Knowledge November - Day 24 - Old Bag Aspirations
I was talking with Sapphire's best friend Juliet's mother, Tracy, about the challenges and joys of living in a small, densely-populated inner city suburb and the resultant layers of cultures, litter, noise, fun, friendliness, drunkenness and planning problems it entails.
She shared with me her recent bravery in telling off an insolent seventeen year old boy for stealing mail and littering. As she was walking home from the shops she spied a young dropkick yank out a letter that was sticking out of a mailbox, rip it up and scatter it along the street to the general mocking laughter of the five other dropkicks with him.
Tracy did what - as we've both since recognised later - a few of us 'forty something' women are starting to do: she went all Angry Old Bag on him. She bolted across the road, jabbed her finger at his chest and told him to pick up the mail and put it in the bin or she'd report him for mail fraud and littering.
He of course said, "Make me" and folded his arms insolently across his chest as his buddies looked on, but he severely underestimated the power of the Angry Old Bag. Tracy had undergone some training with the FBI in the US some three children, a PhD and two countries ago and was able to rattle off enough legal gobbledegook to convince the Acne-ed Arse that she could arrest him on the spot and perhaps even whip a taser out of her Green Enviro Shopping Bag to press home her point. He sullenly snatched up the papers, put them in the bin and stalked off, with his mates laughing at him instead of Tracy.
"I'm too old for them to be interested in ogling, yet young enough to take them on," she said.
Fiona, another mother at the party drop off, nodded and said, "Yeah, I want to be an Angry Old Bag too," and recounted her 84 year old neighbour giving the auctioneer across the road a real mouthful when he refused to take bids in one-thousand-dollar increments, preventing a young couple from joining the buyers.
"Soon, she had the crowd giving the auctioneer a slow clap and he backed down," she said admiringly.
Regular readers of Blurb from the Burbs will know that I've already recognised the Angry Old Bag emerging from inside me and am starting to actively cultivate her. After all, once you find that first chin hair......
In the past month alone, I've:
* Told off five teenagers for throwing Red Rooster cartoons on the footpath. They put them in the bin when Milly the dog trotted over insisting on making friends and receiving some pats. The kids have sat in the same spot each lunch time and not littered again since.
* Said, 'Could those jeans be any lower on you?' to a boy on the way to school. He ignored me, but seeing as I walk past him every day I have noticed that he's not worn those particular trousers since then.
* Butted in a conversation on public transport. Three people were talking about their housing commission flat in Footscray. "Of course, it's 'Spot the Aussie' where we are, with all the African refugees and that." I leaned in and said, "And that's a good thing, isn't it?" and shocked them into nodding. Glumly of course, but at least it wasn't telling me to enjoy sex elsewhere or starting an racist punch-up on the number 57 tram...
* Snobbed off 'Schnauzer Woman' who decided that she did know me after all, especially when she'd just overheard our local councillor (a fellow parent at the school) talking about a grant I'd won for a litter project
* Helped a lady in a motorised scooter fill up her plastic bags in the fruit and veg section of Safeway (those green capsicums are a bugger to reach); and
* Discussed with other budding Angry Old Bags just how cool we think it is that 82 year old Peter Cundall, recently of 'Gardening Australia' fame and regard had been arrested outside Tasmania's Parliament House for refusing police instructions to move away from the steps as he joined protesters in calling for Royal Commission in the approval of Gunns Ltd's proposed Bell Bay pulp mill in the state's north.
I hope at 82 that I'm still able to get fired up enough about something to slip on my homeypeds and tracksuit and bound out of the house to join in the fight.