Monday, 23 December 1996 2:58pm
Just had lunch with Dick. We went to the Kay Craddock Antiquarian Bookseller’s first though. We were looking for a book for Dad. He collects (gulp) Australiana. We were browsing through the hushed shop, next to the Scots Church on Collins Street when Dad thunders “JESUS, MATE. SOME OF THESE BOOKS ARE OVER $500!” Christ! will I spend my whole life cringing on account of this guy? I always thought that parental embarrassment dissipated after the teenage years.
After we couldn’t find anything that Dad thought was worth the money, we went down to Dymocks so he could buy me a dictionary for my birthday.
So we bought the dictionary, a nice Oxford Concise with a thumb index. Then we had a snack in Collins Place. We were sitting near the edge of the eating area, in front of the health food place, then I saw someone I knew from school walk by. Brooke Barnes. I was so deeply in love with her at school, but she liked Josh. And Brooke’s flaky friend Amanda was in love with me. It was a tragic situation. It all ended rather nastily, and whenever Josh runs into Brooke on campus, they both look at the ground and pretend not to know each other.
So I saw her walk across in front of me, from left to right. And then back again, right to left, and then she looped behind me to get some food. She saw me, and she saw me see her, but we were pretending not to have, you know how it is. But then she sat down right at the next table. I was angled slightly away from her, and could legitimately claim not to have seen her. So I spoke to Dad in a loud-ish voice, and waited. She had nerves of steel and ate her food slowly and calmly. I was impressed.
She finished her meal and stuffed the napkin in the bin, and was walking up the stairs, right to left, when I called out:
“Brooke? Brooke Barnes? Is that you?”
“J! Hi. How are you?”
“I’m fine, fine. Was that you sitting right there?”
“Yeah, it was actually,” she said with a smile, which seemed genuine enough.
“So what are you up to?” and so on. The usual catching up and Have you seen?’s and Did you hear?’s. Then she wished me a Merry Christmas, and she was on her way. It went much better than I expected really. I wish I’d given her my phone number to tell the truth. She was always a good laugh.
Josh had told me she was a shaven-headed lesbian Oi-chick now, she didn’t seem like that to me. Chin length black hair, nice skin, jeans and waistcoat, blue backpack. Gee I wish I’d given her my number. I doubt she would have called, and if she had I probably wouldn’t answer, but still…