Category Archives: June 2012 Posts

Music and friendship

I’m one of six students crammed into my friend’s university campus room a few doors up from mine.  Eighteen students reside on our floor and in only a few weeks since starting Uni, Anna’s room has become the communal place for us to hang-out.  My portable CD player drops out of my bag, blaring Kylie Minogue.  Not one of her well-known hits, but a rarely heard B-side track.   Four of the people make groaning sounds and laugh at my choice of music.  I casually dismiss the mocking while one girl, Lisa, looks at me silently as I stop the music and put the player back in my bag.    

It’s 1995 and this is the moment my best friend, Lisa, began to like me.  Her affections came out of sympathy and awe; liking Kylie in Australia at that time was social suicide, and I didn’t bat an eyelid at everyone hearing that I was listening to the Aussie Pop Princess.  She felt sorry for me that I’d just lost social standing and was taken aback that I wasn’t even slightly embarrassed.  Our friendship remains strong to this day.

For decades my unashamed love of music that I’m berated for enjoying has contributed to me forming strong bonds.  Last year I clapped with excitement when I heard the introductory music of Miley Cyrus’s “Hoedown Throwdown” at a Step class and a fellow Stepper rolled her eyes at me.  Within thirty seconds of obeying Miley’s instructions to, “zig-zag across the floor, shuffle in diagonal” she turned to me smiling and gave me a thumbs-up.  We’ve been great friends ever since.   I gave her the hoedown and she taught me the lasso move – both now staples of our choreography.

Eliza listening to my "music-phone"

Eliza listening to my “music-phone”

More recently, music has helped me establish a connection with my nieces who beg to listen to my “music-phone”.  I have playlists that don’t need to be altered for children – much of my taste is directly designed for eight-year-old girls.  Nashville pop, High School Musical and Glee all fluttered their eyelashes at me and I passionately embraced their melodic wiles.

Of course, music has also created relationship rifts for me.  One boyfriend wouldn’t permit me to play music and is now an ex-boyfriend:  A house without music could never be my home.

Sometimes people are stubbornly attached to an image associated with a particular style of music; they may dress in a way they think reflects their musical taste, assume they know another person’s taste by the way they look, or infer a person’s values from the music they like.  This image attachment can suffocate their natural pleasure.  At a BBQ in Sydney on Saturday I journeyed with three new acquaintances to purchase alcohol.  In the huge Liquorland a familiar song came on the radio and I clapped with elation.  My companions similarly responded and loudly sang along to the energetic lyrics: “Every single time I see you, I start to feel this way.  Makes me wonder if I’m ever gonna feel this way again”. I smiled, “How can you not like Hanson?”  Horrified, they immediately stopped singing.  It was disappointing that they’d been happy until they realised the identity of the performer.  In just minutes we’d changed from a cheerful posse to a somber group of people trying far too hard to look cool; this, to me, is embarrassing.  With Hanson’s lively chorus continuing on in my head, I knew these acquaintances wouldn’t become friends.

Music makes me happy and I will bounce along as blissfully to Katy Perry as I will to my niece’s version of Puff the Magic Dragon until the day I die.  People will continue to make fun of me, but occasionally it’ll help me form some lasting relationships and it will always make me happy.  Music, blessed music.

A frog or a prince?

Once upon a time there was a little princess called Simone.  She wasn’t a traditional fairytale maiden with flowing blonde locks, refined features and a delicate slender frame; but a dark-haired girl with an average face and a sturdy hourglass body.  Still, as flawed as she was, she dreamed of one day standing before her empire as Queen Simone, her mighty King firmly by her side.  And that meant finding a prince.

As a young girl she searched her own land in the New World for a royal suitor, but the Land of Oz is vast and its population limited: her prince was nowhere to be found.  She knew she had to get in her carriage and journey on the yellow-brick road to other kingdoms; so, when she finished university, she voyaged to the Old World to continue her search.

She kissed many frogs:   In fact she had dinner with frogs, watched movies with frogs and even saw a few frogs naked.  On two occasions in fifteen years her heart filled with hope when she met first one prince and then another, but they each chose princesses from other realms.  The Australian prince selected a beautiful olive-skinned princess from Italy, and the English prince went with a plain, but intelligent, blue-eyed princess from New Zealand.

Princess Simone never gave up hope, but she carried on her search less fervently; enjoying her life filled with the constant distractions of daily activities.  Work and socialising kept her busy and happy.  In time, she figured, her prince would show his face.  Then in 2012 she met a man in a Melbourne café and her spirits soared.  He looked like a prince, he sounded like a prince, he smelled like a prince … could he actually be a prince?

The week they met was a wondrous whirlwind of courtship.  Each evening, after Mark had fulfilled his princely duties at the café, they went out.  They saw a theatrical performance, heard the great musicians for which Melbourne was renowned, and laughed at the jesters the city’s comedy circuit provided.  Princess Simone saw Mark’s castle which was tremendously stylish, even in comparison to her beautiful temporary palace of residence at the Four-Trees Apartments.

On the night before she was due to return to her mother’s abode, she met Mark for dinner at an excellent Italian restaurant in Hardware Lane.  They chatted over a glass of wine and ordered their food.  Mark spoke excessively harshly to the waitress for making a tiny error, humiliating her and contributing to her nervously spilling some water.  “Is this how he treats his own service staff?” Simone wondered, troubled and embarrassed by his behaviour.

As Mark filled her in on his day, a strange thing happened.  His words started to blur and her eyes glazed over.  Soon, all she could hear was, “Ribbit …. ribbit … ribbit”.  “His words have no substance”, she thought.  “And, we have nothing in common.  It’s just not there between us – he’s not my prince”.  Simone realised that in the week’s carnival of activity and mead drinking, they hadn’t really talked to each other; they’d been so busy being entertained that they hadn’t established if they entertained each other.  They didn’t.

After a dinner that dragged, they finished their coffees and left the restaurant.  Princess Simone kissed Mark farewell, boarded her tram and watched him hop away.  He wasn’t an entirely bad frog (waitress incident aside) and he might be someone else’s prince but for her this fairytale didn’t end with a “happily ever after”.  Her search continues.

Love bites

A sunny winter morning in Melbourne.  I’ve risen early and the shops are yet to open so I’ve entered “Bites”, an inviting café in a small cobbled lane, to spend some time pondering life over a coffee.  Local artwork hangs around the walls and there’s a calming atmosphere as the delicious breakfast smells of sizzling bacon and freshly baked bread waft through.  The young dark-haired girl at the counter looks up in anticipation of my order.    

Me:  A long black please.  Just a small one. 

An attractive man in his late thirties approaches from the kitchen behind her and smiles at me.

Man:  Hello again.  You came back … and you have new glasses.  Very nice.

Me (slightly taken aback that he’s remembered me and noticed my glasses): Yes, I did and yes I have.

Man:  How was Sydney and how was Daniel Kitson?

Me (my heart beating a little faster):  Okay and excellent.  Jeez, you’ve got a good memory.   

I was in this café in March and had a brief conversation with this man, the café owner.  I’d been heading to Sydney the following week so we’d had a quick debate about the vices and virtues of the two cities.

As another two customers enter, the girl passes me my coffee and I take a seat on a large wing-back chair.  Soon the place is buzzing and out of the corner of my eye I see the café owner approach.  Smiling nervously, he takes a seat next to me.

Man:  So how long are you in Melbourne?

Me:  I leave in three days – enough time to catch up with people.  I’m staying in the Four-Trees Apartments so it’s a good location.

Man:  Oh there’s a great bar next door to the Four-Trees: The Benchmark.  They have a massive wine list … what are you up to tonight?

Me:  I’m meeting some friends for dinner ….

Man:  Ooh, excuse me for a second.

Our conversation has been interrupted by a customer dispute at the counter; he has to intervene and remains occupied for a quarter of an hour.  I want to talk to him again, but if I linger any longer I’ll look desperate so I leave.

I walk two blocks to Chapel Street and make a decision; for the first time in my life I will take the initiative with a guy and give him my number.  Leaning against a shop window, I write my name and phone number on the back of a receipt (first checking that it wasn’t for any embarrassing purchases!) and walk back to the café.

As I enter he looks up and smiles, a curious (or hopeful?) flicker in his eye.  I approach the counter.

Me: I just thought I’d give you my number in case you’d like to go for a drink while I’m here. (There, I’d done it!).

Him:  I was going to ask you but you left!  Hang on a minute …

He reaches for something under the counter.  I panic wondering if he’s going to ask me to dial his phone so that he’ll have my number on it … my hands are shaking so much that there’s no way I’ll be able to smoothly press the digits.  It’s a bloody miracle I kept my voice so stable when I came in.

Him:  Here’s my card – it’s got all my contact details on it, but I’ll give you a call later today to arrange a drink for tomorrow night?

Me:  Sure, that sounds good.

I confidently walked away; proud that I’d finally (at the age of 35) managed to make the first move.   And I stayed in Melbourne longer than three days …