Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Red means DANGER

I regularly slip back to the glory days when I was a rosy-faced chum strutting up and down the ancient, hallowed halls of La Trobe University*, rocking-up to lectures with a hangover every day, starting food fights in the cafeteria every lunch time ... to me, it really doesn't seem like that long ago. But every now and then I think about something which jars me into realizing just how deluded I am about my age. This happened on the weekend, when a chance remark from a friend made me think back to the first time I ever saw or heard of the internet – it was on the last day of University! Can you believe that? Fark, the world's gone mad – how would any of us cope nowadays if we didn't have faithful Google by our sides?

It’s a massive change! We're completely reliant on the internet now. It was not all that long ago that parents were denying my generation the use of computers because they were only good for playing games, and thus interfered with their child’s learning. Nowadays, at least in most developed nations, parents who deny their children access to the internet are all but gaoled for breeching the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. Technology’s like that. It forces societies to change the way they think; not just a little bit, but often to the extent of a complete 180 degree turnaround.

Take another example. Today I was wandering around the hideously inflamed, herniated shopping mall that is Bangkok, and I watched as these two young people purchased mobile phones that were so small as to actually fit into that (until now) useless little pocket that you find in the front of a pair of jeans, y'know, that one inside the main pocket? Yeah, well it got me to thinking that only 14 years ago, all the guys I used to work with carried around those Motorola bricks which, if anyone were lucky enough to be able to stuff one into their pocket, would find themselves on the receiving end of substantial community backlash against inappropriate displays of crack! ... and only 2 years before that, there was no such thing as a mobile phone at all! Back in the ‘90s, mobile phones in the workplace were banned for fear of wasting valuable company time. But just try getting a job nowadays if you’re unable to supply your prospective employer with a mobile phone number. Technology has changed society’s views so much that what was previously thought to be a bad thing, is now mandatory.

But y’know, with technology, there’re always the stragglers – the people who are stubbornly unwilling to embrace whatever technological revolution the kids are into this week. They believe they are making a stand … that their refusal to adopt the technological change will maintain some notion of how society “should be”, but they just don’t get it. Technology’s not there to hurt us, it’s there to help us … all of us. And what these selfish ignoramaii need to understand is that for one person to deny this fact, and to refuse to embrace technology, they are not only denying themselves the chance of a better future, but all those around them as well.

My case in point is the extremely traumatic impact that one man’s refusal to embrace the technological advances in male swimwear had on poor ol’ Donkey recently. But first, let’s just have a quick appraisal of where technology has brought us in that department. If you thought Donkey had been chastised enough in his youth for being short, fat, bald and smelly, for speaking in a high-pitched, whiney voice and for his penchant for the taste of his own nasal mucous, then you must understand that the social exclusion he derived from these qualities was as nothing compared with the effect of being forced by his unfashionable mother to wear a pair of stripy blue, white and grey Speedos to the beach or pool, every summer of his life for 17 years.

Speedos, Australia’s gift to the world when first released on the market in the 1960s, were designed to maintain maximum modesty, while ensuring minimum drag as they cut through the water on some buff male lifeguard.

Back in the 1960s, although shocking to the world at the time, these tiny garments were actually pretty substantial, but as the years went by, and as nylon technology improved, Speedos became considerably smaller and tighter, and soon adopted a cultural identity all of their own, assuming names such as dick-stickers, budgie-smugglers, the packed lunch, dick-pointers, sluggoes, lolly bags, banana hammocks and slug-huggers.

Unfortunately for Donkey, the 1960s were only just before the 1970s, and while the new and improved Speedos were on the store shelves by the time I needed to avail them, you could still find some of the original models if you shopped around a bit … and they were usually really cheap. As well as being unfashionable, Ma Donkey was also a bit of a tight-arse, so that’s what Donkey ended up with; a great, big, saggy pair of blue, white and grey striped Speedos which, unlike their evolving successors, actually got bigger and saggier over the following 17 years as the nylon threads grew longer and eventually gave out.

Donkey’s reputation as being the only kid in the South Eastern suburbs not to get a kiss and a grope from the blossoming Susan Evans behind the kiosk at the Waverley Pool in the summer of 1986 aside, technological advances in waterproof fabric were going gangbusters in the 1980s, and the Speedos were getting smaller, sleeker and more fashionably designed each summer, with bright colours replacing the previously de rigueur navies, blacks, browns and stripes. Athletes were happy, the telephoto paparazzi anchored 6 miles off Miami Beach were happy and the emerging gay community was ecstatic.

Governments, eager to harness some political ballast from this swimsuit-led global euphoria, poured unprecedented reserves of public funds into research and development of even more high-tech, waterproof material, and before long, the technology had become so advanced, that a new, completely unpredicted swimsuit revolution was upon us, the likes of which had not been seen since the ‘60s. Just when the Speedo threatened to get so small that it was in danger of disappearing up some perfectly curved, muscular behind, the Teflon swimsuit arrived.

Within days, athletes in the pool were slashing Olympic records by a third, and the Skin Cancer Lobby snapped to attention and rode that unforeseen, financial coup like a raging Tsunami all the way up the beach and into the backyards and school yards of the developed world. Virtually overnight, this incredible, technological breakthrough in aqua wear led to a complete 180 degree turnaround in beach fashions from showing as much flesh as possible, to being covered up like Douglas Mawson in an Antarctic Blizzard. And as you all know, that’s how it’s been on the beaches of the world, from Mordialloc to Monte Carlo, ever since.

At least that’s what I had thought, until a couple of weeks ago. I’d been bashing out a couple of kilometers down at the local pool, powering along in my head-to-toe Teflon (blue, grey and white stripes – I may dress myself nowadays, but old habits die hard) and as often happens when one is breaking world land/sea speed records, my mind had wandered off to what crap I was going to write on my blog that week, so I didn’t take much notice of the bright, red streak that passed me on numerous occasions.

When I reached the end of the last lap, in a bit of a daze from my exertions, I went through my usual ritual to slow my heart down; blowing out all the air from my lungs and laying face-up on the bottom of the pool. I must’ve been there for a fair while ‘cause eventually I was woken from my contemplative state by the rapidly-approaching red streak. As it came closer, I was horrified to behold the disgusting sight of a pair of bright, red, poorly elasticized, vintage Speedos – I mean really, in this day and age!

My innocent sensibilities were certainly confronted, I can assure you, but Donkey’s basically a live-and-let-live kind of guy, so I tried to relax and arrest my escalating heart rate. Despite my best attempts to ignore the offensive sight, however, those red micro-pants seem to hold some kind of spell over me … they were like the Mona Lisa – I couldn’t escape that mocking stare, no matter which way I turned my head. As such, I happened to be looking straight up at them when their owner came out of his tumble-turn, and as he twisted out from the wall, there they were; a great big, greasy penis and a gigantic, hairy, wrinkled testicle, hanging out the side of the flapping red pant, and bouncing back and forth with each stroke as they swung off down the pool.

In my confusion and fear, I forgot my surroundings and let out a frightened sob, which was immediately replaced with about 300mL of highly chlorinated water. I dunno what happened after that, but the next thing I knew I was lying on my side next to the starting blocks while an attractive pool attendant was wrinkling her nose at the smell of my vomit, which had somehow covered her right shoulder and most of her chest in a chunky film.

Technology is there for a reason. Just as Darwin would argue that only adaptive beings will survive, people need to learn that technology, like evolution, is there to assist and enhance that survival, and to ignore it will kill not only you, Mr Inappropriate-and-Inadequate-Red-Speedos, but a poor, mentally scarred and innocent Donkey as well.

* that’s a joke, by the way – La Trobe is internationally maligned in architect circles for its mission-brown, square brick buildings … ok, I get it, not a very funny one.

Dick-stickers, budgie-smugglers, the packed lunch, dick-pointers, sluggoes, lolly bags, banana hammocks, slug-huggers … it’s not right, is it? Pic: http://www.yenmag.net/img/news/12/speedo.jpg


lived-legna said...

Hahahahaha OMG Donkey I nearly choked on my coffee!

Ann O'Dyne said...

I don't know whether to thank you for the laugh

comiserate re the vomit

or commend your good taste.

sabrina said...

LOL!!!! Donkey darling i am soo glad you are blogging again!!!

Laraine said...

Good post.