It was real…interesting
I went to Hobart for the weekend with two of my girlfriends, primarily to visit Mona but we but had an extra day to kill and planned to spend it going up Mount Wellington.
Unfortunately it was raining, but not too badly.
The hotel staff told us to there was a bus to the base of the mountain, and sent us to the Metro office to find out more.
‘There’s no bus to Mount Wellington!’ crowed the Metro officer. She seemed almost exultant at our stupidity.
‘But isn’t there a bus to Fern Tree?’ we asked (the mountain base?).
‘Yes that’s right. But why would you want to go there on a day like this?’ She banged her chest at this point, for some unknown reason. ‘You won’t be able to see the view!’
‘Well we don’t really mind. We’ll just go for a walk somewhere around Hobart. Do you know anywhere?’
‘Got a vehicle?’
‘Well I don’t know then. Why would you want to go walking on a day like this anyway? You better speak to tourist information – this is just the Metro office.’ She gave us a gappy smile.
The tourist information office was staffed by a guy with fairy floss hair and pebble teeth.
We told him we were thinking about going to Mount Wellington, but asked whether there were any other nice local walks we could do.
‘Not a good day for going up Mount Wellington today! You won’t be able to see the view!’ (We were puzzled by this assumption that we only wanted to go to Mount Wellington to see the view, but maybe that’s what people go for).
‘Got a vehicle?’ he asked.
He paused, thinking, and looked at us.
‘You got an open mind?’
‘Heard of Mona?’
‘Yes, we’re planning to go there tomorrow.’
‘My son’s been there. Some of the stuff there’s pretty…’ – he gave us a conspiratorial grimace.
‘You girls from Melbourne?’
‘I been to Melbourne for the Anzac Day celebrations. It was real…interesting.’ He smirked knowingly, waiting for us to enquire further. We didn’t.
‘What about Port Arthur? Can we go there for a day trip?’
‘Not sure. You know about what happened there with Martin Bryant?’
‘Yes’, we said. There was a solemn pause.
‘You interested in the paranormal?’ he asked.
His face lit up. ‘They run these ghost tours through the old jail in Port Arthur. They start at 10pm and end at 2am. The guy that sold me my mobile phone showed me a picture he’d taken on his phone. Get this. It was just this grey background and – a yellow face. You wouldn’t believe it.’
‘Mmm…’ we said. ‘We really don’t mind where we go; we just want to go for a day walk?’
There was a long pause again.
‘What about Battery Point?’ we prompted.
‘Well there’s lots of historical buildings to see there. But you girls don’t look like you’d be interested in history.’
‘What about the Florentine Valley? Can you get there in a day?’
‘Hmm…not sure. I think I went there about two years ago.’
Then he pulled out a booklet of day walks and gave it to us.
‘Have a look through that, you might see something you like there.’
I just think it’s a sign of respect to look after yourself
That night, we went to Rektango, an outdoor area in Salamanca with a cover band and lots of folky-looking types in woollen jumpers.
We met this middle-aged blonde man.
We were trying to get a photo of all of us, and he offered to help. He inspected the photo afterwards, telling us it was a good one. He complained that he always looks like a serial killer in photo. I could see how that would be the case – his neck looked a bit tense and ropey.
We commenced what I remember as a relatively civil conversation, although the details now elude me. But at some stage in the conversation he started telling us how women lose their attractiveness when they turn 30, whereas men just get more and more attractive as they get older.
‘I don’t believe you; I’ve got male friends who aren’t into girls that are too young for them,’ I exclaimed. ‘Anyway, what about Asher Keddie? She’s 38!’
‘OK, she’s hot. But she’s in good shape.’
‘We’re not so far away from 30,’ I said.
He looked us up and down. ‘Really? Well maybe you guys will be alright, because you’re not fat.’
‘What’s wrong with fat women?’ we asked.
‘Maybe it’s because I’m really into fitness, I just think it’s a sign of respect to look after yourself,’ he said.
I could feel negativity welling within me so decided to wander off, having spotted someone I vaguely knew, leaving my poor friends to continue this conversation. Apparently after I left he started telling them about all the women he’d been out who weren’t ‘typically attractive’, but who were really beautiful to him. He was single.
We all felt slightly disconcerted by the sentiments he had expressed. We weren’t sure whether he was saying something everyone else is too scared to say – after all, there is that thing how women get invisible when they’re older, whereas the older man is like the experienced, silver fox.
Why look at the lolly when you can’t have a suck?
The following day, we were on the ferry back from Mona. It’s luxurious: inside it’s like a cafe; with tables, coffee, cake and booze. Beside us were a group of girls in skimpy dresses and high heels, obviously there for a hen’s party. The bride-to-be had a bell on her cup and she’d ring it to ask for more booze. Me and my friend were mean about her under our breath.
The ferry stopped and they got off. The waiter came up to us as we stood up. ’Don’t worry,’ the waiter he said. ‘The hen’s party’s gone now.’
Now just to give you the context for this situation, we’d met this guy on the way there, and had the impression that he was friendly, arty and sensitive, which was our pre-determined stereotype of all Mona staff.
‘I don’t like hen’s parties even when it’s my friend’, I said.
He agreed. ‘Yeah, last time I went to one there was a female stripper there. Not my thing at all.’
‘Well, women’s hen’s parties sometimes have male strippers too. I went to one with a male stripper once. I honestly think most people felt uncomfortable.’
He nudged me with his elbow, ‘Well you know what I reckon. Why look at the lolly if you can’t have a suck?’
My friend and I laughed nervously and looked at each other. ‘Well, see you later!’ we said, and quickly left the ferry.
Questions: i) did he really think his final rejoinder was acceptable and that we would enjoy the cheeky joke? OR ii) was it a conscious or subconscious way of trying to make us feel uncomfortable? I’m tending toward the latter.
*Not a representation of Hobart. Just a few weird experiences that I wanted to share.*