The next few years after the momentous and epic Woy Woy first date journey, time seems to have gone quickly. I kept up going to Vic’s Cabaret and even expanded my dancing skills by learning ‘the Stomp’ which was of short duration. It was taken over by doing the ‘twist’ . Looking at old footage of twisting and stomping it all seems to have been so silly. You did not even touch the girl. At least with jiving you threw the girl over your back, or dragged her beween your legs, teach her a good lesson. Of course, the hidden message of that dance was for the boy to be dragged between the girls’ legs which happened in some rare instances but always with the boy facing the floor, never upwards into her billowing skirt. I did not experience that till later. It was with a nice woman from Malta that I finally lost my virginity. “It was on the Isle of Malta where I met you…”, no, not really, it was in a boarding house in Sydney’s Paddington. The problem with the Maltese woman was not her generosity of spirit and her overabundance of yielding softness but that she had a husband, a butcher by trade, who kept a loaded shotgun in the wardrobe.
I would be lying to say that dating girls ever led to much more than a furtive kiss given in return for a movie with chocolate Maltesers or packet of crisps. The Parramatta scooter club that I belonged to folded when motor bikes joined and we could not agree on how to keep the Vespa club at bay. They seemed to outnumber the Lambrettas now and ran treasure hunts to Palm Beach to which a few of our own members had been seen going to. There was a seething discontent in scooter clubs of the fifties and sixties. Now of course this has seeped into the Comancheros and Hells Angels. They now have guns and rocks of crystal meth while we had malted milkshakes.
This boat of love seemed to flounder forever on the rocky shores of my Isle of Doom. The problem was my ‘mien’. It was the somewhat sombre impression at first sight. Girls had to overcome this. Not an easy task. I could not change what was the essence of my own being. It was at the same time also my best feature. I say this with some confidence because this mien always stood me in good faith later on. The dilemma is that most young girls and boys like good cheer with easy going friendly smiling demeanours. Not many girls seemed to be drawn at my ice-breaking attempts introducing small talk about a demonically violin playing Paganini, or a ponder about lives behind the venetian blinds, or indeed my clear own unique insight in the state of Australian cemeteries. I suppose suburbs don’t encourage seriousness when the essence of life in burbs can be so bleak and lacking in a joie de vivre already. The last thing anyone wants on a night out is a dark Schubert journey of KlageLieder and hopeless love buried in the deepest of oceans. This Jeremiah wasn’t a Don Juan.
A helping hand was soon knocking at the front-door of my life. A fortuitous move on hindsight was the move away from home to rent a room with board in Paddington. The Landlady was from Malta and she certainly had a good mien. A bundle of laughs and generosity expressed by ample heaving and shuddering breasts. On accepting the terms she immediately cooked me some lovely lamb cutlets with lots of garlic and salted anchovies with rosemary. I remember it so well. “I give you plenty food, Gerard,” she said. The full board was to include bed and all meals with her and family, including the husband, with shotgun as previously touched upon.
Within a week of settling in I was watching TV with her husband sitting opposite from his wife sitting directly next to me. A few days before she had invited me over to look at some photos of her and her husband’s wedding in Malta. We were both seated on her marital bed. I thought it a very friendly gesture and put it down to Maltese culture and openness. None of that Anglo Saxon reserve. I was happy but a bit nervous. Her bosom was welling up but with such a large and generous endowment one would have to wear a knight’s armour and necktie to seek cover. “My husband sick now”, she added, of which its significance escaped me at that moment.
While watching TV and Bonanza with the three brothers and their father galloping around the same set of rocks several times, I felt a movement in my left pocket. It was the hand of the Maltese landlady searching me…. me. It took a while to sink in but was sure her hand wasn’t looking for my hanky. It was definitely an amorous attempt, sexual even. A tour de force. I was petrified and with her husband sitting in the other opposite corner!. Did he not know? However, her hand and gentle but insistent fingers ambushed my resolve to end it by me running away. Au contraire. It was so lovely. I was so excited and even collegially leant a bit backwards to give more room to her expert married hand. I had the temerity to lightly stroke her back, keeping a guilty eye out for her husband. What could I do for her. Wasn’t this supposed to go twin carburettor for both of us? The horses and Bonanza all but a black and white blur, running berserk for all I cared. A fata morgana that was now really happening to me. The oasis of a real woman.
Can you understand the dread, fear and yet the rewards coming finally to me so longed for and dreamed about? The misery of home life. The rejections of dates and dorky evenings at the cinema with Ben Hur, a Moses with tablets, or some Quo Vadis on a big screen. Here it was, her lovely hand, let the husband shoot me, who cares! Bonanza finished. She got up after her husband had left. “Gerard, get some ‘Frenchies’ tomorrow, quickly”. She smiled and kissed me good night. What a Bonanza.
Next day at 9.01 am I was at the chemist. You will know that condoms at that time could only be given consent and sold by the chemist himself. He or a she would always be standing, as today, on a podium. I asked for three packets of condoms. All caution to the wind now and I was on a high. He looked me over and grumpily sold me the condoms. Next morning, I was in bed which was on a linoleum floor, all shiny and clean. She walked in with husband gone to work (slicing the sausages). She smiled and lifted her dress standing next to my head. Both of us in a single bed and she was so big. But where there is a will… And that was it. A great initiation by a good woman. I left suddenly after a few days. I did not like the deceit on her husband and especially not with a loaded shotgun in the wardrobe. The situation was so dangerous.
Was he really sick and why this gun? I could not understand that she had the nerve to do this with her husband in the same room. She did like me and for a year or so she would phone and I knew it was her. She would say, “Gerard, Gerard”, but I did not answer her.
Perhaps she too had sadness. Don’t we all at times?