If the trees were a giant, annoying scalp with bleached hair, the fluff would be huge pieces of dandruff that you can’t shake off. Or the upsetting moment when you shake too much salt into your scrambled eggs. This blimey fluff reminds me of my impending perpetual disappointment with myself as I lament over the grade I didn’t get from the work that I didn’t do. FML. It reminds me of the upcoming heat wave and sweaty doom. It reminds me of Magpies competing with me over my subway and my hair being torn out.
Cw: mentions of suicide
‘When the fuck starts to fall, you’re fluffed!’
A Stalkerspace user, 2015
Like many ANU students, I associate the second-semester fluff with pain and regret. In October 2014, I had a string of viruses and coughed so much that I tore rib cartilage and couldn’t move for days. In October 2015, I was quietly suicidal and couldn’t stop thinking about oven gas and sleeping pills. By the end of October 2016, I’d been used and ignored by one too many fuckboys, and sat amid the shards of my shattered self-regard praying that their dicks would drop off. By the arrival of each exam period, my fucks given would be minimal, and I would fluff my grades.
This year I had a serious think about how my behaviour had led to these different states of dreadfulness. I looked at the progression from pre-semester optimism to over-commitment and bad choices and decided to break the cycle.
This year I fucked off to Europe for the month.
Once on a sunny Spring afternoon, my mate and I were sitting, chatting, minding our own business when suddenly, a cloud of white stuff blew into my face. I coughed and spluttered – I felt like it was choking me!
‘What the bloody hell is this?’, I said.
‘Not a clue’, said my friend. ‘What sorts of substances are as white and fluffy as this?’
My heart stopped. I was brought back to all those depressing news articles: people having to evacuate their homes, building sites with signs saying: ‘caution! Do not enter!’, people being hospitalised with lung diseases. I started to panic.
‘Oh my god! It’s asbestos!’
‘What?’, said my friend.
‘Oh no, oh no, oh no…we’re gonna die. We’re all gonna die!’
What the hell are you talking about?’
I looked at my friend solemnly and said:
‘ANU’s turned into a Mr Fluffy house!’
My friend just stared at me with a glazed-over look in her eyes.
‘I’m only 19’, I continued. ‘I had my whole life ahead of me and now…gone.’
‘Okay, just stop there’, said my friend. ‘Are we still breathing?’
‘Yes’, I said.
‘Do you feel at all…sick?’
‘Does anyone else that you’ve seen around the place look remotely like they’re on the brink of death?’
‘See? Not asbestos.’
I sighed. I had nothing to worry about after all.
‘It does, however, mean that we’re going to have to start studying for exams soon,’ she said.
There comes a time, but once a year, a bizarre phenomenon that all students fear. ‘The falling of the fluff’, this event is called, and has truly become a legend for young and old. It signals the need to complete a task, of what, perhaps, it’s best not to ask. But do not fret, and do not frown, for some benefits are listed if you read on down.
- Nutritional value – unassumingly consuming these miscellaneous pale floaters is, as a matter of fact, an extremely good source of fibre. Whether they be stuck to your Universal Lunch Hour sausage, or dissolved into your morning coffee, there are plenty of ways to ingest them. No need to stock on Metamusil, just like your grandmother always tells you to!
- Instinct sickie – this one is for all the hay fever sufferers out there. Instead of waiting for some freak warm weather fever to strike, simply breathe in those ready-made sneeze-starters, and you’ll be good to go for any doctor’s appointment or pharmacy visit for the purposes of acquiring a medical certificate. Who knew the fluff could help you get better marks?
- Fast fashion – always thought the flower crown was just a little too teenage hippie for your own personal style? Look no further than its more demure cousin – the ‘fluff in hair, don’t care’ aesthetic. Having little puffs of white clinging to your strands signals that you are ‘easy, breezy, beautiful’ but not overly committed to a more permanent accessory, just like in your love life.
- Otherworldly encounters – not sure whether the spirits really do walk among us? If you need some inspiration that forces beyond our control are operating in our midst, pay close attention to the cyclonic formations that gather near the edges of buildings. Most will say that it is just plain physics, but the more enlightened of the student body know it’s probably ghosts.
So, for all those of you who have been quaking in your shoes, you really have more to win than to lose. Keep your chin up, soak in the sun, for the best of the seasons has only just begun. With a spring in your step and books in your pack, go out, celebrate the year, as you begin to look back. Life is short, so embrace the fluff and tell the critics you have had enough.