Was in the local supermarket yesterday grabbing a few groceries when I figured, for about the hundredth time, how much I was out of place. I felt like a wolf amid a whole herd of very tame sheep. Most of the clientele there are grey haired dears with scribbled shopping lists in their hands. Occasionally hubby might be seen shuffling somewhere behind them, shrunken with age and bewildered by choice. On the weekends you’ll see more middle-aged mum types, though seemingly less weekdays. Then there’s me. I feel different. I look different. I dress different. I have a different attitude. I even walk different. And I’m about a foot taller than the olds.
It’s the same driving the local streets. It’s a well to do area full of old people either in well established homes or up-market retirement villages. Mercedes seems the choice of wealthy pensioners all over, and the streets, literally, crawl with them here. They’ll cruise, not always smoothly, at somewhere between 40-50 kmh. Or they’ll stop at a roundabout for 5-10 seconds just to ensure that if there is an invisible car that it gets through safely. Stuck behind them, as I so often am, I’ll wonder what it is that makes old people such ponderous drivers. Do they lose their nerve? Have they lost all their daring? Or is it the realisation as they get close to the pointy end, that there’s no point throwing it all away on a silly prang? Not that that is universal. The other end of the spectrum are the absolute shockers. Mostly they just won’t bother to indicate. Or they’ll stop in the middle of the road for no apparent reason. Or turn without looking. A couple of weeks ago I was within a metre of being cleaned up as a car driven by an old chap came careering through on the left as I was halfway through a roundabout. Somehow it doesn’t seem right abusing these old critters.
I’m in the middle of looking for some place different to live, and all of this makes me keenly aware that I have to get back to my own. I watched a movie the other night where much of the action was set in Fitzroy. I felt kind of wistful – the laneways, the groovy terrace houses, the cool pubs, even the hipsters. My idea of a perfect home is one where if I walk 500 metres in one direction I’ll happen across a decent pub or bar; 500 in the other a cafe with Melbourne standard coffee, and a class breakfast; and around the corner a good deli, a top notch bakery, a decent bottle shop, and, ideally, a cosy bookshop. And in the area drivers who drive as I do, without surprises, aggressive, alert and skilled.
I’m not going to end up in Fitzroy. I don’t know where I’ll end up, but there’s a good chance it will be bayside. It’s a nice area, and I have friends who live that way, so it will be convenient. I’ve been out there regularly over the years, and always appreciated the girls of bayside – well educated, well spoken, and with good dentistry, bayside girls seem to have a good even tan all year round, and often possess a bitchin’ forehand (I’ve never really taken much notice of the blokes out that way, unless they play AFL, but presume something similar).
All the same, I’m not sure it is my milieu. The houses are nice, the beach is close, there’s some handy restaurants, bakeries, bars, and so on, and generally they drive with the required urgency. But. Maybe it seems a little cleanskin for me. Then maybe, I think, it’s time I got away from the ambient grit of the inner suburbs. I’m no-one’s idea of a hipster – in fact I sometimes think, if only physically, that I’m based on an old (but I like to think, classic) model, superseded maybe, but with good lines – though certainly not the skinny lines of the skinny jean types. And perhaps the allure of cool breakfast cafes and poky bars should be paling for me by now. Maybe I need to aspire to becoming more cleanskin myself. My dentistry is fine, but maybe I need to develop my forehand alongside my serve, should consider the parks full of swings and pre-schools as promises of things to come, rather than the vaguely foreign and unsettling places they seem right now.
Whatever. As long as I get away from Mercedes driving olds whose head I can’t even see.