Social Suicide Bomber (Frankie – 2009)
(This piece first appeared in Frankie magazine in response to the question ‘What is your super power?’)
You don’t choose to be a social suicide bomber, you are born one. Just like a pre-pubescent Spiderman was caught with goo on his hands, those inflicted / blessed with this conversational gift discover it by accident. With great power comes great irresponsibility; if it’s the ability to unnerve the most robust of people with sheer presence alone.
I first discovered I carried ‘the mark’ (my face) entering teen hood. I was a Junior Nipper at the Burnie Surf Club, and often attended squad training with the older boys. Despite my best efforts to fit in, I started noticing a trend: as soon as I joined the circle, the circle broke apart. I couldn’t understand it. Every time I’d creep in with a swag of fascinating offerings bubbling beneath by bowl cut. These could include ‘has anyone felt the sand today?’, ‘let’s go night skipping’ or ‘does anyone want a bite of my chomp?’ With cold blue eyes the boys would stare out to sea before staggering away like stallions in a cyclone, leaving me tinkering with a KFC refresher towel.
By High School, when Spiderman was at the web building stage, I was on the World Wide Web. In 1995, when the Internet exploded, I was attracted to a primitive, MS-Dos based chat room called ‘Dyslexicon.’ The point was to make aimless conversation in the hope of appearing interesting and being promoted by your superiors. My username was ‘crumpet’ and I’d often kick start conversations with ‘I’m from Tasmania who wants to party?’ only to find myself already demoted two levels. The Dyslexicon was a maze of virtual rooms, and I’d wander about like a Pop at a party. A typical situation went:
YOU ARE IN THE POOL ROOM.
JIVE: Yeah it’s like 30 degrees in Toronto today.
WIZZBANG OPENS A DECK OF CARDS
CAROLINA: Man I’ve gotta finish my thesis.
JIVE LEAVES ROOM.
WIZZBANG LEAVES ROOM.
YOU HAVE BEEN DEMOTED TO PEASANT LEVEL!
At Uni, when Spiderman was swinging between buildings, I was trying to swing it with the ladies. I found my powers to be growing stronger. On some occasions, I didn’t even need words to obliterate small gatherings. On the dance floor, I felt a powerful force emanating from within as I lurked in the wings. People seemed to gravitate away from my bespectacled gaze, and sometimes, just for fun I’d move them about like chess pieces. I’d only have to take a few steps towards some cagey brunettes, get four flails into ‘Groove Is In The Heart’ before my aura-bomb would detonate, triggering a crater of space around me. It was only broken by ground troops, or ‘bogan’s heroes’ shouting and sloshing beer.
Now I am a fully fledged adult, and just like Spiderman understands and accepts his role as hero, I too feel a sense of honour to be a Social Suicide Bomber. Only now can I be confidently awkward enough to use my powers for good. When stuck at a stale art exhibition, caught in the cross-fire of pseudo-academic Marxist rhetoric, I can simply sit back and detonate my arsenal of anecdotes. Whether it’s ‘Nan and I really miss our bushwalks,’ ‘My sideburns are sore,’ or uncontrollable laughter followed by ‘sorry I had a really funny teacher in grade six,’ I can stand back and watch the circle explode in a nebulous of mumbles and excuses. I feel truly liberated, as the bores pick out the shrapnel of Jatz biscuits and brie.
I’m often called upon by friends to help them find freedom from railroading social situations, and like Spiderman, I have my pale-faced uniform always on hand. My blind confidence is sky high, and my weapons even more sophisticated, you try working into conversation the non-sequitur of ‘Ten Green Bottles’ sung in Indonesian. It’s lonely work, but I know that in the afterlife I’ll be promoted to mega-legend and given my own cruise ship where I’ll keep everybody in stitches.