Tuesday, November 03, 2009

In search of lost youth - and a photo

Come on down to the mermaid cafe
And I will buy you a bottle of wine
And we'll laugh, and toast to nothing
And smash our empty glasses down
from "Carey", Joni Mitchell

The act of miming is crucial for Antonioni and Blow-Up because it is the mime who brings our attention to objects by their absence. For the mime, the imaginary tennis ball is every bit as "real" as the evidential photograph is "illusory."
from "Blow-Up"- a review by Stephen E. Bowles

B - from the Bell Street Days
A century or so ago, my friend B and I had our photo taken standing side by side in a kitchen in Bell Street, Fitzroy.

I was living with B at the time, and we were young and carefree, slightly rebellious. Well B was ... The photo turned out to be quite beautiful, and as is not always the case, we both looked good. So we took the negative and went somewhere downtown Melbourne to have it blown up to poster size. Then we stuck it on a wall in the kitchen.

From time to time we'd embellish the poster, using our makeup to add lipstick to paint our photo lips, eye-liner to line our photo eyes, and so on. In the end it was a veritable masterpiece, if we did say so ourselves.

Me and B, Marquis of Lorne, Melbourne, 1993
Eventually I left Bell Street to travel overseas, and then B left to move elsewhere in Melbourne. What happened to the poster, or the original photo? B left them behind at Bell Street when she moved, and they are gone forever, but not forgotten.

For a few years after I returned to Australia, B and I would try to recapture the image. We'd stand or sit side by side and prevail upon someone to take our photo. We never even came close to the excellence of the original. Here are a couple of 'attempts'. Pitiful. We seem to look less wonderful with each successive photo; I wonder why.

Sometimes I think that we should just give up; call it a day. But I doubt that we will as we are both women of perseverance.

Especially B. I first me B in a pub (bar) bathroom, though I'd seen her around campus heaps of times. She was a minor celebrity - not for any special feat of academic excellence or social accomplishment - just for being B. I was slightly in awe of her.

Anyway, one day at the regular Friday night drink-up at the Mayfair Hotel, I went to the bathroom. I didn't bother to lock the stall door. I was going to be quick. Then in comes B.

"Shove over," she commanded, and pushed me to the left of the toilet seat before sitting down herself - the two of us 'sharing'.

What chutzpah I thought, or would have had I known the word at the time. What class. What style. This was my sort of women.

We've been friends ever since.

Me and B, New York 2007
I think of B often, even though she and I are now 12,000 miles apart. She's visited me in New York (photo on the left) and we talk on the phone. But I miss the fun of going out with her, her carefree spirit, her chutzpah, and her love of life.

And in all my years no one else has ever come into a toilet cubicle and told me to "shove over".

The only thing I'm cross at B about is - how could she lose that bloody photo!

No comments:

Post a Comment