Summer Reading: Tied up in knots

Scott Gibbings and his chair.

North Perth’s SCOTT GIBBINGS found the day after a rollicking Pride party had a challenge or two to overcome.

STARTING your day with a hangover is not always a bad thing.

It’s about perspective. The human condition dictates that fulfilment is derived through overcoming challenges.

The hangover presents a novel challenge.

It brings into focus all that is taken for granted in the non-hungover state.

Simple tasks like leaving the apartment complex, or driving a car are re-framed as significant tasks that require concentration, executive functioning.

Low on cognitive reserves, the challenges can stack up. Forget keys when you leave the building and you’re all of a sudden solving another problem that didn’t exist one minute earlier.

I was determined not to let this hangover upset my day.

If I got the things done that I’d planned to do before going all “fast and free” last night, I would actually feel pretty heroic.

So I would borrow Jon’s ute and set off for Butler to pick up a chair I’d committed to buying the day before.

Sharon on Gumtree was selling a 1950’s arm chair designed by T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings. You don’t come across too many other Gibbings.

I’d not heard of T.H. until yesterday, but within a few hours he meant something to me. Interesting how small parcels of information can come your way that elevate themselves to the status of interesting so quickly.

A British-born architect, designer and decorator, he reached some level of notoriety in the US in the 30s and 40s designing houses for the wealthy set.

Sharon was letting the chair go for a fraction of the price of some online antique stockists.

It’s also quite a nice-looking example of mid-century simplicity. Form follows function, clean lines, a good weight about it.

Needing the $275 I’d hard-balled Sharon down to, I went to break a $50 at a cafe.

I’d managed to assemble a cheese toastie for breakfast but it hadn’t done the trick of stopping my stomach feeling sick.

I unconvincingly convinced myself that more food would fix it. A nice brown dog said hello to me while I waited for the egg and bacon muffin to be toasted, and I motionlessly revelled in the knowledge I was soundtracking my day with precision.

A Spotify mix that was inspired by Japanese multi-instrumentalist Shintaro Sakamoto.

I think it was a staffy. They’re always so happy. It must be exhausting. People appreciate their effort though.

One of the first things I did this morning, just as the first waves of self-loathing and regret were washing over me, was happen upon the existence of Japanese lo-fi psych rock. Who knew?

Because I’ve recently grown out of the habit of mindlessly biting into really hot things when I’m feeling vulnerable and in need of something to take the pain away right now, resiliently I walked with my muffin in its paper bag towards Jon’s house.

Thirty metres into my muffin-holding stroll, I apathetically turned to face my fast-approaching attacker whose heavy footsteps were just audible over Shintaro’s harmonica solo.

With all of the agility and self-preservation capacity of an unhatched chicken, I reached out to accept my wallet from the cafe owner who had just served me. Left it on the seat I had waited on.

Nice guy. Has a wonky eye. Which had no bearing on the outcome of that little passage of life. Would it later though? No.

Jon’s the kind of guy you would escape from Mars with. After 15 minutes searching for Matt Damon, you’d be screaming into the ether while he fashioned a space craft out of rocks, all the while cutting exactly zero corners.

I was speaking to him from Brisbane while he remotely opened his gate and garage door and talked me through key and rope finding, drawing on his photo-like mental image of his entire house.

While he did, I accidentally ate some napkin.

Perhaps sensing my inadequacies – transient of course, for I am a real man – Sharon’s husband did all the heavy lifting as the ute was loaded up.

I silently embarrassed myself with my rope tying while he talked just a little too much. He didn’t mention the knots though.

I was in a rush to get back to the city for lunch with Jo who would be getting a 30-minute break from another all-day toothpicks-holding-your-eyelids-open ordeal courtesy of Chartered Accountants Australia.

Butler is f’ing miles away and I was going to be pushing it. It must have been about the Ocean Reef Road freeway exit that I started scanning the cab for my wallet.

There’s a strange thing you do when searching for something.

You’ll leave perhaps the most obvious place the something will be until it’s the very last spot to look, knowing that if it’s not there, then you can be certain that you’re properly screwed.

There’s some solace in being absolutely sure that you’re screwed.

I got out of the ute and looked around Warwick Road; well over half the 40km trip home complete.

It must have fallen out of the car when I stopped at the start of the freeway to check my knots. Great. At least the angst I’d been suffering about the chair flying off the back of the ute had left me.

To the end of the freeway I returned, off ramp, overpass, on ramp. Two things to find.

Finding the correct emergency bay among its analogous cousins proved a not-insurmountable challenge. Yes, it was that one there where I’d shamefully checked my shameful knots while well-tied loads had careered past.

No wallet to be found.

I would head home and perhaps engage in some minor self harming, or maybe get back to cleaning up vomit.

I threw a Hail Mary message to Sharon before that though.

In fact yes, it was on the road in front of her house. No, I can’t disagree Sharon, I am very lucky.

No, she would not accept the remaining $20 from my wallet, I should stop being ridiculous.

The drive home was marked by more perfect songs and more concerns about my knots. They’d dutifully returned. I stopped on the freeway to check again.

Jo was relieved and very understanding.

I got to eat the lunch she made for herself yesterday and left in the fridge for me to take in to her. Some vegetable pattie with a Mexican-inspired salad.

I had to cut the avocado myself though. She would have done it for me if she knew I was going to be eating the salad.

It was more than I deserved.

I created some challenges.

I overcame some challenges.

It’s a comfortable chair.

I’m never drinking again.

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