When You Don’t Fit In
Fitting in is something I am good at not doing. We all experience this predicament at times and most of us have developed ways of coping. During my recent trip to Noosa I experienced “not fitting in” on two occasions, with two different approaches taken to the events, forcing me for one, to leave my normal coping behaviour.
The first time occurred on my husband’s birthday. “Will you give me anything I want?”
“Of course I will.”
“I want you to come to the golf course with me for a round of golf.”
“Sure.” I had agreed knowing he wouldn’t want me with him on a golf course.
The next day proved me wrong as we headed off to a driving range; located at a golf course. That golf course was “Noosa Springs”.
The entrance heralded what was beyond. An avenue of lush vegetation on the dual carriageway led to opulent gates. We drove through into the car park. A sea of jaguars met us. I was relieved that our car was at least new and we had washed it the day before. Our old workhorse covered in dog hair would not have been welcome here.
But what about me? Not expecting the trip to the golf course I was dressed in a pair of short shorts covered in paint splatters and a singlet top. We walked to the Pro shop. The building was grand. European in flavour with a stream leading to a waterfall separating the Pro shop on the left from the bar come restaurant on the right. A huge semi circular terrace adorned the front overlooking the golf course. This was full of copper filigree worked tables and chairs which also graced the area along the stream.
Rod went straight to the Pro shop to buy his balls for the driving range. I stood goggle eyed at the golfing fashion on display. Shorts $200, polo shirt $300, socks $50. Wealth oozed from every shelf. I did not fit in here. Having paid his $30 for his 30 balls Rod said to me “ I’ll just go and hit these balls. You go and have a cup of coffee.” “Okay” I replied bravely whilst inwardly wondering if I would even be allowed in the bar in my highly inappropriate garb.
I slowly made my way across the stream, wishing it was wide enough to delay my journey. Occupying some tables were men who had presumably just finished a round of golf. They succeeded in looking as immaculate as when they started. A smaller number occupied by women who were dripping with gold and obvious designer labels.
I shrank and made my way to the bar and ordered my coffee. I had noticed that not many of the tables on the semi-circular terrace were occupied. I crept in that direction, found a table hidden by the potted plants and, immersed myself in the crossword I had pulled from my bag, managing to obliterate my surroundings from my thoughts.
I survived and my next trip to Noosa Springs was not as bad. I still didn’t have the designer clothes or the dripping gold but I was, at least, respectable. This time I could join the throng by the stream. I had a thoroughly enjoyable morning listening to the conversations going on around me whilst only pretending immersion in my crossword.
The second occasion of “not fitting in” occurred a few days later, on my birthday. My friend, Susan and her husband, Roffe, decided to take us on a picnic to the country to show us some of the countryside around Noosa. We had a lovely picnic lunch at Kin Kin. We sat at a picnic table on the edge of the road. Susan was dressed in long white pants with flowing long white top resplendent with an elegant hat on her head. Roffe was in his flannels and sports jacket. His attire also finished off with a stylish hat. We, however, although neat, were in shorts and tee shirt dressed for a picnic in the outback. Not the civilized affair we were partaking in. Out came the tablecloths, material serviettes, glasses, plates, salad in salad bowl with servers. This was certainly not the sort of picnic my husband had experienced living with me.
On completion Susan declared “I am going to take my friend Irene for a glass of champagne at Pomona pub.” We arrived at a beautifully restored old Aussie Pub where the drinking and dining were downstairs and upstairs was accommodation with shared bathroom and a wrought iron verandah rail around two sides. It had been freshly painted and looked a picture with flowers cascading from pots around the verandah.
We entered. The renovations were confined to the exterior. The interior had not changed, I think, for at least 100 years. It wasn’t the trendy place I had expected but a real workman’s pub full of sweaty men in their stubbies and thongs, their beer bellies hanging low over their waist bands. Susan and Roffe in their whites were obviously from a different world. Everyone stared at us.
Rod had disappeared. Roffe stood back whilst Susan and I approached the bar. The bar girl came up and Susan asked giving correct foreign accent “Do you have a pinot griggio?”
The girl behind the counter stared blankly for a minute then said in her very Aussie accent “A what?”
“Nah” the girl said, clearly with no idea what a pinot griggio was.
“Well do you sell any white wine? A chardonnay perhaps?” Susan persisted.
“We’ve got Jacobs Creek.” The girl smiled, clearly pleased she could come up with something to suit. Jacobs Creek however was obviously not of a quality Susan was prepared to stomach.
“Do you have any others?” All eyes were definitely on us as the girl stamped off and brought us a wine list to peruse. There was only a choice of four unknown whites. Susan chose one of these. “Where does this come from?” By now the entire beer swilling public bar patrons were watching us.
“I dunno” she said as she again stamped off to get a bottle for Susan to look at.
I put my arms around her shoulders saying “Susan you are a bit too precious for a place like this.”
“I know” she said “but there is no reason to let standards fall”. Our glasses poured, I carried them outside with Roffe.
More men, similar to those inside, except these were also smoking, occupied the verandah. To get to the only available table I would have had to push my way past at least twenty men who were blocking the way. This would necessitate me having to ask them to make way so, I took my normal evasive action for when I didn’t fit in. Out of the way around a corner in the garden was a table I could not only get to easily but we would be out of view of all the men except for a table of five. Happily I sat down.
Susan arrived having paid for the drinks. “ Oh we can’t sit here. The smoke is blowing this way. There is a table in front” and off she marched moving the burly rough-looking men so she could lay claim to a table. She settled in the chair with all eyes upon her and her whiteness. We meekly followed avoiding all eye contact. Never have I been so pleased to finish a glass of wine so we could make our escape. Susan was not in the least concerned. I don’t know whether I should take a leaf out of her book and just not care or was she totally oblivious to the fact that we simply did not fit in?
irene waters ©2013