Bullgoose is off fighting bushfires, so he’s asked Wes to write something, anything
I ran into Lassie Rundleford in the Woolworths car park the other day, only it wasn’t her. The Land Rover wasn’t damaged, so that was good. She landed on her bum and wasn’t crying, so that was good too.
I hadn’t seen Lassie for decades, but I recognised her straight away, only it wasn’t her. She held out her hand, and as I reached down to help her up I was attacked by one of those movie flashbacks and dragged back to where it all started.
I was sixteen and mooching along Barker Street, no man of the world. Not even man of the village. I was humming for the fun of it and into the second verse of Reeling In the Years, which is notoriously hard to hum. Anybody can hum the chorus: hum a hum a hum a hu-umm…, but that verse taxes the hummer’s lips and vitals like a 5G rocket sled ride.
But then three things happened. I saw her. She looked at me. There was a thump.
She’d dropped a book.
“Oh!” she said.
“Hey!” I said and lunged to retrieve the book as if it were the Golden Snitch.
“Oh!” she said.
Our eyes met as I passed her the Bible-ish book. I noticed that my head had turned red and doubled in size and that my ears were sticking out approximately two metres.
She looked perfect. Sunshine in a skin. My chest buzzed like a helicopter and an egg beater were having it out/off in there.
“Oh,” I said.
“Hey,” she said.
Anyway, we got to talking in more depth. She told me her name was Lassie, and I told her my name was Wes, which was true. I told her Lassie was an unusual name, and she told me her father didn’t allow TV in their house because it was evil and he’d missed the whole Get help, Lassie! Ruff ruff! thing, and it was very embarrassing.
Particulars were exchanged, several meetings ensued and eventually Lassie confided that she wouldn’t be exactly averse to the possibility of holding hands if I accompanied her to some big church bash.
It was a fiasco. We rocked up. Everyone smiled too much. A bloke (Lassie’s Dad), wearing a white mumu/pup tent affair, ranted on about Moses being scarred as a baby in some aquatic incident and acting out by talking to burning bushes and pinching a chariot and the mantle of the tabernacle was rent, etc.
Then everyone started singing;
Bringing in the cheese
Bringing in the cheese
Harry Conrejoyce is bringing in the cheese
This was good news. I liked cheese. I looked around for this Harry and his jumbo cheese platter. No sign.
“Where’s the cheese?”
“When does Harry bring in the cheese?”
“What? There is no cheese. Shhh!”
“But they said…”
Outside, Lassie stamped her foot and tossed her head (I expected it to land in the garden).
“Sheaves! Sheaves! Bringing in the sheaves!”
“Oh! Even Our Lord would have a hard time healing a deaf dummy like you!”
It was over.
But in the 2020 Woolworths car park I took Lassie’s hand and helped her to her feet. She still looked beautiful. Sunshine in that same skin.
“Hey, Lassie. After all these years I finally get to hold your hand.”
“Wes Piddens! You Bible-diving, cheese-greedy deaf dummy!”
“You remembered? Shucks. You having a good life?”
“Pretty good. Dad had the congregation shun me for kissing Donny Fagen, who was an atheist, so I ran away.”
“It was all good. I got a job at this place in Melbourne selling O rings to the motor trade.”
“Cars run on rubber: tyres and O rings, mate.”
“You’re right, I suppose.”
“And then I fell in love with the apprentice, Trem Bigsby, and married him. Couple of years ago we bought the business and re-named it Rubber Heaven.”
“Hmm, no kidding?”
“Thinking of going nationwide. And we’ve got three kids. You?”
“Work the farm. This and that. Me and Allie. Swings and roundabouts. Got two boys.”
“Lovely, Wes. But Wes, I’m not Lassie Rundleford.”
“I’m Boffee Bigsby.”
“Boffee…wha? Unusual name.”
“Yep. So, I’m expecting our first. Terrible morning sickness and I’m crouched over the toilet going, Boff! Boff! Boff! … Boff!
“Anyway, Trem hears me and says, Hang in there, Boffee!“
“A bit insensitive.”
“No, no! It was beautiful. He told me that Boffee was a reminder of everything I was willing to go through to make a family and it would be his new pet name for me.”
“I love that man. So I changed my name to Boffee. Trem always says “Boffee, as in coffee, only much sweeter.”
A lesson to us all.