Dad said once, “ and we were in a queue behind a woman just like from Kath and Kim, you know skinny, not like she worked out or jogged but like she smoked 40 a day.”
That kind of woman. I like her. She's always got a story to tell.
At the pub, I aligned myself with them. I was the bad barmaid returned and gone virginal through pregnancy. I was swelling and juicy and maternal. All the lunch time blokes looked after me and the women suddenly swayed from seeing me as a matrimonial threat to a potential sister. They began to confide in me, as I covered my condition with a hippy orange and purple shawl.
“My husband doesn’t like me wearing purple,” one said.
“I don’t have a husband,” I said, wrapping my shawl tighter around myself and pouring them a sherry.
I was just starting on the early 90’s feminist texts at the time and reciting them like any good fundamentalist. Paglia, Greer, Starhawk and Marilyn French. Even Erica Jong didn’t go down so well in the front bar of the Royal George Hotel. The women didn’t like it but everyone else put up with me.
One day, a woman walked in with her partner. She was beautiful, a model, elegant, so, so thin, smooth skin, glittering and untouchable. Like an alien landed in our town, like a deer in the cross hairs; she looked around at us barflies, wide-eyed and hyper alert.
“Looks like she needs a good feed,” muttered Soupy and the bar cracked up.
That afternoon a girl I know was raped by a man in the gated alcove where the spare kegs were stored. We forgot all about the model, when Eve came in to the bar with mascara, tears and punch marks streaking her face.
The locals tossed back the drinks I served them, confident that she’d deserved it because Eve was an uppity, challenging bint, and so they turned their faces away. Eve left as soon as she realised her pack had turned against her. I poured them another drink and I did not follow her as she walked up the hill.
It doesn’t matter how many times I was pregnant, or the babies I’ve had, or what I've said or the books I’ve read or written. Eve hasn’t talked to me much, since that day.