Sorry my letters haven’t been so frequent. I’ve been writing for other people. It feels a bit illicit and wrong, but a Badass Auntie has to do what a Badass Auntie has to do. I even get paid for it from time to time, so consider it an investment in your deliveries from Amazon.
I also don’t like to write just for the sake of writing. I like to be inspired and so, today, I write to you full of inspiration and hopefully a few choice swear words. My inspiration comes from a lovely little religious holiday called Easter.
When I was little, like all children, I was told a number of fairy tales and myths. Some of those involved religious holidays, like Easter. Apparently there was a bunny involved and the bunny somehow produced chocolate eggs. There were also eggs that we painted and then we’d go searching for them. There was another part of the story, which I never fully understood about sweet Begeebus being killed and then coming back to life again. None of it made much sense at all but it meant chocolate, so that mattered. So who the fuck cared.
Of course, there were other religious holidays with mysterious figures attached to them such as Christmas and Santa Claus. Again, sweet Begeebus also featured somehow in this scenario and that generally meant that someone got to play his Mum and Dad in a play and there would be a donkey and some Kings with frankenstein (at least that’s what I thought it was called) and something else. There was also a baby in a manger and a star. Always a star. Although my family weren’t what I’d call practicing (at least they weren’t practicing very hard) Christians, we’d go to church from time to time and I’d even go to Sunday School.
To be honest, the only thing I got out of attending church and the stories I was told was fried chicken, which was served every Sunday for lunch in the church hall. To me, church and the associated holidays all seemed to be about eating lots and lots of yummy things. So as childhood stories go, they weren’t too bad. Despite what I presume was their intention, they left no guiding mark upon my morality.
Never mind. Because there were always Hans Christian Anderson, whose stories left me feeling guilty in the way, church never did (perhaps I should have been a Catholic). His characters were often little girls, some very poor and sad and others spoiled and mean. These stories left marks on me. I remember The Match Girl vividly and how unbelievably sad it made me to know that there were little girls that were so poor that they had to sell matches. Truly, this was my first exposure to understanding poverty and it hit me hard.
Another one of the stories that marked me for life was The Girl Who Trod on A Loaf, a tragic tale of what would probably be referred to as ‘karma’ now, where a proud and quite unpleasant girl gets her comeuppance for behaving like a brat. Quite frankly, I think her comeuppance was somewhat disproportionate and unfair, but it certainly made me think much more deeply about the consequences of my behaviour and I was quite terrified of puddles for a while too. Read the story. You’ll understand.
Funnily enough, these stories were based upon christian morality and certainly did a far better and more constructive job of leaving a mark on my psyche forever than church or bible lessons ever managed to. If your parents haven’t terrorised you with these stories yet, there’s always time.
So, ‘Badass Auntie, why are you telling me about these stories?’ I hear you say. Ah, my little fledgling nephew, that is the correct question. I tell you this because it amazes me that people really need fairy tales to terrorise people as there are so many unbefuckingleivable real stories to learn from. Today I’m going to tell you one of my own. Hopefully it will mark you for life, leave you damaged and suspicious enough in this world to keep you just a little bit safer. The great thing about this tale is that it has real monsters and no fucking metaphors.
The important thing to remember is that often we confuse the person we ‘know’ with what that person really ‘is’ because we all seem to believe we can actually really ‘know’ another person and the truth is, we can’t. The only person who knows you, is you and it will always be that way. There are good things and bad things about that. One of the good things is that what’s in your head is yours. No one has a right to it and you don’t have to share it with anyone.
As of yet, there are no real thought police, who can monitor what we are thinking, which means that we can think whatever the fuck we want, whenever we want about whoever or whatever we want and that’s a good thing. The bad thing about it is that if no one knows what you are thinking, that means you don’t know what someone else is really thinking and that means that essentially, the world is a very scary place.
So, on that basis, let me tell you my first real fairy tale. Many years ago your Badass Auntie lived in a badass squat. There were about 20-30 of us living there at any time. We had no running water and no (legal) electricity. We ranged in age from about 15 – 50 and we were all outcasts for one reason or another. Some of the people living there, like me, were homeless teenagers. Some were grown up people with personal problems like addiction, depression, alcoholism or any combination of the above. Some were people with radical belief systems like animal rights activists, anarchists and communists or any combination of the above. Some were just hippie stoners. Some were students. Some were just random people who seemed to fit in nowhere else.
One of the people who lived there was Harvey (his real name). He was a bit of a hippie, biker, stoner type. He was super nice and super funny and everyone was very fond of him – so much so that many of us referred to him as ‘Uncle Harvey’. He was quite grounded, sensible and one of the older people in the community, being somewhere, I’d guess, in his late 30’s. He was playful, generous and didn’t seem to have a bad bone in his body.
He’d travel to Amsterdam from time to time and as we all knew, when you traveled to Amsterdam from time to time, you were probably smuggling something back into the country. We just assumed he was smuggling LSD, as that was the most popular and easiest thing to smuggle and could be sold off quickly. Now you may be shocked at the flippant way I refer to drug smuggling and LSD, but you have to remember that in that community, it was a pretty normal and certainly an acceptable, if not downright positive activity to participate with. Our acid had to come from somewhere.
One night, when Harvey was talking to a woman in the community who happened to be an out lesbian, he said that he thought she’d understand ‘as a fellow pervert’ (yes, that’s what he said) that he liked young boys. Turns out that ‘Uncle Harvey’ was smuggling in kiddie porn from Amsterdam and not acid after all. Not only that but he was paying boys from a local travelers’ site to have sex with him. Well, the ‘fellow pervert’ that he spoke to did not happen to feel any sort of kinship with him and urgently informed the rest of us what was going on. Most of us were in utter fucking disbelief. This was Harvey, the fun loving, friendly, generous and kind chap we all knew and loved. There must be some mistake.
We veered between trying to justify his behaviour to ourselves by saying ‘Well the boys are not little children. They are teenagers and well, most of us were having sex at that age and facing the unpleasant reality that the fact that most of us were having sex at that age was not actually a good thing as it was mostly because we were being exploited by adults. It took a while for us to stop trying to rationalise Harvey’s misdeeds because they didn’t correspond with the person we knew and start to realise that we had a sex offender living among us. That’s what he was. A true fucking monster.
I’m not going to go into what followed, except to say that I stopped living in that community soon after this incident. As I grew older I saw this scene played out in different ways so many times. People I know would have a family member involved in something terrible and they’d always try to claim it either wasn’t possible. They’d claim that the person was being wrongly accused and it was a lie or come up with a justification or excuse, blaming the victim, drugs, a bad childhood experience or anything they could grasp to help them come to terms with the fact that the person they thought they ‘knew’ was actually a monster. Even now, I’ll watch the news and see a mother interviewed about her child, who has been caught red handed having done something truly heinous (oh how I’ve wanted to use that word again because I love it so much), and claiming ‘He’s such a good boy. He’d never do something like this.’ Still in a state of denial and very probably soon to move on to blaming the victim.
There is even a TV series about people who marry someone. They are blissfully happy for years and all the while, that person has been doing dreadful, horrible things and they never guessed. They truly believed that the person they married was the person they knew. The problem is, they didn’t know what that person was. Knowing a person and knowing what they are can be two very different things and that is why the world can be a very scary place.
So, what’s Badass Auntie’s wisdom of the day after essentially telling you that you can’t trust anyone on this planet and that they could all be potential monsters? Well, don’t listen to fucking fairy tales for one. They fuck you up. Accept that we all have secrets. All of us. Me, you (though I doubt yours are particularly interesting right now – I’m sure that as you get older they’ll become deeper, darker and more mortifying), your parents, your grandparents, the people next door, the people who run the local bakery – everyone. And you know what? That’s OK. Most people are not monsters. There is no Easter Bunny, Santa Claus (I’m feeling pretty confident that you won’t read this before you realise these things yourself), no Tooth Fairy and you’re not going to burn in hell, ever, no matter what anyone ever tells you.
You will live your life. You will meet people who will surprise you in so many ways. Some will seem like annoying and hideous people and turn out to be some of the smartest, funniest and kindest people you’ve ever met. Some will seem like saintly folks – those are probably the ones most likely to be monsters. They’ll appear to be perfect, but now that you’re armed with the knowledge that everyone has secrets, you’ll also know that no one is perfect. Usually the more perfect they pretend to be, the more pious, the more righteous – the more suspicious you should be as they are the most likely to be monsters.
But you never know.
Sweet fucking dreams. (See, this is what they do to you with those fucking fairy tales.)
Much love from your Badass Auntie
So, I’ve just been destroying your brother’s faith in human nature. Today, since you are younger and therefore, possibly, more fragile in disposition, I’ll go a bit easier on you. But we will stay on a similar theme. I think it’s time I talked to you about how to identify potentially problematic partners. As I’ve had a go at both genders, this advice should be beneficial to anyone, whatever their personal preference. So here are some of the things your Badass Auntie has encountered in life that are definitely huge fucking, big arse signs that the person you have met should in no way, shape or form be considered potential partner material.
Badass Auntie’s Guide to Avoiding Bad Eggs
1. They don’t like animals. All I can say is ‘What the fuck?’
2. They don’t like reading. A very good sign that they are not only stupid but probably revel in it. Stupid people are hideous. Hideous is bad.
3. Your friends think he is gay. You think he is probably gay too. He’s gay.
4. One or more of her room mates are her ex. This just never has a happy ending. Trust me on this one.
5. His ex was a crazy arse bitch. So were all of them apparently. Guess who will be the next crazy arse bitch. Run, don’t walk.
6. He thinks it’s sexier without condoms. Tell him life is sexier without him.
7. She turns up at your door two weeks after you’ve started dating with her bags and tells you her therapist said moving in would be good for her. Arrrrggghhhh. Once she’s in, you’ll never get her out.
8. She’s had at least 5 therapists in the last year. Don’t become her 6th.
9. He says it turns him on when you play dead during sex. Tell him it turns him on when he stays at least a mile away from you. Use an injunction if necessary.
10. He has sex with your friends. He’s a total arsewipe wankwad.
11. He sends you dick pics. He hasn’t a fucking clue or he’s gay and mis sent the text.
12. She sends texts that say things like ‘Hi. What’s up?’…ten times a day. Move and change your number.
13. He asks you if he can repair his motorcycle in your living room. He will never love you as much as he loves that bike.
14. She reorganises your drawers and puts everything in colour order. This is something that might seem cute. It’s just the beginning.
15. He’s a scientologist. I’m not sure what to say except – no.
16. She says ‘namaste’ to every one of your friends as a greeting and a goodbye. Now, you may be able to stomach this, but rest assured that you won’t be coming to visit Badass Auntie with her.
17. He’s a drummer. (your Dad is a drummer. Just sayin’…) That’s it. He does nothing else.
18. She’s decided that deodorant will give her cancer and has never opted to find a suitable alternative. Seriously. There’s being natural, which I’m all for and then there’s just being stinky. Even if you find it sexy. No one else will.
19. His bedroom smells of Febreeze. Strongly. Just think to yourself ‘bodily fluids’.
20. He has a cupboard full of guns in case they ever come for him. (true story)
This list is relatively incomplete because there are just so many other warning signs. Some of them involve really gross sex stuff that I don’t even want to write about because even admitting I know they exist, much less have experienced them, makes me feel like I need to bathe in bleach. Get me drunk one day when you’re older and I’ll tell you all about them, loudly, in a public place. I promise.
So, today’s wisdom from your Badass Auntie is this. As I told your brother, there are a lot of monsters out there. The monsters I’m telling you about are like bad eggs. They look fine on the outside, but if you look really closely there will probably be a crack. Unless you notice that crack, nothing at all would suggest that when you open them up, they’ll smell so bad you’ll want to vomit.
With real eggs, you can put them in water and if they float they are bad and if they sink they are good. Yikes! That sounds scarily similar to what they used to do to women that were believed to be witches a long time ago (The fact that this was a method used by men to rid villages of ‘difficult’ women is just another example of the monsters disguised as the pious I mentioned in my letter to your brother. Those arseholes that claim to be trying to save your soul from their fantasy of you burning in hell are some of the scariest monsters out there.) So I wouldn’t suggest the sink or float technique with potential partners. You can certainly think about it though (evil grin). No one knows what you’re thinking.
Getting back to the fairy tale theme, they say you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your Prince or Princess. I’d say, go for it. Kiss frogs. Just watch out for the slimy ones as they produce chemicals that make you think they aren’t frogs. Those are the really dangerous ones. But yes, go ahead, kiss as many frogs as you like and then watch out for the warning signs. Start with my list and then add your own. Read it frequently though because for some reason, where some of us seem to go wrong is we find one bad egg and then we keep going back for more of the same. That’s fucking crazy, but it’s also human. We’re drawn to what feels familiar and it’s quite amazing how we can eventually get used to the stench of rotten eggs.
Much love from your Badass Auntie