The contestants are cooking sponge on Masterchef and Jeremy has three girls on his mind. He needs to make a decision on one of them because of the old man he offered his seat to this morning on the tram. The old man clinging to his dignity in a pinstripe, soaked in Brut. This man, Alfred ended up being his name, shook his head when Jeremy offered his seat. Instead, he stood, weightless – shifting from side to side with the jumps of the tram. Just standing and shifting and crying. Alfred was on his way to the Alfred Hospital to see his dying wife in the suit she bought him in Rome on their third, and final, overseas trip together. She had worn an orange dress that day. Tanned and beautiful, Alfred said he wanted that image of her to be the lasting one. Happy, of sound mind, in an orange dress on a Roman street. “That moment, it hasn’t blurred at all”, he said.
So the contestants are cooking sponge on Masterchef and Jeremy is making the conscious decision to fall in love. To have a reason to cry on a tram in 40 years, just like Alfred.
Jeremy met Straw Girl at Prudence, where he meets most of the girls he thinks about. She drank her beer through a straw, hence the name. She’d seen him play a gig only a week beforehand. She said, with straw in mouth, that she was fascinated by him. The way he played his bass and closed his eyes and moved to the jumps of the music. “Sexually charged” was a phrase she used. This vexed Jeremy, but her breasts seemed supple, face largely beautiful and the straw represented something phallic which he liked. They slept together, no numbers were exchanged and she hasn’t been back in the bar since. In fact, the only piece of her Jeremy had left was the gnarled plastic on his bedside table. Unless he ran a match on her dental records, tracking her down seemed futile. A long shot.
Sarah 1 was the girl who held Jeremy’s gaze too long. Unsettling, but entirely beautiful (not just largely beautiful like Straw Girl). Sarah 1 knew a lot about pop culture. Citing lines from Cohen Brother movies in response to Jeremy’s comments about alcohol and fish and the wandering embers of a camp fire. Sarah 1 was someone Jeremy could fall in love with, maybe not tomorrow, but her endearing traits would eventually whittle away enough of his cynicism to make being around her sober palatable. Eventually.
Unlike Sarah 1, Sarah 2 knew a lot about war, particularly those of the 19th Century. She had peculiarly placed freckles, one on her cheek next to her left ear, and one on the tip of her nose. She was one Jeremy could take home to his mother for a roast, if it weren’t for the fact she were vegetarian. She’d never owned a fixed gear and had no desire to blog about fashion which was refreshing. But Jeremy wasn’t even sure if she’d ever had a crush on Jude Law. He knew he had, but wasn’t sure if she’d ever fallen victim to Law's English charm. Ultimately there wasn’t much Jeremy could do with Sarah 2. Their sex wasn’t mind-blowing and he wasn’t sure she’d ever achieve an orgasm with him. She didn’t put her hands above her head when she danced and she despised people who drank rum without a mixer. Jeremy wasn’t particularly fond of rum neat himself, but he was fond of girls who were. He'd known only four of these girls and one was a cousin.
After thinking about these three girls, Jeremy grew most disheartened. He went outside, to the porch of his share house, and lit a cigarette. In a clichéd moment, he smiled at the stars he hadn’t seen in the sky above Melbourne for too long. He recalled Alfred’s reaction when he offered a sympathetic I am so sorry you’re going through this. Alfred had looked at him, clocking his lack of empathy; not for lack of trying, just through a lack of life experience. The look said You don’t know yet. You don’t know the world of shit that you’ll go through yet. But you will, little fella, you will. And one day you'll own your own suit which you'll wear as the one you love slips away.