Heat by Rob O’Neill

Loser, baby

The Girlie is deep in the middle of her HSC preparation exams, you know, the practice exams that are always twice as hard as the real thing. So I guess she’s been a bit stressed. That’s my explanation, at least, for why she keeps calling me a “loser”.

She would say it’s because I keep coming home late and there’s no food in the house, but when the Girlie talks about food she means stuff you can pick out of the fridge and eat. Anything involving two or more ingredients that have to be mixed or cooked in any way is just too much.

I suppose I can be thankful she doesn’t do that teenie finger and thumb “L” sign on her forehead like her sister does.

I’ve been feeling like a capital “L” loser recently. Having just watched the first episode of de Botton’s Status Anxiety programme I find myself wondering why I don’t care about any of the stuff he talks about. Why don’t I care that I have an old car? No property? I don’t care about clothes. I don’t care about money – as long as I have enough. And I’m never jealous of other people’s success.

Some of my friends started saving for their retirement as soon as they left high school. I haven’t started yet and it doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, somewhere in the middle of all the savings messaging I can’t help feeling there’s some rip-off social engineering going on.

I must be a loser.

I asked myself what I wanted out of life the other day and it was really pretty simple: a small flat, a room full of books, a PC and internet connection.

Time. Much more time.



Anybody would think these things are gold they’re so hard to get your hands on. When someone I know lands a great job these days all I think, unfairly I hope, is “you poor bastard”.

Now let’s assume I’m not alone – and I know I’m not because whether you look at my fellow Public Addressers or across the ideological divide at NZ Pundit, you see people with unorthodox attitudes to work. I hate the term but the media here is always talking about “downshifters” or corporate dropouts. Add to that the fact that by 2008 the working population (at least here in Aussie) will start to decline as the peak of the boomers passes and you get signs of a profound change on the way.

What does it mean? Buggered if I know.

I’ve always had the attitude you should never close doors on yourself. As you grow you tend to do this. With every decision you make you close one other option at least and eventually things close in on you and you end up with just a few options left. James Joyce wrote in Ulysses: “We are bound and fettered and lodged in the room of the infinite possibilities we have ousted”, which more or less expresses the theory.

So I’ve always been a generalist, with no desire to specialize in anything too much. But now I find that while I’m not really restricted in what I do by education or experience, I am restricted by attitude.

I just can’t be fucked.

Go figure.