September 11 September 11 September 11 September 11

It seems this weekend half the internet is sitting around an e-campfire and telling their September 11 stories, and I might join them. Because, who knows, maybe in fifty years some kid will ask me "Brad, what was September 11 like?". This way I wont have to fumble around in my (hopefully) indexed brain and instead I can just send them a neural link to whatever browser damn kids are running inside their brains in those days and point it to where they can search for September 11 and find out for themselves. And I just hope this entry comes up first and not the one about the cake. That's why it has this title.

September 11, 2001 was a source of great comedy for me. As a fat, white teenager living in an upper-middle class suburb on the other side of the world I was able to quickly shake off any sense of tragedy so that I could make quips to my peers and increase my social status by being funny. The fact that most of my friends were also of a similar demographic and desensitised by the internet helped me get away with this. I think I was in a rare position where I'd found out about the attacks right before bed, and then woken up eight hours later with most of the fear of more attacks gone. I wasn't conscious for those hours of terror where all the sherrifs across the US were called in to grab their shotguns and stand guard near whatever the town's biggest monument was. Instead by the time I saw other people the edge had gone off.

On reflection today I realise that in typical Brad fashion I milked September 11 for more comedy than it was worth. I think for a about a month I actually had a weekly email I was sending with my latest jokes about the War on Terror. I also used Septemebr 11 content in a few school assignments in 2001: an English journal piece I wrote about baby terrorists, and a photography assignment to design album art using Photoshop. I used a photo of the burning towers as the front cover. It was called "Build it up, tear it down" and the back half was a picture of the Petronas Towers rising into the sky.
At the time I probably thought I was making some profound statement. And my teachers probably thought that this was my way of "dealing" with a Western catastrophe. So if I have learned anything from September 11 it's that you will never fully comprehend how ignorant you were as a teenager because as fast as you mature you also forget the things you did.

A year before all this, in 2000, I did a week of work experience with a little IT department that looked after the computers in a chain of nursing homes in SA. I worked with a guy called Shane doing things like installing drivers in Windows 98 and writing down serial numbers of printers. We had to drive to a few nursing homes around the state and some were long trips. At the nursing home in Mount Barker I was allowed to eat some diabetic-friendly custard. On the Thursday of that week we had to visit a home in Maitland on the Yorke Penisula, about two hours of travel each way.

I wasn't very talkative on these drives and Shane used to spend most of the time listening to commercial rock on Triple M and singing along. I was too shy to sing too, but on hour three of the four hour road trip to Maitland and back a song came on that I actually knew the lyrics too. I decided I should at least try to sing to show that I was outgoing, however I wasn't up for actually singing. My compromise was to silently mouth the words to Matchbox 20's Push and do it as emphatically as possible to make sure he noticed.

Halfway into the rather emo lyrics of Rob Thomas' ballad I was completely regretting my decision, but I feared that stopping halfway through would send an even worse message. So I stubbornly persisted until the final "well I will" was done. We didn't say much after that for the rest of the trip.

In hindsight, this last part doesn't really have anything to do with September 11.


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