Today’s profile of a stranger…
He walked into the café today and took a seat along the wall. He’s been in before and is comfortable with the space but I shocked him because he was expecting the other waitress. (She’s having her wisdom teeth out and I was an absolute last resort not least because I had to duck out twice to run home to feed Miss Q).
He’s dressed today in thin, black leggings. Thin by wear, not by fashion. They’d make a great pair of comfy pyjamas now, but have probably had their day in public.
He’s paired them with knee high ugg boots. He’s had them since way before they were cool. And he really hopes they last. He can’t afford to replace them now, given how much he’d pay for them today. They have a cuff at the top and braiding down the side. You don’t see them anymore. They’re rare.
His hair is long and stringy. Like a surfer's, but it is perfectly obvious that’s not what he is.
It’s clean hair, but stiff and alternately matte and shiney. Like a dancer’s after a performance when all the hairspray has been brushed out.
His eyes are tired, his skin is weathered. He’d be about sixty if he’s a day, and many of those years were spent labouring outside. A bricklayer perhaps. Or maybe a jackhammer-er.
There is the faint stain of bright red dye surrounding his lips. The outline you see drag queens use to make their mouths both feminine and large.
Is that what he does?
His voice is kind and so are his eyes. He smiles easily and seems startled but glad that I ask more than his coffee order.
Do his family know? Did he come to this late in life? I think so. I think he lived a long life of heterosexuality and this is a courageous, but timid move.
He’s excited though, still buzzing from the thrill of the audience’s applause. He’d always been a good athlete – AFL where he grew up in regional South Australia – so the dancing came easily to him.
The money’s not bad too, though he’s not too fond of the tips from the patrons. They often come with great assumptions on the part of the tipper.
And he’s not ready for that.
It’s a companion thing he’s looking for at the moment.
As I said, it’s a timid step for now. But an honest one.
This is today’s profile of a stranger…