I have an uneasy relationship with age, and it’s not just because I’m (apparently) a woman of a “Certain Age”. Age is such an arbitrary thing. There is a number that is assigned to me, which increases every 365 days and defines what I wear, how I behave, how much I should be worth, my maritial status and whether I can have children or not. And I say Bollocks.
My bones make me 150, all creaks and groans and dusty decay, and muscles that just refuse to work. A beautiful summers day and I am 6, all barefoot in the grass, skipping and twirling and singing to myself. The nine to five makes me 28, crisp shirts and high heels with clean hair and a nice pedicure. And an attractive man makes me 17, pink cheeked and hot flushed, nervously virginal and desperate for something witty to say. My heart thumps in my ears, my mouth goes dry, I chew my bottom lip, my stomach ties in knots and my body shakes uncontrollably.
Tonight I sat in a predominantly female audience at the Cremorne Orpheum, and came face to face with this man.
What’s that? You don’t recognise him? How about this then.
You still don’t recognise him? That’s because he is a Very Attractive Man, A Very Very Attractive Man and I was shaking like it was the end of the world. And I say Damn You all you makers of digital cameras, because you’ve invented the image stabilizer button, but it doesn’t work when there is a Very Attractive Man in the same room as you. So please all you tech heads, invent a button that is sensitive to a pounding heart, sweaty palms, a dry mouth and I will buy your camera. Because out of 15 photos, that I wasn’t supposed to be taking, I only got one that looks remotely like the Most Beautiful Man in the World.
Viggo sodding Mortensen. Oh heart’s desire. He was nervous, he was funny, he was embarrased, he waffled, he spoke Danish, he was warm and inviting and contemplative and sad and giving, and well, beautiful.
And just when I thought my night was complete – or at least as complete as it is going to get with Me, the man of my dreams, and 500 other women – it got better. Because tonight I made an ass of myself in front of, and over, Amanda Brown. She was the coolest chick in the world when I was 16, and I tell you 20-odd years later, she was the coolest chick at the Orpheum. And if you don’t know who Amanda Brown is, then I banish you to the naughty corner. But take your walkman with you, and I’ll lend you my copy of Tallulah, and you can listen to one of the best bands in the world. Ever.
I grew up knowing I was different from everyone around me, and feeling like a freak because of it. Until I heard “Cattle & Cane” and The Go-Betweens have had a place in my heart ever since. It was bands like The Go-Betweens who made me realise that books and art and film and music, contemplation and expression are not just important, they are essential. And that we shouldn’t settle for the mediocre, we should always search for what makes our heart sing, be it a three minute pop song, a sentence in a book, a photograph or a film. Or a Very Attractive Man.
It’s been said that Australia is a cultural wasteland, and that Everything is happening Over There. And for a while I believed it, said those very words. But then I got Over There, and realised there IS no place like home, and just like Dorothy, realised everything I’d gone looking for was in my backyard all the time. We might not have the Most Beautiful Man in the World (but I’m working on it) but we do have some of the best songwriters, bands and storytellers the world has ever known. And I was lucky enough to grow up listening to them.
So I’m sorry Mr Mortensen, while you make me tremble, I’m afraid it wasn’t until I came face to face with Amanda Brown that I became a 16 year old girl again.
“When a woman learns to walk, she’s not dependent anymore, a line from her letter; May 24”.
Vale, Grant McLennan. The world is a lesser place without you.