Once Upon a Dream

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I’ve been having awkward sex dreams about my male friends and colleagues lately. Of course, I am far too demure to recount the tawdry details of these dreams for you here. Let’s just say that they have featured acts ranging from simple embracing and stroking, to grinding, face-licking make-out sessions, to scenes of hard-core eroticism that feature at least 50 shades of pink (pardon the pun and the rather graphic imagery).

My pattern of behaviour following one of these dreams is always the same: I wake up in a post-coital daze, momentarily satisfied before I am forced to run bare-arsed through some kind of mental and emotional spanking machine of embarrassment and confusion. The embarrassment stems mostly from the complete strangeness of the acts that my subconscious has me perform with the various men in my life. The confusion lies in the awakening of a strong sexual attraction to these people as a result of the rampant dream-humping we have engaged in. From this embarrassed confusion ensues a cloud of awkwardness that proceeds to follow me around in all future interactions with these individuals, causing me to mumble responses to their friendly greetings whilst avoiding eye contact.

The biggest problem resulting from this unending circus of raunchy reveries is that they trick me into thinking I feel things that I don’t really feel. In the past 9 weeks I have developed no less than four completely overwhelming (and troubling) crushes on people I know. These crushes have all been fleeting, gone when the memory of dream-sex has faded beyond a gossamer image of tangled bed sheets and an intangible recollection of satiety; however, in the few days or weeks of their existence these crushes have been fervent, disorienting and completely mortifying, resulting in a disconcerting awareness of my body while any of these people are nearby and causing me to make increasingly awkward shapes with my arms and legs while simultaneously flicking my hair back in an effort to appear nonchalant and sexually appealing in a carefree, effortless way. Hard to achieve, but I think I pull it off. (I don’t.)

The worst thing about these crushes is there is no escape. I spend my waking hours obsessing over the current object of my affection, recalling every encounter I’ve had with them in the last fortnight, desperately searching for pieces of innocent banter that I can turn into signs that they totally dig me, like for real. (For example: “You look nice today” becomes code for “You, me, monkey sex. Now.”) My downtime is spent fervently stalking them on Facebook, playing down the flaws that make them completely incompatible or ineligible as a potential love interest, and staring into space whilst daydreaming about various scenarios where the two of us innocently hanging out as friends suddenly becomes a storm of sexual tension where clothing is ripped and bodies are mashed together as our friends and colleagues look on in horror. It’s all-consuming and thoroughly exhausting.

I don’t know why this pattern keeps repeating. I know that there are no compatible matches among my male friends or colleagues. Even as I stalk and daydream I am aware that I am being completely ridiculous; but it’s nice to have a crush. It’s nice to get that nervous, tumbling, I-just-swallowed-a-jar-full-of-sleeping-moths-and-now-they’re-waking-up-in-my-stomach feeling a few times a day. I’ve been in love before, and I’ve experienced the warmth and comfort of waking up next to the same person every day, knowing that they would do anything for you. But nothing beats that thrill of a new crush; that excruciating awkwardness that takes control of the simplest bodily functions and renders you incapable of remembering how to walk normally or carry out a conversation without nervously laughing after every sentence or agreeing far too emphatically with everything they say. There’s nothing like that bittersweet pain of simultaneously feeling devastated by the fact that they haven’t noticed you yet and blindly optimistic that they will one day.

I guess most people grow out of these crushes as their adolescence disappears behind them, but I think that’s a shame. We sacrifice so much in order to participate in ‘adulthood;’ why shouldn’t we hold onto some of the self-indulgent pleasures of our youth, as long as they’re not doing any harm? I am determined to keep allowing myself to develop intense and ridiculous crushes on men that are entirely unsuitable as potential partners…but hopefully not on any more coworkers. There are only so many photocopy room fantasies a girl can handle.

The Holy Trinity

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All he has to do is make me laugh, be honest and be nice to me. That’s all I need. Seriously, that’s it. It’s the Holy Trinity of man-qualities. The only White Knight I am interested in is the peppermint chocolate kind (which is, in my opinion, a completely under-rated confectionery and deserves to be in far greater circulation than it currently is. Convenience Store Owners- don’t be putting them on the bottom shelf of the candy rack where they go unnoticed and gather dust while your customers reach for Mars Bars like gormless sheep; get those bad boys a prime position so that the masses can be exposed to their chewy, minty goodness!).

I want many things in a man – eyes that sparkle when he laughs and grow intense when he talks about his passions; enough stubble to graze the back of my neck when spooning but not enough to shred my chin like a piece of wet tissue during a heavy make-out sesh; the ability to spend hours debating whether broccoli deserves to be king of the vegetables because he would look better in a crown than an onion would; a love of great food and wine; an adventurous spirit and willingness to try all manner of new bedroom routines and apparatus– but the three things mentioned above are the only things I actually need. Why do they seem to be mutually exclusive?

I realised early in my current caper through single-town that an awesome face and an awesome personality seem to eliminate one another in men. (See graph below for clarification.)

Face Vs Personality

But there seems to be a deeper problem. I can live without a chiseled jaw, great hair and the easy smile of a handsome college quarterback – in the battle of looks vs. personality I am always willing to forgo the gorgeous in favour of the grouse. The problem is that I haven’t yet met a dude who ticks all three boxes in the personality package.

COMBO #1: Honest + Nice

I have been out with quite a few of these guys. They complement you on what you’re wearing, offer to pay for dinner, and don’t steal your wallet when you pass out from boredom into your bowl of mushroom risotto. You know exactly where you stand with these guys at the end of the night because they have texted you to thank you for a lovely evening and to make sure you got home safely. When you respond jokingly with “Dean who?” they send back something like “Dean from tonight, we went on a date. I am the Engineer, remember? We had dinner like an hour ago?” UGH. These are well-meaning, lovely, thoughtful, boring men, who will probably make some houseplants very happy one day.

COMBO #2: Funny + Honest

The Funny + Honest combo is also commonly known as an arsehole. This guy has a smart arsed comment about everything and tells you exactly what he thinks. The problem is that what he thinks is that he’s not really looking for long term right now and just wants to keep things casual – you’re cool with that, right? You’re not cool with that, but you sleep with him anyway because he’s charming and you tell yourself that deep down he has to be nice and he will show that side to you eventually. He won’t. Because he is an arsehole.

COMBO #3: Funny + Nice

This combo is the most frustrating of all. You have a great rapport and get along really well, there’s chemistry and they say and do things that make you smile when you think about them. Commonly referred to by the women they are dating as “one of the good ones,” they instantly gain trust and build a deep attraction through the use of their light wit and genuine interest in conversation. The issue with this guy is that he is too nice to be straight with you so you never know where you stand, and you end up investing far more than you would have if he’d have simply said ‘No, sorry,’ to a second date.

I keep leaving sacrifice after sacrifice at the Altar of Single Women (figuratively of course; I am not killing goats and leaving their carcasses on a pedestal in front of a life-sized cut out of Ryan Gosling, which is what I imagine a real Altar of Single Women would be like)  only to find that the Holy Trinity still eludes me. When you think about it, this “Holy Trinity” is really only a collection of the basic qualities necessary to succeed at being a human being. So why is it so difficult to find?

It’s not a rhetorical question. I actually don’t know the answer. If you do, please help.

Milestones and Moths

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In the twelve months that I’ve been single I’ve simultaneously achieved a great deal and very little. I’ve had my share of dicks, both literal and figurative (more of the latter than the former), fallen in ‘like’ twice (and once more in ‘like-like’), learned that pride does indeed come before a fall,  discovered that I like myself naked, challenged myself with some brave new experiences, shed 16 kilos, discovered the catharsis in publically celebrating one’s greatest humiliations, discovered more surprising truths about myself than I expected to, booked my first overseas trip, reinvented myself as an individual, cared less about what others think of me, put myself first every now and then, and learned from my (many) mistakes.

Somehow I expected this single-versary to feel like more of a milestone. Having forgotten what it was like to be single, I imagined myself emerging from my lethargic, pudgy, larvae-like domesticated state as a suddenly glorious butterfly, care-free and glittering on vibrant, newly formed wings. Instead I feel more like a moth. I do still flutter about the place on new wings, albeit somewhat clumsily; however, I’m less likely to land regally on a crocus stamen like some delicate goddess, and more likely to blunder along gracelessly, thrashing my ungainly body awkwardly at any objects that lie in my way before dropping, exhausted, on some gritty window sill.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with a moth-like existence; I still get to spread my wings and flit about, I bear a robust strength that the butterfly does not have and possess  a subtle, intricate beauty which is admired by those who look closely enough to see it. Sure, my helter-skelter approach to life does mean I crash-land every now and then, but these little brown wings don’t bruise easily and, gosh darn it, I will eventually get to where I’m meant to be. Which, obviously, is in the vicinity of the nearest 40-watt bulb.

Either that or you’ll find me dead behind the TV one day in a pile of dust…but hey, I’m an optimist.

Peckish

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I’ve been single for almost a year now. I go out. I dance. I drink. I go home, sometimes alone, sometimes with company. I online date. I text dudes. I try to figure out where things are going. I break things off before they get awkward or serious. I check my phone six times a day waiting to see if he’s texted me yet. I juggle several prospects at once with varying levels of interest. I tease, test and ignore. I get let down occasionally and let others down gently. I run from the over-invested and chase the disinterested.

I don’t really know what I’m looking for, but I am looking. I’ve begun to try to overcome any misgivings about the men I date, ignoring  sexual incompatibility and such serious character flaws as selfishness, arrogance and diffidence in the hopes of finding some kind of ongoing companionship.

I wouldn’t say that I’m hungry for more, but I’m definitely a little peckish. I don’t want to rush into anything serious, but I do want someone to be nice to me, to want to spend time with me on occasion, to think I’m pretty even when I’m in my pyjamas, to spend the night every now and then, to take me out to dinner and let me pay for half, to catch up for Friday night drinks with my friends. I don’t want to meet parents, spend every night together, stop hanging out with my friends, have automatic plans for every Saturday night or go grocery shopping together. I just want to date.

I’m wondering if any mid-twenty-to-early-thirty-something men actually want to date. All I’ve found so far are those who want too much and those who want too little, and like some kind of Goldilocks I seem to jump from one to the other without finding anything that seems “just right.” Something casual without the vulgarity of having “no strings attached,” as though actually spending time with a person you’re having sex with is some kind of huge hassle.

I’m not looking for Mr Right, or Mr Just-For-One-Night. Surely there’s something in between. I’m determined to find it.

Veal

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Finding oneself extraordinarily drunk in a well-known, seedy Melbourne bar at 2am seated opposite a group of much younger men can only lead to one thing: a sudden appetite for veal.

At 27, I hadn’t really considered myself old enough to seek out an affair with a lusty toy-boy, Desperate Housewives style. After a night of various highs and lows, Lucile and I found ourselves at Pony with a jug of cider. Seated at the edge of a long couch with a view to most of the male prospects in the room, things were looking dim. But there they were, at the other end of the long suede couch: young, fit, full of energy and obviously excited by the thought of chatting up older women. Lucile pointed them out first. I laughed and called them “teenagers,” which prompted Lucile to lean over and ask one of them his age. 21. She turned back to me, grinning, eyebrows raised triumphantly. “See? They’re not teenagers!” I glanced around once more for a reason not to, and then slid down to their end of the couch.

It was like being any female person walking into an IT server room. We felt like queens. They asked more things about us than they said about themselves. They thought our very ordinary jobs were “awesome,” and carefully guessed our ages as “mid-twenties.” They emptied the change from their pockets to buy us drinks.

After the initial group conversation I began sizing up our new-found dude-possy, like a cowboy sizing up a group of new steers, deciding which one he’s gonna hog-tie and brand. There was the Show-Off, who seemed incapable of going for more than a minute without interrupting a conversation to make a smart-arsed comment and couldn’t sit still; the Attached-but-Unattached, who said he had a girlfriend but was making no real effort to remove himself from a potentially relationship-threatening situation; the Runt, who sat silent and wide-eyed with his tail between his legs; and the fourth one who I couldn’t quite put a label on. Flirtatious without being crude or arrogant. A little nervous, but in an endearing way rather than a this-guy-is-going-to-wee-himself way. Cheeky sense of humour. Ready grin with a hint of a dimple on one side. Large, intense eyes. He leaned in and said something about wanting to get better at guitar, then stayed close to my face, drinking me in with those dark grey saucers, and murmured “your eyes are so pretty…”

His name was Joel, he lived in the outer eastern suburbs, and I didn’t feel the need to ask anything more about him. He was an excellent kisser- soft, sensual, just the right amount of tongue and no excess saliva- and had certainly lost all traces of his earlier nerves. Every now and then he would press his mouth to my ear to make yet another promise of what the night had in store for me. After about 40 minutes of kissing, grinding and generally grossing out the patrons sitting behind us (but who cares, it was Pony) we jumped in a cab headed to my place.

As he got out of the taxi and rolled a cigarette I noticed his nerves had returned. We chatted for a bit on my front door step before I led him through the house to my room. As we began kissing again I assured him that we didn’t have to do ‘everything’ if he didn’t feel comfortable. He stared at me like I’d just told him that my bed was made of cheese, then flashed that half-dimpled grin as his confidence came rushing back.

The guy was a natural. Every touch, kiss, caress and movement was exactly what I wanted it to be. It was as though he could read my mind. After a few hours of intense foreplay and so much incredible kissing I was afraid he was actually grating my chin with his stubble, we came to an impasse: no condoms. As was evidenced by my untidy room, my unmade bed and my ungroomed south-o’-the-border, I was not expecting company and had not thought to detour via the 7 Eleven for the necessary protective measures. When I asked why he didn’t have his own provisions he gave me another grin and simply shrugged, ‘Well I didn’t know someone was going to take me home…’

We spent hours in limbo, dozing flittingly between bouts of intense fervour, tangled in each other’s limbs for most of the night. As the daylight began to spill under my curtains, in the brief euphoria that comes an hour or two before the onset of a horrific hangover, I could take it no more. Action was required. Peeking first out the window at the empty car port to confirm that my housemate had left for work, I crept down the hallway wearing a shirt and no pants, a la Donald Duck. I paused at the threshold of his open bedroom door, momentarily weighted by the line I was about to cross. I knew it was wrong. I glanced back down the hall to my now light-filled bedroom, mentally tracing over the hours of teasing and foreplay that had led to this moment. And with my legs (and other parts of my lower body) trembling, I tiptoed through my housemate’s strewn belongings and nimbly plucked two condoms from his open bedside drawer.

It was worth it. After almost 5 hours of foreplay we knew exactly when to move, when to stop, our exhausted bodies suddenly revived and renewed before collapsing in a stupor of pleasure. After a tangled powernap and a brief but enjoyable Round Two, he left in the haze of hangover onset. Wanting nothing more than to lie motionless in my bed for hours, I was presented with my next problem: I needed to replace that which I had taken before my housemate returned.

My first hurdle was the intense throbbing pain in my head and churning in my stomach that had all but paralysed my body and addled my brain. The second problem I faced was the absence of my car, which had spent the night at the station after we caught the train to the city. With no idea of my housemate’s ETA there was nothing for it – I was walking to the shops.

After a brief shower, during which I clutched my stomach and sobbed loudly to no one that the water was punching my brain through the top of my head and I wanted to sleep or maybe die, I dressed myself and headed out into the harsh light of day. My sunglasses, on the passenger seat of my car, were in no position to be of assistance, so I squinted into the overcast glare and icy headwind through bleary, miserable eyes and began forcing my legs to walk the 1.2km to the supermarket. Passing a church on the way as worshippers filtered out with an air of peace and satisfaction, I momentarily considered repenting and just calling it quits. The thought of actually having to admit my crime in my state of wretchedness was too much to bear, so I trudged on. My next round of punishment was in the purchase itself – an assortment of tacky colours, textures and flavours with names like “Raspberry Ripple” and “Bangin’ Banana” in order to replace the two purloined items with their identical kin.

My return journey was worse than the initial one, despite the procurement of some hot chips and a Coke. I shuffled miserably down my street with dead eyes, slowly chewing chips with an open mouth, a lone box of assorted coloured and flavoured condoms swinging mockingly in a plastic shopping bag that dangled from the crook of my elbow while my hand stuffed chips towards my face like an imbecile posting letters. The punishment fit the crime. My disgrace, self-pity and repugnance in this moment was equal in power to the hedonistic pleasure that had led to my transgression.

As I lay immobile on the couch later that day, determined to keep the chips on their descent through my digestive tract where they seemed to have found a foothold with which to climb back up, I received a text:

So tired. Can hardly move. Totally worth it x

He was right.

First Date

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Tonight I went on my first first date. Some of you might be surprised by the fact that a magnificent specimen of womanhood such as myself managed to get to the age of 27 without embarking on a single first date. (If you’re wondering, yes, I have kissed boys and yes, I have been touched under the clothes before. Several times, in fact.) The things that made this unbelievable and highly improbable fact possible were as follows: All of my high school “relationships” were of two distinct breeds – the frigid, non-contact variety that existed before I had my first pash at the end of Year 10 (late bloomer), and the awkward aftermath of drunken hook-ups that occurred after that, when the hungry she-beast had been stirred within me. Then, of course, as the old broken record goes, I was in a serious long-term relationship from the age of 18 to 26 as a result of deciding to make out with one of my housemates. And so, here I am, 27 and home from my very first first date.

The Selection Process

It was with some trepidation that I actually finally selected a suitor from my online dating site and agreed to go for coffee, after having cast aside the vast majority of men who had expressed any interest for a multitude of reasons – too old, too beardy, too young, too bung-eyed, too bad at spelling, too serious, too immature, to dumb to crop ex-girlfriend out of profile picture et cetera. I settled on my choice for the following three reasons:

1. His height, which according to his profile was 6’3″. I am 181cm tall. This makes me taller than the average height for an Australian male, and while I’m not at all bothered by my height, I cannot help but feel that some men are bothered by it. It makes things awkward. As I am already awkward, I decided my first first date should be with someone taller than me.

2. His age. At 31, I figured he was more likely to pick up the bill (of course, I would kindly offer and be gallantly declined) and I thought I would appear to him, as a younger woman, charming, youthful and fun.

3. His spelling, grammar and punctuation. I could not bring myself to go on a date with someone who has not mastered the use of capital letters.

The Preparation

As the afternoon ticked by and evening approached I felt a sense of dread. Although I knew that it was only coffee, and coffee never leads to sex, no matter what George Costanza would have us believe, I still felt like I had an enormous amount of grooming to do before I would feel like I was presenting the best possible version of myself. This made me feel overwhelmed, so I had a little nap. When my alarm went off at 6pm, I began performing in one of those idiotic half-asleep pageants where you’ve somehow managed to convince yourself that it is a whole 12 hours later than it actually is and begin getting ready for work before realising that it’s night-time and you’re a complete tit. I remained in a confused, groggy state until I was forced to turn off the hot water in the shower in order to shock some life back into me.

After the shaving, plucking, blow-drying and straightening there was scarce-little time to try on everything in my wardrobe, reject it and toss it onto the bed in an increasing state of panic and ill-temper. Eventually I settled on a slightly quirky, retro and feminine look and, after a final last-minute lipstick decision and shoe-change I was running only 15 minutes behind schedule. (Of course, I know that men do not notice things like shoes, or earrings, or whether the outfit in question calls for a pale pink or rosy shade of lip gloss. But I was hoping my attention to detail would present a complete package that had some kind of undefinable wow-factor.) And so, I made my way to the cafe where my date would no doubt be waiting.

The Greeting

As I drove to meet my date, I wondered what appropriate first date greeting etiquette entailed. A handshake? A hug? A kiss on the cheek? As I have mentioned several times before, I am what I like to call ‘awkward’ at times. I am not naturally a cheek-peck person and I always have an anxious moment when someone leans in, wondering if they are going for a hug or a kiss, not wanting to do the wrong thing. I once kissed my ex-boss on the earlobe because I realised too late that she was going for the cheek-peck, and I’d already overshot the mark. As you can imagine, that was incredibly awkward.

I decided that I would confidently and breezily go in for a peck, like this was my millionth first date and I was oh-so comfortable with the whole thing. But when I got to the cafe I realised I had another problem. I had only seen one photo of my date, and I wasn’t sure if the guy standing out the front was him or not. Luckily, he was engrossed in his smart phone (thank you, technology gods!) and I managed to sneak past him and immediately sent a text asking where he was sitting as I was inside and couldn’t see him. Turns out the phone guy was my date, but when he approached I hesitated on the cheek-peck and he went for the hug, then I changed my mind and went for the peck. It wasn’t great.

The Date

The date itself was surprisingly easy. I talked, he talked, I pretended to listen while adding up the pros and cons about his attributes and characteristics and deciding whether I wanted to see him naked. I presume he did some similar pondering of his own. I asked him about his work, he asked me about my family, we compared tastes in music and movies, we shared anecdotes about our friends – it wasn’t ground breaking, but it was simple and painless. I couldn’t believe I had been so resistant to dating during high school. It turns out it’s a piece of piss. Talk, listen, talk more, smile, laugh etc. All fairly natural patterns of human behaviour. And I didn’t snort-laugh, or do an accidental chair-fart, or spill coffee on myself, or any of the other hundred things I imagined going wrong according to my recent comedy-of-errors type existence. It was just a pleasant evening with a nice guy.

The Conclusion

Of course, a date that begins awkwardly is bound to end awkwardly too. We did the cheque-dance as anticipated, which I graciously let him win, and he offered to walk me to my car. During the walk, as my mouth babbled something about Bruce Willis playing harmonica, my mind poured over the possible end points to our evening. Would there be a kiss? I was certainly not going to initiate anything. Surely a kiss would be a bit presumptuous after a very civilised coffee date in a brightly lit cafe. But, how else does one say goodbye and end a date? We were at my car. We stood grinning at each other like fools, saying things like “well, this was fun…” and “yeah, we should catch up again.” Then it ended with the same awkward hug-cheek-peck-hug thing that it began with. My signature move.

As far as first first dates go, I’m assuming I did ok. While I kind of had the faintest feeling that if all my future dates were like this I’d never have sex again, I also quite liked the thought of another human person taking enough interest in me to bother spending time talking about things like why I gave up learning piano and why Step Brothers is a better Will Ferrell movie than Anchorman.

So that was my first first date. For the sake of this blog, I kind of wish it had gone terribly – but for the sake of my future dating confidence, I’m glad it didn’t. I think it would be hard to put myself back out there if, like my friend Billie’s first date, he had taken me to the park to throw apples at ducks, taken a tab of acid and stolen my bike, then turned up at my house 6 hours later asking if I wanted to go ice skating. Ok, so that didn’t really happen – but you get my point.

Gardening

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Being newly single, there are many things which I have had to learn on the fly. For instance, guys do not typically like it when you fart in front of them, or tease them about the size of their penis. I have also had to adjust my usual beauty routine (just add soap) to include some much-needed lady gardening. I am, of course, referring to my pubic hair, but I prefer to talk of it in horticultural terms. It seems more delicate.

I mentioned the state of my front lawn to Zoe, my BFFL of 15 years. She mentioned that hers could also do with some serious weeding and a bit of mowing and suggested I book us in for back to back appointments so I would have some moral support. Apparently when a seriously overgrown yard is cultivated for the first time there can be some tears involved – and not just the kind Jamie Durie squeezes out for the camera on whatever stupid show he’s hosting this week.

My first error was made in the booking. Being a complete novice to this landscaping caper, I wasn’t sure which of the many available options I actually wanted, and there were so many businesses offering what seemed to be relatively comparable service. I settled on Jim’s Mowing – they seemed to offer good all-round service for an affordable price. However, when Zoe emerged from her appointment she muttered to me, “You’ve booked the wrong thing. You don’t want that!” Confused, I told my gardener that I had apparently mistakenly booked the wrong service, and she informed me that what I had asked for was a total ‘ground zero’ situation, in which all vegetation in the vicinity would be removed. I told her that while I had no attachment to the weeds that were growing wildly in my front yard, I was still keen on keeping the nature strip, as I felt the place would look a little bare without it.

It was remarkably quick. And while it was a bit painful, I felt like this was a good way to reinvent my little patch of real estate, giving it much more ‘street-appeal.’ I eagerly inspected the finished job. And my heart leapt into my mouth. There, where my lush and overgrown front yard used to stand, was nothing but a nature strip, which was fine… except that it was crooked, giving my whole block of land a slanted and misshapen appearance. And that it wasn’t really even a nature strip, more of a planter box – not even big enough to park the bins on. Awkwardly, I made my way to the payment desk and informed the gardener of her error. Upon consultation, it seemed that there was only one solution. Ground Zero.

When I later inspected the job in greater detail I noticed another problem. In addition to the unsightly bumps that had appeared in the exposed soil in my front yard, which I had been told should disappear within 48 hours, there was an even bigger issue at hand. The bareness of my front garden, while certainly tidy, had made the weeds out the back seem very obvious indeed. There was nothing for it – I needed to see a landscaper.

Determined not to repeat my earlier experience, I forked out the extra money for a top landscaping company rather than the Jim’s Mowing variety that I had previously used. I explained my predicament to the landscape architect who agreed that the ‘ground zero’ situation in the front garden called for the same in the back yard to present my block of land in the most appealing way possible. She also commented on the shoddy job that Jim’s Mowing had done in the front and tidied up a few patches of couch grass that had been missed.

I was very impressed with my new landscaper’s attention to detail and left feeling better about the whole thing, and I must say that the place has never looked so tidy. It certainly has made things much easier for entertaining – no mowing required.

I will say, though, that the weeds are already sprouting at an alarming rate. Well, I won’t be calling Jim, that’s for sure.