Shouting from the Hili-Top
Shouting from the Hili top is Steve's monthly column in VIDA magazine, where he ponders the mysteries of life, the universe and being a bloke.
And here, by popular demand are some of his old articles.
Vida is published every first Sunday of the month and is free with The MaltaToday
I am a hairy man. Always have been. It is, in fact one of our more well known family stories that I was born with hair all the way down to my shoulders. (Instead of burping me, the midwife gave me an up-style.)
The hair on my head has always grown in big, thick swathes. People used to call me curly when I was young. (They still do. Sort of. Although they prefer ‘weirdo’.) Then, when I hit puberty, my face became hairy too. It happened practically overnight. I went to sleep an angelic-looking, baby-faced 12 year old and I woke up looking like the fourth member of ZZ top.
And to my horror, it wasn’t only my face that was sprouting. Locks were growing everywhere. Every milimetre of my body seemed to be gushing hair. I couldn’t stop it. Of course everyone has a bit of covering on their arms and their legs, but I had tresses. People could trip me up by standing on a 'sufa' three minutes after I walked by!
To make matters worse, whilst I struggled with the practicalities of looking like the cookie monster (should I blow dry my armpits?) I had a sudden realization about society at large. Something I had never noticed before my hair spurt, but is undoubt-able. It hit me that for some reason, the only thing that really, truly unites the western world, is a firm unmovable stance against people being too bushy.
Society tells us that there are only certain places where hair is allowed. Everywhere else is a no-no. And top of that blacklist are two areas where the gods of furriness have seen very fit to bless me in abundance – back and bum. (An ex-girlfriend called me ‘the missing link.’ But I called her a ‘psychotic lunatic’ so I suppose we’re equal.)
‘Why don’t you just laser it off? You’ll be so much more attractive’ I hear you ask (through my follicle-filled ears).
The answer to that is very simple.
Call me old fashioned but the thought of being strapped down and zapped with electro-magnetic radiation just so that my bottom – which, you might be surprised to learn, not that many people get to see anyway - becomes less fluffy…well it doesn’t really do it for me.
And anyway, contrary to popular belief, a lot of us hairy people actually like our look. I don’t think that I will be more good looking if I got rid of the fuzziness. In fact I think my hair makes me the attractive (shut up) man that I am. And anyway being covered with hair is fun. I love bouncing when I sit down too quickly or creating static electricity by scratching my back. I find comfort in styling my chest 'nokli' and love that my arm hair flaps in the wind (I once synchronized it to music).
So there you have it. I am pronouncing it to the world. I am hairy. And I am proud.
Now where did I put my armpit conditioner…
Yesterday I hugged someone.
I have of course hugged many people in my life. Including an airport security man who told me that, even though I looked suspicious, he would not have to conduct a cavity search. (I will never pretend to be Clint Eastwood at the bulky-luggage counter again.)
Yesterday, however, it was different. Yesterday I hugged someone I had never met before. Ever. (Alright I had never met airport security man either but he had a rubber glove hanging from his belt).
The reason I hugged this person is still not entirely clear to me. There I was, at a friend’s house, minding my own business. Just hanging out near the bigilla and muttering ‘Go ahead, make my day’ to myself when Kat (the wife) tapped me on the shoulder.
I spun round. ‘I was not hogging the bigilla, I promise …’
Kat smiled her stop-talking-now smile and introduced her friend. A tall, attractive, muscular woman called Mandy. *
And then, for no reason at all Mandy tried to crush me to death. Or give me a friendly hug. Depends on your perspective.
I had never seen this woman before in my life. Up until five seconds previously I did not know of her existence. We do not share a common bond. I do not think there was any attraction (although I was wearing a particularly loud Hawaiian shirt). There was no reason for us to get physical. Yet, there we were embracing-away as if we had just won the lottery on a roll-over week. (Actually, she was doing all the embracing, I was just sending positive thoughts to my spleen, encouraging it to make it through.)
As I stood there, gasping for air and wishing that I had paid more attention to the internal bruising credit at First Aid class, I realized that in a strange way, it was not Mandy who was destroying my vital organs, but society at large.
Everybody hugs nowadays. It is how we express ourselves. How we say ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, ‘good luck’, ‘I’m sorry’, ‘I’m happy’, or ‘my verruca is improving’. Hugging is expected. It is… what we do.
All these thoughts flashed through my mind (just after my life did) during those precious oxygen-deprived seconds.
She let me go.
And then, all of a sudden, as the light at the end of the tunnel receded, she kissed me
Now kissing strangers is of course an exercise wrought with danger.
There are just so many variables. Do you just air-kiss or should there be actual contact? Do you start on the right cheek or the left? Should you kiss one cheek or both? (I knew a Spanish girl who used to insist on three pecks. I thought she wanted me. Turns out she just had a problem with translating numbers.) Do you kiss strangers like you kiss people you know? At what point does it stop being friendly and starts being sleazy?
What with all these questions swirling around my head (as well as the dizziness caused by my previous hypoxia), the inevitable happened. She went for a cheek. I went for the same one. And we ended up crashing into each other. Lips first.
In less than a minute a strange woman had tried to kill me, and then kissed me on the lips in front of my wife! It was just like Fatal Attraction. With bigilla instead of a rabbit.
And then, just like that, it was over. Mandy sauntered off to mingle with (and no doubt injure) other guests, whilst I was left to explain to Kat why I was whispering to myself ‘Glenn Close you have a lot to answer for.’
Amazingly Kat laughed and came in for a hug.
*Name has been changed because I am scared of her.
Under the Knife
By the time you read this I would have been through surgery.
Impressive huh? I can just see you now studying my pic at the top of the column thinking ‘why would such an Adonis-like specimen need surgery? Ahem.
I can hear the questions going round your head -What sort of operation are we talking about? Are his rippling muscles too big? Did he injure himself whilst saving someone from a blazing building? Hold on, does he have a mono-brow? (Well, I sort of do, yes. Now focus.)
Truth be told I am not too hot on having to do this operation. Everyone hates this stuff of course, but it would not be so bad if I was going in to have something cool done. Like the removal of half a skateboard from my arm pit because it got impaled when I lost control whilst doing a 360 flip (I am sure that is what they call it). That would have been exciting. Wicked. Sexy.
But I am not. I am having an umbilical hernia operation. Which means that I have got a little bit of my intestine popping out of my belly button, and it needs to go back in. Not quite as sexy.
So I have a poppy-out thing in my belly button. And I have had it for a while. It seemed a bit too impractical to keep referring to it as my hernia. So I called it Godwin instead. And I sometimes caress it gently when I am in the bath.
Anyway I am getting cut open and Godwin is going to be pushed back to join the rest of his intestine family. And I am terrified.
Usually people who are about to undergo surgery are expected to be brave and say things like ‘it will be fine, I am sure it won’t hurt that much.’ But the thing is… I actually think it will. And why do I think it will? Because someone is going to rip open my belly button and rearrange my intestines!!
I have never been very good with pain. I reckon it is because I have got delicate skin, and heightened sensory whatever-they-are-called. The wife also has a theory. She thinks I’m a wuss. She said so the other night.
‘Are you saying I can’t take the pain that you can? I demanded, as I stood up, banged my toe against the table leg and started screaming in agony.
‘No, you cannot. Because you are a such an… għaġeb!’
I did not have a comeback. Possibly because I was on the floor at this point, hyper-ventilating and wondering if my toe had actually fallen off. (I did have a bruise.) Also because, to be fair, she is right. She can take pain better than me. She actually told me during a recent romantic moment that she wishes that she could do the operation instead of me, so that she could take the pain.
I told her I wish that too.
And, that is how you end up going to the hospital all on your own.
Jennifer's Dead - By Steve's alter-ego, Baron Bubblebeef. A love song. About a woman who died and is now in the Baron's freezer. Buy it from itunes by clicking here
"What's a Catholic Boy Supposed to do" is the second song recorded by Baron Bubblebeef. If you're a catholic you'll get it.