Issue 3 - The Wednesday Waffle

They're an odd couple... aren't they?

In this week’s newsletter:

🦸 🦹 They’re an odd couple… aren’t they?
Is there such a thing as an odd couple, or does being human make us all the same?

🎞️ How do these two get on?
The story of a forty-something man mentoring a sixteen year old girl.

🏆 A Friendly Challenge
Nobody wants to be Robin, but we can’t all be Batman.

👂 Easy to Use Friendly Skills
Part 2 in the series designed to help us be better friends / family members.

🦸 🦹 They’re an odd couple… aren’t they?

In 2019, I was fortunate enough to travel to Iceland for a month-long artist residency at Laugarvatn, a hamlet of about 200 people an hour and a half from the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik.

NOTE: I didn’t consider myself an “artist”, per se, but used a fledgling screenwriting career as my excuse to pretend and undertake this long-haul adventure.

I can’t even zoom out enough to get it in one screenshot

From my part of the world, Melbourne, Australia, Iceland is the longest voyage a person can take, some 16,919 kilometres (10,512 miles for my American friends) and 29 hours in transit. (That’s still 29 hours in American time my Australian friends.) So I’d literally committed to flying half-way around the world to live out this fantasy, and soon realised that might’ve been a mistake. 

A quarter of the way into this epic pilgrimage, speed-walking around Singapore’s enormous Changi Airport, in search of my connecting flight, I became furious for choosing such a remote destination for my delusions of grandeur, and wished I’d simulated the situation in a luxurious villa in Bali. It would’ve been a fraction of the cost and commute. But, not being one to do things in halves (except travel around the world), there was no turning back and I eventually made it to my new temporary residence, the Gulkistan Centre for Creativity.

I recognised the drab, rectangular, all white building from the brochures, but what this accommodation lacked in visual inspiration, it more than made up for in its surrounds - mountains, a geothermal lake, and a dormant volcano in the distance. It felt calm and peaceful and immediately like home.

Ain’t she a beauty

Slinking out of the taxi, I was greeted by a welcoming party of the other artists. First there was tall, lean, twenty-something Louise, a native New Yorker, who I was to share the two bedroom studio, along with her visiting girlfriend. Then there was Marina, a fifty year old Spanish senorita who looked forty. Fresh faced Victoria, a twenty-year-old blonde from France. Jane, a middle-aged brunette woman from Canada, who reminded me of my Nan (circa 2000). And Bregje, a late thirties / early forties Dutch lady.

I was frazzled, having not slept for 36 hours, but figured I better not disappoint

Me, coming right up

They’d taken up residence two days earlier, having travelled a fraction of the distance, and had decided to show me a hidden waterfall a few kilometres away. I was frazzled, having not slept for 36 hours, but figured I better not disappoint, and decided it made sense to forge on and delay slumber until night time.

The waterfall was spectacular, as were crystal clear waters that flowed from it. So I filled my water bottle with it, and this natural elixir, combined with the beautifully clean air, energised me. Luckily so, as I learned that an introductory meal had been arranged for the evening, now that our group was complete.

The elixir of the fatigue gods flowing

Later that night, around a large circular table, we all shared a banquet of various local and imported cuisine, as well as our personal stories. Louise was a poet and PhD student from the University of Brown. Marina, was a former actor who now wrote poetry. *Victoria was a photographer with a penchant for capturing naked bodies. (She would go on to shoot my fellow residents, but did not ask me). Jane, an experimental video artist who had a fascination with moving water. And lastly, Bregje was a novelist that exclusively wrote stories about odd couples - those duos you naturally felt were unlikely to spend time together. This theme immediately grabbed me.

*to see some of Victoria’s non-nude photos of Iceland, click here.

While there are numerous famous examples in the world of film and television, think - Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in Twins, bohemian Dharma and the bookish Greg in the 90’s sitcom of the same name, or my personal favourite, twenty-something Woody and thirteen-year-old Shaun from This Is England, I was intrigued.

It made me wonder, was I part of an obviously odd coupling? The answer seemed to be no.

Shaun and Woody

As mentioned in previous issues, a majority of my friends are guys I met in school or via local sport. Looking back, it felt like there was no one meaningfully different in the place I’d grown up in. Even my mate Dean, a Middle-Eastern kid that moved to town from the UAE when we were in Year 7, dressed like me, and loved to skate, listen to the same sort of music, and do the same stupid teenager shit as I did. But I’m sure the outside world probably didn’t see it that way due to our appearances.

We came from different countries, were different ages, different sexes, and were there practising a different art form

A very interesting man, in a jiffy

Over the next four weeks, I bonded with all these women, and in many respects my pairing with each of them would’ve made for a pretty clear odd coupling by almost any measure. We came from different countries, were different ages, different sexes, and were there practising a different art form.

I spent the most time with Louise, and thinking back, we were an odd couple fit for the screen. A straight, 35-year-old Aussie (reformed bogan) male, with a fairly thick country accent, from a small town, and a 28 year old, academic lesbian from New York City. But there we were, driving across the countryside to explore various natural wonders making memories together. Strangely enough, due to our appearances, I bet the outside world probably thought we looked like a perfect match and just another couple of loved up travellers.

So that’s got me pondering, what really makes an odd couple?

An iconic odd couple, I guess?

Is it skin colour? Sexual orientation? Height? Age? Weight? Political preference? Favourite pastime? Threshold for household cleanliness? If the latter is true, I’m categorically part of a really distinct odd couple with my partner.

It occurs to me that it’s not really for anyone else to decide.

In the case of Dean and I, we couldn’t have been more alike. Whereas Louise and I, despite not looking noteworthy, were really quite opposite. Either way, I’m proud to have been a part of both these dynamic duos.

Are you proudly part of an odd couple? Let me know - email [email protected] - I’d love to hear about it.

Wednesday Waffle on Media Street

We got some good press this week from everyone’s favourite online publication, Newsweek. Well, my favourite online publication at least, as of yesterday.

Follow the link here to read the full story.

If you know anyone that’s producing TV, writing columns, or putting podcasts out into the ether, tell them to feed my insatiable appetite for the spotlight. It’ll help make the world that little bit friendlier.

How Do These Two Get On?

Inspired by my trip to Iceland, I wrote and directed a short film called Junk Mail that featured a - you guessed it - particularly odd pairing. It’s about a retiring forty-something pamphlet delivery man and his sixteen-year-old successor.

The lead actor, Lee Mason, is a genius and friend of mine. As is the cinematographer, Ben, who will surely leave us for Hollywood sometime soon.

This Week’s Friendly Challenge

In honour of this week’s title story, think about that friend in your life that people might see as quite different to you?

Either because they’re:

Younger / Older
Sillier / Straighter
Warier / Wilder
Taller / Shorter
Covered in Tatts / Clean Skinned.

Hopefully there’s someone that springs to mind.

Take a moment to think about how life might be in their shoes. For example, if they’re short and you’re tall, try to understand how annoying the top shelf at the supermarket is (that’s a grocery store for you Americans - last time I promise).

Your challenge is to reach out to this person and check in on them.

What ever happened to Jenna Elfman?

Easy to Use Friend Skills

This series is designed to help us be better friends and family members via some easy to implement skills that enhance our collective friendliness.

Today we limber up a skill that’s not such a stretch for those we consider our best of friends.

#2 - Be Flexible 🤸‍♀️

I promise you won’t have to take up yoga or pay hundreds of dollars for reformer Pilates classes. In fact, you won’t even need to get down on a foam roller, because when it comes to being a good friend, flexibility comes from the mind.

We’ve all got that mate that’s up for anything and a real “yes” person. They’ll meet anywhere, anytime, for any reason. You live across town, they’ll come to you. You get off work late, they can meet later. Nothing is a big deal to them. That’s not because they’re displaying hallmarks of a borderline alcoholic looking for any excuse, but instead the beautiful traits of a wonderfully flexible friend.

You see, we all have our preferences - whether it’s keeping a rigid nightly routine, a favourite place to eat, or even which side of the city one prefers to grab a drink. Mine have been refined to an exact science over the years, due to decades of social anxiety. It’s meant I’ve needed to know exactly what I’m in for, with no surprises. That’s made me inflexible.

“All of this is unbeknownst to my friends though, so they go and plan things outside my perfectly manicured comfort zone”

Me - just below, silly 

All of this is unbeknownst to my friends though, so they go and plan things outside my perfectly manicured comfort zone. I say yes, hoping it’ll be OK but usually end up backing out later.

Me bending over backwards to get out of our plans

I’ve been able to improve in this area thanks to lots of specific tools learned in therapy. Still, it’s an ongoing struggle to not fall back into these bad inflexible habits.

I’m not the only one though, so I ask you to consider how things play out amongst your friendship group. Do things always need to be as you like them? At your favourite place? On your side of town? If the answer is “yes”, maybe you should shoot your flexible friend a message and tell them you’ll meet them over their way. I’ll do the same.

If you answered “no” - congratulations, your mind is completing the necessary reps to remain flexible. I bet you’re a good friend!

Be a Friend and Do Me a Solid!

I hope you’re enjoying The Wednesday Waffle! We’re slowly growing, but we need lots more people to make the world that little bit friendlier - so please share with your friends and / or sign them up here.

It would mean the world to me 🌎

To send feedback, or to let me know how you think The Wednesday Waffle could be even better, email [email protected] - I’d love to hear from you.

Until next Wednesday, keep waffling!