​”Yeah, so this happened…” Tuesdays #1

So I thought a new writing piece that would work is me telling humorous stories from my past (much like my book), these stories will often be ones my friends know but perhaps in fuller detail.
I had originally thought to call this “Stories I Tell My Friends” but found out that Rob Lowe had the indencency to call his autobiography that years ago. (Cool title anyway)

The title “Yeah, so this happened”, while actually being a common phrase, jumps to mind because it was the subject of an email for this titular story.

I was late for work. Again. (It concerns me how many of my stories start this way) 

I parked my car in the carpark in Woden. I leaped out of my car… and saw having just exited the car next to me was an extremely cute girl. My mind debated, glancing at my watch.  I was already late, I was already getting in trouble. 

I couldn’t be any later. Had I been thinking clearly I could’ve stopped and said

“Hey, I’m running really late for work so I can’t really stop and talk. If you feel like grabbing a drink sometime give me a call.”

I know I COULD have said because I proceeded to quietly beat myself up for it for the rest of the day. Why didn’t you just say SOMETHING you fool?! 

And all those platitudes of 

Rejection doesn’t suck as much as regret.


“‘What’ and ‘If’ are fine on their own but can be suck if they’re put together.”

all kept repeating over in my mind.

At the end of the day of a long day of work I walked back to my car and realise the girl’s car was still parked next to mine. Even though I’d had to stay back late, she hadn’t left yet.

I surveyed my options.

1. I *could* wait at my car to ask her out.  Although this, to me at least, seemed a little stalker-ish and might freak her out.

2. I could hope to bump into the carpark again another day


3. I could write a note on the back of one of my business cards and leave it on her windscreen.

Number 3. Seemed like a solid option. So grabbing a pen I scrawled the following note. (I have a photo I will post below… no… I didn’t take a photo of the card… we’ll get to that shortly)

“Saw you this morning and thought you were cute but do my being extremely late I didn’t get a chance to ask you out. If you’re for a drink give me a call. -Liam”

So I placed it under her windscreen wipers and drove off. 

About two hours later I got a text on my phone from my friend Kirsty.

“Saw you tried the business card thing. Nice work!” 

I was genuinely perplexed. I had mentioned the business card idea to Kirsty in passing earlier that day but deliberately didn’t tell anyone I tried it. Kirsty worked in the same building, could she have walked past the girl’s car and spotted the business card there? How the hell would she have known that’s what it was?!

Figuring there was only way to end my confusion I called her.

“How the hell did you find out about it?! Because I deliverately didn’t tell ANYONE.”

“Because I’m friends with and she posted it on facebook!”

I froze. And laughed. Got off the phone call and fled to my computer.

As Kirsty had commented on the photo, I didn’t even have to track down the girl’s profile, it popped in my feed. 

I have screenshoted it below but I have to say, you had to be me to live through the next few minutes of reading comments and stay level headed, and at the end of day, even amused.

Nicole, who was indeed the name of the girl in question, posted the following:

“OMG just found this on my car windscreen and his a marriage celebrant! Wtf??? Lol”

(The business card was for my side job as marriage celebrant. The fact it lists me as ‘Best Marriage Celebrant In The Universe’ may have either worked for or against me.)

And then the comments. Oh the comments. Luckily, for the most part, they were positive.

“Hahaha Go Liam!”

“Hahahaa I worked with a few blokes who have actually picked up this way”

“You love it.”

“Baha! Best! That happen to me only a month ago… Guys these days lol. #YOLO”

(I like the YOLO at the end here. Really speaks to the spirit of the incident.)

And one of my personal favourites:

“SHOW YOUR DAD IMMEDIATELY! He will be so happy you have found a husband!!!”

the same commenter followed immediately with 

“A marriage celebrant to boot! DIY Wedding!! Mr Ganting! Look!” 

(I changed the surname there to protect her identity.) 

And then there were the pessimists among them, thankfully, they were largely in the minor numbers:

“Haha Liam could be 12 yrs old with that handwriting lol”

To be fair now… I was writing on the back of a business. It’s really hard to fit all that it in and write neat. 

“I’d be concerned about that handwriting” 

Someone else chimed

“I got mates with worse hahah” a third comment followed somewhat defending the handwriting.

And a fellow who just commented


Which I strongly contest with.

Thankfully, my good friend Kirsty defended my honour here with the best comment of 

“He’s MY marriage celebrant. And best mate from school!”

It’s a strange feeling to see something like this blow up so quickly. Admittedly, it wasn’t the first time (the previous time involved an ad for a new housemate) that made the newspaper, but that’s a story for another time.

Figuring there was only one way to handle this which was to look at the humorous side and walk through with a smile. I took screenshots and sent them to all my friends, with a brief description and the added final line of “And me emailing to all my friends? That’s called owning it!”

I sent to my co-workers in the mailroom I worked in at the time as well. I was out on a mailrun (internal in the building) when my mobile rang. I answered it and heard Dave, one of the other mailroom guys, talking. Or at least trying to talk because he was laughing so hard.

“Did…. did this actually happen?! You didn’t make it up?”

“Dude, if I had made it up I think it would have a much happier ending.”

“This is hilarious.”

He found it so funny that when I returned from the mail run, a whole 30 minutes later. He was still laughing while showing the screen to Gina, another mail room worker, laughing, clearly reading off the comments one by one.

“And… this guy haha… says haha ‘Shaky handwriting Nikki, could be old and Rich.'” hahahaha”

What can I say? I live to please. And even though I never heard from the girl in question (though I did drive past her once years later walking out of the same carpark) I did learn that life is awesome. And sometimes even the most bizarre rejection can have positive side and be funny.


Something For Jenna

I actually wrote this post months ago. Then I deleted it. Then I undeleted it and showed it to a few close friends. Then I contemplated posting it. Decided against it… but today I was feeling nostalgic and I’m in a good place in my life so it felt okay….

I sat in Hellenic Club, drink in front me. I was meant to be meeting the guys here but oddly was the first to arrive. Which is a surprise, because unless it’s a wedding, I’m always late.  I texted Jason an amused
“I’m on time for once and everyone else is late!” A few minutes later a guilty Jason called to say no one could make it and he’d forgotten to text me.

I took a sip out of my drink and glanced over at a very cute girl sitting at the table across from me. She glanced up from her phone and smiled at me.

Though I’ve gotten marginally better at it now, at that time even attempting to make conversation I would have completely over thought it and wussed out. However, completely uncharacteristically, I found myself saying

“Friends just totally bailed on me,” I told her. “I can only assume it’s because I’m black.”

THIS is a reoccurring joke I make. The humour being in the fact that I am actually the whitest guy ever.

The girl hadn’t heard me do this joke to death though and laughed.

“I’m Jenna,” she said “My friends bailed on me too.”

So smiling back, I walked over to her table and sat down.

 I watched the movie ‘Before We Go’ the other night. Good film. At least I thought so. Had a very “Before Sunrise/Sunset” vibe to it. For those of you that haven’t seen either, which you should – maybe the latter two more so than the former as they have the best reviews – both films are about two strangers who meet randomly, spend the night wandering the city together talking.

I have a special sort of affection for these films. It’s why I sort out ‘Before We Go’ as soon as I saw the trailer. I mean, I watched Before Sunrise and Before Sunset in 2006, so I liked them before 2012. IN 2012 however, that changed… because it actually happened to me.

“I have a cousin named Jenna,” I told her. “We were close, well, okay, I was closer with her younger sister Lyndal, when we lived in Melbourne. Kinda drifted apart when we moved to Canberra. 600km and being six years old does that I guess.”

Jenna laughed.

“Well I don’t have a cousin called Liam. I like the name though.”

“I’m quite fond of it myself. Could take or leave the middle name though. But it does differentiate me from the other seven other Liam Smiths in town though.”

 The night went on. We talked, played the pokies, ate dinner together. We walked through the quiet Woden area at night holding hands. We sat outside the quiet Sirius Building, where I would work in multiple times in the years to come.

 And at about 2am I found myself leaning to kiss her.

And her leaning in to kiss me.

 “Wait,” she said suddenly, but ran her arm over mine and held it, not wanting me to move away. “I… can’t. It’s not you, you’re great… it’s just… I have a boyfriend, we had a fight and then I was meant to be meeting my friends….”

 Her voice trailed off.

 “And they couldn’t make it and you met me.”

 We sat there silent for a moment. Foreheads still leaning against each others.

 “Any other time…”

 More silence.

 “It’s okay. We should go though.”

 And so, hand in hand,  I walked her back to her car. We swapped email addresses, which is when I found out her last name. I told her to look me up if things didn’t work out with her boyfriend. She got in her car and drove off.

 And I never saw her again.

 I have thought a lot about that night. Interestingly for someone who tells his close friends so much information, arguably at times TOO MUCH, that this night never came up. I only told two people about it since it happened, and even then I fudged a couple of details. Not JUST to protect her identity, but because I didn’t want anyone ruining it for me. I wanted to keep to myself, keep it how i remembered it, and not tarnish it with other people’s thoughts.

There’s a plotline from the old tv show Ed, about the bowling alley lawyer, in which the lovable awkward character Warren uncharacteristically has a moment of confidence and finds himself dating the most popular girl in school Jessica Martell. After one perfect date and kiss he immortalises the event by getting an infinity symbol tattoo. Unaware of this, Jessica breaks up with him the next day for unrelated reasons.

Warren’s teacher friend uses this an opportunity to teach him that the tattoo was a bad idea. Warren however, still bummed at the breakup, tells her actually he doesn’t regret the tattoo at all: for one brief moment of time the laws of the universe turned on themselves and “Warren Cheswick was with Jessica Martell.” Even though it didn’t last he will always have that tattoo of a memory of that one perfect night.

And this is why one of the reasons I never told anyone about that night. So many wouldn’t get that, evident in the fact that one of the only two people I did tell had a rather cynical reaction to the whole ordeal, which only enstilled in me further to keep it to myself. I knew how I felt about the night and didn’t want anyone to take away from me.

Because they can’t.

When I first sat down to write this I think I subconsciously hoped she would read that. Like the movies I mentioned earlier, in Before Sunset the character Jesse admits he wrote his book about their night together in the hopes she would show up to a reading. (She does, which is what kicks off the second film.) Richard Linklater who wrote the Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight trilogy has hinted in interviews that he hoped the girl whom he based the first film on would show up to a screening.

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t searched for her fb over the years. Not often, because it made me feel just a little bit creepy, and very little info was born was due to her high security settings. (smart girl.)

And yes, I checked the boyfriend’s profile once or twice too. We’ll call him Charlie Mallory. Charlie had his privacy settings even stronger than Jenna did. He didn’t have a profile photo. He did… however… have a mutual friend with me.

The girl, Jacqui, was a friend of mine and her boyfriend’s last name was also Mallory. So I came to what I thought was an obvious conclusion… clearly Charlie and Jacqui’s boyfriend were related.

For a few weeks upon discovering this I contemplated whether I could subtly ask this, and one Friday afternoon when it was slow at work I called Jacqui to say hi, as I often did at the time, and casually asked “So how do you know Charlie Mallory? Is he related to your boyfriend?”

I knew she would eventually ask why I was asking… and I hadn’t quite come up with a reasonable excuse, I was kind of improvising here.

“CHARLIE MALLORY?!?!” A surprised, very vocal response came from the other end of the phone. “How do YOU know CHARLIE MALLORY?” Shit. Shit. Shit. My brain went into overdrive trying to come up with something, anything, to get me out of this. “Charlie Mallory! I wasn’t expecting to hear that name. He was a guy I kind of dated for a bit. Charlie Mallory!” Shit. Shit. Shit. SHIT.

 “Ummmmmmmm……” I tried thinking stretching out a word would help buy me more time, and glancing over at the co-workers who were now clearly intently listening after hearing Jacqui’s very vocal reaction from across the room. “I kind of… tried to date his girlfriend.” I stammered out.

“Wait, what?” Jacqui’s surprise continued. “Tell me the story. Now.”

Since this conversation was already going south I didn’t want that night taken from me in the moment so I mumbled “we met online… it’s a long story…”

So Jacqui proceeded to raid Charlie’s photos.

“Awwww Liam, they look happy together.” Jacqui commented. This simultaneously stabbed at me but also made me feel better.  Well, wherever Jenna was, she was happy. The curiousity in me wanted to see what Charlie looked like, though in part was because I wanted to see Jenna again. I had figured the photo Jacqui would send would show the happy couple together.

It didn’t. It show Charlie. Which did absolutely nothing beyond quelling curiousity. No revelation of ‘oh my god, she choose him?’ or ‘wow, that guy is ridiculously good looking. I didn’t stand a chance.’ Nothing.

He just was.

Like I said, despite what everyone says about Canberra, it’s big enough in the years since we’ve never run into each other again.

Shortly after writing the first draft of this, and deciding not to show it, Jacqui was the one of the people I showed it to. She looked up Charlie on facebook and learned through a friend of a friend that he and Jenna were getting married.

Now, as a result of me being a marriage celebrant I follow a lot of wedding related pages and people on facebook, so it really shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise as it did when I was scrolling through facebook on my phone one day and Jenna’s wedding photo appeared in my feed.

I was having a pretty bad week at the time, so it affected me more than I thought it would, but still, no matter what, it doesn’t change that night. It doesn’t take away from me. While I don’t have an infinity tattoo on my back, I still have the memories.

I currently work in that very building we sat in front of that night. I walk past the spot almost every day and still smile. Which is probably what brought about the nostalgia in me enough to post this.

I hope wherever she is she’s happy, and yes, I even hope her and Charlie live happily ever after.

No matter what, that night always happened and will always be with me.

Of course every time I go into the Hellenic Club I look around, just because. Just in case I can see her smile one more time.

Leap Day

Ah February 29th. Leap Day. The one not celebrated holiday that by all rights should be. After all, most known holidays, Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, Groundhog Day, Halloween, St Patrick’s Day… more, they all happen once a year. No celebrations for Leap Day. Not even a day off work. (We should totally get a day off work.)

When the uniqueness of this particular day dawned on me a few years ago I gained a strong appreciation for it. Shocked no holidays ever formed around it.

Why no ‘Leap Day’ Resolutions?! The far superior adjunct to New Year’s Resolutions where you would vow to have completed it by next Leap Day. It seems perfect. But no, nothing, nada.

Back on Leap Day February 29th, 2008 I decided this would be the day to do something random, something unpredictable, but it had to be good, something to remember for years to come. (or at least four years anyway)

I mean this year it had fallen on a Friday – that was fate. Something had to be done!

My first plan was shot down rather quickly. It involved driving to Sydney, a 3.5 hour drive from home, and urinating off the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Knowledgable people told me it being a suspected target for terrorism it was patrolled fairly regularly and might land me in jail with a public urination charge.

While this would certainly be memorable, I didn’t particularly want the day to be remembered as the day I got a criminal record.

It was in the afternoon of that day that it dawned on me I had the perfect idea! I would grab a friend, go to the airport, jump on the first flight to Queensland, go to the first bar we could find and celebrate. It would be epic. It all go on my  ready waiting credit card. It was crazy. The memories would last a lifetime. Pure awesomeness. If I was covering the costs surely a friend would be willing to join me?

You would think finding a friend to join me on this quest would be easy and the friend was an integral part – just doing it on my own didn’t feel right. With a friend it’s a fun zany adventure. On my own it’s one of those stories that people shake their head and go ‘why?’

And so I called every one of my friends that was in town.

First friend I called couldn’t come because they said they’d help a friend, we’ll call him DeeDum, film a short film for the annual Lights Canberra Action competition.

Quick background on Lights Canberra Action, it happens once a year, you get a theme and list of locations to use in your film and you have a week to make a film.

Second friend had a gig the next day and couldn’t come.

Third friend was helping DeeDum with his stupid film.

Same for the fourth.

And the fifth.

Next was working.

And so forth.

Everyone including my housemate was busy.

And the worst bit?! DeeDum’s film didn’t even get made that weekend! It was postponed because he couldn’t come up with a script!

Eventually I sat on the couch sulking and in a last ditch attempt, and I knew it was a long shot, there was a friend of Alyce’s I was interested in… but I’d only just met her… and I didn’t have her number.

Alyce hypothesized that the girl in question might react badly to a guy she barley knew asking her to fly to Queensland with him for the evening. In my mind it would have gone either one of two ways:

1) “Erm… what? Are you kidding me? Sure, take me to another country part of the country guy I barely know. There’s no chance I could get married in that scenario! What is wrong with you?!?!”


2) “Well this is a crazy idea but I’m in!”

So understandably when Alyce didn’t want to give up the number for fear of 1) happening I decided she might have a point. Especially in light of the fact I asked out the girl in question a few weeks later and she said she just wanted to be friends.

Years later I asked said girl about this and she was fairly certain she would’ve been up for it.

Ah well, what’s done is done.

And while that night involved me reading one of my favourite books for the first time (I Love You, Beth Cooper) it did NOT involve a random trip to Queensland to speak of for years to come.

I still reminisce about that night. And I still think maybe something equally awesome will happen on a future Leap Day.

2012 was out both due to the fact it was a Wednesday and I costs probably prevented any such endeavour. And here we are in 2016… where I have just started a new job, Leap Day fell on a Monday, and any such unpredictable trips seemed unwise.

There is always 2020 I guess. It falls on a Saturday that year. Of course planning anything would take away the fun of the day. Hell, maybe I’ll even have a girlfriend by then, and she can join me on crazy quest.

I mean it’s like four years in the future. Surely by then I’d have a significant other!

Legitimately I probably said this on the last two Leap Days as well.

But 2020 will be a change! I’m sure of it. Definitely. Without a doubt. Certain.

With it’s uniqueness and blank slatedness for awesome things to come, Leap Day may be my favourite holiday after all.


The Elevator Trick

In High School I read this book where they talked about the trick to manually jamming an elevator if you needed to. The particular scene, set just after the Vietnam War, implied that ‘any soldier who wanted to be alone with a girl’ knew this technique.

Ingrained in my memory the process was this:
You press the button for the floor you want to go to, the moment the elevator starts moving you immediately hit the button on the floor you’re already on.

In the book it’s implied this messes with the mechanics and it jams.

If I’m alone in an elevator I’ve never been in before I’ll often try this technique. 15 years of elevators and I’ve yet to find one that it worked on. Possibly because the book was a work of fiction would probably be the first tip this wasn’t real. But it seemed such a random piece of trivia to include that I couldn’t help that think that just maybe there was truth to it.

This was especially prevalent in my law firm days, when I would be alone in a variety of different elevators. It was during this time that I formulated the theory that if this ‘technique’ worked at all, then logically it would only work on older elevators. Newer ones would surely have the glitch removed.

Luckily Canberra City circa 2003-2005 DID have some much older elevators, and it was in one of these that I got the closest to success.

Unluckily for my friend Cat, the one time I tried it, she was with me. If I tried to recall the full circumstances of it now I couldn’t, but I know we were in the same building that Fred Astaire Dance Studios was in (where, once upon a time, I did take dancing lessons) and at some point or another I spied the much older elevator.

While this quest was something I generally tried on my own, I felt Cat was such a good friend that if it did work and jam she would be okay with it… and hey – I’d have company!

So the ancient closed both it’s inner and outter doors. (It was old enough they moved very separately unlike most elevators where they are in sync) The elevator began to rise and instantly I hit the ground floor button.

To my excitement and surprise, something actually happened.

Two things actually.

The first was that the elevator jolted noticably, paused briefly then returned to the Ground Floor where the doors opened.

The second was that the instant the elevator jolted and paused ever so briefly, Cat freaked.

In retrospect, Cat did have a worry about things like elevators jamming. Probably something I should have taken into account and a quick succession of blows rained upon me, but I just laughed it off because I was too excited about my quest spanning years actually paying off.

Of course, with every year that goes by that chances of success, in Canberra at least, decrease dramatically as older elevators are rightfully replaced with newer models. Hell, the ones in the office where I currently work don’t even have floor buttons inside the elevator itself. You hit the button of the floor you want in the foyer and it tells you which elevator to go to take you there.

And I’m not totally sure why I want it to work.

There have been crappy days at work, particularly at the law firm, when I tried the technique in the lift in the hopes it would jam and get me out of work for the afternoon. A small prayer whispered to whatever deity happened to be listening as I hit the current floor button that this ill fated quest would finally pay off.

My potentially impossible quest continues. Last time I was in Sydney, I noticed the QVB had a fairly old elevator I could try it on. I just was in never in it alone to attempt it.

I should add: in recent years this quest evolved beyond simply trying old elevators to see if the trick would work. I tried finding contact details for the book’s author to find if there was any truth to the story. (‘Pulitzer’ by ‘L. Elizabeth Storm’ in case you’re wondering)

Some day I hope to find truth in it.

So if you ever see an FB status, a blogpost or hear a story about me getting trapped in a jammed elevator… you will now totally know it was all my own doing.

Also, though she probably doesn’t remember, I’m sorry to Cat too. Didn’t meant to freak you out. Promise the next time I find an old elevator I’ll wait until I’m on my own before attempting to jam it.

Unless I’m with a girl I’m dating. Then all bets are off.

My Brief Career as a 31 year old High School newsreporter for a High School I didn’t attend

So one Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago my phone bleeped to inform me of the following email:

From: “The Skybox Editor” <readtheskybox@gmail.com>
Date: 12/12/2015 7:22 AM
Subject: New Account
To: <Liamdsmith@gmail.com> Cc:

Hey Liam,

WordPress should send you an email, but here is your information:
Username: liamsmith
Password: *******


The Skybox
Skyline High School’s student-run newspaper

Intriguing, considering as I was 31 years Old, lived in Australia, and didn’t even work on my old school newsletter when I actually was in High School. Now clearly, Liam Smith being a relatively common name (with the surname ‘Smith’ you’re always going to have a lot of people who share your name) what had happened was I’d received the login details for a similarly named individual who lived over the other side of the world and had just gotten a job working for his high school student-run newspaper.

So I did what I considered the only logical thing: I wrote an article.


Students, I call upon you today with a great declaration:
We must take the Science Labs for our own and declare ourselves
our own Sovereign nation. We will secede from the American
government and become the Kingdom of Liam. (The name will be
put to a vote, but I think this kind of has a ring to it.)

Now, we may meet some resistance but I have been informed we
have some World of Warcraft players in the student body who
are highly capable of strategic planning. We have a three
stage battle plan if it is required that involves sending a
human shield of unarmed Instagram users into the fray of heavily
armed forces of law enforcement that may entail.

As a note to this: Instagram users are guaranteed citizenship
and will be held in the most highest regard.

We will come up with a monarch system of sorts once the takeover
has occured. The current plan is to raid the school at 12pm on
Friday the 19th December.

Our chief military officer has organised to steal beds from the
school nurse and drama department to faciliate our founding of
a new country.

Those who bring food, supplies and weapons will be given knighthoods
and places in royalty.

Now is our time! We can become our own country where we can make our
own rules!


I hit ‘Submit Post’ and was greeted by a message saying it had been submitted ‘for approval’ to the site admin. This was a little disheartening. All that work (all ten minutes of it, I’d written it in my lunch break on Monday morning) and it would not make it past the approval stages.

Then again, years earlier my housemate and I had written an ad for a new housemate years earlier that was equally questionable (there was a reference to the housemate being female, double jointed, and open minded about her sexuality) that was also ‘submitted for approval’ and was ‘approved’ 12 hours later. So I had high hopes this would also happen again.

It didn’t.

The Post remained in limbo although I noticed the login details remained the same as I was still able to login to the site. Surely the callous admin who had rejected my exceptionally written post would have questioned why an article was written and remedied the problem?

On the upside, one my friends suggested the post in question could lead to expulsion of the student in question.
This didn’t happen. I know because this wasn’t the last email I received. A short after my post got rejected, this email arrived:

From: “The Skybox Editor” <readtheskybox@gmail.com>
Date: 18/12/2015 6:56 AM
Subject: Meeting Friday
To: (students emails for privacy reasons)

Hey everybody!

We’re meeting tomorrow for the last time before 2016! We’ll continue what we were doing last time, and pretty much just chill. If you can’t make it, that’s cool.


Not only was the other Liam Smith not expelled… he was still unquestioningly on the newspaper staff. I contemplated writing another article but felt the truth was in order.

From: “Liam Smith” <liam.d.smith@gmail.com> Date: 21/12/2015 11:10 AM
Subject: Re: Meeting Friday
To: “The Skybox Editor” <readtheskybox@gmail.com>
Cc: (student emails removed for privacy reason)

So about now is when I should confess you actually emailed the wrong Liam Smith. (I’m 31 and I live in Australia) after receiving my namesake’s login details I *did* write the below article that was devastatingly not approved by your site admin.
All the best.

They are yet to reply. I can only assume they are all stunned in silence by my awesomeness.