting on dewey grass with the wind blowing through my flowing locks as we chat about our favourite Crusade or who was the greatest Emperor of Ancient China or what we had for dinner last night.  It really should come as no shock to me that the park is probably a fifth date spot along with the zoo and one before a sleazy budget motel.  However, minus the romantics, the park is a pleasant spot to waste time in a similar vein to the cafe.  The best season to head to the park to potter is without doubt Spring.  Spring brings out the best in people.  There is the choice to wear both winter or summer attire, the flowers are blooming and music seems to generally wade through the air.  I am quite partial to a little bit of Arcade Fire in the Spring whilst I sip on a cheeky cappuccino and wander the grassy knolls just thinking about the days that have gone past.  I actually must make it known that I do have friends and I do not just wander in parks and cafes by myself all the time thinking about all the lost opportunities to make friends over my 21 years on the 3rd rock from the sun.

3.  Watching people in the city

People watching.  It’s a frowned upon habit by much of society but one we just can’t go without.  It is no wonder that the most popular television shows are currently of the ‘reality’ genre, revolving around renovating houses, watching spoilt kids whittle away Daddy’s hard earned dollars and butchering brilliant melodies all for the sake of a recording contract.  The most sparsely populated areas are the most enjoyable for people watching.  Swanston Street in Melbourne brings much joy to my day as I watch the university kids grab a coffee and talk about how they are going to change the world for the better once they earn their first legitimate pay check, the vendors pester anyone who unfortunately looks their way and tourists judge the mind boggling post modern architecture that Melbourne holds so dear.  Conversations that you catch a whiff of are particularly telling when in a packed Melbourne street.  You might catch the end of a conversation between a couple that details their mundane sex life or how much they secretly want to kill each other.  Beggars plea for a little loose change and whilst some chuck them a couple of coins, others fear that homeless men are like seagulls and if you feed them once they will pester you until your whole sandwich (or in this case, wallet) is taken away.  Other highlights include people missing trams and getting irrationally upset despite there being another thirty seconds away, watching daft individuals with little sense of direction turn to head in every possible direction whilst narrowly avoiding being hit by three cars, two bicycles and a tram, and of course, the token potential serial killer who looks a slight hip and shoulder away from pulling out his tommy gun and unloading on random pedestrians.

4.   Driving to no place in particular

If Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous film, Psycho, taught us anything it was that men who dress up as their mothers are likely to be excellent in the bedroom or something along those lines.  It also taught us that when you are driving to nowhere in particular, just look out for potential tar pits nearby, they might swallow all the evidence of your life in a flash.  However, long drives are perfect to clear the mind.  Whether it be to check out a few obscure cafes or a gallery out of the way or just to simply avoid a few lectures at uni, there is always a place to head.  The wind drifts through your ears (if you have a sun roof) and the music can be played as loud as possible.  You can bring a couple of companions and float up to the beach or you can anger a few motorists by cutting them off and having a bit of banter in between avoiding red lights with bikies, it’s all innocent fun.  There are extreme examples of driving into the sunset that may see you land in Byron Bay or worse, Port Elizabeth if you are lose your inhibitions completely but on the bright side, you might just bump into a nice man on the side of the highway offering you a lift to his place for an overnight stay*.

*Just make sure that he doesn’t have blood stains on his shirt or decapitated heads in his freezer.

5.  Watching the ocean from the front seat of your car.

This one speaks for itself.  The ocean on a cold, blustery day is not a recommended activity unless you are firmly strapped into your front seat with Miike Snow blaring and a Tim Winton novel by your side.  There might even be a few brave surfers taking up the challenging of some 10′ footers and a few lingering Great Whites watching on hungrily.  Bring a coffee, your best mate and a few cheeky Hoegaardens and feel the power of the greatest show on earth.

6 & 7. Filming fake video clips/downloading instrumentals of brilliant songs and creating your own personal lyrics that provide poignant commentary to your own life.

I decided to combine number 6 and 7 as I’m starting to tire of this writing caper and I really need to start tending to my salad in anticipation of the weekend.  Salad meaning my hair and weekend meaning heading local parks to people watch and appear mysterious to attract some indie chicks to come back to mine and listen to a bit of Dan Sultan.  I’ve never strayed from the fact that I believe I am the funniest man in the world and although no one else agrees, I still make myself laugh without fail.  I’ve created many videos of me with some sort of funny camera format miming to Kings of Leon’s The Bucket or Queen’s Somebody to Love and then calling on my sister to come and have a good old laugh with her ‘Oh my God, weirdo’ (her words, not mine) brother.  Unfortunately, I have turned 21 and that doesn’t seem to be a valid past time for a man who could potentially work in the legal system or manage a brothel one day.  So, I have moved onto downloading instrumentals of songs from Youtube and adding my own lyrical genius to classics such as ‘Niggas in Paris’ or ‘Georgia on my mind’ with outstanding results.  So outstanding in fact, that I have been blackbanned from ever sending my videos into Triple J on account of them being better than the original or something along those lines.  Okay, that never happened.  But it is a fun past time and one that when I finally work up the courage to die on stage during my first stand up comedy show can be a relevant and witty social comment about how Generation Y are narcissistic fucks who like nothing better than watching themselves on photo booth.  Anyway, until I learn the guitar, the only creative thing I can do musically is sing into my webcam and give an unsuspecting lass the motorboat treatment… or if all else fails, a blow on the stomach.  Classic sound.

8.  Planning sitcoms that no one will ever view.

I like to write things.  The traffic in my notepads of ideas that I have to write up is banked up to the West Gate and unfortunately, some dickhead has crashed his car in the middle lane so there will be no movement anytime soon.  Some of the better ideas that I have come up with have been a sitcom featuring a festival organiser and their struggle to keep things in check.  Hilarity ensues when a hundred people storm the fence, the headliner doesn’t show up and the alcohol runs out across the board.  I have no idea where that would go.  Couldn’t exactly see it becoming the next Curb Your Enthusiasm but you never know, every show has to start from a small seed.  The credit for the other idea goes to a friend of mine at uni who suggested that stay at home Dads could be a compelling premise for a sitcom where their wives head off for a hard day at the office while the three main protagonist fathers hit up a bit of Fifa and head to the park to kick the footy.  Again, there isn’t a firm direction for where else that would go bar drinking a few tinnies by the pool and changing nappies but there is definitely an idea that could go Hollywood if I wasn’t such a failed writer.  The whole idea of writing sitcom ideas and doing nothing about them is as ancient as the comedy stylings of Ben Elton but no scene of television will ever get my going like George Costanza and Jerry Seinfeld plotting the first scene of their television pilot on little known sitcom, ‘Seinfeld’.  Absolute comedy gold.

9. Planning travel itineraries.

When you are stuck inside on a four degree day during the seemingly endless Melbourne winter your imagination becomes your best friend.  Along with an atlas, the internet connection and a budget for a sandwich, a hooker and a milkshake, the world is my oyster.  I’ve picked my route around Europe, South America, North… you get the gist, every continent in case you don’t.  I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on the cultures of countries across the globe but I do read a lot of Wikipedia profiles on Armenia, Chad and Bolivia so I like to think of myself as a bit of an expert on cultures across the globe.  Yeah, you see what I did there.  Now, I’ve heard of men who travel around with a map of the world placing pins to represent the countries of their conquests but that is not the reason to travel.  But finding love in a hopeless place quite possibly might be the answer we are all searching for as Rihanna shrieked or yelped or whatever she was doing during that song, ‘Why write verses when you can sing the chorus over and over’.  You might even run into this beauty  who will show you why making your way through the exotic is also worth your time.

10. Pondering life from the toilet seat.

The throne.  Where every man feels like a king, particularly if there is a lock on the door.  If there is one activity that I exceed expectations in then this would be it.  A newspaper, a cool lemonade and a good mental image is all I need for a good 30 minute time kill.  The biggest buzz kill when attempted such an activity is when the seat is warm and there is evidence that another has been sitting on your throne within that past hour.  I do realise that it is an activity that we all participate in from time to time but that doesn’t make it any less disconcerting when that awkward warmth brushes against my cheeks and ruminate about the whole injustice of it all.  However, when it is right, it is so damn right.  So many of the most memorable reading moments have happened on a toilet seat.  9/11, the Bali bombings, Obama’s election.  This occurred in conjunction with some of the more important mornings of my life.  Before my first day of high school, university, before heading to a big date.  There is no better way to sum up freedom than a private shit when the  real world feels a million miles away.  It is the modern day poet’s stoop of choice.


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