Tuesday, June 08, 2004

It’s the age of a-Claire-ius

Having an actual flatmate around serves many purposes – some more immediately apparent than others. We thought we were just giving Claire a place to live in London and sharing the hideous burden of the rent – but there’s quite a bit more to it than that:

I’ve found that the little habits I thought were perfectly normal are – in fact – exceptionally freakish.

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1.
Singing.

C came home the other day and gave me a small, fierce look, saying:

“Oh god, I’ve started singing.”

Which I thought wasn’t really such a bad thing, I certainly didn’t see what all the fuss was about and told her so.

“But you don’t understand, I’ve picked up your habit of singing about everything during the day – taking a song and playing around with the lyrics.” Her tone picked up a bit on the hysteric-o-meter. “And I’m doing it AT WORK!”

Ahh.

Trying to avoid the glare, I recommenced the carrot-chopping but it’s difficult to do when someone is quite insistently drilling psychic holes in the side of your skull. I didn’t even realise I had begun singing about C’s singing (to the tune of something from The Lion King) until I looked up and saw her as close to causing me bodily harm as I could have ever imagined. I think I’ve got to start curbing that one.

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2.
Apparently, making words up isn’t ‘normal’.

Much as I adore the English language, sometimes its tapestry doesn’t afford me the particular shade and texture I require to describe something. M has long ago observed this and reconfigured his brain to deal with it. C, on the other hand, stops me mid-flow to ask me what on earth I just said.

My reasoning is that language was made up by people in the first place. It’s not like a dictionary morphed into being one day and we all began speaking English in the same way. We STILL don’t speak English the same way – I’ll wager that if you heard me speak you would find that my Australian accent is ‘strange’ and that you don’t know some of the terms I use.*

I’ll wager that the first guy who looked at his herd of sheep and thought of the word ‘fluffy’ was laughed at too. I’m willing to risk being ridiculed so that future generations can benefit from words like:

• Thinkling – small thought. Not a particularly deep rumination deserving the moniker ‘Thought’, just something small yet significant at the present moment.

• Wifelet – professional wife. A creature whose days are split between beauty salons, designer rag outlets and cafes. She does buy books – but only because their spines match the rug. Can be found hanging barnacle-like off her husband at premieres and parties.

I’m not the only one to do this, by the way, Rory indulges once in a while too.

* No Wuckers, for example. Third generation slang:
No fucking worries > No wucking forries > No wuckers
Don’t look at me like that.
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3.
Being hermit geeks.

We’ve stopped being such hermit geeks. There are two eras, Before Claire (BC) and After Claire (AC). Claire did influence us from afar, but it was far more like the moon’s gentle tug on the tides rather than the screaming asteroid plummeting into our social life that marks the AC era.

BC – Weekend entailed replenishing food supplies, cleaning and settling in for long (“Sheesh, sunlight already?”) bouts of gaming. Over the years, I became somewhat of a party trick at LANs. The girl who could frag your ass nicely in Quake or passionately discuss the differences between being a Sorcerer or Wizard in an RPG.

AC – Weekend entails stumbling to the kitchen to have C inform me that someone (insert random friend) is coming over in an hour. Eyes snap open to assess cleanliness of abode, mind starts going through contents of fridge, mouth starts gabbling things about lunch, hands reach for serviettes and start folding them into origami-esque shapes. C switches on a computer screen and gently guides me to a chair – she knows it’ll keep me in thrall for a couple of hours so that she can complete her dastardly socialisation plan.

BC - Diary had the standard stuff in it. Business appointments, dental checkups,

AC - Diary is now a random assortment of chocolate-box social nibbles. Plenty of things 'to maybe do'. I knew things had changed in my life when last weekend's entry looked something like:

* Buy a fan at Argos
* Call Andy re: lease
* Cheese Rolling festival in Glouchestershire? (Check health insurance if we participate)

C realised early on that we’re not shy; we just enjoy being at home and with each other. She also figured that we’re good mixers at parties, so we occasionally get dropped into a fray to stir things up a little. Cleverly, she ensures that we navigate the flotsam on our own as the effect of us both interrogating a person isn’t pretty.
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4.
Debating teams.

C now changes the friendly-argument-typology in the house. It’s no longer a détente when some obscure topic is discussed and the ‘net can’t help – there’s a knowledgeable little critter around that doesn’t always take my side.

I have plans to fix this little hiccup in my life, but so far none of the ‘Find Omnipotence Now!’ products have kicked in. Bother.
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5.
An overabundance of me-ness.

I have found that friends need to be warned about me before I’m allowed to meet them. I hear about someone from C for a couple of weeks and tell her to bring them on over…and am informed that they’re not ‘ready’ to meet me yet.

This brings to mind some sort of Getting Ready To Face Monica Boot Camp held in an Equatorial forest in Guinea. Attendants are battered senseless with questions, have all their premises challenged and are openly told that some of their ideas aren’t just a little wacky but outright stoopid. They are then introduced to the finer points of Pun-Pong* and assaulted with rounds of I’m Going To Sing About You To The Tune Of A Disney Song. If they survive with (most of) their limbs intact, they progress to The Meeting.

I really don’t know what it is that C tries to instil in these people, but most that I’ve met so far have been rather normal, decent humans. Some have a limp though….

* Pun-Pong. Someone drops an appalling pun into a conversation. Participants (anyone who hasn’t withered away from the sheer badness of the original pun) must then come up with their own pun to counter the last. The pun must be on the same general theme. Footrubs and shoulder massages have been bestowed on the last punner standing in particularly savage rounds. This is a very, very difficult game.
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For someone who grew up as an only child, having someone like C around is discovering what it’s like to have a sister (albeit a well behaved, intelligent, lively sister that doesn’t kick me under the table or acquaint toads with my bedsheets). It’s a view on me from a friendly and close source that isn’t a parent or a lover and it’s decidedly interesting.

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