Growing up all I ever really wanted in life was to
be one of the following three characters – if not all
I could never aspire to becoming a “cat-woman”
as I was self-warehoused into a fear so deep,
so neurotically entrenched among any members
originating from the felidae family tree.
I feared the humble domestic moggy for as far
back as my memory elasticated.
So dire, so drastic, so real was my scaredy-cat fear
of the feline shadows it actually left me in a true
state of pussy paralysis, until, at the very least,
my late twenty-somethings.
But that’s another apologue – for another page perhaps?
Rewind to 1983, entering high-school. I pleaded with
my parents to let me opt out of the home-economics
subject in lieu of Biology One-on-One the Basics.
For I had already softened to the home-economics
teacher from an angled distance across the netball courts
and in my curious worldview that could only mean one thing.
Intuitively she made me feel sensational in places where
I didn’t know one could feel sensational. Thus began my
obsessive compulsive disorder toward long-legged vintage
women of the super-heroine persuasion. I knew in my
heart of hearts that this desire of lust would eventually
spell disaster for many episodes yet to come.
For she was my super spider bat all rolled into the one
First day of enrolment and there she stood triumphantly
in front of the blackboard with razzamatazz legs,
free-flowing hair akin to the dairy hues of homogenised
egg-nog, calling the morning class-roll with a click of her
provincial Dutch native tongue.
She was the Bo Derek of kitchen hardware in a tight
fitting pair of clogs with thick pillowy lips, the same
lips that ran over my every vowel and syllable with
words I struggled to pronounce such as stroopwafe,
poffertjes, pannenkoeken and kibbeling.
Indeed, Ms Meijer, affectionately known as Ms May,
certainly left me irriguous and I don’t mean pumpkin
scone moist either. I’m talking serious infringement
of sexual identity, hidden desires, confusion of self,
embarrassment, wonting of scent, improper imaginings.
It soon became impossible to separate the fantasy from
Consequently my parents did not succumb to the pleas
of switching me over from home-economics to biology.
I was driving my parents crazy and I knew it. All vital
signs of domestic input on the family home-front went
out the window the moment I started dreaming of
windmills and red tulips.
Washing up – I wasn’t interested.
Making the bed – never heard of it.
Bringing in the washing on laundry days – impossible.
I sweated out the first term like a crustless wholemeal
cucumber sandwich left all alone on the acacia-wooden
bread-board waiting to be either consumed or discarded.
I soon began to enjoy the weekly visual toing and froing
stares between Ms May and I, as we lowered our
extending fingertips into a myriad of Tupperware bowls,
kneading and Rolfing exotic pantry substances such as
flour, sugar, oatmeal, milk and eggs.
Butter was optional.
According to the then legendary teenage girl bible
magazine – Dolly, the last thing I needed was to
harbour a bleeding internal crush on any teacher.
I was roller-skating on thin ice and I knew it.
Shame on her for making me feel so lost inside
my own pre-pubescent skin.
By the time final terms saddled up, suddenly it
dawned on me that I would never morph into a
bat woman, a spider woman or a super woman.
I had to face facts – I willed myself to put all Mattel
dolls aside once and for all.
Eventually I outgrew my high-octane penchant for
the Saturday morning cartoon re-runs too. I had to let
sleeping DC heroines lay, preferably in the backyard
cemetery next to the laid to rest budgerigar and a
junkyard full of Match-Box cars.
Fast forward to a brand new millennium and I can
now concur that in the long run I never did fair too
well in the domestic goddess Olympiads. I could
never conform to the wrapped-up butterfly motif
apron strings stainless steel state of wellbeing.
Nor did I ever master the artful skill of sharpening
Japanese kitchen knives in preparedness for Sunday roasts.
I did however surpass the necessary grade for theory
and practicality of home-economics without too much
self-inflicted emotional injury. In fact I had heard
along the passionfruit vine that my take-home
lentil-walnut energy bars were a backyard hit among
the chorus line of neighbouring Garfields. That alone
made me feel proud.
Crikey, the world was still thawing out from the Cold War
and my biggest dilemma had been to pontificate over an
entire school year between my dearly beloved Maggie May
versus warm apple pie.
The clouds lifted, the shackles broke and I was no longer
compelled to the infantilisation of comic book characters
propping up my self-worth of who I was and all I had yet
I joyfully made global peace with neighbourly kitty-cats the
And I certainly didn’t need the excess crushing of
a teenage heartache to nurse for decades to come either.
By the time I saluted a farewell to arms of
home-economics, Thatcherism was well and
truly in full-swing and every now and then Ms May
would ladle a quote upon unquote of the Iron Butterfly herself:
Any woman who understands the problems of running
a home will be nearer to understanding the problems
of running a country.
Neoliberalism at its finest, perhaps?
Un_domesticated in home-economics, overthrown!
- 99: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 98: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97: PROPAGANDACOMING SOON with M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRO AUSTRALIANwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones