Thursday, 27 March 2014

Slob Out Time

There is something about just slobbing.  It could be in front of the telly, in the garden, or –my personal favourite – with a good book by a sunny pool side.  It needn’t be for long, but it helps rejuvenate the soul, regenerate the mind and recharge the old batteries.  The problem is, I’m just not very good at it.

But slobbing isn’t necessarily a physical thing, it’s more a state of mind.  It is seen when people watch television, or play an electronic game, or lie in the bath.  It can be seen in the day to day routine of a job, when the body is there, but the mind is sunning itself by the pool side with a good book.  It is Taking Five, or having Forty Winks, without the eyelids closing.  It is a moment in time.  And then back to reality.

When I was younger, and worked in London, I used to commute on the Tube.  This is the epicenter of Slobbism (see, new word?!).  Only on the London Underground can you spend a half hour sitting opposite someone and not make eye contact.  By the end of the journey they have either memorized the entire Tube map, they are walking along that metaphorical beach, or they have a squint. And God forbid if a busker dares to get on and hold an impromptu war time sing along whilst holding out a hat for money.  A male friend and I, both in our 20s, used to, for fun, begin little arguments between ourselves and see who of our fellow commuters would look up.  The trouble was, we would never warn each other when we were about to start, and we certainly didn’t have a clue about the ending and it would get more and more outrageous until one of us just switched into normal conversation as if nothing had happened.  

Our most effective was one morning, when we were crammed into the doorway, both holding on to the hanging handles and chatting quietly.  I then said to him in a loud voice “What do you mean you are having an affair? How Dare you?”  His stunned face said it all, but he quickly recovered himself and threw himself into the role.  By the time we disembarked for work, the whole carriage was full of alert people craning their necks to see what was happening between us, as we fell about laughing on the platform.

Middle Son was off ill this week and sat slobbing in front of the telly.  His poor body was exhausted fighting a nasty bout of tonsillitis. He was lost in the world of Housewives of Beverley Hills, followed by Housewives of Atlanta, followed by Millionaire Matchmaker.  I had to come in and physically switch off ITV2 before he became welded to the sofa.  Two days later, when he discovered Jerry Springer, I decided that he was well enough to go out for a coffee.

He sat in Costa, as I queued to order.  The Barista took the orders with the bored face of someone in mid slob waiting for his break.  Suddenly there was a jab in my ribs and standing behind me was a dad I knew. The teachers were on strike at the school and so he was in charge of the kids who were sitting in a booth waiting for him to order.  We said our hellos and as I was waiting for my coffee, he placed his request for a brownie.  It arrived, and was placed on my tray. I waved my hand at the offending item.

“We’re not together,” laughed my friend.
And then, with a mischievous look, he started.
“I mean,” he spoke confidentially to the Barista, “We were married once, but now we are divorced."  (Entirely made up.) The server began to go red in mortification.

Old habits die hard, even from 20 years ago. I joined in with relish.  By the end of the conversation, not only was the Barista fully woken from his slob mode, but so was the rest of the queue.
We laughed our goodbyes to each other, going back to our respective offspring who were slobbed out over their iPods.

Perhaps slobbing is just a relaxed mind waiting to be awoken – a bit like a standby button on a tv.  Perhaps it is just a way of brain conservation until something comes along to wake up your day.  

Either way, I’m still not very good at it.

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