Category Archives: blame

The small print is the most important ingredient on the label …

There are lots of reasons why Rocco’s mother should probably remember to take her reading glasses to Food-o-rama. Without them, she can just about drive the car there, negotiate her way across the carpark in a fairly basic manner and stumble through the sliding glass doors of the mall – and mostly, she can even tell which aisle she’s in. She knows her way around Food-o-rama well enough to almost locate the products she requires – and sometimes even gets it right. Last week however, she managed to get it wrong in rather an epic and spectacular display of misjudgement – and Rocco paid for it the next day. Indeed, Rocco’s hapless colleagues probably paid, too.

Rocco’s mother, who is definitely not renowned for Nigella-esque bursts of culinary activity (or mesmerising bosoms, even), decided to try a type of bottled coconut curry sauce in which to cook chicken. It looked delicious altogether and was – which is important – in an aesthetically pleasing jar. Obviously, there is far more to curry sauce than the illustration on the label – indeed, if Rocco’s mother was any kind of mother at all, she’d be making her own curry sauce with a million exotic spices ground lovingly with a pestle and mortar hewn from million-year-old volcanic rock. Rocco’s mother is not that kind of mother –  a fact which has been long established – and any foray into the kitchen is miraculous in itself. People are expected to show gratitude.

Rocco was prepared to show quite a bit of gratitude, because the curry smelt delicious as it simmered away – and Rocco was hungry.  He was happy his mother had made enough that there was some left over for him to take for lunch the next day. Goodo, and much anticipatory gnashing of teeth.

It became apparent to Rocco’s mother, as she sampled the first forkful, that she should not have gone there. The coconut curry was arsebreakingly evil – even the fumes entering the nostrils were ringing out a warning. Fumbling for her glasses, Rocco’s mother examined in detail the beautifully illustrated label on the jar, and discovered, in small print, ‘… with HOT peri peri’. Rocco’s mother did not have a clue of the meaning of peri peri. She did, however, have a working knowledge of the meaning of ‘hot’. It is a word she associates with water bottles, roast dinners and Alan Rickman. It is not a word she had ever considered in the same sentence as peri peri. Nevertheless, so it was written, and she felt it necessary to issue Rocco with a timid and somewhat embarrassed warning:

‘I don’t think we’re going to be able to eat this …’

Rocco and his mother sat with tears streaming down their faces and their nostrils twitching alarmingly. Rocco managed to finish his – though his mother was less enthusiastic about having her internal organs perforated, decimated and spat out at the other end. Both parties reached for tubs of fruche in order to put things to rights – and Rocco’s mother suggested Rocco may not wish, all things considered, to take the remains of the curry to work the next day.

Imagine her surprise the next morning on discovering the container of curry had been removed from the fridge and taken to Rocco’s place of employment – which, fortunately, is an open-walled timber mill. The thought of Rocco being cooped in a small, musty, air conditioned office was more than Rocco’s mother could bear thinking about. She thanked the Great Mother he was not performing brain surgery that day. She worried all morning about her son’s health – flinching each time she heard ambulance sirens, fire sirens – or even police sirens, as she considered excessive flatulence in the workplace could certainly constitute a crime against humanity.

In the middle of the afternoon, Rocco’s mother received a txt msg. ‘Thnx heaps – thr ws plastic in my lnch.’

There are lots of reasons why Rocco’s mother should wear her reading glasses whilst cooking. One of which is that, after snipping the plastic strip from the top of the noodle pouch, she would be able to ensure it went into the bin, rather than into the stir-fry. Rocco’s mother cannot comprehend how this happened – but consoled herself with the fact a strip of plastic probably would have done far less harm to her son’s digestive tract than the food in which it was lodged. As Rocco assured her his lunch was ‘nicer today than last night’, she saluted herself on having improved the recipe with her surprise ingredient inclusion. She may now patent a new range of curry sauces:

‘With HOT peri peri – and plastic strip.’

Rocco’s mother can almost hear Nigella wishing she’d thought of it first.

.oOo.

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Nothing will ever have a place anywhere any more …

There is a gaping hole in the kitchen of Rocco’s mother – where the drawers used to be. Whether they will ever go there again is questionable, and Rocco’s mother is forced to gaze in wonder (and maybe even, if she cares to admit it, a little bit of annoyance), at the pile of plastic bags flung in the corner which contain the once neatly arranged ex-contents of the ghosts of drawers past. The contents of the cutlery drawer are in their little compartmentalised tray thingie on the kitchen table. For convenience. They’d like to be in a drawer, as would the biscuit cutters, melon baller, bicycle repair kits and random crap – but there is not one available in which for them to be.

For Rocco, in a fit of goodwill and benevolence, decided to commit his good deed for the year and replace the faulty drawer runners while his parents were away on Boxing Day. The drawers had been malfunctioning for quite some time – most of the little ball bearings having escaped and rolled to places unknown – and on the one occasion the Hunter Gatherer had attempted to purchase new runners, he’d discovered – alas – the correct size and type were no longer available. Thus, things trundled along in an unsatisfactory manner for several years – until Rocco, in absentia parentis, decided to get it sorted for once and for all.

The first Rocco’s mother knew about this was while she was waiting, in pleasant and indulgent anticipation, for her dinner to arrive at her table in the Upper WoopWoop Golf Club, where the Hunter Gatherer had taken her for tea. A txt msg came through – not quite like manna from heaven, but surprising nonetheless  – which stated, in Rocco’s usual eloquent fashion, that he’d ‘… trd to fx kchn drws and f*kd thm. Sorry :(.’

Rocco’s mother was touched. She thought it was sweet of Rocco to have wanted to indulge in household repairs and maintenance at Casa Shambolic – which has, indeed, rather a long list of impending projects to be tackled. She txtd back – using lots and lots of words and proper punctuation and upper case letters for appropriate nouns even – because naturally Rocco’s mother cannot allow herself to abbrv8  or lwr her stndrds in any way. She told Rocco how lovely it was that he’d attempted the project – and assured him he was not to worry at all.

At almost the precise time his parents arrived home after their two days away, Rocco departed on his own short holiday – assuring his mother as he passed her swiftly on the verandah he would attend to the drawer problem on his return, as he would have to construct new drawers to accommodate the updated runners. Rocco’s mother was happy (allegedly, anyway) to wait a few days. Given that the gaping hole in the kitchen cupboards would have been evident even to Blind Freddy, encapsulated within a wombat trundling its way through her kitchen in the middle of a dark night after hell had frozen over, she was happy in the knowledge Rocco would not ever be able to forget the job had not been completed. Every morning when he wanted his lunchwrap and coloured Zippy bags for his sarnie, he would be forced to rummage in the plastic bags in the corner, as was she. He would be mightily peeved by this, and would surely move to complete the job, Godspeed.

Theoretically, this seemed like a very goodly thing. In reality, however, Rocco’s mother is less than impressed with the status quo. Today is January 10, and there is still a gaping hole in the kitchen of Rocco’s mother. She does not wish to complicate things by suggesting the situation move to a more convenient level, so she has taken to placing various object d’art in the cavity each night before going to bed – in the hope Rocco will be shocked and awed into taking appropriate remedial action. On one particular morning, he was greeted by a Mexican garden gnome. It obviously didn’t !hola! quite loudly enough, as Rocco failed to remark on it. Neither did he seem to notice the large watermelon, the chamberpot or the 10kg of very excellent and quality hoochy-kooch in the boogie board cover.  Which probably wasn’t all that surprising, seeing as even customs officials miss that one.

Rocco’s mother is not quite sure which course of action to take next. Maybe tomorrow morning she will leap from the cavity in person, wild and demented in her horrid velveteen dressing gown and frightening hair. In which case, Rocco will probably say, ‘Seeing as you’re in the kitchen, woman – bake me some cake!’

And Rocco’s mother will say … ‘Boo!’

.oOo.

Rocco’s mother shops by appointment only …

Rocco’s mother is feeling a bit maverick today. She was booted out of Food-o-rama last night, and that’s a pretty big thing. Rocco’s mother is the type of person who would never dare take more than eight items through the eight-items-or-die checkout. She’d hate to upset anyone or be accused of cheating. If she happens to have nine or ten items, she puts a couple of them in her wellies. Joking. She really puts a couple of them down her knickers. Also joking.

But I digress. Rocco’s mother had a lovely week in Darwin and flew home yesterday morning – a four hour flight. Followed by a two hour train journey and another couple of hours on a bus because – what’s new – there was trackwork happening and the train couldn’t go all the way, blah, blah, blah. Whatever. Anyway, on finally reaching home, it was necessary to purchase several items which Rocco (who had been at home alone) had run out of, and which were necessary for the humane survival of his parents. Such as bread and milk. Therefore, Rocco’s mother set off for Food-o-rama with her little list. Which she wouldn’t be able to read when she got there anyway because she hadn’t remembered to take her glasses. And, in fact, she hadn’t actually remembered to take the list either.

Food-o-rama was nice and empty, so Rocco’s mother pottered around in the fluorescent quietness, thinking nothing in particular and winding down. She might even have been singing. And doing little dancing things, even, because she was happy. At the cheese fridge, a cheerless pudding of a girl was restocking, and gave Rocco’s mother a baleful glare – not moving across to allow her to choose cheese. Or select stilton. Pick parmesan. Buy brie. Whatever. Rocco’s mother settled for plasticated slices and moved on. She might have still been singing – or at least emitting a cheerful little hum – at this stage.

As Rocco’s mother started up the bread aisle, a gargantuan troll in a Food-o-rama tunic came bearing down upon her. ‘Madam,’ she said, puffed up with self-importance and the aftermath of consuming too much roadkill, ‘Are you aware the store is ACKshilly … erm … closed?’ Rocco’s mother felt a hot flush up the back of her neck, over her head and down her front.

‘I thought you closed at eight!’ Rocco’s mother protested. Aghast. She had, after all, looked at the trading hours outside and thought she had well over an hour to spare.

‘It’s AFTER eight,’ Foodbitch said smugly. She now had her arms folded in front of her. She looked as if she were getting ready to barge.

‘I’m terribly sorry,’ Rocco’s mother said. ‘Would you like me to put everything back on the shelves?’

Foodbitch’s brain was ticking over. It didn’t have far to tick, because it wasn’t very large. She obviously, however, decided Rocco’s mother would take a long time to replace the offending groceries – and she wanted her gone NOW.

‘Take them through, then,’ FB decided grudgingly. ‘As long as you don’t want anything ELSE.’ She gave Rocco’s mother a look which implied she might be the type of person who wished to strip every shelf of every possible item. Just out of spite.

At the checkout, the girlie had emptied her till and tallied up – but started putting Rocco’s mother’s purchases dutifully over the scanner. She then noticed the bag of oranges – carefully selected because they were (for a change) large and orange – happened to have a squashed and broken fruit inside, the orangey contents of which were smearing themselves over the other, non-offending fruit.

‘Oh dear,’ said the girlie. She turned to Foodbitch, who was standing there tapping her foot like the guardian at the River Styx. ‘Would you mind getting another one of these?’

Foodbitch looked as if she might kill Rocco’s mother – but snatched the bag of oranges and huffed off to the fruit section, returning with a bag of the smallest, greenest-tinged, crappy looking oranges she could find. Rocco’s mother knew full well it was Foodbitch’s revenge, along the lines of the Poo-in-the-Gelato punishment which had been enacted upon an unpleasant patron at an hotel a few weeks prior. Rocco’s mother figured Foodbitch was entitled to her little victory. Just this once, and because she appreciated the customer is not right all the time.

It is fortunate there are other supermarkets which Rocco’s mother can frequent. She’s rather embarrassed, and doesn’t know whether she wants to go back to Food-o-rama again. On the other hand, her memory is so jaded these days she’ll probably have completely forgotten about it within a day or two, and will wonder why staff members recoil in horror next time she makes an appearance.

ACKshilly … she doesn’t really give a hoot.

.oOo.

In which Rocco evokes a series of unfortunate events …

Rocco sent his mumma a txt msg which said, ‘an old fart jst ran into me’.  The sending of this unfortunate missive occurred on Friday 13th, a date which his mother had (up until then) always thought was a very lucky day altogether. She had, in fact, woken that morning assuming everything was going to be very pleasant and only good things would happen.  She thought she deserved good things to happen and it was her right. Rocco managed to leech the last bit of hope out of what should have been an ordinary and uneventful day. As usual.

On phoning Rocco, who was in the carpark of Food-o-rama, his mother found it was a bit difficult to hear the entire story because the aforementioned old fart was carrying on in the background like a demented gnome filled with Hitleresque bile . The gnashing of teeth and stamping of little feet was evident even over the airwaves. Rocco’s mother could see the little black moustache in her mind’s eye, though it was very difficult to hear the wood for the trees. Rocco then told the OF to ‘please shut the f up’, which his mother thought was probably not a good idea. You do not swear at people when you are in the wrong. You do not swear at people at any time really – but when you have just backed out of a carpark into them, the f-bomb would not seem appropriate droppage.

The police would not come, because they deemed two driveable vehicles and no injuries constituted a waste of their time. They didn’t want their jam doughnuts to go stiff. Rocco was left to deal with the problem on his own, and because he had no clue as to the name of his insurance company (or even whether he had one), he was unable to furnish the OF with the details. Therefore, his mother received a phone call from the OF’s insurance company a few days later.

By this time, Rocco was away at his TAFE course for the week, and the rather spiteful insuro-bitch on the other end of the phone naturally refused to speak to his mother, because although she had endured several hours of unpleasant labour ejecting Rocco into a horrified and unprepared world in the first place, she was not entitled to know his personal business – even though she would inevitably end up dealing with the unpleasantness of the personal business and Rocco’s father would end up paying the money in question. Insuro-bitch (and Rocco’s mother could see the little black moustache in her mind’s eye) smugly informed R’s M she’d send Rocco a letter instead, which she duly did. The letter was also dipped in venom, and informed Rocco he was to pay $3,528 immediately in order to shut them up finalise the matter.

As if this incident wasn’t quite enough, Rocco also managed to incur a $200 fine for purchasing a concession train ticket in order to return home from his TAFE course. He hadn’t realised his travel card had expired, and blissfully purchased the ticket as usual – only to find the transit police were not in the least sympathetic and wanted their pound of flesh. Rocco’s hapless mother (who does not have time for a life of her own) is currently in the process of writing her second appeal letter on his behalf in an attempt to shut them up finalise the matter – which won’t work, because the first one didn’t, but will buy a bit of time.

But Rocco’s disastrous fortnight hadn’t quite offered up its finale yet.  There was more to come because naturally, although he’d been told numerous, mind-numbing times to always lock his car and never leave valuables inside it, Rocco parked his car in the driveway on Friday night with his wallet and his iPod on the front seat and expected everything to be tickety-boo in the morning. As you do, when you live in lala land where the moon’s a balloon and the flowers pick themselves. The fact Rocco’s pay was in his wallet at the time was just the icing on the cake for the thieves – they scored admirable booty from their heist and then turned to Rocco’s parents’ car for good measure. This gleaned only a couple of packets of cigarettes and a few dollars in small change – but there was the fun of hurling the contents of the glovebox all over the car and opening boxes of computer parts which were obviously not exciting enough to be bothered taking. Naturally the police wouldn’t come. They’d just purchased another dozen fresh doughnuts.

There are other things that could happen this week, and they probably will. None of them will be good, because Rocco’s stars (and those of his parents) seem to have aligned in a clashing cacophony of misadventure.  In fact, when Rocco’s mother heard the postman dropping something in the mailbox a few minutes ago, she curled herself up into a ball and hid in a corner …

.oOo.

Out of the window with Rocco …

            ‘Do you know where your children are now?’ asks the ad in sombre tones.

            This is your signal to get up from in front of the box and check the bedrooms. Pull back all bedcovers to make sure there really are kids underneath and not just a heap of pillows and dirty gym socks. You can no longer afford to be either complacent or trusting. The time has come to put your imagination into overdrive and get with the program.

            Let’s face it, you either have the sort of kids who are never home, or the type who hang around the house all day going, ‘I’m bored.’ Problems of the latter ilk can be quickly and efficiently dealt with if you’re any good with gaffer tape. Be grateful if your child is too unattractive or lacking in charm to have friends or places to go. While they are babies, do your utmost to make them as undesirable as possible. Make it your quest to hide them from any concept of personal hygiene. Nobody ever got into trouble alone with their nose in Moth Collectors’ Weekly smelling of sweaty armpits.

            The kids you have to worry about are the ones who are never home. There’s always that nagging, uneasy feeling the police are going to turn up at any minute to fill you in on their activities. Even the most reasonable, unassuming parents can end up with renegade offspring. These parents will wonder what they’ve done wrong – especially as Madeleine, Sebastian and Felicity are such model children, having a marvellous time at university and being an absolute credit to everybody. So what is the problem with Rocco? Why does he not care about having a Quality Card at high school, and why did he hock his saxophone? Apart from the fact he was given a crap name, you can probably trace it back to Great-Grandpappy Jake, the scourge of the new colony. The rogue gene had to go somewhere, and it’s pure chance Maddy, Seb and Fliss missed out. Rocco, on the other hand, is having the time of his life. There’s a big, wide world out there and he’s really getting off on it.

            Because of this, a group of parents in his general vicinity have started a vigilante group. It’s called ‘Where Are the Neighbourhood Kids – Everyone’s Really Scared’. The members of WANKERS are cooperating with police to make sure all local kiddies are tucked up in bed by 10.30pm. They intend putting a complete stop to incidents of adolescent rape and pillage. Unfortunately, Rocco and his mates are out of their bedroom windows by 10.45pm and in the middle of industrial-strength pillage by 11. There is nothing anyone can do, because there are laws these days against giving your kids a thick ear. Furthermore, there are laws against teachers giving your kids a thick ear too, which leaves you with hordes of thin-eared kids out there on the streets doing exactly as they please.

            This is largely due to the existence of community workers who think you should ‘reason’ with your children. Try this: ‘Rocco, sweetheart … how about having a mug of cocoa and spending the evening doing some revision for your maths exam? You’ll enjoy it far more than going out with your friends to nick a few pension cards and get off your face on tequila and Avgas.’ This suggestion will go down a treat with Rocco. He’ll put the kettle on to boil while he’s changing into his pajamas.

            Reasoning with your kids is not an option. Not once they are old enough to reason with you. Sure, you are welcome to give the ‘reasoning’ option a burl – if you don’t mind the sensation of having a tin of Milo jammed up your orifice.

            In reality, the only option you have is to go along to the Monday night meeting of WANKERS. There, you will be able to bond with like-minded parents who have Roccos of their own. You can share coffee, jam drops and compare Milo-tin scars. You can have a bit of a cry and ask, ‘Where did we go wrong?’ That’s easy. You became a parent.

            So – do you know where your children are now?

.oOo.