Two lots of gold in fact. A story to keep me on the hated treadmill. And gist for a blog. So 20 minutes on the treadmill and the material for this blog.
The inspiration though originates with Lily Brett, a witty, seemingly scatty,commentator who is about my age, relates many of my experiences but is a far far superior writer.
I have just finished reading her last book ,Old Seems to be Other People. The short pieces , snapshots around experiences of aging , relationships, and death, capture the humour and pathos of the integral parts of our lives, older or not. One vignette that particularly resonates follows a conversation Lily hears on one of her regular walks through New York streets, this time to East River. The question she overhears ‘Do you masturbate?’sparks an entertaining, sharp commentary on vaginas and sex, and the reluctance we have to discuss those topics ,
This isn’t about either or both. You can read the piece ‘A Conversation’ for yourself. This is about the conversation I heard at the gym. As an aside, I have resolved to bite another bullet and go for a hearing test because a lot of the time I only heard snatches of an intriguing conversation (up until now it’s been an advantage sometimes to be a bit deaf in my house ).
Well , the theme of the discussion alongside me seemed to be relationships. A generalisation, but in my experience relationships is the governing theme of most women talk. Rightly so, we are caring , loving people. The opening gambit was about the rules and behaviours governing their respective households, in which a daughter, the daughters partner and a baby reside. That is, each woman has two and a half extras in her home. I wasn’t very interested in this, just thinking , how unremarkable : come on , only a couple and one baby living in your house ! You must have lots of space left over.
This winging inevitably led to a monologue about their own marriage and in the case of the woman I could hear most, her first marriage and why she left him. Much more interesting .
I wasn’t even allowed out on my own until….
Looking back my parents had a point
I was taken by surprise . We’d met a few times ( this is the second partner she met, after her first marriage ended)
He just looked away from the emotional baggage
I remember deciding , by the time my daughter goes to kindy. . I didn’t want her coming home to. (…?)
Some women just stay there . (Why ?)
It was most frustrating hearing only segments . I wanted to know how woman A, on my left, was taken by surprise. And what was the child coming home to ?. Woman B , who didn’t get much of a word in, had a lot of emotional baggage . But what exactly ? Woman A did not ask her as she was launching into the account of her own feelings about women who stay in poor relationships and didn’t seem interested in the other’s baggage. I could hardly ask her myself ; already I had looked to my left a few times to hear better and I think they suspected.
After 20 minutes on the treadmill, at a snails pace as they were able to keep up this call and response conversation throughout, they moved off. I slowed my treadmill . I have learnt from bitter experience to dismount slowly. Once only I pressed stop when moving at a faster than crawling pace , caught my right foot in the edge of the tread and fell. Embarrassing as well as a twisted shoulder, again.
Anyway, by the time I tentatively put both feet on the ground and waited for the head spin that always follows, the women had left. Pretty short gym session, talkfest really .
However I do have a blog. Also I was able to focus on my weights for the next half hour AND feel superior : I am faster on the treadmill, I am fitter than those two, despite my age, I have only been married once, I have more family living in my house. Most importantly, I just don’t have any emotional baggage. I reckon I look better than those chattering women. No, no emotional baggage, not me.
Thank you Lily Brett for showing me that eavesdropping in the name of writing is OK . Also that becoming old is grist for the writer’s mill. I love the book cover portrait too.
Lily Brett. Old Seems to be Other People. Australia:Random House,2021.