In life I love few things.
My first love is music. I have always been passionate about music and there's definitely some clear personal history that set the foundations for this first love. Starting from the beginning, my mum (A.K.A Mumma Sparks) fondly reminds me from time-to-time that she used to listen to music when I lived in my first home - her womb. Yep, as I floated around in her amniotic fluid like Ellen Ripley's worst nightmares, I was enthusiastically taking-part in a shared listening experience. A listening party, as it were.
In terms of my up-bringing, I had a number of influences that set-me-up for a musical journey. My father is a musician and my step-mother (Step-Mumma Dowling) is a singer and musician. To add to this, my sister (Sista Sarah) had her musical awakening in the mid 90s and early 00s - to the likes of Oasis, Kula Shaker, Blur, Republika and Franz Ferdinand [that's how I remember it anyhoo - there was a whole thing involving Bon Jovi and Bros which I pretend never happened]. Meanwhile, I was surviving on a self-prescribed diet of R&B pop. I guess, in a Katy Perry fashion, you could also throw Church into the mix of my musical awakening too. Sure, why not.
Whilst I was always interested in pop culture, it wasn't until the latter part of my high school education leading into University life that my music taste blossomed into the strange beast that it is now. And whilst I could sum-up my musical preference as "indie, alternative and electro", it doesn't really fully represent my listening tastes nor my listening habits. To be clear, my music taste is:
If I love it, I listen.
That isn't to say that I'm not open to music of all genres. However, I am quite dismissive in everyday life [yes, even to people] but it's only because I get bored very easily as I have the attention span of a sparrow. But at least I'm up front about it, eh?
With all this back-story - and my lack of attention span in mind - why then have I managed to be captivated for over 15 years by one thing?
By one lady: Lady Lara Croft.
I'll never forget the first time I met Lara. I was over a a friends house and they wanted to show me their new favourite possession. It was a games console called the 'PlayStation'. To me it was completely alien. All my personal gaming experience had been on a PC platform...mostly destroying hordes of hellspawn with bazookas in Doom. Oh, and a delightful little game called 'Chips Challenge'. This new PlayStation thing that I had heard about, but never seen in action, was an odd light-grey colour and had a sexy oriental-looking controller.
The first game my friend showcased was this immensely fun game called 'Wipeout'. With it's futuristic hovering cars, bright colours and bangin' soundtrack, Wipeout was quite a full-on experience. Then he showed me this other game. One that I'd heard of, but again, never seen in action - Tomb Raider.Now, like most teenage boys at the time, Indiana Jones was one of my favourite fictional characters. When I was a child I thought wise-cracking Indiana Jones was DA BOSS. He got the girl (even-though he was clumsy and suffered from tendencies of megalomania and was scared of snakes), he was brilliant at his job (Tomb Raiding) and really knew how to pull-off wearing a hat. Plus, he had that sexy scar.
Lara Croft was reminiscent of Indiana Jones - minus the fear of snakes and with the addition of boobs. Massive pointy boobs. Yep, Lara was definitely a lady. Well done game designers...you had my attention.
Now, I don't want you to think that my love of Lara is mostly due to her form as a sexualised male fantasy figure. Nay, this is just my current personal reflective reading into the pseudo-Freudian psychology behind my obsession. To begin with, my Tomb Raider obsession was actually rather innocent. Those hours spent watching her climb ladders, in that slightly suggestive way she did, really was all about finding booty...I mean, treasure. Treasure. Honest! It just so happened that Lara was around throughout my teenage years and well into my 20s - when 'Jamie the boy' became 'Jamie DA MAN'. It was Angelina who REALLY sealed the deal in her depiction of Lara in the film adaptation. Haha!
You see, as I was grew-up there was this ever emerging trend for empowered female protagonists - who 'just so happened' to be smoking hot: Buffy, the slayer of vampires; Scully, the Catholic FBI Special Agent who perpetually refused "to believe"; even that wise-cracking lawyer who needed to eat more and generally drink less coffee - Ally McBeal. In many ways, Lara is just a sum of her parts. However, she wasn't just one of the many other female archetypes that summed-up society's then ideal woman. She was a collective of all the best parts of these archetypes. Like a game designers hot-pant wearing female Frankenstein. No flaws included. An inspiring, sexually terrifying and often one-dimensional female protagonist. This is what would later been to be known as "Teflon Lara" during the regenesis of Lara for the 2013 video game re-boot.
In addition to this cultural foundation, I had many strong female role models in my personal life. I had my headstrong, hard-working, single-parent mother (Mumma Sparks), my feminist and politically-minded step-mother (Step-Mumma Dowling) and even my sister (Sista Sparks) was bad-ass. Plus, no-one fucks with Grandma Sparks. Seriously. So when I reflect on it, it's no wonder I was and am captivated by Lara Croft.
Whilst these female role models in my life are both influential and bad-ass - and having had relationships in my love-life come and go - I have come to the realisation that no one person will ever love me like Lady Lara Croft. However, the harsh reality is that she's not even aware I'm there. And this is ideal.
It's a symbiotic relationship, you see. Lara's there when I need her - turn-on my Playstation and she's ready and waiting. But if she causes me annoyance by repeatedly jumping of a cliff with a wonky trajectory, which causes her to plummet to her doom, ending with a satisfying crunch...I can turn-off my PlayStation and pretend the disobedient harpy doesn't exist. Yep. I get to play with her on a regular basis and ignore her when she annoys me. As I said, it's ideal.
What does Lara get out of this relationship? Well, for Lara, she get's a to spend some quality time with me as we carefully navigate ancient temple ruins and go on worldwide adventures. I point her in the right direction and for most of the time she heeds my advice to live another day. Sometimes she chooses to ignore me though and gets beheaded by a Velociraptor. But, you know, shit happens. And that's what check-points are for anyhoo.
There are some negatives to this situation though. Lara won't make me chicken soup when I have man-flu that lasts 3 and-a-half weeks and when it's her turn to do the washing-up she's always unavailable. What a boot. But there lies the rub: if you're going to date an international world explorer, tomb raider and temple runner...be prepared to do your own housework.