Urban Alphabet (Kristen Roberts)

Verity La Lies to Live By

A is for ‘orses. And cows. But there aren’t any horses or cows around here, so people use it to mulch their flower beds instead.

B is for honey. Not that creamed crap, just the proper stuff that dribbles through your crumpet.

C is for understanding what’s going on around you, not just looking, you know? Like actually taking in the signs and making sense of them, not like Aunty Bern who thought that handsome young bloke really wanted to marry her and just needed money for the tickets over from Zambia. She couldn’t see the forest for the trees, old Bern. One of the first life lessons I learned – there’s always more than meets the eye. Gotta remember that, eh?

D is for a lack of effort applied to your studies. You only get out what you put in, eh? Just look at my cousin Mick — he’s sick of selling hotdogs to pissheads at 3am, but what else are you equipped to do when you dropped out of school at 15?

E is for trippers. Tried it once at a party, and got way too fascinated with a dead fish. But that’s a story for another time.

F is for swearing when your mum’s in town. She knows what you mean, but somehow it’s more polite than actually saying it.

G is for polite bewilderment, like when you drop hints for months before Christmas about tickets to see your favourite band but end up getting smelly soaps instead.

H is for addicts. You’ve really got to steer clear of the stuff – it’ll just mess you up. Chick I knew in high school? Gorgeous, popular, and smart too, but not anymore. Saw her hanging around at the bus-stop near the servo a few weeks back, and nearly didn’t recognise her. She walked across the concourse when she saw me and hit me up for a tenner, then abused me when I told her I didn’t have any cash on me.

I is for me. It gets really weird when people refer to themselves in the third person, you know? Like: ‘Stanley really likes a shandy after mowing the lawn’. WTF is that? Just say ‘I love a beer after doing the lawns’! We know who you’re bloody talking about.

J is for reefers. It’s another drug reference, I know, but it’s just for relaxing after a hard week.

K is for lazy agreement, ‘kay?

L is for modelling like Kylie is for singing.

M is for a feed after J. It’s all about the special sauce for me. Word of advice though: the staff don’t think you walking through drive-through to order is as funny as you do.

N is for O, the first word I learned how to spell. Mum used to say it real loud, and then ask me how many times she had to say it. Lots, apparently.

O is for surprise. And pleasure. Ohhh yeah.

P is for toilets and sometimes behind trees, never for footpaths or front doors, and definitely never for faces. Not cool at all.

Q is for tickets, or the dunny at a good gig (see? Use the toilets!). Not too sure about those people who sleep out the front of a shop the night before a new phone comes out though. I mean, it’s just a bit of technology that’s gonna be superseded by another one in a few months, yeah? My time is too valuable for that.

R is for pirates and their buccaneers. Speaking of pirates, you know that joke, right? The pirate asks ‘where’re my buccaneers?’ and the other bloke goes ‘they’re on your buccan head!’. Jeez that one cracks me up.

S is for bends. I’m not going to pretend to know anything about plumbing except that it’s one of the greatest inventions ever. That and penicillin. Oh, and electricity. Wait, this list could get really long if I keep going.

T is for pots, not bags.

U is for me. Aw, love ya babe.

V is for five, or peace, or up you, depending on which way you give it.

W is two sheep that look the same in a paddock.

X is for sneaky Facebook stalking.

Y is for curious minds. Seriously, you’ve gotta ask questions or you just become some robot, going about your day.

Z is for cartoons only. C’mon, no-one makes that noise when they snore. If you tried to make the sound of those little lines of z’s you’d make a smooth noise, and no-one snores nice, smooth sounds.

Snoring is rough, jagged, and it’s loud. Those little z’s are bullshit. Just come over some night and listen to my other half snoring…or don’t, because that would be weird. 

Kristen Roberts is a writer and kindergarten teacher from western Melbourne. Her poetry and short stories have been published in a range of journals and anthologies including page seventeen, Australian Love Poems, Award Winning Australian Writing 2012, and Quadrant. Her first collection, The Held and The Lost, was published by Emma Press in 2014.