Welcome to the Jungle Bungle

by H D Thompson

Let me be the first to jump on the bandwagon (*definitely not the first) to say that I am not perfect. I think unless you’re written into a story, no one is. I’m sure even Beyonce has snarted even once. I continue to fail at little things in my day to day life, and that’s OK. I refuse to succeed at everything. I will probably be that person at the high school reunion who turns up already drunk and hits on the straight guys I had crushes on in my youth, but hey, at least I didn’t have a dumpster baby.

When I was younger the town I lived in had a new amusement centre called the Jungle Bungle. It’s basically a giant jungle gym for kids, with tunnels and towers and ropes and things, where you enter one end and make your way through the maze to the other side, traversing obstacles and other children’s toilet puddles. Looking back, it was a nightmare. It was the Saving Private Ryan of children’s playtime. But you know, without Vin Diesel. You enter and it’s hell. All you see, instead of peers, is a warzone, filled with once happy children now scared out of their minds, knees bruised, crying and hugging for warmth. You even see a few giving up, settling down together in the U-bend of the blue tunnel in zone B, resigning themselves to their new lives of jungle gym moles where future kids would have to desperately run away from their hairless blind spawn who now feast on their soft, supple flesh.

When I finally emerged I was so happy to get out the other side safe, I ran straight to my parents who were enjoying their cappuccinos and cake with other happy adults. Like when Dorothy finally got out of that horrible technicolour acid trip back to her black and white safety.

That’s how I see life. I am desperately clambering around, just trying to get out the other side unscathed.

But that doesn’t happen. I get scathed.

If I’m sick, I will stay sick until it goes away. My housemates and co-workers implore me to go to the doctor to get a prescription for what is probably Bronchitis, but no, I would rather lie on the couch and watch Roseanne, coughing up my insides.

Every time I try to cook a steak, it burns and turns into a fight with the kitchen smoke detector.

I ALWAYS run out of milk and toilet paper before thinking of getting more.

It doesn’t matter when I set my alarm because I know no matter what I will ‘snooze’ till the absolute last minute.

I will wear down socks and underwear till they are literally hanging on by a thread.

I have 7 boxes of unfinished cereal in my pantry.

My bedroom will stay unclean till I tread on and break something valuable.

I killed my desk fern.

My point is, it’s the little things in life that undo me. It’s like if you have just the one coathanger, it’s cool, it’s easy, but you get a couple more and they tangle and then it becomes a little tricky. You shrug it off, “just one of those little things” you say. Then you get more because there was a box of them on the side of the street and hell why wouldn’t you and then you have a clusterfuck of metal and plastic entwined in an angry pile of hell existing only to make you struggle to within an inch of your breathe.

One day I sat down with crumpets and coffee at 1pm, still in my pyjamas (if I’m not going out, why change?) and turned on the TV. The Love Boat was on. I had never watched it, it was always one of those shows I had scoffed at and would always turn the channel to something with more substance, like MacGyver. This day, however, the batteries in the remote had finally died and I was too lazy to get up. I watched the awful show, perplexed as to what was going on. Someone won a weight losing competition and ripped her ugly dress and an old man found out a lady he liked was selling flowers and then all of a sudden three couples were getting married at the same ceremony. It was perplexing, but the priest said something about love conquering adversity and winning all, and before I knew it I was weeping into my honey butter soaked plate, pounding my chest with my open palm, saying over and over “this is my love!”.

Through my tears, my vision blurred and I saw my reflection in the TV screen. I took in my scenario and came back to earth with a resounding ‘what the fuck am I doing?!’.

I dramatically threw off my crocheted throw rug and put down my now soggy afternoon breakfast. I turned off The Love Boat with bitter disdain and vowed never again to be caught in its complex web. I ripped off my pyjamas and strode with pride to the shower, in the process revealing far too much of myself to the new neighbours and their kids. I shrug, nobody’s perfect. Then and there I made a vow to be better than The Love Boat. Every morning I wake up and say to myself, be better than The Love Boat. It works for most of the time, till I Love Lucy comes on.

This continuing failure at life is rife in my generation, we are continuously told by so called superior generations and even the precocious little shits beneath us, so I know I’m not alone here.

I will enter a dinner party (late because I forgot to pump up my bike tire and sweaty because I misjudged the weather and wore too much wool), and smile as my friends share stories of misgivings. How someone’s cat liked to sleep in the oven and the one time Dad tried to cook a roast was a Sunday nobody forgot. Or how someone accidentally went on someone else’s blind date. Or how I’m not the only one with an unfinished Seinfeld-esque collection of cereal. We will look up at those judging us and say “Help me I’m poor” because we are all Kristen Wiig from Bridesmaids. I like to think it’s these failings that bring people together. Sure, we all know those overachieving assholes who win at everything and have perfect hair and teeth, but for the most part we little kids who are destined to bond in our failings shall clutter together, somewhere near the blue tunnels of zone B, never letting go till we are free from this fucking jungle gym. And we are happy.

#H