Tram Talk 5
Check out the Yummy Mummy trying to walk across the cobbles in her stacked heels. Legs like porky pig.
"Oh Hiiiiii Annie! Yar, I know it's been a while....... What's that? Oh yes, I'm just soooo loooooving the new Megane Cabriolet but someone keyed it the other night right in front of our house. Our house, can you believe it? So it's being repaired. ........I have no idea how to buy a ticket these days and look at you, doing this every day. How do you stand it?"
Hit her, Annie.
Oh god why is it always me, why?
"Er, 'morning." Look the other way. Maybe Jenny or Helen will be catching this tram too.
"Some days it's hard to get outta bed, isn't it?"
He stinks and has got dreadlocks in his beard. His beard. "Yep, it sure is."
"My physio reckons me back's stuffed. If it was here ---" Oh my god surely he's not going to pull up his shirt to show me. Yes, he is "----- she reckons I'd never be able to walk again."
"Gosh, that's awful! In a way, you're lucky." Why did I say that? Now he's going to tell me why he's lucky or why he's not....
HEY! Come ON! Put yer fag out and move yer arse. The tram's here!
Oh thank god. I'm not sure she's going to make it; she's doubled over hawking up - no, don't look. Find a seat instead.
That lady over there seems okay. And she's knitting something in pretty pale blue even though it's 30C today. Maybe I should be like my bearded buddy and start a conversation.
"So, what are you knitting?"
She looks up and is wary for about a second before deciding that my pudgy blonde visage in sensible shoes is harmless. "It's a scarf, actually. One for Patons."
"The wool people?"
Turns out that I've snagged a seat next to a professional knitter. Who knew they existed?
"Who knew you existed?"
Anne has knitted pretty well her entire life and has swapped a stressful career as a radiographer to a more enjoyable but much more modestly-paid one as Number One Knitter.
"You'll see my work in the lift-out knitting booklet that's in this month's issue of Better Homes and Gardens."
"No way. My daughter subscribes to that and was looking through it last night. I'm not kidding."
"They're fairly easy ones. I love it when they give me lacy stuff to make."
Everyone has a story, I told her. Why people would stick buds in their ears to listen to Steve Chuckle Buns Price when there's free entertainment on the Number 59 from Airport West is beyond me.
We heard a giggle from the seat behind us. I turned around. The woman blushed. "Oh, I'm sorry. I couldn't help listening in - you a knitter ---" she smiled at Anne, "----and you a writer."
"So what are you, then?"
"I'm a teacher. So this blogging you were talking about earlier. Is it easy to do?"
We swapped cards and she waved goodbye to Anne and I when she stepped off at the Royal Melbourne.
I farewelled Anne at LaTrobe and wandered into work. Several hours later the 59 was taking me back home, legs jiggling nervously whilst fretting if it would arrive before the commencement of Part-Time Job Number Two. Flicking my watch every two seconds wasn't going to help speed the tram up Elizabeth Street. Nothing to do but sit and listen.
Two private school girls clambered aboard opposite me, sharing an ear bud each. I stared down at their long tartan dresses, pristine white socks and shoes that always remind me of pasties; guaranteed to repel the lustful glances and advance of pretty well everyone.
At the next stop, two young men sat behind me, smelling of alcohol, smokes and BO.
"So I said to her, bitch, you gotta do something about that tatt."
"Whaaaa?" His mate wasn't quite following the conversation, clearly foraging for the last of his chips before flinging the empty packet behind him.
"Her tatt. On her back. Remember when Muzza got a hard on when she flashed it to him?"
"And she drank all your vodka and you cracked the shits?"
Silence for a moment, punctuated only by the Fsssh-shiz of two more UDLs being opened and the tinny tink-tink-boing of the empties thrown where the chip packet lay.
"Oh yeah. Julie. No, Angie. Yeah, Angie."
"Well she and I are going out now, right? And I want her to change it."
"Because it's got HIS name on it, you stupid dick. He's stuck inside right now and she's with me and I don't want his name on my woman every time we're doin' it."
The girls opposite me were trying to pretend that they were still listening to their music, but their wide eyes gave them away.
His drunk mate was suddenly alert. "But won't he kill you when he gets out?"
"I'd kill you if you did it to me."
"Yeah but you're too dumb to do anything that'd get you inside in the first place."
There was more silence as his mate - and we three ladies - pondered the meaning of that statement.
"Don' fall asleep - we gotta get off here. HERE! She reckons she's got a chick lined up for you, over in that building over there."
They fell through the doors onto Mt Alexander Road.
I leaned forward to pick up the rubbish. "Wow, there's a couple of catches you missed, girls." They laughed and their worries dissolved.
Stop Twenty Six. Mine. Back home to get changed with ten luxurious minutes to spare. Ten minutes to marinate in the conflicting senses of annoyance and guilt for cowardly mocking the tragic and wasted when they were safely out of earshot, and confusion for not knowing what else to do.