Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Ugly Ocker Bogan Man

Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Yeah, I hope I die before I get old (Talkin' 'bout my generation) - The Who, "My Generation", 1965

Bourke Street, Melbourne
On 14th Septermber 2012 on the corner of Bourke and Williams Street, Melbourne 3000,  I became old.

I was vacationing there, in Melbourne, my home town. I was ill. It was that cold, damp autumnal Melbourne weather.

A sad thing had just happened and I was on my way back to my accommodation there.

Septermber 14th, round noon. I'd been visiting family and was finding my way back to where I was staying, traveling by tram.

My mind went blank when I got off tram number #1; in which direction should I take tram #2?

Not only sad, I felt ridiculous standing in the tram shelter amongst  normal-looking happy people. I could barely stop the tears welling up.  I could hardly speak. Mental distress on top of laryngitis. Potens Sui, my old school motto. Self control. I braced myself and turned to a woman next to me. "Which way is Swanston Street?"  I asked. Now anyone who  has lived in Melbourne for over forty years will know that only someone NOT from Melbourne would need to ask that question. I knew I was in a bad way. Sad and confused, and now not knowing where the major street in my own home town was, I followed the woman's directions and caught tram #2. But when I got off I started to walk the wrong way for tram #3. I chose the downhill direction. Because of my bronchitis. I hoped it was right.

About all the way down the hill my Melbourne memory came back to me. Wrong way. I turned around and was walking up the hill when I saw the man.

He was 15 feet  away. About forty - paunchy, beer-gutted, sloppily  dressed. Too fat to be a builders' laborer or "in construction" as they say in America. I think he had a badly cut beard. His expression was vacant. His eyes dead. Eyes that can look out but you can't see into.  He was ugly; ugly in looks and I guessed (correctly it turned out), in spirit. As he came nearer to me, his eyes lit up.

He was looking at me. Me, who was thinking about the sad thing, with dried tears on my cheeks, finding it difficult to breath, my hair disheveled from the Melbourne wind, my clothes wrinkled and ill-fitting from traveling. My face never looks the best when I am down. And it certainly no longer looks as it did when I was young and attractive.

"Hello beautiful!" he sneered with a laugh.

Yes on 14th September 2012 at 12:05 pm, I became old.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you are worn out, Kate. Good thing you are back. As to the "Hello beautiful," try listening to "Dear" or "Dearie" and my pet peeve, "You guys." As to 'becoming' old, it's a bummer. I can't believe that after next March, I'll be in my eightieth year. But then when I consider the alternative.... Loved your Facebook posts re the ring-swallowing baby. Why do I get annoyed at the young thirty-something twits (male and female) who think they are the only ones who ever raised kids.

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