Thorn amongst roses.

The humble Kalanchoe

The humble Kalanchoe

Lately there seems to be always more women around than men. It shows up especially at birthday parties. Of course in the age group of people in the range of 65 to 85, many men have carked it.  It is a known fact, which some women, who might not have rowed quite as well in the gondola of happy marriages, seem to think it ‘fair justice!’  As soon as one enters the room, and provided one arrives about half an hour later than the agreed time, one gets lots of beseeching female eyes  concentrating instinctively on scanning another solitary male, albeit even when accompanied by a female.

The reason could also be that men, instead of calmly dying, don’t like social gatherings anymore and prefer being at home in the recliner watching sport or some pseudo documentary of bearded Vikings on horseback shooting arrows at random into a stone-walled Yorkshire dale below. Anyway, whatever the reason, in our limited social events experiences, women often outnumber men at least five to one. This was the occasion last night. It was our neighbours 82 birthday to which we were invited.

She is a very busy  neighbour who knows everybody, having lived in this green spruce& conifer town for most of her life. To be fair there were four men and about twelve women. The men were all huddled in a group and the women spread in a semi circle around the table of food and drinks. I noticed an empty chair between two women and quickly headed for that one.

My other choice would have been to join the men who seemed to know each other. I did not wish to impose on whatever they were so keenly talking about. They often talk about success and achievements. I am more into failures, far more interesting.

After settling in and given a drink I just sat there cross legged with a smile and feeling confident my denture was firmly into place. The woman on my right made the initiative. She asked where I lived. The woman on the other side joined in and in no time were we talking about what we had done so far in life. I had made a fortunate choice. The woman on my right who was born before the war, started talking about an experience decades ago. The laws in Australia at the time were still Dickensian. A woman could not get served alcohol in a pub except when seated in ‘the Ladies Parlour.’ Most times, the favoured drink at that time for ‘ladies’ in the ‘ladies parlour’ was either a sweet sherry or a shandy which is a beer watered down with lemonade.

Anyway, I soon steered the subject over to the different toilet cultures experienced in overseas countries. This is were the party really got swinging. Fortunately both women had travelled a lot and knew the subject of overseas toilets even better than me (I). I regaled how in those early Australian times the word ‘toilet’ was never used for women. It was as if women were so delicate and nice, that they never had a need for ablutions. They just did not go. That’s why a toilet for women were referred to as ‘ ladies rest rooms, ladies powder rooms, even …in Hyde Park, Sydney…ladies reserves’, as if women were rounded up in some kind of South African style Paul Kruger Park behind wire fences.

The woman on my right,  Helen,  told the story of having driven during the fifties,through one of the most isolated parts of Australia, behind Broken hill, the ‘never never’ country  of hundreds of miles of dirt road. It was driving straight into the blinding western sun. For hours on end. She  finally arrived at Ivanhoe and headed for the only pub in town and wanted a cool beer. The bartender said he would not serve a woman in a public bar. In those times it was just not done, especially not in an outback town ‘beyond the black stump’. She said; I went outside and bawled my eyes out. The bartender relented and said she could have a shandy on the veranda outside, provided she would also eat a meat pie.

Can you imagine? We laughed heartily and it was a great night.

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16 Responses to “Thorn amongst roses.”

  1. Rosie Says:

    Australian men congregating in a corner at a social gathering – still happening? – bloody hell ! (Shakes her head) Bet you had a much better evening than the other men.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Women always have a clever retort don’t they? And where was Helvi during this sensitive conversation? The toilets of the world would make an interesting blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. petspeopleandlife Says:

    A very interesting evening. You learned a bit maybe that you did not know. So the group of three regaled each other with tales. I bet it was a good evening. Who would have thought that you’d go to a birthday party and talk about toilets?

    I don’t know about alcohol laws way back then here in the states. I find that something worth knowing. I had no idea women were discriminated against in that manner.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, it was a great evening. An eye opener. I thought things had changed but perhaps in the older generation there is just too much rust and things are welded together.
      I had a great night and the salmon and caper treats were delicious.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Curt Mekemson Says:

    So you went to a party and talked potty, eh Gerard. Having led mixed groups on hundred mile backpack treks for years, the only question was how deep were you supposed to dig the hole. –Curt


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      On our camping trips we used to go and have the camping manager dig a hole that was very deep. At one camping trip a bee colony had made their home just underneath the toilet seat. I don’t know what sort of honey they made but everybody made do with the bush- toilet somewhere else.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Curt Mekemson Says:

        Laughing. I bet they did. Those would have been very unhappy bees! I ended up with a rattlesnake under me once. That was a very short bathroom run as well. 🙂 –Curt


  5. bkpyett Says:

    They would have loved you Gerard! It’s awful when the men go one way and the women the other! At least some things have improved since the 6pm swill!

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, especially with the younger ones. I remember the six o’clock swill with mum and the pyjama clad kids waiting outside in the hope dad would not splurge his wage on beer.
      It was after arriving here, a real eye opener, unbelievable really.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. rod Says:

    I find men are greatly outnumbered by women in the authorial circles I move in. There are more of them because they like to communicate.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Patti Kuche Says:

    Men amongst men always sound as though they are talking to themselves. Love the fertility of your failure talk!


  8. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    We women have lived through some starling changes. You seem to have more party-time in Oz than we have here. Our humble (orange-flowered) kalanchoe is just opening is flowers now.


  9. Julia Lund Says:

    Sounds like my sort of party 🙂


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