Suggested Audio Candy:
Porcupine Tree “Waiting (Phase Two)”
Waiting sucks. Let’s just get that one out there from the offset shall we? It’s inevitable that we will end up playing its game at one point or another and, for some of us, it can feel like our whole lives are one long exercise in killing time. I’ve done plenty of it over the years and, for the past three, it has pretty much been the key word. It started with an eighteen month wait then, one critical error in judgement later, another just as excruciating. It can feel as though we’re steadily sinking during this time and, indeed, I’ve struggled to keep my game face on through this process. While I was all for learning how to become patient, I’ve kind of got the general gist now guys, so why don’t we just fast forward to the part when someone puts me out of my misery? I’m not speaking of having the door repeatedly slammed in my face either. I thought maybe letting me in would be a novel closure. Just an idea, it’s cold and wet out here and looks so dang cosy inside. Perhaps if I serenade you, that will twist your arm into granting me entry. What can I do to gain membership to this exclusive club?
Okay, so while we’re here in the rest stop together, I guess it would only be right to take a short jaunt back to my past to fathom this whole waiting palava out once and for all. I mean, why me? What makes me such a prime target for postponement anyhoots? Could it really be that I’ve brought this on myself? I’d have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for those pesky kids. Turns out the dagnabbery started way back when Madonna still had a vagina. It could only be the eighties, where else would such skullfuckery have played out? I was so busy trying in vain to keep a hula hoop above my hips and peeling the stickers off my Rubix Cube, that I didn’t see Mrs. Impatience slapping her thigh in the corner. She was an old gaunt woman, barely 100 lbs dripping wet, and with skin like spam as I recall. The whole thigh slap wasn’t as seductive as it may sound as, from the waist down, she was the human equivalent of a wishbone, and prolapsing from the side of her tummy huggers. I attempted not to make eye contact but she wasn’t so game to play ball. Instead, her wretched little ball bearings followed me around the room like blackened sentinels, flailing their intent to get me scratching.
And scratch I did. Suddenly I saw no reason to wait for the ice cream van to jingle its distant intent before locating the funds to bag myself a cider lolly. Mrs. Impatience looked me dead in the eye and I found myself both utterly frozen and vaguely twitching. I became overwhelmed by a desire to collect things, anything I could get my hands on that she would take as a trade for my freedom.
It just so happened that the Garbage Pail Kids were in the neighborhood that day and Leaky Lindsay had prepared me a dish as a sweetener (which may or may not have been mucus-based) so I was powerless to resist meeting the whole gang.
To top things off, Mrs. Deagle’s malfunctioning stair lift shot past and it felt only right to help the old dear in getting to the bottom of her electrical glitch. Fucking Gremlins had been sowing their rancid seeds all over and I would need to investigate every last nook and cranny if I was to root out the Mogwai responsible, plunge two digits down his oesophagus, and force him to retch up that half a sandwich. That’s right, trading cards had me by the short and curlies I clearly didn’t have in my possession and tug me impatiently into the waiting line. Naturally, I resisted with all of the strength I could muster and Mrs. Impatience promptly placed me over her knee, slid on a giant mechanized power glove, and smacked my bottom until both cheeks were red raw. Firstly, I’d love to know where she acquired such a mitten as I have another idea for how it could be put to good use thirty-five years on and, you guessed it, it’s shameless. Secondly, I didn’t much care for the dull ache that resulted from the repetition. And last, but not least, the foul wench really drew out every last strike just to hang me from those tenterhooks some more.
Eventually, I managed to break free from her grasp and dashed off to amass a collection of trading cards like no other. However, it wasn’t long until I hit a snag and this stumbling block came in the form of everybody’s least favorite Garbage Pail Kid, Adam Bomb. For the record, this particular card has been known to change hands for up to over $5,500 nowadays and that seems ever so faintly preposterous. I waited and waited for Adam to put in an appearance and he eluded me out of spite and his own sick amusement. Meanwhile, I was a couple of Gremlins short too and had to wait another three days until my pocket-money was churned out. This left three available options – beg, borrow, or steal – and I was prepared to engage in any of the three or even a combination of each to capture this poor white trash and strike him off my wish-list. One thing was for sure, waiting sucked donkey balls, and I never found the allure of blowing mules particularly all-encompassing.
Neither whining, pleading, or shoplifting appeared to offer the salvation I craved. And this continued to escalate as I grew older and hurtled a little more leisurely than I was comfortable with towards adolescence. Granted, my one pubic hair was a sight for sore eyes, but he just seemed so desperately lonely. My testicles were beginning to groan their dissent as they knew it was almost time to drop like they were hot and my voice teetered on the verge of dual extremes. It was all well and good that puberty had raised a glass to toast my arrival but there was no sodding fluid in it, just hollow hopes and dreams. My first consideration was to cheat the system, run into the nearest barber shop with a broom, sweep up their 11.30, and stick the trimmings onto my groin with crazy glue. Alas, this wouldn’t help with the hover bollocks or bumbled baritone. But I’d have a full bouquet of pubes dagnabbit and would no longer be required to play the waiting game. Puberty strung this anguish out over a number of years and I cursed my rotten development for showing up so frightfully tardy. Where was the urgency? Mrs. Impatience had already threatened another hundred lashes if I didn’t cough up the goods soon and my grandmother taught me never to leave a lady waiting.
Suddenly the world around me began to change and global call centres and automated services became the new vogue. If ever a phone call needed to be more uncomfortable and frustrating, it could now have you pulling your eyes from your sockets and using their optical threads to pin your ears back, before the second beep had sounded. That’s right, the drones were invading, and dashing straight for my mental livestock. Should my internet fail, then I was now afforded thirty minutes of excruciating hold music of their choosing, before being connected to some clueless droid who keeps getting called away every thirty seconds to charm a snake from its basket. At least procrastination entailed a modicum of control, whereas this seemed designed only to coerce you three steps closer to utter madness. A Flock of Seagulls suggested that I run, I run so far away but, wouldn’t you know it, the phone was cordless and Mrs. Impatience had already cunningly slipped a beeper into my trouser pocket just to ensure I endured every last pang. Nowadays I’m pretty much telephonobic if there is such a thing (there is now) and seldom answer it when it chimes. Do I still get my bottom smacked? Daily yes, indeed, I’m over her knee as I scribe this, but it sure beats kicking my heels while being transferred to yet another department when I’m convinced it’s no more than a shady bedroom operation.
Recent times have involved rather a lot of killing time and I have a rap sheet as long as Jeff Goldblum’s inside leg. Last I checked, I was wanted on over fifty counts of suspected homicide and recently had to change my name to Jean Grimble just to throw those pesky flatfoots off the scent. Mostly this entails waiting for money and I’ve got this one well and truly down to pat. This would all have played out different had I landed that elusive Adam Bomb card or happened across a hidden stash of incendiary schoolchildren. At over five grand a pop, I could be waiting for something far more exciting, like a limo to turn up and whisk me away on an all-expenses paid Magical Mystery Tour. You’re darn tooting I’d hit the asphalt; there’s a whole world out there and I’m left waiting in this crummy fallout shelter, scratching my bag balls. Mercifully, I’ve found a rather wonderful group of people to itch alongside and, one day, the ship will come sailing by for all of us. I’m calling dibs on the cannon seat just so you know.