To my surprise the children and I enjoyed Ghost. I had forgotten that it was full of intrigue, suspense and comedy!

The highlight of the movie for my children was overwhelmingly Whoopie Goldberg’s performance. Watching it through their eyes and experiencing their reactions made me appreciate Whoopie more than I did when I watched it way back on its release. My memory of her in Ghost had been scant, and condensed into the scene when Patrick commands her body. I had awkwardly been anticipating this scene but it was pulled off as credible in the context of the movie.

Another highlight for my children was the pottery scene before his death.

“OMG”, said Kat, “they do that scene on Family Guy!” Apparently on Family Guy there is a scene where Peter gets a massage by Demi and Patrick and his back turns into pottery…

“Very good”, said I feeling as though I was adequately performing my parental role as custodian of cultural knowledge, “more cultural references that you now understand!” I added Peter’s pottery massage to the comedian Ross Noble’s on-stage encounter with Patrick Swayzee’s ghost on my growing list of points towards their cultural education. The next one had to be an appreciation of the original sound track ahead of the cover version of Time of My Life.

Before discussing their reactions to Dirty Dancing, I would like to reflect a little more on Ghost, and in particular, the young Demi Moore. My reaction to seeing young Demi on the home screen was of instant familiarity. Not only did I remember loving her in the movie the first time I saw it, but I also remembered having my hair short back in the day, wearing baggy high-waisted trousers and vests, and being relatively flat chested. Demi in that movie represented a femininity of the eighties: independent, without make-up, without breast enhancement, creative, spontaneous. She represented the young eighties woman’s psyche, and I had lived it. It was slightly confronting, suddenly facing the caricature of my young-self’s aspirations. As well as shocking me with familiarity, and provoking reflexive consideration of who I was back then, I was confronted with the immediate capacity to compare my teenage world to the world offered as iconic to my own and other teenaged girls today. How different is young Demi in Ghost to modern representations of girl-power!

Whether movie characters reflect or set societal trends, young Demi’s influence on me (or her reflection of the world I inhabited as a teenager) was inescapable evidence of the power of the trend. I was not as individual as I thought I was! Messages filtering into my daughters’ psyches about what it means to be a girl differ greatly from those of my youth, but we have all been subjected to them. I sympathised with my daughters. Living up to the world’s expectations these days would be tough.

To be continued (next up, Dirty Dancing)…

Inspired when my daughters all sang along to the Black-Eyed Pea’s ‘Time of My Life (dirty bit)” on the car radio, I hired “Dirty Dancing” on DVD. And thus began our Patrick Swayzee marathon.

I came home from the Video shop with weekly-hire copies of Dirty Dancing and Ghost. The kids chose Ghost to watch first. I think the reason for their choice was curiosity. I’d taken them to see Ross Nobel (the comedian) live at the Palace Theatre in St. Kilda during Melbourne’s Comedy Festival last year. One of Ross’ themes during his act was Patrick Swayzee’s ghost and I remember laughing but also feeling slightly guilty. It’s not that the scene on Ghost doesn’t need to be sent up, and that Ross’ miming of on-stage affection with Patrick’s ghost was not the perfect way to do it… it’s just that poor Patrick himself is now really a ghost, and that’s a sad thing in any individual’s life.  Thus my laughter was tempered. It was also tempered by the thought that my children would not have understood the references. The question on all of their lips was, Who is Patrick Swayzee? And the question on the younger one’s lips could possibly have been, Why is Ross gyrating?

As we set up Ghost on our home cinema and lay back in our red recliner chairs I was sceptical as to whether a movie from the eighties (which I could hardly remember) would entertain these children of mine, born into the modern era. They have high expectations. They don’t like films that moralize (when I grew up I had no choice). They are fussy about special effects and general cinematography (such as appropriate camera angles and whether the director has panned or zoomed in appropriately). They don’t like cheesy. They do like ‘random’ (as in ‘Hot Rod’). They do like suspense. And they do like genuinely sentimental (such as in ‘Up’).

If you haven’t seen Ghost in awhile, I’ll give you the opportunity to view it for yourself before I continue with their reactions and my reflections…

(To be continued).

To women

August 1, 2009

I’ve written elsewhere that women are brilliant company but what I wanted to write about today was an overwhelming sense of women as wonderful support for each other. I feel lucky to be a woman and to therefore qualify as a recipient for this.

You know something about life when you embrace change. Change is a large part of life. Just when you think you’ve got a stage of life worked out, another stage is upon you. There’s nothing to bring this home more than being a parent. When I was a parent of babies, I looked towards them growing up as a time of reduced parental input. I’m not saying that reaching this imagined stage of reduced parental input was something I aspired to or held in trepidation, I’m just saying that it was an assumed given from the perspective of one who attended to the needs of small people.

Attending to small people was a significant adjustment to make. It was recognised as significant because support groups would spring up out of the community to help you cope. Play groups for example. (They are called play groups, but a larger function of these groups is social contact between women all making similar adjustments in their lives). There is a lot to learn as a new parent, and it helps when you don’t have to do it alone. I look back to the women I spent my play group years with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and connection.

Recently I attended a mothers day luncheon put on by my eldest daughter’s secondary school. I wasn’t intending to go. You know the feeling? Too much work on, not enough time, wouldn’t know anyone (Kat’s only been at this school a year). But as it happened, one of my colleagues (the L from this story as a matter of fact) has a daughter who has been at this school all the way through. She always attends the social functions and she convinced me to go.

The luncheon was a success. I met a few new people, but mostly L took me under her wing and  sat me at her table. Most of the women sharing L’s table had one or two children older than my Kat. They had all experienced (and survived) parenting teenagers. They shared stories of their survival and I was in awe.  My teenager is finding the years fraught with adjustment and difficulty. It was after sharing some of my current experiences that one of the women turned to me, placed her hand on my arm with warmth and reassurance and said, “why do we have playgroups when the children are little? Its when they are teenagers that we need the most support!”

Its true! When our children are teenagers, so much else is happening in life. Many of us have gone back to work. Our role as ‘parent’ doesn’t seem to warrant the same support. Its not an immediate topic of conversation. Yet it is a difficult parenting stage.

After the mothers day luncheon I fell bolstered and refreshed. The next social occasion is a cocktail party for the opening of the new library. This time I won’t need L to convince me to go. I’ll be there, I’ve found my new “playgroup”.

Compromise and Dignity

June 24, 2009

As you know, my sister and I are planning a ‘surprise’ party for my father to celebrate his 70th birthday. What was to be a surprise party at my place with perhaps a three-piece jazz ensemble and home made-pizza from the oven (see pics) has spiraled into something completely different. We decided to involve my father in the organisation.We needed his input concerning who to invite. Once he was involved, his ideas had to be factored into the equation. The result was like a domino effect as all concerned exhibited their predictable traits, especially when in negotiation with each other.

Jeffs Camera 22.04.09 043

Jeffs Camera 22.04.09 042

Here’s what happened:

The players are my sister, my brother, my father, my brother’s wife, my children and me.

My sister had dad around for dinner to break the silence about the party plans, save for one surprise element.

Dad rang me a week later to discuss his own plans. He had been to two other seventieth parties, one at Sky High on Mt Dandenong and the other at a suburban RSL club. He’s the sort of person, who takes a good idea on board and thinks its the only way to go.  As far as he was concerned, his party would be either at Sky High or a suburban RSL.

The surprise element was my brother John and his family’s attendance at the party, down from Queensland. But my brother’s wife, Kaz, emailed me to say her folks would come up from Tassie for the party. She asked me to suggest accommodation for them. Dad often likes to put interstate visiting relatives up at his place. I gave him the option, and in doing so unavoidably “spilt the beans” .

A day or so later, my sister phoned me to tell me off. “Did you tell dad John was coming down from Queensland for the party?” was her accusation.

I explained how it came about but my sister continued her tirade. She was not happy. She did not approve of dad’s preferred venues. “I’m not going to an RSL club”, she ranted. And she did not approve of dad hijacking the organisation. “If dad wants to do that with his friends, he can. But as far as I’m concerned thats up to him. We can do a family thing separately”, she determined.

In the past I may have become cross with my sister. This time however, I explained to her that it was a special occasion for dad and that it would make him happy to have his family and friends together (perhaps for the only time), a seventieth was a special occasion and she wouldn’t have to stand around chatting to his friends because there would be enough family there for our separate table. I told her that she didn’t have to do anything. That I would work with dad to get the invitations out. I promised we wouldn’t go to an RSL, but that I’d booked Sky High for a buffet lunch on the Saturday (his actual birth date) and it would all be okay.

She calmed down. She said she wanted to go for a family drive and lunch at a winery perhaps at Kinglake to survey the township recovering from the fires and support local businesses there. I agreed this was a good idea, especially with our interstate guests staying for the weekend, and suggested we could do that as well, perhaps on the Sunday.

I spoke with dad after getting off the phone with my sister to confirm with him that a buffet lunch at Sky High was booked, and immediately my arrangements were blown ‘sky high’. He expressed his preference for their function room, which he had found out could  serve finger food from two until five in the afternoon for twenty dollars a head. I expressed my preference for a sit down lunch (I was considering two things: 1. the boredom factor for my children; 2. Seventy-plus people standing around in a cocktail situation. And I sensed EPIC failure). I expressed my reservations to dad and he agreed to reconsider it.

A state of limbo lasted for about two weeks after which time I phoned dad to give him the hurry on. “Have you decided what you want to do yet? We need to get on with the invitations! Its only seven weeks away”. Dad re-expressed his preference for the 2-5 time slot, assured me his friends were all fit enough to mingle in this way. I told him to book it asap, cancel my lunchtime booking and get the contact list to me so I could start phoning for people’s email addresses (dad doesn’t have a computer). Dad expressed such deep gratitude that I had rung him to basically manage him into getting a move on that he almost cried. “You’re a great daughter”, he gushed.

Anyway, he sprang into action. He bounced into my place last weekend with his contact list, reporting that the Sky High was booked. He apologised that there were over double the number of people he originally thought he’d invite. He’d grouped them into categories: Bushwalking Club, Cycling Club, friends, Family and had found himself thinking of more and more people as he wrote.

The contact list was written in his familiar draughtsman-style neat and precise handwriting. I’ve been making calls to the hundred or so on the list. “Hi, I’m jenne, Bill’s daughter”. “Oh is Bill alright?”. “Yes, I’m helping him organize his seventieth birthday…” etc. My kids have reacted to my activity in various ways:

Emma, “Are you ringing Poppy’s Pals again?”. (I laughed so much that I wrote the heading on the list, “Poppy’s pals”).

Rosie, “That must be the most boring and tedious job, talking to old people all day”.

Kat, “Don’t expect us to ring all of your old friends when you are seventy, mum”.

I finished contacting every one after two days. I sent the email out last night and have seven letters to post for people not connected to ‘the net’. I’ve called for people from different aspects of dad’s past and present to make speeches on the day.  My brother was the first to be nominated (by his wife), and I’m looking forward to securing other speakers as the rsvps come in.

With a sense of achievement I reflected on the process of compromise. Originally my sister and I would have taken all the organisation out of dad’s hands. What has been achieved now is a party for my father which he feels as though he has organised  by himself. Its reaffirmed him as an agent in control of his own life. I’d forgotten something about him: he organises weekly cycling trips for his riding group, and leads bushwalks for his walking club. He is a very capable organiser in his own right. Usually with his daughters he steps back (and often he grumbles from the side-line). Not this time! Isn’t that great? I’ve learnt that he doesn’t need to be treated like a child. He needs some support. But he doesn’t need to be stripped of responsibility.

When somebody loves you

February 3, 2009

I have memories of Melbourne when it was a much smaller city than it is now. The place where I grew up, Lower Templestowe, used to be refereed to as “the sticks” because it was on the fringe. My family and I rarely went into the city, even though it was only a fifteen kilometre journey. The rare occasions were at Christmas time to see the Myer windows and when our father took us into his work substation in Carlton (he worked for what was called the Tramways Board back then).

There was no direct route from Lower Templestowe into the city back then. You had to drive through Kew and Richmond. Past the factories in Victoria Street Richmond the Skipping Girl Vinegar neon sign and Coppertone sign showing a dog pulling down a girls knickers were highlights of the drive. 

It was a big deal when the Eastern Freeway was built. It was massive to Melbourne standards. Four lanes each way and a good six kilometers long. I was fourteen when my friend Kaz and I decided to ride our push bikes along the freeway prior to its opening. We entered at its starting point off Bulleen Road, with no real plans about where we were heading. We took packed lunches. 

The freeway was smooth to ride on, quiet and pretty. It’s flanked by golf courses. We rode for a few kilometers before deciding to have lunch. We parked our bikes and hopped over the low fence onto one of the golf courses. Not knowing anything about golf, we chose a lovely mown circular patch of grass for our picnic. 

Kaz’ mother had a knack with oranges. She had a tool that cut the peel around its diameter. It was then possible to peel the oranges in two half circles. It was like magic really. The skins just peeled right off and retained their shape. You could put them back together again and it looked like a whole orange. Or you could put the half-oranges inside your top and it would look like you actually had tits! I can’t remember who did it first, but I do remember rolling around on the green laughing until I cried when Kaz paraded around with one inside her bike shorts against her crotch.

Now days, the freeway extends way beyond Bulleen Road and Melbourne extends so far beyond the suburb of my childhood that it is just about metropolitan. A lot has changed. Kaz left school to become a dental nurse. She married, had two daughters and moved to the country. I stayed on at school and went through uni. 

Despite only seeing Kaz a couple of times after we both had children, she sent me a christmas card every year. My kids don’t remember Kaz. They only know her as ‘the one who sends mum a Christmas card every year even though she never sends one back’. This is no reflection on the way I felt about Kaz. I just sucked at writing cards. When my kids were younger and before I went back to work I made the effort, enlisting the kids’ help like a production line. But I haven’t written one for years. The kids have wizened up and they have their own to write. Sometimes I send out group emails for Christmas but I didn’t have electronic contact details for Kaz.

On Saturday morning I received a phone call from one of our mutual friends to inform me that Kaz had passed away. “What? How could this happen?” I asked, possibly naively but definitely out of shock. After I listened to a description of the diseases that ended Kaz’ life, the caller and I shared an emotional moment. “She loved you Jenne”, I was told.

The first day I found out about Kaz’ death I was in shock. I had no way to express my grief. I was agitated and confused. On the second day, I was less emotional and felt a sudden renewed awe for life. On the third day (today) I bought a beautiful bunch of twenty mixed roses from the market spontaneously. “They’ll last longer in the heat if you cut the stems every few days and put ice in the water”, the florist told me. As I arranged the flowers at home I thought of Kaz. I don’t know how to grieve but having the flowers there as a representation seemed to help a lot.

I must be feeling vulnerable because one of those friendship chain emails just sent to me brought tears to my eyes. I wouldn’t say that I’m shattered after The Oaks yesterday, but I am ‘worse for wear’. 

I wore a new pair of shoes. The leather was fairly stiff and I chose bare skin rather than ‘stay-ups’ (my choice of stocking). This was a mistake. After ignoring hot spots on my feet all day, at the end of the day we had a long walk out of Flemington to endure, along with tens of thousands of other patrons due to a failure in the train system. There were literally no trains to or from Flemington from 4.30! With the last race at around 5pm, you can imagine the chaos this caused. The result for me was red raw skin on every toe – the worst case of blisters I have ever experienced EVER (and this includes other endurance activities like bushwalking, XC skiing and rogaining). 

I should have either stuck with the remarkably comfortable heels I bought in Florence or packed a pair of thongs (flip-flops for those of you not from Australia). In my Florence heels last year I went the distance at the races and danced the night away. Not this year. I had two invitations from two different groups of girlfriends to party on. One group left in a bus, and another group left the racecourse by boat. Each were heading into the city for dinner and to kick on afterwards but my feet cried out for mercy. I declined both invitations. Trudging out of Flemington on foot was not what I had in mind though. Luckily, a local lass drove her car in and was able to pick our walking party up a kilometer or two out from the course. Unlike other punters who were left stranded or walking all the way from Flemington into the city, we were rescued.

Here is a solution we didn’t think of:

And last night I didn’t sleep a wink. I’ve been off caffeine for months, but drank two caffe lattes at the Oaks (in between the sparkling wine). Consequently I lay awake like a porcelain doll without eyelids. Laying in bed awake I experienced the unusual feeling that I still had my hat on my head. All day I had become accustomed to it being like a sensory extension. With the hat extending high above and around my head I became attuned to wind currents. If you have ever had sea legs after being on a boat all day, then you might be able to imagine how my neck and head retained the memory of resisting the motion of the hat.

The hat was a hit. I received lots of lovely and some funny comments. The comments about it as a satellite dish wore thin. The most original comment I received for the day was from a guy who asked if I had brought along a spatula and was intending to cook up a stir-fry, and if so could he have some.

My luck on the ponies really only started at the second-last race. I decided to ignore all common sense. I read the field and waited for psychic premonitions. In this way I picked the last two winners. Someone heeded my premonition and placed a $50 bet to win. Sadly this wasn’t me. I tend to bet more conservatively ($10 is my limit per race). 

You’d think reading this that my day at Flemington was so so. Not so! I’m just in a tired funk atm. Yesterday was glorious weather wise. The atmosphere was like a relaxed party party. I shared a table with five girlfriends (and one of their hubbies, who is also a friend). It was one of those enjoyable days that takes you outside of normal life. You feel different, lighter. You almost forget you are a mum. lol.

ps. I charged my camera ready to take. So I thought! My girls had been playing with it the night before and it was all out of battery. I’ll have to rely on photos sent to me from my friends before I can post them here. Please bear with a short delay. Oaks Day photos coming soon xx

The regime begins

September 24, 2008

I’m currently down at our beach house. Its school holiday time. I brought my bike with me. Its around this time every year that I start training for ‘Around the Bay In a Day’. This is a non-competitive endurance cycling event. 

This afternoon I went for my first training ride. I put on my new ‘Around the Bay’ bike gear. Its the first time I’ve purchased the official gear. I wasn’t used to the feel of heavily padded bike shorts. Walking around in them, I felt as though I had a nappy on. Once on the bike, the awkward feel went away. I reflected that ducks walking on solid ground or seals flopping around on rocks would have had similar feelings about their especially-designed equipment.

I headed off on my own, leaving the kids back at the house with the eldest in charge (who negotiated payment in babysitting money before I left. She has unfortunately developed enjoyment in shopping for clothes and with that an appreciation for money). 

The quietude of farmland and coastal views sent me into ‘the zone’. I love the feeling of moving under my own steam and picking up speed down hills. I felt wonderful. Until I came to a particularly quiet stretch. I was enjoying the peace until a large van passed me. It reminded me of the movie ‘Jindabyne’. In the movie a man stalks and kills a young girl driving home by running her off the road with a van (that’s just the beginning of the movie, the rest is about the group of men fishing who find her body. Worth seeing if you haven’t already. Its quirky). I wish that I hadn’t had that association though. Because I suddenly felt rather vulnerable riding out there on my own. I got over it when I picked up a more frequented stretch for the rest of the ride. 

I arrived back to our place as the sun was setting. All the warmth had gone out of the day and I cooled down very quickly. A few minutes after hopping off the bike I could hardly walk. I had more pain than the usual pain of sitting on a bike seat for a long time. My kids had no sympathy. Sitting and standing were difficult manoeuvres, requiring large groans which my kids began to mimic. I’m happy to say that after taking off the new ‘Around the Bay’ bike shorts and warming up, the pain is somewhat relieved. However the ride today was only a quarter of the distance I need to be fit for!

This morning I was waiting for the kettle to boil for my first cuppa at 7.15am. I was in my pink toweling dressing gown and hadn’t even washed the sleep out of my eyes, when out through the kitchen window, I saw the builder and the plumber. The builder waved and smiled as our eyes met but he didn’t stop. The two men were walking with far too much momentum down the side of our property to slow. The heavy work boots probably also make it harder to decelerate. 

I knew the builder, but didn’t recognise the plumber. In fact when I saw him I thought he was the builder’s apprentice. The lad looked too young to be a tradie in his own right. The two men (young and older) stopped near our water tanks and began a conversation with each other. I couldn’t hear what they were talking about because they were out in the back yard and I was inside eating breakfast at the table (by this stage) and we were separated by a distance and double-glazed windows. 

They stood with their backs to me. I admired the form of the young man. It was then I remembered that around this time last year I was in Florence

In Florence I experienced being surrounded by statues of the male form in public squares. I queued for three hours in forty degree heat (celcius) to view the statue of David. How the sculptors of those times must have seen beauty in that form! I wonder now whether the sculptors reflected their society in this reverence. If so, it seems to me that I have grown up in a society vastly different on that score.

Does our society tend to revere female beauty more than male? I think it might. 

When I was a young woman, it was female beauty I noticed more. I compared myself to the standards of female beauty set by fashion and media. When I went to night clubs, I noticed what other women looked like. I would critique them in my head and compare myself to them. Now I wonder if I had been swept up in societal values, to the detriment of my own sexuality. Its almost as though I looked through a male perspective at myself and other women.

As I have often said, when I was young I didn’t appreciate young men. But now I do – I really do. I find the male form incredibly beautiful and sexually attractive – much more so than I did in my teens or my twenties. (In my teens I went for the pretty boy face, and in my twenties I was too busy establishing my place in the workplace and treating men as equals to really take stock). 

I discussed my sudden attraction to young men with lots of women around my age. When they confessed similar feelings, I decided it was cruel trick of mother nature’s played on older women. But two years ago, the return of sexual desire after a period of intense motherhood hit me like an avalanche. I’m much more comfortable with it now. I’m content to admire from a distance…

… and I might see about getting one of those statues for my garden!

Retrospectively…

July 11, 2008

The first time I travelled without my husband and children was two years ago. I went to a conference to present a paper written about my Masters thesis and it went down well. My primary occupation prior to this had been parenting for thirteen years, punctuated only in the last five years of this with part time teaching and postgraduate study.

Full time parenting was a wonderful stage of my life. The displacement I experienced after leaving full time teaching was supplanted gradually and completely by the challenges and joys of raising four daughters, whose development I found fascinating. During those years, I was cocooned in a completely fulfilling world of unconditional love. Raising my children I felt a sense of purpose and direction beyond rationality. Yet during those years, from a societal perspective I was largely invisible. After so many years, I think it was inevitable that invisibility seeped into my psyche. It took hold by stealth.  

When my youngest went to school and I was suddenly bereft of constant childish companionship, I realised I had become accustomed to hiding behind my children. The first time I went to the market alone, for example, I felt disconcerted by the direct gaze of the familiar store holders. I had grown accustomed to their eye contact being drawn away from me by a child vying for attention. Without a child holding on to my leg or my hand, I felt exposed and incomplete. I didn’t know how to be

That first conference was a marked stage in my journey of finding myself again as an individual and as a professional person with something to contribute to society (in a way that was recognised). Suddenly in my forties I find myself no longer invisible! I can hardly describe the turmoil I have experienced between then and now. Even the word turmoil isn’t quite right because it doesn’t convey the excitement and sense of adventure rediscovering yourself engenders. 

I have referred to the past two years as my mid life crisis. I know that its over because I feel solid again. I have reconciled new-found freedom with my responsibilities.  Parenting is still a large and important part of my life, but there’s a me in there too who can stand on her own two feet. Ah life.

Herman and I hit it off. We met through a mutual friend initially on a group skiing holiday. The ski holiday was an annual event with this particular friendship group. Herman joined us for at least three years in a row. In between ski holidays we caught up regularly at dinner parties and various functions. Once at a friend’s wedding Herman and I spent the whole night dancing with each other. The young man at the bar commented, “you two are the grooviest couple here tonight”. We laughed because we could never be a couple, just good friends.

We talked about anything and everything: our respective upbringings, our separate aspirations for life, past and present relationships, work, fitness, children, cooking etc etc. Herman was raised in the country with few resources. However, his high intelligence saw him excel at every thing he put his mind to. He was also a perfectionist. He was a triathlete. At the time he worked as a financier for merchant banks. When he asked me if I had any single friends that he might be interested in, I felt that I knew him well enough to give the match-making thing a go. I attempted it twice. Both attempts were dismal failures for completely different reasons.

In the past I found that friends of mine from different aspects of my life, usually got along well when introduced. It made sense. If I like both of them, its likely they would have things in common.  The first attempt was his idea. He wanted to host a dinner party for me, the hub and my chosen single friend. Herman cooked his usual dinner party fare: bread to dip in olive oil and balsamic vinegar for starters, lentil soup, risotto with porchini mushrooms and pears poached in red wine syrup with low fat ice cream. The food was excellent. The conversation was mostly easy. My friend Judy and Herman found that they both went to the same University at the same time (her to study maths education and him to study chemistry), they both were into the outdoors, he talked about trout fishing and she talked about bush walking holidays and skiing.

Things were going fine until she found out he drove a Porche and he told her that he subscribed to The Australian Opera. She voiced her opinion against opera strongly. She believed opera was elitist and divided society into have-s and have-not’s. After this we had dessert and the conversation returned to lighter topics. However, I felt that Judy’s socialist tendencies clashed so fiercely with Herman’s extravagant life style and liberal views that future dating between the two of them was unlikely. I was therefore not surprised the next day on the phone when Herman expressed to me that he would not be pursuing the friendship with Judy further. What I had not expected was the reason for his decision.

“Jenne”, he said, “I’m sorry but I’m just not into pear-shaped women”.

The second time I tried to match-make Herman. I decided a less confronting situation was in order. I invited a group of friends out to go clubbing: two girlfriends from play group along with Herman and Dana. I introduced Herman to Dana within the group and let them dance together or chat as they saw fit. Dana is a very attractive woman. She is lively and great fun to be with. I have often said that were I a man, I would be in love with Dana. I could not imagine a man who would not be interested in her. Dana was single after a heart breaking divorce. Like Herman, Dana was raised in country Victoria. She had left teaching (where I met her) and was running her own business close to the town where she grew up.

Although she was a self sufficient and successful business woman, she was looking for a man to look after her. In her words, she wanted to meet “a man in a suit”.  I thought Herman could be her guy. She arrived wearing a revealing outfit. She seemed subdued and slightly nervous. Dana and Herman found time to talk to each other. They danced for a short while. Neither of them looked relaxed. Dana had invited some of her friends from her home town to join us.  She became more animated and relaxed when they arrived but spent more time dancing with them than she did with us.

Later she left us to kick on to another venue with these friends. Our remaining group of four opted for a quieter end to the night. We found a cafe and drank hot chocolate before heading home our separate ways. Herman seemed to get along better with my two married friends than he had with Dana. I held hopes that perhaps he may have been interested to see her again at least. However he was not interested in the slightest. His assessment of Dana: “she’s just too agricultural”.

Later I caught up with Dana. “No, not my type”, she told me, “too neat and tidy. He looks gay”.

After that, I gave up! I have never and will never attempt match-making again.