My mum came to stay and help out for a little while, enabling Jase to return to work and catch up on his projects. He joked with someone the other day that he only ever takes sick leave because of me, to which I quipped, “If he would stop moving me around on postings, I might have a chance to accrue some leave.”
Anyhow, my mum was in town to help out and we had an outing one day into town. We were dropped off by the taxi outside one of the two shopping centres in town (Alice Springs has a population of 30,000 so we don’t have loads of shops). As we wandered along, browsing in the window of the chemist and shoe store, I commented on the ‘weirdness’ of window-shopping in Alice. Usually if I go shopping, I know exactly what I want and go to the one store in town that is likely to have it. Despite this we pass a pleasant hour browsing and amused ourselves in the home wares store, commenting judgmentally on some of the ridiculous kitchen utensils now available, you know, banana cases, avocado slicers, specialty garlic peelers, juicers and many other things most commonly done by hand without much effort at all.
After our gawking we stopped for a snack and coffee and chatted until I began to feel a bit fatigued. We then ventured into the supermarket for a swift raid and it was here that my brain decided it was done with the outing. Thursday afternoons can be busy enough, as it’s often payday for many people, add tourist season and the supermarket late afternoon, is chaotic.
I told mum I couldn’t stay, as I felt completely overwhelmed by the noise and colours. She valiantly offered to do the shopping, telling me to go find a seat until she was done. I did as instructed, finding a seat outside the checkouts so I could find her easily. As I waited, I noticed that every child walking past turned to look at me. Initially I was curious as to why but slowly it dawned on me that it must be the eye patch.
Then one kid, maybe eight years old, caught my attention as his head nearly spun off as he did the double take to stare at me. Not long later he approached again with his dad and younger sibling. As they reached the seat, he let go of his dad’s hand and stopped right in front of me, smiled nervously, waved at me and shyly said hello. I said hello back and he then added, “You look like a pirate.” “Is that so?” says I. He grins and takes off to re-join his family and I noted he spoke rapidly to the younger boy and pointed in my direction. They both took another look at the Pirate before disappearing from sight. He was very cute and quite brave as well, I thought. Although, I admit to myself that I wish I had thought faster and answered him in a gravelling ‘pirate’ voice and scared the life out of him, but alas, a missed moment of hilarity.
Fortunately for my rapidly fading self, Jason was able to pick us up and drive us home. In the car, I was telling mum about the boy who spoke to me and we were having a laugh about it when Jason indignantly interjected. “So it’s ok for a boy to call you a pirate but when grown men talk about it, its not. Just what exactly is the age where it goes from being funny to not?” I looked at him considering a number of responses (no, not all of them polite), mum jumped in with an answer, “The age when they should know better.” It may not be right but it feels very different when a child, almost reverently, thinks I might be a pirate to when adult men, deliberately call me out about wearing a patch for the purpose of making fun of me. That said, I’m thinking of hiring myself out to entertain at kid’s parties – I could make a fortune.