The Night I Stole Wally De Backer’s Doritos
Gasometer Hotel Melbourne, November 2015
Past the age of 30 everyone has collected at least one shameful secret. From international war crimes to embarrassing crushes, we all have things we’d rather keep hidden. But hiding can be tiresome. In time it often brings a perverse desire to reveal. We want to take our secret out into the light. We want to rip up the floorboards and show the beating heart. My shameful secret, that I am internally pressed to divulge, is that I am a 36 year old woman who is a bit obsessed with the recording artist Wally De Backer, a.k.a Gotye, a.k.a a band member of The Basics.
It’s a bit unseemly at my age. It’s a bit dorky. There are no cool points in it, that’s for sure. I can’t even tell you where the obsession comes from. Wally De Backer is a talented musician, that is true. It is also true that a person is rarely loved for their talent alone. There has to be something else, some other magnetic allure. This can be an elusive thing to define. There’s just something about Wally: his passionate music-nerd persona, his dedication to obscure instruments, his sense of humour…he just seems so delightful. He also seems very modest, having that Clark Kentish quality of being the cleverest, most uber-menschy person in the room while concealing it for the social good. He has magnificent eyes. They remind me of religious icons I used to stare at as a child. Wally’s eyes are a lucent pale blue, they crinkle kindly at the sides. There seems to be a kind of sadness and knowingness in them.
On the strength of this description you could be forgiven for thinking that a) I need help, and b) I spend a lot of my time stalking Wally. In fact I’ve only seen the man once, in 2015. The show was in a Melbourne pub, the Gasometer. Wally performed with The Basics. This is the band Wally has made music with since university days while also working on his Gotye stuff. Even after his big solo success as Gotye he has still been loyal to his old friends. See, I told you he’s delightful.
I made an old friend of my own come with me to the gig and we stood in the very front row. We could have touched Wally he was so close. A woman to the right of us was taking photos of him the whole time and zooming in on his face. My friend and I mutually decided she was a creep. We rolled our eyes and tsk-tsk-ed over her. There is that Freudian theory, The Narcissism of Small Differences, which claims that the more people become the same the more they hone in on the little things that differentiate them in order to preserve an ego gratifying notion of uniqueness. I’m pretty sure me calling the woman who zoomed in on Wally’s face a creep is an example of this phenomenon.
At the end of the gig Wally generously waited for fans to come up and talk to him, he chatted, took photos, signed things. I stood not five metres away from him for something like 20 minutes. The opportunity to go up and say “Hey, Wally, I really like your music,” or something similarly banal that would have at least facilitated us looking into each other’s eyes was clearly there. But I couldn’t take it. My friend was exasperated, she was hitting me in the back, but I still couldn’t do it. I was a coward, and there was something of being too proud in it, of not wanting to be humiliated by fangirling out over Wally. Yes, it was the sin of pride.
So I did something that any proud person would do. I stole Wally De Backer’s half eaten bag of Doritos while he wasn’t looking. Then I ate them in the cab on the way home. Well I don’t know if it was even such a grandiose act as stealing, because he had just kind of discarded them on a chair. I’ve still got the packet. I’m thinking of shrinking it down in the oven so I can make a keyring. You know how people wear Memento Mori, like skull rings and so on, to remind them that they are mortal? Well my shrunken packet of Doritos will be a Memento Superbia, a pride memento. When I look at it I will remember not to be so proud that I miss opportunities to do things that are fun.