By Allan Sko || firstname.lastname@example.org
In the O’Connor IGA of a Saturday afternoon, I spied a sale item that summoned an instant rush of memory. It was a little lime green Canberra Milk sporting a worryingly low price tag that screamed:
Please take me… No one else will!
I plucked it from the shelf, synapses ablaze, and eagerly stuffed it into the hand basket. As I unloaded perfectly normal items onto the checkout counter Metamucil, tissues, apples, soda water, chocolate, Metamucil— my hand closed on the green ooze.
I hesitated. My hand trembled. I couldn’t look the checkout clerk in the eye.
The reality hit me; here was a grown man, on his own, about to publicly hand over money for citrus-flavoured milk.
But it was too late. The Eagle of Nostalgia had already dug its talons into my quivering liver. This was a slice of Canberra.
I hadn’t had a lime milk in over 20 years. My mind shot back to simpler times, when leaming glass bottles were hand-delivered by impossibly short-shorted fluro-sporting men who sprang from the side of a dirty, cantankerous truck; locomoting breathy condensation of a winter’s morn, the crunch of size 14s on Mum’s precious azaleas echoing across the neighbourhood.
It brought to mind the halcyon days of the late ‘80s Raiders, the green jerseys and Canberra Milk sponsor sparking this curious cross-promotional concoction. I recalled that childish excitement mixed with panic sparked by hearing the rumble of the milk truck, a veritable starting pistol for all neighbourhood kids to race out, keen to part with your New England Ha’penny for a special edition carton of lurid green milk.
I remember Laurie Dailey and Bradley Clyde visiting our school, impossibly big to us three-foot nothingers, and keenly asking burning questions: if I became an NRL player, would I still be allowed to eat McDonald’s?
I love the goofy, the weird, the bizarre and the frankly bonkers things Canberra seems to tend toward. And I love the fact we get awkward and embarrassed about it. That is our identity, and I think that’s charming.
Bursting with Canberra pride, I felt the need for a loud toast.
“May all our public art be phallic, and all our milks a healthy green!” I proudly declared before taking a hearty sip of lime green milk and spraying it in an impressive arc all over the wife.
Sunny Side Up
Summer’s nearly here; a time of celebration for most. For me, though, it is scarier than the All Hallow’s Eve we just passed.
For you see, I am the whitest person I know.
By that, I do not mean I like to bust out ill-advised raps whilst grabbing an alarming amount of crotch real estate. No, I am referring to my skin colour.
Many have tried to best me. Many have failed. “That’s not white,” they sneer. “I’m as pale as you are.”
One lift of my t-shirt later: “Holy CRAP… it gets whiter!?!” This is usually followed by a magnificently witty quip such as: “You should call Dulux, I don’t think they’ve discovered that shade yet.”
(actually, I lie. I made that one up. The comments are usually more along the dizzying intellectual heights of puffing out their chin with their tongue and grunting “Urgh! White twat!” I really should stop hanging out with my Mum so much).
At the beach, or municipal swimming hole, I am very much out of place. Among the sea of tanned and seared flesh crackling away like morning bacon, I stand out like a lighthouse.
In some areas, I am banned from removing my t-shirt lest the sun rays jack-knife violently from my porcelain frame into the soft vulnerable eyes of unsuspecting beach-goers (“Ahhhhh! El Blanco Diablo!” they shout in Spain).
Tanning is an impossible notion. The normal human cycle of sun-searing goes: pale… pink/red… brown… lighter brown… pale.
Mine is more along the lines of: pale… ARGH! My F*&$ING skin! It’s like a cat’s pissed ACID on it! Sweet merciful Jesus, what’s happening?!?… … … peeling… pale.
Not great, I can assure you. There’s a point in the highly enviable “peeling” stage that, should you place me in one of those containment bubbles and shook me up, you’d have a very macabre snow globe on your hands.
I had an ill-advised attempt at a tan once. 18 I was, and about to go to Gran Canaria with my closest mates as part of England’s version of Schoolies.
Keen to show off my newly sculpted bod that my virginal self has feverishly worked away on in a vain attempt at helping women overlook my many other glaring failures, I thought a seven-hour session in the sun, with my skin type, would beat down the path to the bronzed Adonis look I had envisioned.
A little burn, and I’d be sweet. No pain, no gain.
For a week, I couldn’t walk properly. Lying down was torture. Showers an impossibility; instead I bathed in after-sun lotion. Huge blisters emerged, camped for a few days, and promptly burst in hot, shameful agony.
In another bout of youthful genius, I tried to rub after-sun lotion on the exposed skin. My subsequent screams could be heard three towns over.
So, next time you see that super pale guy at the beach, don’t mock them. They’ve had it tough enough already. Simply go over and lovingly pat them on the shoulder.
But not too hard! It stings, man.