If I’d taken the time to get to know her before going out with her, I never would have gone out with her.

Sunday, 8 September 1996  12:02pm

Hey Sis,

I’m in on the weekend, I feel so righteous.  I was in yesterday too.  Perhaps that’s why I slept so well last night – sleep of the righteous and all that.

Tram Anecdote No. 643. Came in on the 11:26 tram.  Sat next to – well, adjacent to if you want to be precise – some guy with a football fixation.  Sadly, this is not an uncommon affliction at this time of year.  Those, like me, who are free of the malady must suffer its consequences in the rest of the population with as much good grace as possible.  It was pretty hard with this guy though.  He was gauche.  I can forgive people many thing (Oooh Mr J, you’re so magnanimous!), but gaucheness is not one of them.

He sat there in his blubber listening to a transistor radio with headphones.  Not your normal headphone though.  These were big muthas with foam pads that go right over your ears and have that thick spiraling cord that winds down to the converter plug into the black shiny radio hidden in this bloke’s pink bear-paw.  His head was slightly upturned, mouth slightly open like he was actually watching the game being played out on the backs of his retinas.  His eyes were small and deeply set under ginger-brown eyebrows that swept up and away-ee-ay from his flacid face.  He was really big, quite tall, and I sat hunched over my book, sneaking looks at his Uncle-Roy-body closely fit with cotton-polyester blue t-shirt (it’s 14° here) and woolly, freckled forearms.  And he was prey to that most irritating of vices – singing too loudly under cover of headphones.  It was more half-way between singing and humming, but it was loud and accompanied by violent twitches of the head as he sung-hum snatches of some football anthem.  I imagine he visualized the whole tram being caught up in the moment and catching alight to his snatches of song, and he would lead them, swaying his arms delicately like a tuxedoed conductor, the elegance of his interior vision sadly unmatched by his walrus body.

Walked up Bourke Street Mall, dodging the Pancke Parlour freebie dealers and the buskers and the beggars.  Dodged the guy in the Koala suit outside The Hoyts cinemas.  And here I am.

Went briefly to Friday drinks.  I wasn’t feeling too flash (I never seem to be up to much on Friday nights these days) and didn’t feel like lingering too long.  I sat next to Paige and bought her a drink while I was at the bar.  She volunteered to get the next round.  I couldn’t decide what I wanted at the bar, and when put on the spot by the barman, opted for a vodka on ice that I regretted instantly.  I slouched back to the table and waited for the Cloud of Enthusiasm to burst forth and drench me with its Golden Vigour.  No such luck.  Pippa was sitting opposite me, Tariq at the end of the table.  Pippa passed me a note.  It read “Didn’t want to say anything but Mia will be here at 6 o’clock.”  I huffed and half sneered in resignation and turned to read the clock at the far end of the bar.  Ten to six.  Tick tock, tick tock.  I passed the note back to Pippa, though not before Tariq poked his head over my shoulder and availed himself to its contents, and Pippa tore it subtly, though not without dramatic impact, into tiny pieces.  I drained my glass and slapped my denim-clad knees, picking up my leather satchel that Mum bought over for me from Old Blighty and moaned some goodbyes. Scottish Lisa fixed me with a glare, but didn’t say anything.  She knew the score.  Paige looked up with raised eyebrows and said “What, leaving already?  Don’t I owe you a drink?”  I postponed her debt and dribbled something about feeling unwell and left with Pippa and Tariq in tow.

Tariq was meeting friends in The Lounge.  I’d been invited but really didn’t feel up to it.  I was going to walk down to Bourke Street with him, but he’d left his watch behind, and I couldn’t risk returning to the pub and running into Mia, so I strolled down Collins Street on my own,  Pippa having gone home, and caught my tram.  Spent the evening on the couch eating Barbeque Shapes and thanking my lucky stars that I’d gotten out in time.  Mia just gives me the shits.  If I’d taken the time to get to know her before going out with her, I would never have initiated anything.  Doesn’t that always seem the way?  You wait a while, and the attraction dissipates in quirks and idiosyncrasies that grate on your nerves.  Time is the perfect palliative for my fancy.

So Saturday I get a call.  It’s Leah, she’s left her sunglasses at my place and needs them for a weekend drive to Ballarat she’s taking with her jail-bait boyfriend.  I was planning on going to work, so I offered to leave them with the $10 I owe her in a bag under my bin.  Two or three minutes later, the phone rings again.  I pick it up, expecting Leah with some fine-tuning of the sunglasses plan, but it’s Mia of course.  She wants to know if I’m avoiding her (well, durrr!) because you know she doesn’t deserve that.  Wasn’t she nice to me about it all? Why don’t I ever call?  I mouthed some platitudes and excuses and quickly changed tack by asking her about her work.  Like most people, she love to whinge about her job.  Then I asked her about her travel plans.  Then she asked me about “the message” and I said it was something about Tariq (it was the first thing I could think of).  About ten minutes in she had another go at me, so I tried to sound like I was lying when I told her I wasn’t trying to avoid her, to try to get the message across in a passive way.  Don’t you think it’s better to let people work things out on their own?  There’s no use spoon feeding people all their lives.  She rung off after about twenty minutes.  I hung up and vowed to change my phone number (again).

I’m tired of the whole work-social thing to tell the truth.  I think that that’s why I’ve been so peevish that last few Friday night.  It’s just a bit of a hot-house, you know?  anyhow, I’d better get to work.

J

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