When You're Down There's Just One Way To Go!
It’s Monday morning and I’m on the way to Aldi Supermarket with Maki after dropping Tyson off at kinder for the afternoon and I’m feeling sad for no particular reason.
It’s as I’m changing the mode on Ford Territory’s Command Centre – so that it will play my ‘80’s Melancholy’ Playlist directly from my iPhone – that I reflect on a conversation I had with a friend just yesterday:
‘’I don’t get how people play sad music when they’re sad,’ I said. ‘When I’m sad I play music that either makes me want to massacre entire armies single-handedly, or conjures imagines of myself surrounded by screaming clapping night-club-goers as I sphitz out with the latest dances moves under a shiny oversized disco ball.’
I truly believed that statement with all my blessed little heart yesterday but can only resign myself to being a kind of hypocrite now as I allow my melancholy mood to choose a song for me –the mournful and potentially tear-producing tune, Love Changes Everything by Climie Fisher.
I look to the rear vision mirror to see Maki pumping his arms joyously and even though I know that this dullness inside is mostly the result of chronic sleep deprivation – which is 80% my own fault and 20% a necessary evil of having young children – I am unable to rise above it. I croon to the moon which is still eight hours from climbing the night sky and the emotion in my voice is so raw, and the facial expressions so influenced by the music that I remind myself of Michael Bolton, though without the crazy fuzzy mullet.
With the Territory in the underground car park I run Maki up the concrete ramp to Aldi with speed, saying ‘look-out’ and ‘where we going Maki?’. I may be drowning on the inside but his laughing and squealing puts floaties around my upper arms and keeps my head above the water.
We’ve only just entered the supermarket when Maki starts pointing at food products and slapping at the trolley and making a significant racket in the strangely quiet and mostly un-patroned aisles of Aldi. I’m almost certain I fed him just before we left for kinder but if he is hungry this shopping experience is going to get ugly. I’m not mentally capable right now of employing the distraction technique and so go the easier fix – the feeding technique – and tear open a packet of Chocolate Wheat Digestives, which are not only delicious but also help people poo more frequently; and with less effort.
My head is spinning left and right as I swipe what I think we need into the trolley as quickly as possible, and that’s the reason I almost miss seeing the half eaten biscuit fly over my shoulder.
‘Maki!’ I whisper.
‘More!’ he says.
I open an Banana Custard Tube and hand it to him but two minutes later as I’m loading three slabs of Diet Ginger Beer (my favourite all time drink!) onto the bottom of the trolley Maki demands more again as he drops the empty tube on my head.
It’s clear to me now that he’s stuck in one of his feeding frenzies and I have as much chance of filling him up as I have of sprouting Michael Bolton’s hairstyle, or of reaching the peak of his vocal range.
When I look at the aisles still left to travel I imagine myself a clump of grass in the mouth of a cow – I still have three stomachs and a significant stretch of intestine to worm through before I can find my way out of this shit. Once I’ve handed Maki an open tube of Chocolate Custard I break into a jog and a mild sweat.
Somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind Climie Fisher is still singing and occasionally, as the shelves blur by in my mad search for groceries for home and food for Maki, I find myself mouthing along with the back-up singers.
When we get to the checkout I’m relieved to see we’re the only ones there and the check-out lady smiles as I lift several items at a time and dump them on the conveyer belt to her scanner. I say G’day but find it almost impossible to smile back.
‘Do you need this?’ she says, holding up the empty tube of Aldi Banana Custard, as I’m throwing the already scanned items into the trolley. ‘Or should I throw it in the bin?’
‘That would be great,’ I say, nodding towards the bin.
‘How about this?’ she says a moment later, holding up the tube of Chocolate Custard.
‘Empty? Bin that as well,’ I say, with a forced chuckle, adding, ‘Kids eh? Whatever gets you through the aisles...’
Maki says ‘more!’ again as I slide some tins of tuna and packets of cream cheese straight from the counter to the trolley and when I look up the check-out lady’s holding an empty punnet of blueberries. ‘Bin,’ I say, before looking directly into her eyeballs and adding. ‘If it’s empty you can bin it.’
When she clears her throat seconds later I can’t believe she hasn’t cottoned on to the process I’ve mapped out for her and without acknowledging the banana peel she’s holding in her hand say, ’Look, he was hungry, okay? He’s eaten a lot of stuff. If something’s empty, bin it. Just... bin... it.’
‘There’s still half left,’ she says, nonchalantly, pushing it at me like it’s a jousting stick.
‘Okay give it to me then,’ I say, taking the remaining banana as she discards the peel, and handing it to Maki.
I watch the arc of his arm and lose a second of my life being fixated by the banana smear on the floor and despite being aware that I’m uncharacteristically angry because of my phenomenal sleep-debt, I look back at the check-out lady with eyebrows raised and say, ‘You’re partly to blame for that you realise.’
Her laughter comes to me like a warm, stinging slap across the cheek and finally Climie stops singing his awesome but sadness-funnelling song into my earhole and I’m struck by a moment of clarity... I've been acting like self-centred arse.
Maki’s giggling suddenly and the check-out lady is smiling at him and the question I ask myself is 'who the fuck am I to be acting like this?'
I force a smile and make it stay there and I even manage some small talk about kids and shopping centres and within a minute of acting like a decent human I know I have it in me to rise above this mood.
Once we make it back to the Territory and pack the groceries I fasten Maki into his car-seat and take a minute to do some peek-a-boo before jumping in the front seat and connecting the iPhone to the Command Centre again, shuffling through my 80s ‘High Energy’ playlist for something that’ll send me home in a better state of mind.
I settle on C’est La Vie by Robbie Nevil because the tempo is upbeat and reminds me of when I used to ride my BMX through the paddocks back home singing to cows and eating sherbet bombs and because there are some positive and key lyrics scattered throughout the song to remind me of something important: ‘when you’re down there’s only one way to go’.