Awful mother-daughter conversation overhead on tram. Nagging, stingy. So mundanely base, and yet frighteningly familiar.
Daughter, new uni student, trying to get her mum to buy her an annual metcard. ‘But you bought Alex one.’ She won’t let it go.
Daughter so well dressed – leather handbag, pearl earrings, sophisticated black sweater and jeans – that at first I can’t tell if she’s 20 or 35. Mother is dressed in that ‘funky’ boutique style favoured by some middle-aged women; shapeless garments in good quality fabric and red wooden beads.
Absent brother ‘Alex’ (travelling overseas) had only messaged his mother once, to ask her to pay his phone bill. This mentioned twice.
Mother tells daughter that Alex got her to pay for it by telling her his friends’ parents spent heaps more money on them.
Daughter asks mother if she’s checked the internet for messages from Alex.
The mother had checked his Facebook, ‘But he’s hiding a lot of photos from me. I think he’s doing a lot of drinking.’ Surly daughter mutters, ‘What did you expect?’ Mother poisonously, ‘He’ll get himself into all kinds of trouble, drinking in a place like THAT.’
Daughter checks the internet on her phone. Mother peers over shoulder, ‘You can check Facebook on your phone?’
As I disembark, mother is telling daughter they’re going to buy some linen, for uni. ‘But that’s all we’re buying…Oh, and I have to get some new joggers.’