Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Puckle Street Palaver

We were sitting in a bakery in Moonee Ponds, tucking into our chicken salad rolls and coffee when yelling was heard outside.

I looked up and saw a swarthy man in a black overcoat striding past and automatically made eye contact. I smiled, thinking he was calling out to friends further ahead, and my grin was supposed to convey a vague but community-spirited, "Lovely Sunday day, innit?"

He got the wrong idea and stood in the doorway, yelling, "Robert Walters pharked up my life! Robert did! Yes, he did! I am Lebanese and he pharked it all up! Robert Walters!"

I. couldn't. look. away. Love Chunks and Sapphire had their backs to him, both cowering deeper into their food, shoulders hunched in shame. "He did! He ruined my life, me a Lebanese! Robert Walters pharked it up. LISTEN TO MY STORY!"

My stupid smile was still pasted on, the roll still raised halfway to my face as I nodded in dumb agreement.

Love Chunks kicked my ankle. "Stop making eye contact you idiot," he hissed. Trying to look regretful and as though I had places to go, things to do, people to see but best of luck with your crusade, good sir; I looked down at my limp roll. Loopy Lebanese man legged it further up Puckle Street, still furiously spewing out his life story to other eaters and shoppers.

"Why did you encourage him, Mum?" Sapphire was horrified and a bit shaken. For all her intelligence and humour, her scared face reminded me that she is only ten years old after all and the only baddies or weirdies she usually sees are in the movies or books or sitting sozzled out of their minds at the corner of the train station under the bridge. The owner of the bakery scuttled out, grabbed our plates and hastily wiped the table with a dribbly Chux that disallowed us to rest our elbows on the top: a clear sign she wanted us mental magnets out of there.

Puffing up my chest with the breath of only someone who is embarrassed but also indignant about it can do, I tried to explain to Sapphire that no-one is born wishing they'll be the stark raving crazy who yells at people in the street or wants to resort to snaffling up used cigarette butts outside the TAB or yearns to spend their days drinking long-necked beers out of shabby paper bags on the bus stop seats. "It is very sad, and it makes you wonder just what kind of life they led for it to end up like that," I concluded, feeling my chest relax as the warmth of my understanding, right-on empathy and mature life-lessons for my daughter flowed through.

"Yeah right, and you're halfway there yourself."

The roll plopped onto the soggy table. "Excuse me?"

"You heard. You pick me up from school with those embarrassingly long litter-collecting tongs and a plastic bag in your hand; you pat the dogs of the tough guys with tattoos on their necks who hang outside the pub and you said you were going to - --" this is where Sapphire puffed out her own chest in self-righteous indignance "----STEAL SOME LEMONS from the house across the street."

I'd struck a new low: having my ten year old daughter liken me to a mentally-deranged man in a stained overcoat who wanders the streets swearing and yelling his life story at people.

And no, I didn't steal the lemons. At least, not yet.


Jack42 said...

Don't worry, children have a very black and white view of the world and two things which appear similar on first appearance can turn out to be very different upon familiarity. Err - I guess she is familiar with you after all...

The Man at the Pub said...

That's how it all starts Kath. One day you're stealing lemons, the next day you're selling your body to fund your crack addiction.

Its funny how kids are so conformist, at least when they are pre-pubescent. Though in a few years, Sapphire may reject all conformity and become an emu or something, like lots teenagers do.

Spicybugz said...

Aww heck, I have 3 lemon trees in the back yard, your welcome to them at any time ;) I'm so goofy I would probably have listened to the guys story and asked questions. As a matter of fact, I am curious as to how "Robert Walters pharked up his life, what on earth did he do?

On a personal note we have a date set for August 17 at 9:15 am. It will be finalized :) Smooches to you.

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks Jack. I think....

Pub Daddy you're right. I was blathering to someone the other day who said they'd support their kid growing up to be a rebellious teenager 'within reason' and I thought, but 'within reason' is always ten steps behind whatever the kid is determined to do.

Hey Spicy, best of luck with the adoption hearing! As for Mr Lebanese's story, I did nod and listen for a while and it involved computers, cigarettes, rent and software. I was still not entirely sure how Robert affected all that.

Monique said...

Kath you make me laugh. Did you ever manage to find one of those rubbish pick-up-sticks? I have fantasies of my own little clean-up-australia-day around the Port Adel area...

drb said...

After living in Melb City for 18 years and travelling on the train for 10 years, I have learnt to check out the finger nails before making eye contacts.
NEVER NEVER make eye contacts if the nails are long and dirty!!!

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks Monique. I haven't bought one of those litter picker-upper stick thingies yet. Still can't force myself to spend my hard-earned (and rare) cash on something that collects what other pigs throw out. Sadly, it's on my 'suggested birthday presents for Kath' list though!

Dr B - I should have taken the time to check out his nails because he was doing a lot of gesturing and angry finger pointing in my direction!

franzy said...

Pf. Tell Sapphy from me that you can't OWN lemons, man. Especially not if you're dumb enough to plant a tree in the front yard, within reach of scrumping arms. I stole a lemon every day on the way home from school and my morals and bones are totally intact.

She has a point about picking up garbage on the way to school. Or anywhere. You're squashing a grizzly's fleas with that one, Kath (ie. it is a pointless activity which makes you look dangerously crazy). Give it up.

Benjamin Solah said...

Scary. At first I thought the guy was the same guy I'd encountered, by my 'friend' was white. And very homophobic.

Handing out leaflets for the upcoming gay marriage rally, this guy came up to us to start abusing and harassing us about gays needing to stay in the closet and something about not being able to have kids if we were all gay.

So we kinda ignored him, but he persisted and I bit back. He spent the whole time we were there, hanging around (mainly me) and telling us that we're sick unnatural and all deserved to be culled "like Hitler did."

He followed me to my reading group in a near by food court and came back twice, making pretty scary threats.

And then two friends had to physically fight him off until security came to kick him out.

Fun times.

(Did I exceed some comment limit?)

River said...

Kids. They always know how to take you down a peg or two. (If they're really good at it they'll make you feel ashamed sometimes too.) Sapphire will see the grey areas between the black and white soon enough. Still, I'm glad the man moved on...

The Blakkat said...

If I'd only every stolen lemons, Kath, then I'm sure my daughter wouldn't have to say to her friends 'yeah, my mum's not really normal'. You may as well embrace your apparent non-conformity Kath because whatever you do it is bound to be met with disapproval from pubescent daughters. I'm not exactly sure how, but my mere presence is enough to be embarrassing to my daughter. I don't even have to open my mouth. Just wait til Sapphire is 13.

Baino said...

Haha I love it when the child becomes the paret. Interesting place you live in! I'm surprised she didn't throw the 'crocs' in there as well. Sure sign of madness!

Kath Lockett said...

Franzy, I'll steal some lemons but I can't give up the litter pick ups, but will, from now on, not do it to or from school. Me being crazy I'm kinda accepting of; but not if it truly embarrasses Sapph.

Benjamin I reckon he fancied you! You know what they say - he protesteth too much? Seriously though, I'm glad you went out there 'fighting the good fight' on your own.....

River, Sapph LIVES to take me down a peg or two - there are a few more blogs pending on that subject.

Blakkat, 'My mum's not really normal' actually sounds rather NICE coming from a 13 year old!

Baino, the Crocs have been put away until it's warmer and the uggies don't leave home. Today I'm wearing black flat ballet shoes and a nice jacket (doctor's appointment, a few errands) and she looked me up and down and said, "Wow, you're dressed up today."
I said, "No I'm not, I'm just not in my running gear, that's all."
"Yeah well you're dressed up. For YOU."

Kath Lockett said...

Sorry Benjamin, that was supposed to read "NOT" on your own.

Ken Albin said...

Well, it could have been worse. You could have been Robert Walters!

ashleigh said...

Hmmm. Praps its time to give up the litter pickup on the school run. One can see how it would be kind of embarrassing for a kid.

What you don't hear is how cruel kids are to each other: "oooooooooooooooooooooooh your mums a maggot because she picks up other peoples rubbish and puts it ina bag. I bet she takes it home and feeds it to you for dinner. So sucked in".

And all that. You get the idea.

And I'm a bit rusty - its a long time since I've been on the receiving end. But they (well the other kids) can be horrible creatures. Don't given em ammunition :)

(Word verification. I kid you not. "Sterstir")

Kath Lockett said...

Worry not, Ashleigh. My litter fetish is now restricted to evenings - in semi darkness, accompanied by Milly and my trusty BBQ tongs and Carly safely out of shame's way at home with Love Chunks.

Tried to grab the lemons - they're too bloody high!

ashleigh said...

Use the BBQ tongs to rip them off then!

Washing first is of course, optional :)

(word verification: kideve)