Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Do you remember the first time?

By Camha Pham

Brave and daring souls Isobelle Carmody, Leanne Hall, Will Kostakis, Michael Pryor and Penny Tangey ventured into the uncharted realm of ‘firsts’, taking the audience with them on an unpredictable adventure filled with laughs and deep nostalgia.


The poppy strains of Pulp’s ‘Do you remember the first time’ served as a fitting introduction to the night. Mike Shuttleworth, MC, suggested that writers usually can’t afford to commit the sin of nostalgia as they need to be forward looking, so this event was a special opportunity for these five writers to look back, reflect on and recount tales of their 'firsts'.

I was expecting to hear accounts of first love and lust, awkward sexual encounters and gut-wrenching heartbreaks. What I wasn’t expecting to hear were stories of the first time Isabelle Carmody accidentally showered in the wrong house, the first time Penny Tangey understood the mathematical concept that subtracting a negative number makes a positive number, or the first time Will Kostakis inadvertently made an inappropriate comment involving ‘guns’ to a student on a school book tour.

Michael Pryor discussed meeting his wife forty years ago and what followed was an exciting tale of espionage involving submarines, helicopters and Nazis; all the while their passionate love affair built against this backdrop of imminent danger. That was how Pryor remembered their first encounter anyway, and although his memory is fallible and certain details may have been embellished over time, he still knows that meeting his wife was the luckiest moment of his life.

Leanne Hall reminisced about a time when she and her childhood friend (the only other Asian in her grade) were intent on dancing their way onto national television. Their chosen song was ‘Live it up’ by Mental as Anything and they even had choreographed dance moves that were essentially dramatic, literal interpretations of the song lyrics.

Unfortunately they weren’t able to make it onto television but that didn’t stop Hall and her special guest/childhood friend from taking over the stage and dazzling the audience with their awkward choreographed dance moves, wild thrusting and cartwheeling as ‘Live it up’ played in the background, proving that it is never too late to live out your childhood dreams.

Inevitably all of these stories led me to ruminate on my own 'first' experiences. There can be pressure for these moments to be perfect, an exact re-enactment of the romanticised notions that you have always envisioned in your head. Conversely, there are instances when nothing will beat the raw excitement of the ‘first time', all subsequent escapades paling in comparison and never quite reaching the same level of euphoria.

As the Pulp song goes:

Do you remember the first time?
I can't remember a worse time.
But you know that we've changed so much since then.

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