Thursday, 6 September 2007

In which our hero finds himself getting all meta

You know those moments you have when you realise that not everyone else behaves the way you do? Maybe this is one of those moments for me right now? Perhaps no-one else has moments when they realise that no-one else a moment when they realise that not every one behaves the same way you do?

Any-hoo, I have a stock phrase that I use as shorthand for “something obscure and high brow”. For a long time it was “Mesopotamian basket weaving”*. An example would be discussing what papers someone should take at university and I’d finish with, “…and then you’d have 6 points you can use as an interest paper. Do a course in Mesopotamian basket weaving or something just to take your mind off dentistry for a while.”

For as long as I can remember, it’s been my stock phrase that I’d pull off the shelf when I needed a eccentric example at the end of a sentence. Then, last week, Robyn stayed a day extra in Auckland to spend time with our friend Simran while I had to get back to work. Some how it came up in conversation at work that Robs had stayed up north to spend time with a friend and the interlocutor asked, “So, what are they doing today?” I responded with a flippant, “I don’t know, shopping or something.”

The moment it came out I realised how dumb and chauvinistic I had sounded (even though Robs and Simran had talked about going shopping before I left) so I quickly back peddled and came up with, “…Or not. They could easily be sitting in a café, drinking espresso while discussing nineteen-fifties Peruvian architecture.” (Interesting side bar, they didn’t actually go shopping but rather woke up late after too much Sangria the night before and had brunch in a nearby café so my second prediction was actually closer to the button though I doubt the topic of the Capitol Building in La Paz Lima ever arose as they sipped their trim flat whites). No idea where it came from or whether there was anything significant about architecture in Peru in the 50’s that would warrant a discussion but now “nineteen-fifties Peruvian architecture” as usurped “Mesopotamian basket weaving” as my random, far-fetched intelligentsia example of choice.

I used it on myself while walking back from lunch the other day – “Idiot, did you think she was talking about nineteen-fifties Peruvian architecture?” – and I suddenly realised that it’s unlikely that it’s normal to chastise yourself internally and I don’t suppose that most people have stock examples that they’re aware off and keep up their sleeve in case of a metaphoric emergency. Either way, I think I’m going to stop thinking (writing?) about this as it’s not like I'm an expert on nineteen-fifties Peruvian architecture or anything.

*Yes, I realise that my short-hand phrase is longer than the phrase it’s replaced.

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