They key to pulling chicks when a teenager was to have an ugly friend, apparently, or preferably friends. The theory was to shine amongst the throng: surround yourself with a bunch of greasy-haired, drooling baboons (teenagers, basically) that additionally talked of warlocks and smelt like a fetid badger had sex with a durian fruit, and you were positively magnetic. Maybe it was the liberal application of Lynx ‘Old Sox.’ It never worked for me of course, but my friends seemed to be fighting the ladies off, sometimes it got so bad that me and my warlock buddies had to intervene. We were never thanked.
I think in that little microcosm of pubescent life lays a simple message: others can have it worse. Some poor bastard out there renders your own problems infinitesimal. Yeah ok, you may have the fashion-sense of someone that got dressed in a typhoon, in the dark, and lost a bet, from the 1970’s, but somewhere is an equally challenged chap with dandruff like snowflakes and a club-foot the size of a watermelon. But still, this feeling that someone else has it worse still pervades, even during the face of Stage 4 lockdown extension until the end of September or October. The hope is they’re still talking about 2020.
Travelling has always given me perspective, as too has just seeing other people. I used to take solace in others: I mean, look at that guy with teeth like broken picket-fence, and that girl with the nose the size of a potato! And then just when you think the world can’t teach you anything, another lesson: apparently, it’s considered rude to say all this in front of said misfits, pointing and staring like they’re behind glass at a zoo. But now all these people fit perfectly into life. No longer can I holler across the road, “oiii, teeeethhhhh!!!” when 90% of their face is covered in hair or a mask. In future copies of Playgirl, they’ll just show a mouth, and people will be swooning in the aisles. “Oh my goodness”, women will quiver, touching imaginary pearls to their chest. “I saw that man’s upper lip, the shame!”
I just finished Bill Bryson’s The Body, and along with Malcolm Gladwell’s superb The Tipping Point, it presciently calls out the danger of an oncoming flu. We were warned and it was all right in front of us, just like our masks. It’s with some succour that if a future goddess had come back to warn us, all we’d have heard from behind her mask anyway would have been, ‘fnufff n fnuefff feefffffufff’, which is some pretty racy stuff if you’re a warlock.
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