Saturday, December 20, 2008

Now sit right back and you’ll hear a tale; a tale of a fateful trip….

My best mate Jill is a power-walker extraordinaire. Put it this way – she’s already worn out her hips and she’s only forty; lesser walkers who are only doing it to catch up on their way to a coffee shop are left floundering in her wake; no-one in living memory has been known to overtake her; and every kelpie or blue heeler she's ever owned has slept for days afterwards.

So, when she asked if I’d like to do the climb from Waterfall Gully to Mt Lofty I was honoured, somewhat nervous, ready to gracefully accept an arse-kicking and said, “Yeah, I’ll meet you at your house on Monday.”

We drove in Jill’s car to the Waterfall Gully car parking area and set off. Jill had those ski pole walking stick thingies in anticipation of the climb – and descent – ahead of us. I completed our rather dorky look by wearing a bum-bag* so that we had somewhere to put the keys and a bottle of water.

My running and power-walking on the treadmill helped me keep up and we passed many a struggling walker. We were Women On A Mission: to get to the café, enjoy the view, congratulate ourselves for possessing such strength and fitness, have a coffee and get down again. It was about five kilometres each way and equaled a solid, hour-and-a-half workout that would have our thighs and buns burning for days afterwards.

And it did……

We powered on and up, passing amateurs such as the Burnside Bendy Wendies who were all about the make up and jangling charm bracelets heavier-than-their-heads than doing any real exercise. Or the North Adelaide Nigels who were convinced they still ‘had it’ at sixty and a slow walk up a big hill wearing shorts with waistbands under their moobs plus a black Cayenne would convince the rest of us; and the Cuddly Couples who started the journey holding hands but flung them away as soon as the sweat started pouring and He realised that She lied when she wittered on about ladies only glowing when they in fact sweat like virginal ruck rovers during a SAPSASA under-seventeen footy match.

Jill sighted the white observatory first and planted her foot proudly on the benches overlooking the city of Adelaide. “Drink it in, Plugger. Soon you’ll be in---“ she could barely bring herself to say the word out loud “----Melbourne and will dreamin’ of seeing something as beautiful as this.”

I drained my much-re-filled Mt Franklin bottle** and said, “Yeah yeah, let’s get a coffee and have a wee before the downhill run, eh?”

You know when you’re served by one of those sullen-faced, will-not-smile-even-if-you-smile-at-them-first-AND-say-a-heartfelt-thank-you types who sometimes work at cafes? Well, we struck one: a clear case of the ‘My job as a barista would be sooooo much better if there weren’t any annoying customers to deal with’ young gal with a monobrow to rival a Gallagher and an expression darker than the brown shirt she was wearing to partially disguised the chocolate powder spills on her front.

“Here’s your bigo cappo Jill, no thanks to Chuckle Trousers over there,” I nodded back over my shoulder in the direction of, yes, Chuckle Trousers. We then passed a few companionable minutes talking about the worst customer service jobs we’d ever had and how we’d vow right on that very spot that we’d never, ever volunteer to man any kind of front counter, enquiry line or FAQ update ever again: “We’re forty, we’ve done that and now it’s our time to hide in an office somewhere avoiding anyone we don’t like.”

All too soon it was time to trek the five kilometres downhill. Jill’s poncy ski-pole walking sticks came in handy. As she discovered rather painfully a few walks ago, there’s nothing fun in sliding down gravel and sticks a hundred metres on your arse clad in nothing but lycra to make you realise that those plodding pensioners with poles were onto something good.

By the time we returned to the Waterfall Gully car park we were both drenched in sweat and dying for a drink. So keen were we for a drop that we actually dashed into the dreadfully decrepit public toilets, had a slurp from the taps and got ready to leave. With unconscious confidence and faith, I unzipped the top flap of my bum-bag.

No keys. I unzipped the lower segment.

No keys.

“Did I give them to you, Jill?” I asked calmly, patting myself down in the vain hope that my leggings might reveal a secret pocket containing a set of commodore keys.

“No, you pompously said, ‘Give those to me to hold, young girlie, I’ll keep them safe and you’ll have your hands free’ and then you put them in your bum-bag.”

Oh. Poo.

“Oh Poo! They must have slipped out when I got the water bottle out.”

“And where was that?”

Oh Poo Bum Bugger Shit Fart. “I errmm,” I used my sneakered toe to bashfully scuff the ground between us. “I um, saved my drink until we got to the very top.”

Jill started to laugh. “Well, let’s contact 'ol Chuckle Trousers at the café and see if she’s found the keys there.”

It took several minutes of discussions and giggling to work out how we were going to find the number of the café that we didn’t actually know the name of. It was with a great sense of relief that I realised that I’d actually remembered to bring my phone (bottom flap of bum-bag) and rang Love Chunks at work, asking him to google the café and tell me the number. “Call it out to me and I’ll write it down,” said Jill eagerly, grabbing some old cigarette butts and preparing to scrawl out some numbers in ash on the cement.

“Jill, sweetie? Love Chunks reckons he can just SMS me the number, so you can put the fag ends down.” She looked a tiny bit disappointed to me.

Chuckle Trousers soon confirmed that yes, the café had found the keys. Jill frantically tapped me on the shoulder, miming out the following: “Jill walks up here every Monday and says there are loads of regulars whom she sees who doing the same trek who also stop and have a coffee there and they all look kind, trustworthy and helpful. Could you possibly find one and give them our keys and we’ll meet them halfway up?”

Sounded like a PLAN!


Oh. We shrugged and started the hard climb up to Mt Lofty for the second time. Two kilometres into it, we were sweating on top of our old sweat and encountered a Cuddly Couple we’d greeted coming up on our way down. They were impressed.
“Crikey, you girls are fit!” the guy said.
“Yeah, we’re gearing up for Kokoda,” Jill shot back.

Just as it appeared that he believed us, my inability to lie took over. “No, not really. I left the car keys up there and we have to go up there to get them.” Their mocking, self-righteous and - quite frankly - cruel and insensitive laughter echoed across the waterfall.

Halfway and my nose was nearly touching the dirt in my efforts to keep pushing upwards. Jill was wheezing (when she wasn’t laughing) and we stopped. “Why don’t we climb back down, hang around the car park and ask someone for a lift back to Glynburn Road, then we can walk back to Erindale, grab my car, drive up to Mt Lofty, get the car keys, drive down to the car park so that you can get your car and I’ll meet you back at your place?”

Sounded like an ever BETTER plan!

We poled it on down, and hung around. Not a friggin’ human soul within Coooee and I fancied several tumbleweeds rolled by. “Well, let’s keep walking and maybe stick our thumbs out.”
"Or our bums, if it helps."

Eight more kilometres later and no cars willing to pick up two extremely BO-ey, irrationally laughing and singing women, we staggered into Jill’s front garden. “Thank God,” she sighed, “My hips are killing me.”

“Yeah and I’ve got blisters on top of my blisters that have already filled up with blood and popped and the skin’s gone all white and wrinkled and then folded over to tear into some undamaged skin to let it sting like salt and razor blades have slashed it only to allow another new blister to appear underneath it and----“

Jill held up her hand to stop me going further. The other was reaching high up above her head to where the house key was supposed to be hidden. “You’re not going to believe this, but it’s not there. Bloody kids know they have to put the key back when they use it. That’s IT. I’m going round the back to kick the door in.”

I scurried along beside her until we passed by the open bathroom window. “Jill, stop! JILL! Your bathroom window is open, look! We’ll be able to climb inside.”

Stopped in her tracks, she was silent, but scarily determined. “Stand back Kath, this won’t be pretty.”

But strangely, it was. She’d managed to wedge her left leg over the windowsill so that it rested on top of the cistern inside, and her right leg was splayed behind her; looking for all the world like a hurdler caught in ultra-slow motion. “Shit, I can’t get my head in!”

It was my turn. This time I shoved my sweaty scone in first along with my right leg.

Sper-loonk! The lid of the cistern was disturbed, flipped sideways and my foot landed in the toilet water. I ignored the urge to go “Eww eww eww” and surveyed the scene inside. Lifting my foot out of the top of the toilet I aimed for the basin and edged forward, bringing my back leg inside. All that was left outside was my oversized arse, like a dark double moon, in navy blue lycra. “Hey,” Jill commented, “They’re Nike leggings. They’re nice. Where did you get them?”

“Um, it’s escaped me right now, mate, maybe it'll come back to me in a minute.” I had visions of smacking my face on the basin or headbutting the bathtaps. In the end it all happened rather quickly: my newly-inserted left leg slipped alarmingly quickly down the edge of the bath and my right touched the floor giving me a reverse wedgie that reminded me all too much of the rigours of childbirth. “Fark!” Then, in a more surprised tone, “Hey Jill, I’m IN!”

Once again, she almost seemed a tad disappointed. Writing with cigarette butts and kicking in doors were clearly on her ‘Must do before I die list’ and would now have to wait until later. She looked happier about things after we’d both had three heavily buttered slices of fruit toast and two cups of tea each.

My arm pits were starting to honk. “Geez Jill, I stink. And – god love you – so do YOU.” I glanced at my watch: 2pm. What was going to take us an hour-and-a-half straight after school drop off took five hours.

And it was the most fun I’d had in ages.

- Yeah, I know, it's not 1990 any more and Collette isn't ringing her bell these days either. But they're really handy to put your iPod, car keys, phone and water bottle in. So there.

** Every six months or so, I'll buy some bottled water. Grudgingly, and only because the one I'm currently using has become so manky that even I'm embarrassed by it. Then I'll rinse and refill the new one over and over again until it's time to replace it. So there again.


Catherine said...

What a story! Glad that you got back safely after all of that. Think of all the calories you burned!

Baino said...

Hilarious. Giggling away here over my morning coffee. Truly excellent adventure dude! And tripley kudos for getting in through possibly the smallest room in the house! Don't worry about Melbourne, there's plenty of hiking to be had in the Dandenongs!

delamare said...

Nothing like a gentle stroll Kath! How log was the shower you had after that ... going longer than four minutes must be allowed in these circumstances!

lc said...

I know it's literary license and consistent with your self-deprecating sense of humour but, in case people don't realise: Your "oversized arse" is actually, well-toned and well-below-average, according to the large and varied statistical (and updated-on-a-daily-basis) sample I have gathered together over many years of (purely scientific) observation.

Sure, there's a thin layer of cocoa butter for cushioning purposes but, were I a lyricist, I'd be postulating that it's bottoms like your's that really do make the rockin' world go round. [Or more accurately, they don't upset it's gravitational equilibrium like some that I've seen have the potential to do!]

Naomi said...

I can just see you two doing all this - classic post. And LC is right, you are arse is not oversized!!!!

ashleigh said...

Oh dear, I've got tears rolling down. (MQ wants to know where. Lets not go there.)

I know what you mean about the Bendy Wendys from Burnside. We only walked up there to Eagle On The Hill, earlier this year. But during that walk I've ever never seen so much bling!

Kath Lockett said...

....and need I say that the next couple of days I felt as though I'd been kicked - and jumped on - by a herd of angry camels?

Miles McClagan said...

One of my old writing exercises was a story about inappropriate musicals (I know, bit Producers, but I was 12) and one of them had a song about Kokoda set to Lola by the Kinks...I was doing some avant Garde Material in Grade 6...

And I did too much walking that year too...

franzy said...

Oh my god. U fule. U fyewlish fyewl.

And yes, that's quite enough arse-bashing. Having read your blog and then met you in person, I was quite shocked when you turned out to be svelte and slim, rather than, as you would have your readers believe: so porky and hideous that even you are comfortable enough with it to laugh merrily and joke about the things that porky, hideous people can laugh at themselves about.

In words of the great Troy Maclure: Get confident, stupid!

Naomi said...

amen to Franzy's wise words!

Monique said...

kath, for fucks sake. i am supposed to be listening to a very serious segment on the disabled and instead i am sputtering and choking in here. i had to put my head under the desk to laugh. hopefully everyone thinks the tears in my eyes are from being moved by the interview...

lucky this booth is soundproof.

River said...

Gosh, you spend your days in interesting ways. I bet from now on you'll be making sure the keys are not in the same compartment as the water bottle. Have your legs recovered?

Jillo said...

Hi - Jill here. Thought I should reply. It was one of the most arduous, exhausting yet funny days I've had all year. We laughed most of the way (and sang the last few kms home - making up our own lyrics to the Gilligan's Island theme song). The aftermath was me with very sore thighs for days and Kath with a very sore butt. She is slim and gorgeous, but she does have a butt you can rest your cup of tea on! But I wouldn't have her any other way (and don't start on me!)

Deep Kick Girl said...

In the words of Chandler Bing...


I needed a Bex and a good lay down after reading of your adventure, so god knows how you actually felt physically experiencing it.

We had a similar (but very very different) experience recently where car keys got locked in the car and poor Marianna had to be lowered into the car via the (luckily) opened sunroof - much to the amusement of the cafe patrons where we had parked - to let us in.