I sat down for a quiet breakfast on my own this morning, and was rather enjoying myself when a toffee-nosed woman in her 60s sat down at the next table.
“WAITER!” she bellowed. “I WANT A GLASS OF WATER!” The waiter was a very nice young man, bordering on meek if I’m honest, and he rushed to bring her one. “UGH. I DRINK HEAPS OF WATER. GET ME A CARAFE.”
I tried to helpfully explain to her that no one has asked for a carafe since the mid-90s, but she was busy admiring her eyebrows in a tiny gilded pocket mirror.
Less than a minute had passed when her daughter – in her 30s – arrived.
“Sorry mum, have you been waiting long?” Her voice had the lilt of the long-suffering.
Seeing her opportunity, the mother sighed heavily and folded her hands as she would if she were in her coffin in the ground due to neglect from her children and said, “Oh, a little while. Ten minutes or more.”
“Liar!” I yelled*.
“Tell the waiter we have to order quickly,” mother barked. She had the breakfast salad. Her daughter chose scrambled eggs (“Do you really think you should order them after the trouble you had finding a bathing suit last week?”).
“So, Julie** will be in court next week. You know they’re saying she murdered her husband?” Pause. “Did I tell you about my plastic surgeon? He’s moving to Malvern East. Ugh, how vile! I’m going to have to find a new one.”
I felt pangs of pity for the daughter. Briefly.
“Oh, gross. I don’t even go to Glen Iris anymore! Hey, I think I should take these pants back and get the smaller size. She tried to get me to buy the size two, but I said I thought the four was better.”
Laughter. “Sales assistants are bad at their jobs! Anyway, here you go. I wasn’t sure how much you wanted, so I just took out two thousand.” Mother passed the money across the table, pausing for a quick glance around to see who was looking.
“I guess that’ll do.” Long sigh. “I can’t believe the waiter didn’t bring a carafe.”
I cleared the residual cough from my throat. Both women looked at me with fire in their eyes. I met their gaze. They visibly recoiled.
“I think we should move tables.”