Knowledge November - Day 8 - Style by Stealth
I knew right from the start that Love Chunks wasn’t attracted to me because of my car (a Safari Orange-coloured 1971 Volvo) or my fashion sense:
“Hey Kath, bend down and touch your toes, will you?”
“So I can set the table.”
We both laughed and his dislike for my top would have carried a lot more weight if he hadn’t then sashayed – Swish Swish Swish Swish – out of the kitchen wearing his infernally noisy shell tracksuit pants.
It was 1993 when we fell for each other and my expensive, dark green corduroy and paisley patterned overshirt purchased in London in 1991 still had a fair bit of wear left in it in my opinion. Besides, living on Austudy whilst learning how to survive teaching high school kids Australian History and English meant that funds for clothes weren’t available.
Love Chunks’ wardrobe too had a few travesties that he clearly considered were still acceptable to wear in public, like his black leather ‘spray jacket’ style coat with the press-stud shoulder epaulettes, short-sleeved business shirts and stubbie shorts.
It was only at the end of the year when the weather bureau (and a better salary) in Melbourne beckoned LC back and I followed, scoring a debt collecting job at a security firm that was slightly less soul-destroying that performing paid acts of sodomy in bus shelters.
The move from Adelaide provided me with the opportunity to ‘lose’ a few of LC’s most objectionable items of clothing, such as his Speedos.
Sure, he had a fit physique but they were Speedos. Why not cover your genitals in Glad Wrap for all the modesty that tight-fitting, sky-blue lycra provided? And his too-snug, black and brown striped polo shirt that had been witness to key events in his young adult life – year 12, university, residential college, graduate traineeship in Darwin, student teaching in Adelaide, curries with me – had to go. Quietly and with dignity. And, of course, with utmost secrecy, being hastily buried under the lemon tree furthest from the back verandah of our student share house.
When we arrived in Melbourne to our crumbly 1960s flat, we had few boxes to unpack. It was our first home together, and it was fitting that our belongings complemented each other. LC had the sofa, me the dining table. He the VCR, me the telly. He the copper-bottomed saucepans, me the quilt.
Our right hand-side neighbours were silent, with delicious smells of fragrant curries and spices permanently seeping under our door whetting our appetites and the left-hand neighbour assailed us with poor renditions of ‘Smoke on the Water’ via his crackling amplifier. The people above us scraped their chairs on lino at 2am and the woman below at car-park level owned a mouthy cockatoo and liked to smash her own windows whenever she argued with her occasional boyfriend. It was perfect.
A month into the move, LC half-heartedly asked as to the whereabouts of his polo-shirt. Trying to avoid telling him the truth, I spun around, pointed my finger at his chest and said accusingly, “Not so fast, buddy. Where is my green shirt? I can read you like a book, Love Chunks.”
“Well I can read you like a fact-sheet Kath, ‘cos I saw you shove my shirt into the wheelie bin.”
Fast forward sixteen years and I found myself on the very same street as our first residence, attending an Open Inspection out of nosiness, not extra funds. Walking back to our house and towards our bird turd-splattered old Magna, I realised that style and cars are still not what keeps us together.
There’s my thong collection, my one concession to brand names:
Love Chunk’s Babboon Bum bike shorts that are always drying on the towel rack:
And Milly’s hairs that festoon our clean socks.
It is Sapphire these days that comments on our outfits, not us. She’ll say:
Hey Mum why don’t you buy those peacock feather earrings from Diva they’re only six dollars and more interesting than the boring hoops you’ve always got on
You should wear clothes like Simone’s Mum. She’s gone back to uni to study art and painting and has got these white boots that are really high heeled and go right up her thighs so that you just can see a bit of her black and purple striped tights under her velvet dress that reminds me of a princess like Rapunzel and she likes to wash her hair in henna
Or you could get your hair streaked a bit lighter like Juliet’s and Sarah’s Mums do and I have to ask - and I’m not trying to be rude or cheeky or answer you back – but why you always think that polar fleece is OK to wear to cafes when you won’t let me wear my crocs there and your running gear is fine to wear on the way to school but I really hate that Ben Lee ‘Love like the world is ending’ t-shirt because it says that you like having sex and I think that that’s a bit rude for someone as old as you......
I took her advice and got my hair streaked.
Two hours later, I arrived home, did a “Ta Da” twirl in front of her, seeking her approval.
“Oh Mum, you look like a koala bear with those side bits of hair sticking out – why didn’t you get them cut off?”
Love Chunks saw my disappointment and came up and put his arm around my waist, hugging me to him. “Nah you look like Fozzy Bear.”
I bought a seventh pair of thongs as sartorial solace.