Friday, September 28, 2007

Entertainment with eggs

A couple of days ago, Love Chunks and Sapphire went on an early morning kayaking trip which allowed me to saunter down to the hotel lobby and enjoy a resort-style buffet breakfast on my own.

I must be one of those unusual types that is rarely bothered by eating alone. Attempts early on in my adult life to look busy with a paper or book have long since been discarded: watching people is far more entertaining. Besides it's a more viable pastime for me, Miss Nigella-No-Friends, than for couples or families who shouldn't be staring at me but should be staring at each other.

During my frequent observations of human beings at feeding time, it becomes increasingly apparent that cliches are worth more than they're credited for. A cliche immediately brings a character, situation or feeling to mind and is readily identified with and understood. Having breakfast on my own presented me with a passing parade of clich├ęs - albeit over a coffee that was doing its best to strip off my pesky tooth enamel.

Mr Love-Me-Do Lawyer. This Adrian Brody look-a-like determinedly walked past the long line of holidaymakers waiting for a breakfast table and waved away the waitress with an imperious, "I'm fine, I see a table over there that's free----" We, the great unwashed, mindless sheep, patiently queueing, were clearly beneath his attention. God bless the Nazi waitress who loudly called him back: "EXCUSE ME SIR, but the line is back here. You have to present your key; state your room number and let Angela mark you off the guest list before we can get you a table." Love-Me-Do sighed in that St Peters' College Old Boy 'the-things-I-have-to-endure-to-survive-amongst-the-plebs' manner and strode to the end of the line. He passed the time by making several loud mobile phone calls to someone named Harry in Melbourne. "Harry - it's me. I'm on Hamilton. Yeh, it's breakfast time, but I'd like an update from you on the financials...."

Munching Mother and SMS-ing Son - Fifty-something Mum waddled back from the buffet, her plate full of hash browns, bacon and toast and her plate-free hand gripping and squishing two large texan muffins. Having long since given up trying to hold a conversation with her son, she contents herself with eating instead. Fifteen year old son slumps in his chair with huge Nike feet sticking out beyond the table like an unanticipated gangplank, threatening to trip up other breakfasters. He only lifts up his head from SMSing to inhale Mum's hash browns and to search for as many midget packets of Coco Pops as his text-crippled mitts will pick up. I want to walk over to him and let him know that his current stage of growth – bum fluff, zits, large nose and Adam’s apple – will eventually pass and the females will look his way again when he’s eighteen. I don’t, of course – he would immediately put his ‘screen saver’ face on and categorise me as something as uncool as his Mum (which is sadly true).

Horny Honeymooners - As an Old Married myself, observing young couples holding hands and nuzzling each other in the breakfast line is curiously entertaining instead of sickening. (They were indeed considered vulgar and sickening when I was single and bitter, but now they’re amusing and bemusing). This young hubby strokes her neck and she leans in to him, no doubt whispering sweet nothings like, "I want a breakfast like our lovemaking - hot, salty and slides down easily", or maybe, "I take my coffee like your love truncheon - long, hot and strong."

Persistent Poms - "Ere Reg, do us a favour and fling our towels over the sun loungers over there and bring us another cup of tea on your way back love," a Pensioner Pub Tart calls in a voice created by a 40 year, 2-pack-a-day habit. Her ample bosom is barely kept in check by a lobby shop sarong and her lobes drag with the weight of three large gold hoops in each. Reg dutifully returns, his old navy tattoos a green blur on his beefy arms and his belly straining against his soccer team away strip. They are soon joined by their daughter, her husband and two toddlers who are passed around like stale danishes in an effort to soften their whines to less ear-bleeding levels. The daughter is fatter than Pensioner Pub Tart, but more willing to reveal her Michelen-Man flesh, namely a bikini top and denim shorts. Blubber Hubby is of a similar size and his tit-hanger singlet reveals some tattoos stretched beyond all recognition. All chatter flies over his head - he's there to inhale as much egg and bacon possible before testing out the weight loading of the sun loungers.

Desperate Dads, Miserable Mums – Dad number one was trying to persuade the waitress (yes, she who rightfully snuffed Love-Me-Do lawyer) to allow them to move three tables so that four adults and six children, equaling two families, could breakfast together. Nadine Nazi wasn’t having it, repeating over and over, “Yes, I understand, but our floor plan is structured to talk to the computer which takes down guest details—“
“But please, we’ll shift the tables back afterwards and---“
“I understand sir, but the tables must stay the way they currently are.”
Considering that I'd seen these same two families have the same debate with the same waitress for the past week, I rather admired the fathers for trying. As per all of the other mornings, the parents stand in a quick huddle and verbally draw straws for who is going to supervise the children (currently walking around the edge of the pool trailing muffin crumbs behind them) at the two far tables, and which lucky three adults would breakfast together child-free further away. Father number two lost the draw, and is seen trying to get the youngest child to stop throwing toast on the floor, dry the tears of a sobbing seven year old and persuade them all to select something a bit worthier to eat than coco-pops and hash browns.

Mutton dressed as Slutton – Resorts invariably host a (regrettably) visible and populous group of women for whom Dyan Cannon, Courtney Love and Priscilla Presley are role models for natural and graceful ageing. These old girls clearly feel that a red raw, muddy tan – or freckles so numerous they join together to form a cohesive brown appearance – allow them to wear plunging strappy dresses best suited to teenagers or shorty shorts that reveal their roadmapped varicose veins and knees of papyrus. They also tend to go by the rule ‘Greasepaint is good’ when it comes to make-up, appearing at breakfast in clumpy mascara, undercoat foundation and red lippie. Add armfuls of gold charm bracelets, bangles, numerous stone-filled rings and wrist fat bulging above and below their tiny watches. To be fair, these Slutton varieties are usually accompanied by attentive partners who are often a head shorter than them and have legs whiter and spindlier than their gals’ bra straps.

As I sip my second cup of gut-grinding coffee, Sapphire bursts in, hair still wet and a smudge of sunscreen and sand around her nose. “Hey Mum! Mum! It was great! Dad and I had a canoe with two seats in it and we paddled to that island over there and back!” I notice out of the corner of my eye that an old couple at a nearby table is smiling at her enthusiasm.

Sapphire dramatically groans when I tell her to get a glass of orange juice “to keep your fluids up”, and does her best walk of reluctance to the serving table: slumped shoulders, shuffling feet and her bottom lip sticking comically out. She can only keep up this pose for a few seconds before meeting my eyes and laughing.

After nearly a week in the sun, her skin is lightly tanned, her hair almost white blonde and her eyes bluer, larger, brighter. I sit and listen to her happy chatter, smiling and nodding and asking questions at the right moments to keep her talking.

All the while I keep thinking to myself, “How did we make this beautiful creature? How come I’m lucky enough to be her mother? Will there ever be a day that I’m not utterly dazzled at my first sight of her?”

Probably not.


Chaim said...

Heh. Wonderful post. Especially the passing of the toddlers "like stale danishes." Hilarious.

Felt like I was there.

Hotel/Resort breakfasts are a strange thing to observe. As far as dining alone goes, I am not so sure you are as unusual in your taste for it as you think. I love to dine alone and watch the other diners, and there must be more like us somewhere.

Come to think of it, it's a good thing we aren't organized into a group or anything, because it would make that past-time all the more difficult to pull off. Lots of single people dining at separate tables, peering over their newspapers at one-another... Hmmm... not good. Not good at all.

River said...

Nice to hear that you are all having such a lovely time. and thanks for the hints on what not to do as I age, hopefully gracefully. A mere slick of chapstick instead of clown makeup, small earrings and no short shorts.I also enjoy dining alone, but not for the people watching. No, I relish the chance to read without being interrupted.

davey said...

I love your writing Milly, keep up the good work. x

Curiously, I'm single and bitter, but I STILL enjoy seeing people in love. Perhaps I just like to pretend to be bitter, for like, the mysteriousness of it.