Cricket’s Slice of Life this week had a prompt which reminded me of a funny time in my life.
The prompt is a secret passion.
I had a secret passion once. It lasted for about three months. I had just had my son and was feeling bloated and frumpy, decidedly unattractive. There are lots of things people don’t tell you about the early days of motherhood. The faint smell of soured milk that follows you wherever you go. How you are so tired you often put on clothes inside out or do up buttons incorrectly so that your tops are all puffy and hanging the wrong way. Or that your hair looks unkempt no matter how often you brush it. And that you have a pattern from the couch cushion permanently embossed across your face as a result of falling asleep face first in your own drool.
Suddenly, you feel invisible to the opposite sex. Often you are still wearing maternity clothes without the prominent bulge you had before. You feel dowdy and adrift in shapelessness. Men, who used to look at you before now look at you as if you are some kind of disoriented bag lady wearing someone else’s clothes.
I was ill-prepared for motherhood. I had glamourised it in my mind long before it happened, imagining a little bouncing cherub who slept when he was supposed to sleep and just gooed and gaahhed when he was awake, allowing me to carry on with my life as it was before. The reality of two or three hours sleep a night, an endless stream of poop and projectile vomiting and a constant high-pitched wailing (my own) threw me more than anything ever had.
My husband was no help. Bewildered is the only way to describe him. His efficient, uber-organised wife had been turned into a woman who wore the same apple puree encrusted T-shirt three days in a row and could no longer talk in complete sentences, losing her train of thought after four words due to sleep deprivation.
I stumbled through the day, forgetting about my desire for an end to war or a solution to world hunger. All I could dream of was the bliss of an undisturbed night’s sleep.
And then he came along. Like a knight in shining armour riding through the mists of Avalon. My saviour. My secret passion. My postman.
Jon was a New Zealander, a Maori. Tall, strong, gliding along the street like a dancer. No one in the history of the postal service had ever delivered mail with such grace, such flair.
He spoke to everybody. Gave Australia Post stickers to the kids. All the women in the street waited for his arrival every day around noon, putting on our lipstick and freshly-pressed frocks, forcing our babies into routines that worked around the mail delivery. We were bewitched by him, transported out of our domestic drudgery for a few minutes a day by his fleeting presence, imagining we were Desdemona to his Othello.
For five days in a row I got no mail. Jon didn’t stop and flash me the smile I had become so besotted with. In desperation, I began to send mail to myself. I signed up for information on products and courses I was not actually interested in. I’m sure Jon knew what I was doing but he didn’t say a word, merely handing me the mail with a flourish.
As he paraded down the street there was a collective sigh from every female resident. Hearts were aflutter. We were as giddy as a bunch of schoolgirls catching sight of a popstar. We fell into a frenzy of gardening, planting poppies, tulips and shrubs in a bid to catch his eye, decorating our mailboxes with little wooden birds and slogans ranging from the sickeningly sweet : All Mail Welcome Here to the more straight-to-the-point Postmen Always Deliver.
Like all good things my secret passion came to an end. The spell we were in thrall to was lifted off the street. Rather abruptly. Jon was transferred to Head Office, a coveted management position. The new postman was nice but he just didn’t have the mystique Jon had. All of a sudden collecting the mail was well, rather mundane.
My secret passion has been over for many years, but I still get a little frisson of expectation when I hear the letters and bills drop into the box. Just in case The Knight Of The Mail is back.
This has reminded me of Christina, who used to be our post-lady. She used to wear shorts, except when it was actually freezing or hosing down … and it’s said that her legs caused about 75% of the ‘fender-benders’ in our area!
He reminds me of Howard, over here. One of the banks – Halifax – had a jolly branch manager, and they put him in a TV ad, singing and dancing. He did so well, he did many more and became a bit of a celebrity. He’s great fun.
Funniest thing is, Halifax is part of HBOS, which had to be bailed out, and is merging with Lloyds TSB, who’s symbol is the black horse. One news item showed a picture of Howard riding the black horse.
A great bit of fun amid the gloom 🙂
Hmmm…So I’m thinking of the criteria involved in applying for the postman’s job. Can a foreign citizen with a travel visa apply? Charles Bukowski used to work as a postman. I wonder what the women thought of him? He would seem to be the antithesis of Jon. Fantastic description of Motherhood and the early parenting phase. A great piece of writing.
I’m surprised Jon didn’t say “Ahh… here’s one you wrote to yourself, Or at least it looks like your hand writing , and here’s another where it seems as though you were using your left hand…is that a baby I hear crying? might I be able to help you inside the house?”
Now I have this Postman fantasy thing going on, Thanks Selma.
“wait a minute mr post man….”
kind of gives “deliver the letter … the sooner the better…” a whole new meaning…..
Oh Jeez Paisley, You Too ?!?!?! I’m not going to sleep tonight. I might as well get the coffee going and get an early start to work…
Selma, you have such a way with words. I do not think I have ever read a better description of real-life motherhood. And I do believe “Desparate Housewives” would benefit greatly with you on their writing staff. How forunate you and your neighbors were to have such an “Othello” for a postman. Isn’t it ironic how visions of the never-to-be brighten our disillusions of the here-and-now.
what an honest and adorable story. I remember my post-baby feelings all too well, probably why I never did THAT again.
I could have used your postman in my post-pardum days!
I love this story. …and your description of motherhood. I’d still go there if I were younger. 🙂
I’ve had too many crushes from afar to name. A result of being as shy as I am. Suffice it to say, I relate completely to the measures you took to be noticed. A sweet installment from Selma’s City.
TRAVELRAT – that is hilarious. Thank God Christina and Jon weren’t on the same route. Can you imagine?
ANTHONY – oh, that is brilliant. My cousin told me about him. I love that he was riding the horse. That really is an exceptional piece of marketing. It does show that even in this age of special effects and gimmickry people still need someone they can relate to.
PUNATIK – happy to oblige. Hahaha. I am ashamed to say that I don’t actually know what Charles Bukowski looked like even though I have read heaps of his stuff. Regardless of his physical attributes, I think I would fall in love with him for his writing. Some of his work has actually made me weep it is so good.
PAISLEY – hahaha. Good one. It was a bit like that, to tell you the truth!
PUNATIK – I think we should set up a Postal Workers Appreciation Society Hotline…..
CRICKET – WOW. Your final sentence is so profound. That it’s – the what will never be brightens the reality of what is. What an astute observation. I really love that!
MELEAH – he was such a tonic. It was unbelievable. When I was thinking about those early days of motherhood I just thought :’How do people do it four, five, six times?’ Mums everywhere need to be acknowledged more often than they are. It’s a tough job!
EPIPHANY – you still could, you know. Compared to me you really are a young ‘un. A friend of mine had her first baby at 41 and she loves motherhood. You just never know.
I’ve had many crushes myself. Also from afar. Sometimes the fantasy is more fun than the reality. It seems more innocent and fun, somehow!
I have a secret passion, it’s… it’s… well it’s a secret. But when the time comes to tell anyone then I’ll be sure to tell you, Selma.
BEAR – don’t keep it a secret for too long. 😉
Your description of motherhood in all it’s glory had me both cringing with remembrance and head nodding in agreeance. You’re right. No-one ever tells you the real story do they?
I’m curious about Bear’s secret now because I’m nosey like that.
GYPSY – I think if we knew the real story the populations of the world would plummet. LOL.
I am curious too. I am a super sticky beak. I am imagining all sorts of things. What a cheeky little bear!