Tag Archives: Writing

The girl with the infallible itch

There once was a girl with an itchy chest. It wasn’t the kind of go-away-in –five-minutes kind of itch. No, her itch was a constant. And try as she might, no matter how hard she scratched, she just couldn’t relieve it. Some people thought she had fleas. Others thought she had a nervous habit. But everyone knew her as the girl with the itch.

What they didn’t know was how much it affected her life. Chlorine pools aggravated it. Soap exacerbated it. She had to wear natural fibres to avoid irritating it. And she couldn’t wear low cut tops as they would reveal the angry red scratch marks on her chest.

On the plus side, the constant scratching meant she didn’t have to trim her fingernails. They were already worn down from constant buffing. And the girl discovered her calling as a turntablist. In fact her speciality was scratching.

One day, during a deejaying gig, she met a boy. He seemed nice save for his extremely hairy chest. The kind of coarse hair that’s not too dissimilar to steel wool. The boy was pilling, like everyone else in the club, so she thought nothing of the fact he kept hugging her all night. She couldn’t figure out why she so enjoyed letting this sweaty boy hug her. But then she realised what it was. When he hugged her, his chest hair scratched her itch, most deliciously.

From then on they were inseparable. Onlookers would always comment on how in love they seemed, always hugging. Little did they know the boy was merely relieving his girlfriend’s itch.

Five months later, the girl’s itch suddenly disappeared. For years she had put up with it, had it affect her wardrobe, had things whispered about her behind her back, and now it was gone. These days when the boy hugged her, his bristly chest hair scratched her painfully. It seemed their beautiful bond had been broken.

But the boy was brighter than he looked. He simply booked himself and his girlfriend into the local beauty salon. While she had her nails done (they were growing back faster now that she wasn’t scratching all the time), he got his chest hair waxed off. He was going to shave it but then realised he’d end up where his girlfriend had just been – with a constantly itchy chest.

The girl was ecstatic. Both with her boy’s now smooth chest and the fact that their relationship had been saved. From then on, the happy couple dedicated their lives to doing all things scratch-free. The girl gave up deejaying and he threw away his back-scratcher and mohair rug. And in the middle of the night, they’d often go on guerrilla missions to de-thorn neighbour’s rosebushes and cactus gardens.



In 2008 our friend Paul Meates published Aislinns piece “colourblind” in his book “picturesworth” where writers interpreted an artwork of Pauls.

Reprinted with kind permission.



“Alrighty then. I’m going to hold up some cards and I want you to tell me what you see okay?”

I nodded, to show the woman I understood.

To the first card, I said, “An orange. Or maybe a lemon.”

To the second, “Could be a canary, could be a sparrow.”

The third was easy. “That’s a cloud.”

“What kind of cloud?” she probed gently.

“A grey one.”
The woman sighed and put the cards down.

“You’ve got a very unusual condition,” she paused to look down at my name on the file in front of her, “Violet.”

I could see the irony was not lost on her. Born with black and white vision yet named after a colour I would never see.

“That cloud was red by the way.”

I shrugged. It looked grey to me.

“I’m afraid you’re colour blind. Completely and utterly.”

It wasn’t like she was telling me anything I didn’t already know. I left, wondering why I’d paid $90 to see a specialist who was just as unhelpful as the others.

To cheer myself up, I went shopping. I only ever bought clothes in black or white. Or cream, which looked white to me. This saved me having to ask the shop assistant whether a colour suited me or not  (they were always lying). It also saved my clothes from going out of fashion. Black and white was always ‘in’. The other plus was I only had to separate my laundry into two piles instead of three.

As I caught the bus home with yet another little black dress from Nom D, I stared out the window at all the other cars on the road. They said red car owners tended to speed more. I’d never been able to tell myself. I wasn’t allowed to drive, not being able to see traffic light colours. Still, I knew red was at the top, orange was in the middle and green was at the bottom. I guess not being able to see other cars’ brakelights and indicator lights was more the problem.

Back in my apartment, I put on my favourite CD, The Black Album by Jay Z. Despite this morning’s appointment, I was in a surprisingly good mood. One of the benefits of my condition. The weather never affected my serotonin levels. To me, it was always grey outside.

My apartment was one of the few places where I felt truly at home. I knew there wasn’t any colour that I was missing out on. That’s because I’d chosen a white leather couch with matching ottoman, a white throw rug for the floor, white linen on the beds and in the bathroom, white tiles, walls and doors. Even the flowers in the vase on the coffee table were white. The only bad thing was that my stray black head hairs stood out like dog’s balls on the floor. (I’d been born with brown hair but to me it looked black.) Also, when I was hung over, the apartment was unbearably bright.

Tonight was going to be a good TV night. My favourite hospital dramas were on. I knew some people had trouble watching the operating theatre scenes. Not me though. Without colour, it just didn’t seem that gory. I would have loved to do medicine at uni. Or join the bomb squad. Of course both these options were an impossibility. I’d seen enough terrorist movies. Those bomb experts were always asking “Which wire do I cut? The red one or the green one?” If they were relying on me, I’d probably detonate that bomb every time.

Sitting on the couch by myself, I started to wish I hadn’t broken up with my boyfriend. We’d been going out six months. And would probably still be dating if I hadn’t ended it. He hadn’t done anything wrong per se. It’s just that he was a goth. And it made me really angry that even though he could see and appreciate colour, he chose not to wear it. Ironically, his black clothes and white skin was what drew me to him in the first place. But like all novelties, it soon wore off.

No, I didn’t mind being single. Because there was always one place I could go where I didn’t feel like the odd one out. The local arthouse cinema. They always played black and white movies on Monday nights. Hitchcock, Casablanca, Buster Keaton, Jacques Tati, they had all the classics. As I sat in my black and white chair, eating my black and white popcorn, I felt like everyone around me was in the same boat. They couldn’t see those films in colour and neither could I.

I was in the middle of pouring myself a glass of black wine (red to you), getting ready for an episode of Grey’s literally grey Anatomy, when I got the call. It was the card-holding eye specialist.

“Look I’m sorry to call so late. It’s just that I wanted you to be the first to know. A new drug has just come out called ROYGIBVÒ and it could help add colour to your vision. I’m looking for people to take part in clinical trials and thought you’d be perfect. Are you interested?”

“Uh yeah I guess,” I replied.

“You’ll be given either a placebo or ROYGIBVÒ for two years. It’ll be a double-blind test so not even I will know which one you’ve been given. It’s a tremendous opportunity. Plus you’ll help researchers cure colour blindness in either your lifetime or your children’s.”
I really didn’t mind if the drug didn’t work. I quite liked being different to everyone else. But it was almost certain that my kids, if I ever had any, would inherit my condition. And if the drug did work, well, I’d always wanted to see a rainbow. And get a pet chameleon whose changing colours I could actually see. Either way it was win-win. So I accepted.

“We’ll see you 8am tomorrow then?” the woman asked excitedly.

“Yeah definitely. Cheers for that”, I replied as I hung up.

I raised my glass to no one in particular before taking a sip of my beautiful black shiraz. I may not have had a colourful past. But for the first time, my future looked bright.



Break-ups are just plain inconvenient

When you look up the term ‘break-up’ in the thesaurus, ‘inconvenient’ should be listed as a synonym. That’s because when a couple you know hits splitsville, catching up with them individually is a royal pain in the arse.

It all started with my divorced parents. Once I’d moved out of home at age 19, I got into a horrible pattern of visiting my mum and dad each twice a week. After not having a life for 4 years, I soon got fed up and moved to Melbourne.

There I befriended another couple. It was all going swimmingly for the first two years. Double dates, scrabble nights with the perfect amount of players, dinner parties with recipes for four. Then the bombshell dropped. Their break-up was so bad I couldn’t even cc them both on the same email, let alone invite them both to a warehouse party containing 500 people where there was a 0.01% chance of them running into each other. By the time they were on speaking terms again a year later, another break-up happened.

This one was a lot less painful. The guy was working overseas in Dubai. That’s one good thing about long distance break-ups. No one has to move out and find a new place to live. And there’s no awkward ‘which one shall I invite to my birthday’ decisions to make. By the time the guy returned to Melbourne six months on, another couple I knew were history.

This break-up was really problematic. My boyfriend would always invite the guy out whilst I would unknowingly invite the girl. Then we’d realize that we’d both fucked up and that one of us would have to go about the tricky business of uninviting someone. Not pleasant. Plus when their respective birthdays came up, you’d have to quiz the other person for gift ideas. But then you’d be worried that reminding them of their ex might be too painful. And so on.

I hate difficult situations. I also hate the Apartheid mentality that comes with break-ups. (Did Apartheid last? No.) From now on, I’m not making friends with any new couples. I’m not going to do any matchmaking either. If perchance I do befriend a pair of lovebirds, I’ll just avoid getting too close to either one of them. By seeming standoffish, neither party will want my shoulder to cry on during the aftermath. Nor will I be required to take sides.

Why can’t we all learn from the O.C.? Through drinking problems and extra-marital affairs, Sandy and Kiersten simply stuck together. Having said that, I’ve probably jinxed it now and the next episode will feature Sandy with a pre-nup defending himself in court. Meanwhile Kiersten’s divorce lawyer will be saying to himself, ‘This break-up sure is damn convenient. Now I can justify upgrading my Beamer to an Aston Martin.’