Sunday, January 06, 2013
Read your entry in "Who's Nobody"
It’s hard to pin-down exactly what turned Breaking Bad’s Walter White into a homicidal, manipulative, self-serving, methamphetamine producing-turned cartel baron egomaniac, but definitely a running theme of the fantastic TV series has been his unrecognised potential as a chemist of some brilliance, and the deep resentment he feels towards his University peers who reached great heights in the field of industrial chemistry to become multi-millionaires, while the equally brilliant Walter wound-up teaching high school chemistry to disinterested, unmotivated teenagers by day, and scrubbing strangers’ cars in a run-down car wash by night.
There’s nothing like returning to one’s home town to bring back all kinds of latent memories, and in particular, to drag from one’s closet - clackety clackety – a whole crypt of condescending, grinning and highly reproachful skeletons. Yesterday, in the stinking summer heat, the family and I commenced a road trip to the high-brow climes of the Mornington Peninsula, via a short stop to catch-up with an old friend in one of Melbourne’s beautiful, bay side suburbs.
It’d been ages since Donkey had spent much time in this part of the leafy South, where he’d previously spent years of his life servicing the bored housewives, distinguished gentlemen and plastically-enhanced daughters of Melbourne’s established, moneyed families. Day after day, Donkey had slaved away in accordance with their whippish demands for buffed bunions, magnificent nails and honeyed heels; a little callus chipped off here, a nail edge filed away there and wrinkled old ladies groaning in long-forgotten, post-menopausal orgasmic pleasure as Donkey’s magical, lubricated hands did their thing to wind-up a messy session of grinding away at gnarled toenails and horned corns.
For all this labour, and the accompanied pleasant, inane conversation which was all part of the service, Donkey would extract a pretty penny from his clients, but after a few years, the high-yield and resultant, high-paced lifestyle of shiny red sports cars, cocaine-fuelled cocktail parties, court-side box seats and luxury holiday villas proved too high a price for the sheer boredom of the work, not to mention the all-too-frequent, inadvertent glimpse up an octogenarian’s panty-less skirt which is an occupational hazard for any hard-working podiatrist.
As the horror and mental burn-out set in, Donkey set off on a new adventure and new career, and before long found himself saving the world in far off, exotic locales. I’ve never looked back, and in truth have found the mental stimulation and physical exertion of working in and with remote island and mountain communities to be tremendously fulfilling and truly life-giving. Well, that is until yesterday…
As we drove past the beautiful homes of Ocean Highway, with their steady, socioeconomic scaling-up in proportion to their distance from the city, I pointed out to Mrs Donkey the various homes, sports cars, tennis courts and swimming pools of my former colleagues, and before long, their well-appointed, beach-side holiday homes and luxury yachts. I ignored her popping eyes and increasing, green-tinged pallor as these dwellings became more and more extravagant, and I ignored her uncomfortable fidgeting beneath tightly packed luggage inside our rusting, third-hand beige Toyota.
Before long, we stopped at my friend’s home for a very pleasant lunch of antipasto, French champagne and post-meal cognac. We marvelled at the marble floors, seventeen-foot ceilings, walk-in wine cellar and three-hundred and twenty-five inch flat screen TVs in every other room, and we listened attentively to talk of the booming podiatry business, mid-week golf and winter-long Mediterranean getaways. Eventually, we waved good bye with a promise to visit again soon, and drove in tight-lipped silence all the way to the coast, where we joined our newer friends in our rented holiday home for the next few days which, we were relieved to discover, was similarly appointed to the home of my friend and former colleague, with beautiful, architecturally designed hallways, sea-view balconies, airy designer kitchen, multiple cavernous bathrooms and pleasant hallway water features.
Within an hour I was fully relaxed and just settling into a chilled beer and crisps (definitely more Donkey’s style these days) when I noticed a note from our landlord requesting his tenants to be careful not to mark the ancient teak floor boards - ‘imported from Borneo’ - with high heel shoes (and this accompanied by a picture of a stylish man and his fashionable lady returning from a polo match). As I read casually through this missive, my eyes were drawn to the bottom of the letter, and to the landlord’s name resting beneath an ostentatious, flourishing signature.
An icy chill crept up my stiffening spine as I realised that the owner of this magnificent, beach side monument to modern hedonism was none other than one of my fellow podiatry students from years ago, who had failed his final year of university and who, rather than repeat the year, opted to open a podiatry equipment supply facility which he later franchised, floated on the stock market and went global in the biggest small business start-up of the pre-internet age.
It was quick work, but Mrs D managed to talk me down off the roof within the hour, and the hyperventilating soon subsided. As a precaution for the safety of private podiatry practitioners and their families in the greater Melbourne metropolitan area, she’s got me tethered to the extravagant, four-poster bed from where I am being forced to write this using voice-recognition software (hence the typos) while staring at the kind of ocean vista that can only be purchased on the backs of a million well-manicured toenails.
Seems a bit over the top from my good wife. I mean, it’s not like I’m bitter or anything. Sure, this landlord … and all my podiatry friends, in fact, are rich beyond my wildest dreams, with Swiss bank accounts as fat as their spoilt, sedentary offspring, with wives as well manicured as their landscaped gardens, and mistresses as fresh as the waxed ducos of their Jaguars, but it’s not like I am going to turn homicidal and hunt them down in merciless, resentful cold blood. Sure, I might be up for a bit of hedge burning and perhaps even a spot of spooky stalking of their children down the well-lit streets of their exclusive, gated communities, but I’m not about to commit anything which could be considered physically dangerous.
No, that’d be an act of a bitter man … a man who felt that he had been denied all the breaks and opportunities to excel in his field and become rich, fat and powerful. I’m not that. I made my own choices. I love being this poor … ah, I mean, happy. Happy, not poor. And in fact, in the happiness ledger of life, I am rich indeed. You may untie these bonds my good wife. I am stable and I am content. Now, I am just popping-out to the shops for some matches … I mean milk. Too-da-loo.
What would tip a mild-mannered, failed podiatrist into a Walter White-esque, homicidal maniac. Pic: http://www.entertainment-bureau.com