Good Reading : July 2001
authority A space in which authors can play or express an opinion. This month, to coincide with the release of the film version, David Smiedt puts a male spin on Bridget Jones’s Diary. Friday 26 January Waistline 32”, 3 sets push-ups @ 30 reps, vodka shots 6 (slur alert) 10.30 am Woke up with my mouth carpeted in corduroy and a stranger’s business card in my pocket. Last night’s drinks at the Bayswater was your standard it’s-not-as-if-we-have-to-work tomorrow affair. Met Lisa (platonic ex-colleague whom I hope will come to her senses and see how attractive I am) at 7.00 pm. She’d brought a friend. Any doubts I had about this being a set-up vanished as quickly as Lisa did after she introduced Karen. She worked in IT and was divorced. I could see how Lisa might think we’d have something in common as I was separated and used a computer at work. She had also lost a bundle in the dot.com crash. I know this because I tried to follow RULE 1 OF IMPRESSING A WOMAN: SHOW INTEREST IN HER WORLD. Unfortunately ‘hope you weren’t being paid in stock options’ was not the ice-breaker I thought it might be. I had just broken the emergency glass over RULE 2 OF IMPRESSING A WOMAN: COMPLIMENT HER ACCESSORIES when Lisa arrived back at our booth with the drinks. Chardy’s for them and a Seabreeze for me. It was at that moment that Karen lost interest in me and although we swapped business cards later in the evening, it was only out of obligation to Lisa. I blame my drink, or at least its name. In an alcoholic world filled with titles like slammer, depth-charger and mule, I had to favour a concoction that sounded like an Impulse fragrance. Combined with a compliment that actually featured the term “kitten heels”, I wasn’t exactly painting a virile picture. Note: work on ruggedness. 2.00 pm To the gym. Dodgy, delusional or shallow, I’ll take my shots of self-esteem where I can – even if it comes in the form of a tight black Bonds T-shirt. Untucked to convey the impression of a casually impressive physique. Surely the combination of sixpack and cerebellum will kick in soon. There was a message on my voicemail from Lisa. RULE NUMBER THREE OF IMPRESSING A WOMAN: CALL BACK PROMPTLY. Experience had taught me this conversation was going to go one of two ways. The first involved her asking, “So did you have a good time last night?”. The key to this question was the upward inflection with which it ended and revealed the true meaning behind it: what do you think of Karen? 8 The second scenario would involve the previous evening never being spoken of again. This would mean that Karen found me as enticing as having a Pap smear by a doctor with Parkinsons. Suffice to say Karen wasn’t a slight bit interested in my speculum. Saturday 27 January Waistline 32”, 2 sets push-up @ 30 reps, vodka shots 0 , lattés 4 12 noon. If only my mother hadn’t been quite so ahead of her time. If only she hadn’t divorced my father and launched a grotesquely successful PR company with the proceeds of the settlement. If only she didn’t insist on our weekly bout of quality time taking place on a milk crate outside a café on Victoria Street. Renée Zellwegger as Bridget in the forthcoming film I arrived on time to find her a vision in Fendi making small talk with a passerby in oversized sunglasses. I waited until he moved on before approaching as I couldn’t face the introduction without caffeine in my system. Marlene, as my mother insists I call her, assumes that I am as well-known as she is in Sydney media circles. As a result she introduces me thus ‘and of course you know my son, Mark’. The unfortunate person in question then has to feign recognition. Having skipped this ordeal, I had barely downed latté one when Marlene asked if I was ‘getting out much’. Which means dating. I replied I wasn’t and she said that I could tell her if I was gay. I apologised for my sexual preference as I knew it had robbed her of an opportunity to prove how open-minded she was. After all, there’s not much cachet in having an openly heterosexual son. After her desultory surprise at the fact that I hadn’t been invited to any of the Fashion Week parties she attended, she then asked how my job was going. Mistaking my enthusiasm for stoicism, Marlene congratulated me sticking it out as ‘a writer on social issues for a woman’s magazine of diminishing circulation’. The world needed people like me apparently. Before she could buoy my spirits with further encouragement, she received an SMS message at which she giggled like a nervous schoolgirl. It was from Perry, her latest Viagra-powered beau, whose idea of wit was using his Nokia to send messages such as this one, which bore the legend ‘4NIK8?’ ‘I really don’t want to know about your sex life Marlene,’ I chided her, uncomfortable at the visuals it conjured, not to mention the fact that it seemed far more rewarding and varied than my own. She leaned towards me with a smile, kissed me on the cheek and told me to grow up. David Smiedt is the author of Delivering the Male Your Guide to Modern Men, published by Penguin.