Prologue 4: Waiting in Melbourne Part 2.
We decided to take the trolley to and from anywhere we had to go, and leave the car where it was. I informed Derek that I would not be going with him to get the car. I would wait down on the street for him. I kept reminding him of that, telling him several times during the day that I did not want, under any circumstances, to ride in the elevator again. He didn’t say anything, in that vague kind of not saying anything way when you are not sure if it means “ya ok, no prob, you can wait for me” or “ya ok, no prob, you keep talking and believe whatever you want but you are coming with me and that’s that no need for me to discuss it with you further.” Derek is like that, he keeps his cards close to his chest.
Meanwhile, we trollied our little hearts out. All these young people kept standing up and offering us their seats, the ones that say they are reserved for the handicapped, mothers with small children or the elderly. Derek was quite put out that they were offering him a seat. I am not sure what he sees when he looks in the mirror. Maybe he thought that he had put on some weight around the middle and they thought he might be pregnant.
We ended up jumping off in the downtown area and as Derek grabbed my hand so we could run and catch the walk light up ahead, I managed to DEEEEEPLY massage my forehead with a metal sign. I started sobbing like a kid and he was hugging me, not so much to comfort me as it was to muffle the sounds of my wailing. I had to hit him so he would let go and I could breathe. He set me down on a bench seat and made me drink some water (his cure for everything) and wrapped my head with something – I suspect it was one of his tube socks. I had a goose egg. I was not feeling good. What kind of an idiot walks into a street sign? Not a young person, let me tell you. It had to be an taller, old person. The kind of person who just bought a caravan. I was starting to see a trend here and I didn’t like it.
I thought getting old was supposed to kind of be a gentle gradual thing like I would be walking down a dark road lit with twinkling stars and God would send an angel to help me carry my purse and explain to me that I might notice that I was not able to wrestle steers quite as effectively as I once did.
I liked even less that people were trying to help me and calling me “dear.” When did all the “patting” start? And, isn’t there some kind of a law that prevents random strangers from deciding you need to be patted and cooed at and talked to in that annoying voice that is all patienty and baby sounding? It sounds oddly like a preschool teacher talking to her kindergarten class only without hand puppets.
We wandered around the streets looking for something to eat, or for Derek to eat, I was still concussed and bandaged. We ended up caught in the Twentieth something Annual Greek Festival with 50 million other people. Derek found a seat for me at the end of the road, in front of a big stage where people were performing. He went to find food. I smiled at the 62 Greek grandmas that surrounded me. One of them leaned over and said, “are you Greek” I said, “no” and smiled. She said, “of course you are not,” and she patted my hand, made a clucking noise and whispered something to the other grandmas who were suddenly all shaking their heads. I don’t think I ever felt more like a failure in life than at that moment when I was pronounced definitely not Greek. When the elderly shut you down, it can be brutal. I realized that once again, everyone had lied. It wasn’t all over once you grew up. I thought I was marching miles away from that awkward time between being a child and not yet a woman when basically, none of the little girls wanted to hang with you because you kind of had boobs and none of the older girls wanted to hang with you because half a boob was a half a boob too short of the membership requirements.
So I was sitting there listening to people singing Greek songs that everyone else knew and I didn’t, and watching people dance and women who probably looked awesome in their spangled tight outfit twenty or so festivals ago but not so much anymore, trying to convey the sexy words of the song with charades using only their breasts and duck lips, when I heard loud voices. Turned out that there was a major demonstration going on at the left top of the T intersection where I was sitting. Not only were there demonstrators with picket signs, there were tons of policemen. I was in the middle and the right end of the T was filled with all the children’s exhibits like a jumping castle, face painting etc. Make sure you have this picture in your head, protestors and police on my left, me and the greek grandmother mafia in the middle, hundreds of children to my right, the mothers and fathers behind me.
A mother ran up to the grandmothers, joined by a couple more, the word was out. The protestors were going to try and take the stage, they needed to get the children, grandma, and get out before all hell broke loose. The protesters wanted the government to release the boat people being held at the detention centre. Then it was “where are the kids?” I could feel the panic rising.
I sat there thinking what an idiot I actually was. I deserved to be sitting with all the grandmas, left in the middle between the protestors and the stage, between the mothers and the children . . . left to probably die because we were all too fat to be tucked under someone’s arm and run with. Besides, worse than trying to run grandma out of harm’s way would be trying to detangle grandma from all the other grandma’s with their walkers and scooters. I was an idiot.
I probably deserved to die.
Again, I would like to point out this was not at all the lie I had been sold about slipping peacefully away, tucked into my bed at home, surrounded by loved ones.
I had done the stupidest thing ever in this day and age. Derek and I had wandered into a large crowd and separated from one another and all it would take would be for one person to panic and start running, real threat or not, and this would be an absolute nightmare. I had no idea which direction to run, or how to get back to the hotel, or even where Derek might be. Worse, what if someone started shooting or there was a bomb. Yup, I went from bored to massive hysteria with images of dead bodies and the evening news and a world tragedy and I forgot to put on clean underwear in like .0001 nanoseconds.
Then Derek showed up casually munching a gyros. “How’s it going?”
By the time we got home he said he was pretty sure I had a concussion, evidenced by my over the top behaviour and irrational fear which could only be described as that of someone suffering massive brain damage. I suggested he should probably stop talking to me, no way was I giving him back his tube sock and he should thank his lucky stars we were not both dead. It bugged me that he seemed to spend some time weighing that option.
The next morning we got in the elevator to leave and he pushed the up button.
“But I am going down to wait for you in the lobby?”
Nope, I wasn’t.
He had to back the truck out and do a few points of the turn so I could get in. The place was full. No idea how we were going to get back into the damn elevator. Derek decided we should back in so it made it easier to drive out when we got downstairs. I wanted to argue but I was already throwing up in my mouth.
We got in, but we were kind of at an angle and again, the beeping was going on, never sure between the elevator or the truck, and the doors were opening and closing, the elevator bouncing up and then down, door close open, close open, alarms going off . . .. We wiggled and moved the truck back and forth but nothing worked. We watched another couple come out and get in their car and I thought, oh my gosh, they are going to hate us, they will be waiting forever for a couple of old losers to figure out the damn elevator. But I soon forgot about them because the elevator was making a funny hissing noise and grinding.
“Drive out and turn the truck around properly.” I can’t be positive, but I am pretty sure I was screaming.
Eventually, he pulled out to try my idea of turning the truck around. I remembered the people waiting on us and glanced over and noticed that their vehicle was gone.
“Where did those people go? ” I turned every which way trying to find them. “I am serious, where ARE they? Is there a space they can turn around in or something on the other side?” I had Derek’s attention, we were both wondering where they had gone. He drove the car forward to the other side, and then we saw it. A big door labelled “EXIT.”
Derek swiped his card, we drove in, the doors closed and we were taken to the main floor. As we left the building in silence we could still hear the other elevator grinding and hissing, lurching up and then down, doors opening and closing, opening and closing . . . over and over again. We had broken the elevator.
Neither of us spoke for almost an hour.
“I wonder if they will allow seniors to even stay at that hotel anymore, being as we broke almost everything we touched?”
“Nope, not a chance.”
“How did we miss the other elevator?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
So no, there was no magical gentle angel talk on a starlit road. It was more like a hot frying pan in the face welcome to seniorville . . . . AND we had bought a caravan.
I think we might be dangerous.