Free and about


I took the day off yesterday to go to the doctor. I have a doctor about 5 minutes’ walk from where I live, and I’ve been visiting him when I have an ailment. He’s a pleasant enough character, though entirely without charisma. He’s tall and spindly and with a hawkish nose that puts one in mind of a minor Dickens character. I dare say he’s competent, but he’s also inclined to diffidence which – in my book – is for certain something you don’t want in a doctor. A doctor should possess authority, preferably of the type borne from experience and learning – they know what they’re doing and are not shy of making a call. This doctor is tentative, inclined to seek my feedback on his cautious diagnoses. I go to a doctor because they are an expert in a field that I’m not – I want them to give an opinion and propose a treatment. I may have the right to veto, but I don’t need a vote.

And so yesterday I visited my old doctor in Camberwell. Given that’s a 50 minute drive from where I live then it just about rules out half the day, and given half a day I may well as well take the full eight hours.

And so I rocked up to see my old doctor at 10am yesterday.

It’s important you trust your doctor, and I trust her all the way. Experience has been that she is thorough and diligent and conscientious. She’ll follow up, and has the confidence to either propose a treatment or refer me to a specialist. She’ll make an educated guess, but if she can’t be sure she’ll do what she can to either confirm or rebut it. On top of that she’s very cute.

She’s got kids and was married, but no longer seemingly. From day one we had a good rapport and as time went on it became a mutual, though unspoken attraction. We’d digress into other conversations and laugh together. She’d gently compliment me on something or other, and I’d do the same to her. It was very easy and at one time it felt as if it might go beyond the surgery. Without saying anything directly she’d made it clear her marriage was over. It was around grand final day and we spoke about the big day and the associated celebrations. I remember she mentioned how she had to take the kids out for a kick but didn’t really know how to go about it. That was my cue to say something, but I didn’t yet feel it my place.

I hadn’t seen her for about 18 months before yesterday, maybe longer. We commented on that catching up. She’s still attractive, though her hair is now different, and the ring on her finger is gone.

She did her stuff professionally, sent me for some tests, and then I was on my way.

I wandered around Camberwell a little just for nostalgia’s sake, then hopped in the car again to head home. Driving across town was surprisingly enjoyable. It’s nice to be mobile again, nice to be doing familiar things and going familiar ways. When you’re without a car of your own your personal geography alters. It’s limited to the basic radial pattern of the public transport network. Getting on the road literally jumps the tracks. You can go anyway you want. You can act on a whim. Your view of the world is refreshed and enlivened.

Back home I pottered around attending to domestic tasks and other things I had set myself to get done – primary among them was getting my MCC membership entirely renewed. That required getting the arrears paid. Luckily I got my compo payment yesterday morning and yesterday was the cut-off point for my membership. A day late and I lose it forever. Fortunately I got in just under the wire, which means for the first time in about 5 years I can walk into the MCG as a member. Might do it tomorrow. It’s another step closer towards normality.

Later I had a long overdue massage, then took Rigby for a check-up at the vet – he’s in very good health.

It was a nice day. I felt free and very much myself.

Inshallah


I’m in a Friday afternoon state of mind. Been working hard this morning and yesterday with complex, mind-bending stuff, but I’ve sent it off now all done and it’s set off the day. I’m in a wise-cracking mood, inclined to put my feet up and wait for the drinks trolley to come around at 3.30 to have a brew (yes, we have a Friday drinks trolley, just for now). At knock-off I’ll roll downstairs for a happy hour cocktail before heading off just in time for the footy. The weekend, from this perspective, is all cream.

There’s no good reason why I should be in such a light-hearted mood. All the news about the car is bad – the engine is blown – and the bill mounts. The encouraging discussions about possible job opportunities have come to an unsatisfying and disappointing naught. And I continue to be frustrated at work, notwithstanding some temporarily diverting work. And so on.

Truth is I’m in a different space these days. This is only a moment and nothing’s too bad anyway and I reckon sooner or later things will work out more or less as I want them to. I feel good in myself, confident and fit and strong and sharp. And the writing is going well. There’s not much point in worrying about anything.

This generally accepting state of mind extends to most things. There are things I can do, and things I can’t. Things worth worrying about, and other things not. My best option is just to be myself and not vary from it.

That includes the girl, who has begun to warm to me again. It’s still halting and hesitant, but hey, there were weeks we didn’t speak to each other. This week she’s made an effort up to and including contriving a circumstance whereby I was asked to assist her with a project, throwing us together. I admit, it’s made things a lot easier.

I still don’t know what I want from her, but that’s hardly the point. I just want to be square and honest with her, in a situation divested of the baggage and crap the last little while has been full of. I know I like her and I’m happy to like her, but if that means I end up liking her a lot more, or if I don’t, is in the lap of the gods. I’m happy to find out and follow the path where it leads as long as it’s true.

It’s easier like this. I’m true to myself and what I feel. If it marries up to her or if it doesn’t is outside my control, and if it doesn’t then I guess I know my answer. I’ve never been a fatalist – I was much too aggressive and impatient for that – but I’m more than content that led things run their true course, come what may.

For what it’s worth, I think we’ll be friends.

Going backwards


So I’ve taken the day off to get some chores done. First chore is get my car to a mechanic in Chelsea Heights for a service and a RWC. I’m pessimistic about the prognosis because the car’s been ailing – oil pressure issues, together with the battery running down all the time, and in need of a definite tune. Has to be done though on my road to recovery.

I’m out the door by 8.30 and driving down Beach Road. It’s about a 30k drive, but pretty direct and going against prevailing traffic. I’ve made it most of the way and am in Wells road, 2k from the mechanic, when the speedo goes from 80 kmh and dropping rapidly. It’s as if someone’s thrown out an anchor.

Fortunately I’m in a clear patch of road, so while I’ve still got some momentum I cross from the right lane to the shoulder of the road on the left. The car comes to a stop, basically no power available.

Drat I think , or something similar – if only it had made the extra 2 k’s, but not to be. I call the mechanic and explain the situation and says he’ll come by. Ten minutes later he’s there and gives me the bad news: timing belt. For an Audi that is bad news, though not uncommon. There’s a grand plus right there, but then there’s the risk of a damaged piston too. Oh my lord I think, or something similar.

I call RACV, organise a tow, then get a lift back – the mechanic will deal with the towie. Not the start to the day I wanted.

Later today I’m off to the dentist, and hoping there won’t be any further bad news.

To cut or not to cut


About a fortnight ago I set out to document the fall from grace that led to my homelessness. I’d kept tabs on it in real time recording the sundry moments here in this journal, but while that’s a valuable record it’s flawed. It takes time to see the whole picture, and to see the patterns unfurling – and perhaps it takes some post-event wisdom too, looking over your shoulder at what happened and knowing well the hard lessons learnt.

So I wrote, for myself, but also in the back of my mind, to share. I’ve been telling bits and pieces of this tale over the last month, and those select few, earlier than that. There’s no-one in the world I’ve told the whole story to from start to finish. It’s a big story and a long story and it doesn’t make for idle conversation. I even had thought that perhaps I might put my story up on Medium.

So anyway I began writing and re-writing and the experience soured me sometimes, and sometimes it was illuminating. I had to think hard to place things in their proper sequence, and many times I would close my eyes to re-capture the feelings I had then. All throughout I was determined to make it as honest as my memory would allow. That meant plumbing the emotional depths I fell too, as well as – most importantly – taking responsibility for the many missteps along the way, born from pride mainly, and hubris. This was the point of the thing, not just a true rendering of the tale, but an accounting of it.

I’ve not yet finished writing it, but have reached the moment when finally I got the job that meant I might find a home again.

I’ve got many people fascinated by my story, and others intrigued by the bits of pieces they know of it and wanting to know more. As this is a process of opening up I shared it with someone yesterday.

She called me up last night to discuss it with me. She was shocked by what she had read. In a way I was surprised. I don’t really know where to place my travails and privations in the scheme of things. I know it was tough, but I know that people experience tough times daily, and many much tougher than me. I don’t want to glorify my misery. I want it to be true, but I can’t be objective about that truth because I am at the centre of it.

I think what she was shocked at – and which was hardest for me – was how there seemed no end to it, how one thing seemed to come hard on the heels of another. But still, some of that was my fault, and here I am, free of it – there was an end. And there I go qualifying things again.

In any case the crux of the conversation last night is that she wants to help me. She’s a wealthy woman with nothing to spend her money on and she sees me as a wasted talent in my present predicament. Those are her words. She thinks I have much to offer, but need to get from under things.

I don’t disagree much, but of course was reluctant to accept her help. She anticipated that and said, quite sensibly, that there was no shame in accepting the support of friends. I have in fact done this along the way by necessity, but it eats at me today like acid. I know intellectually that she is right, that I should be big enough and humble enough to accept the help I need when it is proffered. As always it is my spirit that rebels, the pride that has done me so wrong, and the fear of being indebted, obliged, of having a part of my independence bought and paid for. I know it seems like nonsense, but it feels true, even right.

I admitted that things remain tough, but they had been a lot tougher and this was like a cakewalk compared to before. We have different scales though. I still have upwards of $20,000 in debt I cannot pay, excluding the ATO. I have a car I can’t drive because I can’t afford to register, insure or service. And, as I revealed to her, I limit myself to one lunch a week. All of that makes her aghast, for me I just shrug my shoulders and look upon as a necessary challenge. It would feel like cheating if at this stage I accepted her help. I’m almost fearful of having it easier when I haven’t worked for it. I’ve strained so hard throughout and wrested myself from the utter pits by force of will and self-belief. To accept an easy out seems to me cheapening it.

Of course, I know, that’s ridiculous. That’s the man I’m trying to overcome. He was the man I had to be, honed for battle, but in relative peace he doesn’t work. He’s grim and defiant and mightily proud and closed off to good things as well as bad. He’s cold and ruthless, mathematical, but that’s not who I am at heart and who I can’t afford to be if I mean to be happy, and he’s the man I’m trying to overcome by exposing my sins, my struggles, my pain.

She’s offering me enough to cover my debts, repay down the track. Other than pride there’s no real reason to refuse. In fact it’s very similar to a plan I tried to hatch about 12 months ago: with money in my hands I could negotiate my debts downwards and free up my cashflow, as well as a good part of my peace of mind. It was a good plan, but the key element was missing: dollars. Now I’m offered the missing dollars with which I could extinguish the debt once and for all, the angry daily calls, and the stunted repayments robbing me of lunch money. I could repay the friends I feel so guilty about, and maybe even I could get the car back on the road.

It’s tempting. Cut the Gordian knot. Yet almost certainly I will refuse her offer.

Switched on


Hot days in Melbourne and controversy at the AO as the players complain that play should be called off when it gets too steamy. That’s sure to happen today if the temperature hits the forecast high of 42.

It makes for hot nights too. Lucky I’ve now got decent air-con, but it goes all night. It doesn’t make for a perfect sleep, but it’s better than tossing and turning.

The office should be a cool refuge, except that the corner of the building in which I suit cops the brunt of the sun. Better than being outside though.

Amid all this is me. It’s been a curious year so far. I placed myself in a position of vulnerability which has taken some getting used to. I’ve been contemplating my future here as well as navigating the complex emotions wrought by the uncertainty in dealing with the girl here I like. That got quite difficult at one point as it seemed we had reached an impasse, and I felt responsible for it.

It has not progressed not much beyond that point since, but it has progressed. Much of the complexity was on my part – what did I want from this? What did I really feel? How do I parse this into real life, working in the same office? At times I took quite a fatalistic approach, which was healthy and felt sensible: there’s no rush to this. The old fashioned ‘if it’s meant to be it will happen’ notion got a run, but grounded much more practically: there was a connection before and, inshallah, it will be there again. Be patient, let it be.

In the last 24 hours something ticked over in me. You get caught up thinking about the other person so that sometimes you forget about yourself. I think I realised that I really liked her, which released a flood of positive feeling through me. Endorphins, I guess. I felt a benign glow. There was something fatalistic about that too: accept what it is, enjoy it, be it…

As a part of that it’s like the sex switch was dialled up. It was already on – it’s never off – but it was supplementary to everything else. Suddenly I had the raw and intoxicating taste of sexual desire. Grand feeling, that. I felt like I embodied it.

That’s where I am now. I can only be me, and I can only be open. I don’t know what the path back is – lines of communication must be re-established – but if that can be managed I think everything else will flow.

New year’s cleanse


I’ve spent the last few days celebrating the new year down at Wye River. It’s a beautiful part of the world, but then most of the Great Ocean Road is spectacular. This time of year the small town is swollen by thousands of holidaymakers. It took me back to my childhood.

I went down on Sunday morning. By the afternoon I was in the surf. It wasn’t a particularly warm day, and it seemed like I was the only person there without a wetsuit (how different to when I was a kid, when only the odd surfer might). The sun had some bite to it though, and water was not as polar as it might have been. I went in wearing my old-fashioned boardies thinking I’m not going any further than waist deep. But then you get drawn in. The surf was good. It was busy with body-surfers and boogie boarders. The water surged like a living thing and I remembered it from when I was a kid when every year for maybe a dozen summers we holidayed down by the beach. My body took to it, recalling how to turn side on to the waves or dive beneath them, how to ride the swell lifting you with it, and when to turn and surf with the crashing wave. It wasn’t long before I was all in, in and back, out beyond the waves at times feeling it take me, before catching a wave on the way back in. It was all fantastic muscle memory, and my body was exuberant with it.

That night I sat at the campsite with my friends and we had a green chicken curry before lacing into the beer and spirits as the hour approached, conversation roiling around the table, and laughter with it to the soundtrack of some Spotify playlist. As new years eves go it was different, but welcome and fresh.

The next day was slow, walking to the cafe, to the beach, then back to the campsite to read by the creek. Come the evening we fired up the barbie and opened up some reds. We played 500 until we were merry and then went to bed.

Come yesterday I was looking forward to a hot bath and some comforts of home, though they do it well. I’d slept well both nights, assisted by alcohol. Yesterday afternoon I boarded a bus in Lorne and made my way back to Melbourne via Geelong. I had my bath late last night after first having a home-cooked dinner with the friend who’d looked after Rigby for me.

The trip away was good for me. It was good to get away anywhere, but particularly to a place so rustic and raw, so simple in a way and laden with nostalgia. Good to be with my friends.

Last week was pretty tough for me. I felt literally down in the mouth, which is an awful feeling. When you feel that grim you want to avoid contact with any who might see you that way. You can’t smile, everything is hard. I’m pretty good at tossing off a few deflective one-liners and otherwise acting as I always have, but it feels not just a sham, but utterly transparent. The astute will notice, including sometimes the last people in the world you want noticing – which makes it worse.

It took a while to lose that feeling. The surfing helped because it was so natural, but even so, I was reticent. Gradually I eased out of that, knowing in my mind that I have to change it. That’s my resolution, among others, to be less glib, more open – which translates as honest and vulnerable. Donna tells me I’ll be surprised at how people react to it, and the test will be back at work.

Now I’m home until Monday and besides a few chores, I’ve set myself I need to get writing on the new book. I’ve started, but it’s torturous going. No-one ever said it would be easy.

Fond remembrances


Off to a funeral tomorrow. The father of one of my best friends has died. I’m there to support my friend, but I knew his father also, a lovely, gentle, earthy man from the north of England. He was not young and his passing falls into the category of inevitable, but it’s no less sad for that.

My friend lives in Mullumbimby now, and I see him rarely. He called me when he came down as his father ailed, and we hoped to catch up but it was not to be. I haven’t seen him for ages, and when I see him now it will be at his father’s funeral.

I got the message last night. I wondered, as always, how to respond. I kept it simple and real. It’s a hard time and it’s not for me to make it harder. I felt sad though, sad for my friend, and his family – all lovely people, sad for his father, who I really liked, and finally I felt sad for myself remembering what it was like to lose a parent.

I’ll be there to pay my respects and support my friend. There’ll be at least one other mutual friend there. At the end of the day over a cold beer the memories will flow, and the sadness edged with fond remembrance. For a little while we’ll live with the knowledge of mortality. It will be real and gape within us like a precipice we can’t see over. There’s something enlivening in that, and as we who remain toast to our memories we’ll head home later grateful to be alive and among friends.

A weekend doing nothing


Since sending my book off my weekend lifestyle has changed big time. For every weekend for as long as I can remember I spent hours each day sitting at my desk writing. Once the book was in the mail there was no more need to do that.

My next writing project is an essay, and I spent a couple of hours making some notes and doing some research, but that’s been pretty well it. I made a decision to do as little as possible because I was curious as to how it would feel. What I felt was a bit lost. When you’ve built up such a solid routine it feels wrong when you step away from it. I felt lazy in a way, as if I was skiving off from important work to be a bum.

Then this last weekend came and I had an excuse to do nothing. We celebrated Diwali at work on Friday, and I hoed into the assorted Indian tucker like the true cosmopolitan I am. Somewhere along the way I partook, literally, of a dodgy curry, and knew about it from about 3am Saturday morning, and every 90 minutes thereafter.

I was supposed to get my hair cut Saturday morning, but it seemed an unsafe proposition and so I cancelled. The local farmers market was on and I took a chance betting I could get back inside 90 minutes and I went along.

I love farmer’s markets. There’s always such a good vibe, and the produce is generally top notch. The farmers market in Sandy is always busy, with lots of kids, and more dogs than you could point a bone at. I went without Rigby because I didn’t want to manage him as well as everything else, but there were plenty of mutts whose eye I caught..

I did my usual shopping, buying some artisan bread, gourmet snags, a couple of herb seedlings, as well as an indulgent choc brownie. I was out of there within 40 minutes and heading home along the beach track.

Once more I thought how good life is in Australia, and particularly in a place like where I live. Leaving the market I heard the sounds of distant song, a choir it sounded like, singing Consider Yourself, from Oliver Twist. I walked a little way along the path until I came to a clearing. I stood on the high headland looking back towards the yacht club. Down below was a community choir of some ilk giving a performance to a collected crowd. Why it was I didn’t know, but I was happy that such a thing might occur.

I walked on, looking out towards the bay where just offshore a yacht race seemed to be in progress, and passing by good citizens with their beautiful dogs.

It’s no exaggeration to claim that a bit of my heart melts every time I see a dog. I love them to death, and each time I saw one I felt a little better, no matter the churning in my gut. It seems to me that a dog’s life span is shorter than ours because they manage to cram in as much delight, love and affection in their dozen odd years as we do in our seventy. They are a much purer expression of happiness than what we are, and we can learn a lot from them.

I got home just in the nick of time. I gave Rigby a hug and spent the rest of the day and much of yesterday being a bum. Fact is when you’re crook like that you don’t have much motivation to do more, and little energy. I felt a little lost, but ultimately spent most of the weekend watching a movie on Foxtel, or reading.

Next weekend I intend to get back to some routine. Today, I’m well again just in time for work.

A wanted man


Just for the record, I should report that up to a couple of weeks ago there was a warrant out for my arrest. Apparently.
I had no idea. I only found out when I visited the magistrates court to discuss a matter and was informed of it. I was bemused – I’ve never been a wanted man before. I suppose I felt relief to knowing that they hadn’t caught up with me. I was able to square things away, and I’m no longer wanted.
How it happened in the first place is an interesting story, and highlights just how fucked some things are.
The warrant was issued because of some unpaid traffic infringements. I had consulted with some community lawyers last year regarding these infringements, and they were to appeal them on my behalf. This coincided with the sheriff’s office going quiet. I presumed that they were connected.
Earlier this year, and then a few months ago, I followed up with the community lawyers to check on progress. I hadn’t heard from them.
Turns out for reasons never properly explained to me that they had never submitted my appeal. I was not best pleased, but it’s hard to be critical of a service when you’re not paying for it. They’ve jumped to it since, and very efficiently, but it left some outstanding items I didn’t consider until visiting the court.
Turns out the reason I hadn’t heard from the Sheriff lately is because they were sending correspondence to my old address. I arced up at that. Hang on a sec, I updated my address with Vic Roads as soon as I shifted, I told them. That’s when I was told that there is no link between Vic Roads and the infringements court/sheriff.
I blinked at that. Why wouldn’t they share a common database if, by definition, they have common customers and are both government authorities. It makes sense, right up to the point that I just took it for granted – but, silly me.
So what has happened is that 1. my lawyers didn’t do what they were meant to do, and never told me about it; and 2. the sheriff kept sending letters I didn’t receive; leading to 3. a warrant for my arrest.
Happy days.

A card player’s journey


When I was a kid every summer for years on end we’d head down to the beach somewhere as a family after Christmas to spend two weeks lounging in the sun, body-surfing, and generally taking it easy. Looking back from this distance it seems like a special time. It has a glow to it in memory. It was family time, a time when I still felt the innocence and joy of being an irresponsible child yet, riding my bike and mucking up and accepting all the simple pleasures of that hedonistic lifestyle as my very due. It has novelty value now also, because it has become so unfamiliar.

One of the things we would always do is play cards in the evening. It wouldn’t be every night. We’d go out sometimes, or else there might be something on TV – likely sport – to watch. It was a regular occurrence though, perhaps every second night. We’d play 500, either solo or in pairs, or else another favourite game called Oh Hell (aka American Bridge). We were kids, but we took to it easily and had a lot of fun playing. Over years I acquired a proficiency in playing cards in general, and took great pleasure in the skill required to play a winning hand. I can safely say that playing card games is one of the things I’m very best at.

Later, as I got older, the occasions when we would play cards became much less frequent. Becoming a bloke some of the games would change also. I haven’t played 500 for a long while, and Oh Hell only infrequently in the years since, but I’ve played plenty of hands of poker with the boys, and the odd casino card game. The only variation to that was when travelling, where a pick-up game of cards was always likely waiting for a plane or sitting on a train. I remember 10 years ago travelling through Egypt and Jordan I fell in with some keen card players. We would play Hearts at every opportunity. Most of them were good players, but one of the girls – an alluring Kiwi – was an exceptional player. I loved pitting myself against her, and had many hours of pleasure sitting on a dhow playing, or in the shade of palms at a red sea resort, or in the hotel lounge, and sometimes even in the bus.

Now I’m learning Bridge.

How this came about is that a few weeks ago I’m at the Cheeses for dinner when afterwards Mrs Cheese says to Cheeseboy, what are you going to do? The inference was that he had no hobby or diversion, as he should, and I was the reference point – a keen writer after all, and a cook on top of that. To be fair to Cheeseboy he is not without interests. He’s coached the local junior soccer team for years now, and once was a keen cyclist. In any case in response to his wife’s question Cheeseboy blurted out: Bridge.

I admit to being confounded at that point. I know Cheeseboy pretty well, and we’ve been mates for years – but I had no idea of this secret interest. I think Mrs Cheese was just as taken aback.

Turns out as a kid, just like me, the old Cheeseboy had been a keen card player. Like me he spent years playing cards with his family back in Holland. He enjoyed cards but, as with me, finds little opportunity to play.

Somehow in those minutes after I told him that if he wants to learn Bridge then I’d keep him company. As always Mrs Cheese, who is extremely diligent and efficient, found a local club where we could learn and play, and made sure that Cheeseboy organised it. Last night was our first lesson.

In the weeks leading up to the lesson we would josh around in anticipation of it. Let’s face it Bridge, and Bridge players, have a certain reputation. I took the mickey from myself by suggesting I might find a ‘foxy’ widow who would look after me. We joked about playing with a glass of sherry or Pimms, only to discover that tea and Arnott’s Family Assorted was strictly the go. In one thing our expectations were proven absolutely correct: we were the youngest there.

We rocked up and had the ladies at reception quickly flirt with us, commenting on our relative youth. Inside we were introduced to our fellow trainees – all older couples – and our trainer, a very proper type, as befitting the game of Bridge.

I’m not sure we were entirely approved of. Too much levity. We’re mates and have a lifetime of chiding and gentle abuse. It was novel to us, and amusing in its novelty, especially in the myriad rules. One of the other guys at the table joined in the banter.

The game itself was fascinating, unlike anything I’ve played before. It has common elements, but what makes it different is that you play virtually with a 3D perspective. Playing cards over the years I’m used to watching cards closely, and my opponents. You keep a rough count of cards whilst figuring out your own strategy, and scrambling to deploy alternative tactics as needed as the cards fall in unpredicted ways. A lot of it is predictable though if you’re thinking straight and haven’t missed anything. The game is in your head.

Bridge has the added complexity of having to play two hands, yours and your partners when you’re the bidder. I found this additional requirement tested my ability to keep everything in my head. It was almost as if by taking on this also something had to come out. It was quite a challenge, but I assume a challenge I’ll adjust to.

In any case I learned the game okay, albeit in an incomplete version – other bits are added in next week. The one game when I was the bidder was testing, but worked out well. These are the sort of things I like to master. As always, it feels almost like a direct challenge to my intellect. I enjoy those challenges greatly, and I love winning. I can’t ever imagine ever being part of a Bridge club, so my playing career may be brief, but before I part from it I want to get it absolutely right.

I may even absorb the etiquette.