The IGA supermarket on Enmore Rd is microscopic. One person traveling at half the normal shopping speed will still be traveling too quickly to negotiate the towering and over-crowded aisles, all five of them. I was talking to my mother on the telephone when I entered the IGA. Ordinarily I might wind a conversation up so that I could devote my much-needed attention to navigating around, under, over and through shelves, baskets and people but today I kept on talking.
I want to see my mother, I don't know why but I do. It's not a feeling of obligation, more like a biological urge. I'm not sure why this need has developed but I can isolate its first appearance to precisely the moment The Peachettes and I slid the stinky floral sofa that used to be in the library down the front steps and onto the street. It is unfortunate that I won't have an opportunity to see her before she travels to the USA where she will be capture or killed by The Taliban because the central heating in her house broke and they charge a flat fee of $250 to come out and have a look, not including parts or labour.
I don't how to describe my mother. It is not that she is awful, or especially kind, she is the usual amount of annoying and tender, for a parent, I think. I can say my mother is never dull. Not for one second in all the years of her life has she ever been dull. Like all people she is contradictory and puzzling but unlike most people she will express all of these contradictions articulately. Though perhaps sometimes, like today, she is more puzzling than articulate.
A conversation between Dale and her mother on the telephone in the IGA on Enmore Rd - an excerpt:
DS: I'm just not sure I want to go to the second interview for this job.
M: You should earn more money. Money gives you choices:
DS: But it also takes them away. I don't want to wake up every morning with the urge to stab myself through the heart.
M: You should use a calculator to see if it would be more money.
DS: You are just like John Howard, always putting money first. What about my happiness?
M: I have all this money now because I worked very hard to earn it. You have time now but your choices are limited because you can't afford anything. What will happen when you retire?
DS: You worked very hard but were you happy?
M: Not for the last five years that I worked but before that I don't know. It is the mindset everybody had, work hard, be an example, provide for your family. What size of jeans do you want from America?
DS: I don't know. I 'll have to look up a size conversion chart. Did you enjoy your work?
M: I did like what I was doing. I've left you the River House in my will but I sold it.
DS: What? Why are you telling me this now?
M: My will is with my solicitor.
DS: I thought he was dead.
M: Not quite yet but soon. I also left you my super. Is it Navajo jewellery you prefer?
DS: I quite liked that necklace you got me the time before last. When are you planning on dying?
M: I'm going to visit B. in America on Monday.
DS: Are you going to drop dead in America?
M: I'm more worried about The Taliban.
DS: In Arizona?
M: Well the central heating broke this week, you never know what might happen. They charge a flat $250 for a call out fee. I have another house in the mountains you can have instead of the River House. You should rent it out to someone who has a job.
DS: I might but you have to die first. I'm no longer going to plunge to my death because Mr Oddweird repaired the Peach Deck.
M: What do you want duty free?
DS: I'm not sure, let me think.
M: Your brother sucked all my spending money into a trombone.
DS: I suppose that's not unusual. Should I buy the recycled toilet paper? I can give you money for some duty free perfume.
M: No you can't, you're too poor. The Money Fairy doesn't approve. My brother once bought the most dyed toilet paper because he doesn't like fish.
DS: Maybe the Birthday Fairy could buy the perfume, unless she has also been sucked into a trombone.
M: It is important to note that I do not plan on dropping dead in America but there is a possibility I might.
DS: Consider it noted. You should note that unlike my uncle I like fish.