It’s Melbourne Cup day and it’s a tradition Zo and I do lunch. We both take Tuesday’s off, Zo put’s the bets on for us at the TAB on her way (Troy has done it for me so I wouldn’t have a clue), and all I have to do is turn up and look pretty. It’s a tough gig this year, given my knee and Zoe’s injury, but we decide to soldier on. I’ve got my hot pink buckle up stilettos on, (the heels and trim are of gold) and my matching hot pink dress (almost a top) criss-cross straps, highlighting my biceps, deltoids, traps and lats. Swimming has done nothing but enhance these, unfortunately I’ve also noticed it’s ever so slightly beginning to make my upper back quite wide, strengthening my lats, meaning my bras and shirts are quite snug. I do like the feeling of looking and feeling fit though. Who would have known only 4 weeks ago I couldn’t swim, decided to take some instructions from Dash and just watch others at the pool and there you have it, I’m now doing 2 km in 55 minutes and low and behold after some embarrassing practices, utilising the tumble turn to boot. I have gained no weight, and in fact, enjoying the swimming, mostly because I have absolutely all my favourite songs playing on my (Zo’s) I-pod shuffle. Think that will be my play list for my 40th if I ever get the party off the ground.
I pull up to Zo’s house in a taxi and she jumps in. She’s wearing this amazing white dress, that ties up on the side, just above the knee (conservative length for her), halter neck, low cleavage, long blonde hair, she looks stunning. She’s wearing a cobalt blue sling that goes perfectly with her shoes. Classic.
“hey babe” we hug as she jumps in. Henley Square, Ramsgate please” I instruct the taxi driver as he puts the pedal to the metal.
“how’s the weather?” I state rhetorically to Zo, as it’s a perfect spring day. The taxi driver must of thought I said “go hell for leather” because we had to hold and as we took a left turn at high speed. We get there in record time, pay and jump out. Well I don’t jump out, because I can hardly walk in these heels with my knee. I know what you’re thinking, why would you wear shoes you can’t walk in and give you pain in your knee or something like that. Am I right? Well it’s because I’m fucking short when I’m not in them, and I look good in them standing still and don’t judge me all right, it’s my vice, it gets me through, my boat that makes me float. We all have one (or two). There are way worse things I could be doing. Like the time I took my personal trainer out for lunch for her birthday and ordered a Coke and she told me how Coke was so bad for me after having just finished a story about her casual smoking addiction.
We start a tab at the bar, order a Rockfords Alicante Bouchet bottle with two glasses and settle at a table outside in the sports bar, in the sun, as we peruse the menu. It’s so delightful. Zo decides on a chicken Caesar salad, but I can’t bring myself to spend twenty one dollars on a salad when I can spend eighteen on a pizza. Vegetarian with extra chilli. As we wait for the meals to arrive, we discuss our exercise challenges.
“Jay, it looks as though you have put on no weight at all, in fact, I hazard to sat you look almost better than ever.”
“Well it’s warmish in the morning and in the heated pool, so it’s easy to get up and swim at 6am for an hour before work or school drop off. Easier than it ever was going to the gym that early. Won’t be as easy in winter, so not looking forward to that, but I have found the ‘swim trainer’ I can tie around the veranda pole near my pool. You put the Velcro around your waist and it’s attached to a ‘bungee cord’ [I use finger quotes as I say this] as you swim. It’s like a treadmill but aqua style. I’ve worked out on average, a song is 4mintues so if I swim for sixteen songs I do at least an hour of swimming, and that equates to approximately 2 kilometres. So when it gets colder, I’ll just pump up the pool temp with the gas heaters at home. And it’s improving my maths to boot!”
“How often are you swimming?”
“Every day at the moment. I’m loving the change. God I miss the gym and the music and the adrenaline you get form a kick ass class and the collective sigh when a track finishes and everyone feels it was as brutal as the next. The energy from the group class room, you just can’t beat it. But this is a close second. It’s a great workout and if feel like I’ve put in a good effort in the end. I’m even starting to master butterfly.”
“In 10 days?”
“What can I say, when I put my mind to something, I attack it. By the way, that job opportunity never got off the ground with Lincoln”
Zo asks why, and I explain they couldn’t deliver any concrete details to me in writing on the position, the money, the contract length, the hours or even who I’d be reporting to so I told him to come back when I’m unemployed or when they have real deal.
“It all sounded great, but I wasn’t going to leave my job for nothing on paper. He was really disappointed and told me it would be worth the risk, but you just don’t know with these things. I’m pretty sure I made the right decision”
“What did Troy think?”
“He didn’t give much input unusually, he seems pre-occupied to be honest”.
“Probably best you didn’t put too much energy into thinking about it then”.
“That’s all that Troy said too”.
Our meals arrive as we drain the last of the Alicnate. Then Zo gets a sniff of someone’s cigarette or as Dash calls them ‘fire sticks’ and says “we have to move”. I’m gobbed smacked, we’ve got the prime table, in the sun, the best view in the house of the big screen for the race and she wants to move? I say as much to her.
“I can’t stand the smell Jay you know that, I can’t eat with it wafting”.
“They’re outside the pub Zo at the door, I’m not moving”.
“Then we’ll sit separate then”.
“That’s ridiculous, just take a spoonful of cement Zo and put up with it”
“Take a spoonful of what?”
“Cement. Harden the fuck up”.
With that she skulls her wine, picks up her salad and storms off. I can’t believe it. It’s freezing inside the pub. What s her problem? I am NOT moving. Well I do move to go to the bar for some hard liquor, a bottle of red, I don’t even care what it is, I just grab the bottle, ask for a red wine glass and go back to my table where my pizza is waiting patiently for devouring. I’m enjoying it so much I don’t even notice the stares I’m getting for drinking and eating alone, from fellow Melbourne Cup lunch goers, women in fascinators and men in bow ties and silk shirts,. By the time Race Seven is due to start at 3pm I have almost finished my bottle, undeniably finished my pizza and am chatting amicably to a group of a younger version of my friends who have pulled up their chairs to my table. Because as I said, it’s the best seat in the house. One of the blokes buys me a gin and tonic, nothing I’ve ever really been keen on but all his girls are drinking it and I end up in a round with the 6 of them. We are loud for the Melbourne Cup, louder at dinner time and by the time the live band Wasabi comes on at 6pm I am dancing my ass off. The band is terrific, they merge 80’s and recent pop songs into each other and I’m having the time of my life, I don’t even feel my knee (though I’m not so drunk that I know I will feel it in the morning). It reminds me to tell a joke to my new BFF crowd
“What did sushi A say to Sushi B”
They look expectantly at me
They laugh, we dance. I finally see the time.. …I have 5 missed call, numerous texts and missed school pickup by about 6 hours.
The next day when I’m buying lunch at work from the local deli, I realise, I’ve left my credit card at the Ramsgate.