Retail therapy

6 May

On Saturdays, she thinks of the days when her mother and her brother always slept in.

Dad did the dishes and if they had lived in the city, she would have watched cartoons. When the dishes were done, she followed Dad to the green moke he drove, and they did the shopping down the street.

Her mother and her brother were still asleep.

She wore her netball uniform and Dad knew everyone. She stood nearby while he talked at some, nodded at the words of others. She pushed small stones into small piles with her feet or jumped around cracks or wrote monologues of things she should have said. Later on, she would ask for a dollar and go into the newsagent to buy a new book.

When he is listening to someone, Dad still folds his arms like that.

At Morrell’s, the girls behind the counter stuck pencils behind their ears and Dad said ‘a kilo of unwashed’. They added rows of numbers by whispering under their breath. You could pay by cash or cheque, the new Coles hadn’t opened yet and Tom’s didn’t sell much in the way of fruit and veg.

The butcher gave her fritz and talked to Dad about the pigeons he was racing that week. The butcher mumbled everything. She remembers the silver rail she would lean on and the mirror behind the meat.

By the time they got home, the washing machine was on. Was the laundry floor always flooded with clothes and suds?

They carried the shopping in and put it in the corner, just inside the kitchen door. Every now and then, when no one was looking, the cat got into the meat. Someone had to clean out the fridge every now and then. Their freezer was on the bottom, and it was something that everyone noticed. They said our freezer is on the top.

In the afternoons, she went to netball, her father went to hockey and her brother did whatever it is that younger brothers do. Her mother stayed home to sew houndstooth jackets and plant Chinese money trees.

In those days, they ate tea together every Saturday night and these days, when things go arse-up, it’s the Saturdays she thinks about.

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8 Responses to “Retail therapy”

  1. hasarder May 6, 2006 at 1:48 pm #

    Is it just me, or is butcher’s fritz not anywhere near as good as it was when we were young?

  2. Erica May 6, 2006 at 2:47 pm #

    Oh gosh, this very nearly made me cry. Lovely. I long for my childhood. I think I must be in a fragile mood.

  3. ThirdCat May 7, 2006 at 12:34 am #

    hasarder: we’re vegetarians these days, so I don’t know for sure, but I think you probably have to be a child to truly appreciate fritz.

    erica: likewise. But I do like being 37, too.

  4. Kate May 7, 2006 at 6:37 am #

    I don’t know what fritz is, I have to admit, but I down remember ‘going down the street’. In fact, I still do.

  5. Pavlov's Cat May 7, 2006 at 9:25 am #

    Kate — only South Australians know what fritz is. You grew up in NSW didn’t you? I believe there it’s called ‘Devon’.

    My local Coles has smiley-face fritz slices in the display fridge. Bloody long way from the Curramulka Deli, I can tell you. (ThirdCat, that’s what this post made me think of — going ‘down the town’, ie from the farmhouse, with my dad on Saturday mornings for a piano lesson while he went to the pub. If you were lucky you got a lemonade and raspberry, but only if you were lucky.)

  6. Drew May 8, 2006 at 12:46 am #

    Great post.

  7. ThirdCat May 8, 2006 at 11:55 am #

    Kate, playground legend has it that the principal ingredient in fritz is pig penis. That gives you some idea of the type of smallgood about which we speak.

    Ah, lemonade and rasberry. Often used to buy off a child who would rather be at home than in the pub. I’m repeating myself, but were they not the days?

    Thanks Drew.

  8. Kate May 9, 2006 at 3:53 am #

    Ahhhh devon. That explains it.

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