So I’m at this party last night. A typical Blue Mountains affair. You know the kind of thing: beautiful house, views over the bush, original artworks, a couple of buddha statues in the garden. A mix of the regular suspects: professionals, artists, writers, gardeners, teachers, chefs and so on.
I’m feeling relatively enigmatic, with my new Cleopatra-esque bronze eyeliner and my Japanese kimono style skirt, when the woman standing next to me asks the dreaded question: “So what do you do for a living?”
My heart sinks. I know that many readers of this blog probably know exactly how I’m feeling because you’re in exactly the same boat. Confessing at this point that I’m an accountant is kind of like announcing that I have bubonic plague.
But I have my tactic. “I’m a business consultant”, I declare. Her eyes flicker, allotting me an ‘interest-level’ score of 2 out of 10.
“And a writer”. I declare. Her eyes brighten. A possible score of 8 out of 10 emerges.
She smiles. “Fiction or non-fiction?”
“Non-fiction” I confess. “Business books, books about accounting software, business planning, that kind of thing.”
Ah. My score plummets once more. Her eyes skim the room, looking for a more interesting conversation partner. But she continues valiantly to find a point of mutual interest. “So have you ever considered writing a novel?”
I want to reply something about having a mortgage, three kids, school fees, and a predilection for single malt whisky, none of which is congruent with being a novelist of ground-breaking fiction. But instead I simply tell this wide-eyed purple-clad lady that I’m happy doing what I do.
And to tell you the truth, I am. I love working with business people. I enjoy numbers. In the same way some folk love looking up the cricket results because each score tells a story, I get a kick of looking at a Profit & Loss and gaining an insight into what’s going on with a business.
I try to steer our conversation towards safer ground. “What do you do for a living?” I ask. She beams at me. “I’m a sexologist” she replies. Fascinating.
Pondering over my coffee this morning, I feel a little defensive. Sure, I studied business at uni and I write books about accounting software and business for a living, but that doesn’t mean I’m a complete pariah. I do have some redeeming attributes that could make me a mildly interesting companion at social functions.
I’m reminded of that ice-breaker game they get you to play at those excruciating conference events where you have to tell people two things about yourself: One true, one false. Your colleagues have to guess which is ‘the real you’.
So, I’m going to share a few things about myself right now. Exactly half are true, half are false:
- I’m currently ensconced in a passionate lesbian love affair with my next-door neighbour.
- I got my name ‘Veechi’ when I joined a religious cult at the age of 13 and spent my teenage years doing a whole load of things that really freaked my mother out
- Last night I dreamed I was installing Xero for a band of Vikings who were on a search for Attila the Hun’s burial mound of silver
- I believe in astrology
- I play the bagpipes
- I’m a closet Liberal voter (that’s risky when you live where I do)
- What I’d really like right this minute is a whole bar of organic dark chocolate to eat all for myself
- I’m secretly working on my first novel
Can you figure which is which?
Now the question is this, what shall I say next time when I’m asked what I do for a living?