Monday, August 3, 2009

Love Thy Neighbour

I infiltrated the Golden Triangle four years ago, having journeyed from the far-east, that is, Midland. I quickly noticed I was the only fat brunette within a five-kilometre radius, which, far from making me stand out in a crowd of thin blondes, gave me amazing powers of invisibility. Nobody spoke to me for weeks. I set about trying to fit in. I bought Capri pants and a couple of pairs of slip on loafers. Still nothing. I volunteered to be the “Class Parent”, whose duties included making new mothers feel welcome, so I took myself out for a latte. I managed a sustained campaign of zeroing in on other mothers at the school, affecting what I thought was a pleasant smile, and endeavouring to make eye contact. The empty space around me at pick-up time appeared to grow a bit wider.

I made a note that many mothers were wearing tennis whites, so I bought some of those too. Three days a week I’d stroll in to school for drop-off looking ready for a quick hit, then go home, eat cake and smoke.

I would go to work, where I felt noticed and loved by the few people who’s lives had been entwined with mine for fifteen years, people who had come to my aid at five o’clock in the morning to help me find a lost cat, who arrived with flowers within hours of hearing of the birth of my children. We would marvel at my powers of invisibility and wonder how to remedy it. One of them came up with the crazy idea of me going up and saying “Hi”, just like that, but it was too freaky. By then the weeks of being unseen had sucked from me all but the courage it took to deliver my son to his classroom and scarper.

I spoke briefly to my new neighbour about my invisibility, “Nobody smiles at me,” I mewled.

Higher in the parenting ranks than me, she gave me a bemused look and an unsympathetic snort. “You can’t just go around smiling at EVERYONE.”

Of course not. Clearly I was on the edge.

Whilst watering her front lawn one afternoon she shouted across the street “Have you got any mates yet?”

Wounded that my friendless state had been broadcast to the entire street I decided to mount an attack and hollered in response “No. And how are your haemorrhoids today?”

“Fine,” she roared, an evil grin creeping over her face, “the abortion knocked them around a bit.”

In that second, the impenetrable armour of niceness and decorum that I had imagined to be cladding the women of the western suburbs seemed to dissolve and something within me shifted. It wasn’t them, it had been me all along.

The very next day I struck up my first conversation with another mother at the school. That we were discussing how I had just backed into her car simply didn’t seem to matter.

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