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Round 7 – Sydney vs Geelong: My name’s Lucy

 

Saturday morning was the last of 43 mornings of single motherhood. 43 rotations of smoothie and toast; Milo and toast; yoghurt and toast. We had done them together in fact, the Cygnet and I; it was a team effort. Dad was due back Sunday morning. Part survival celebration, part final act of anticipation, the Cygnet and I went out for breakfast on Saturday morning, the early shift at our favourite local. The streets were wet from midnight rain, morning traffic washing over them while they yelled ‘Shhhh’. The Cygnet was sporting a new cold and I was hanging out for interchange. Sunlight was trying to get through.

 

We ordered food. I asked for coffee and hot chocolate.

 

What’s the name for the coffee?

 

They ask me, reluctantly, every time.

 

Mathilde.

 

The girl wandered over to the barista’s list, Sharpie poised, and I leaned with her: M-A-T-H-I … It’s a habit. As we sat, the Cygnet said kindly; She wrote M-A-T-I-L-D you know?

 

I remember Bourke Street Bakery’s arrival in my suburb, the genuine French pastry we had loved on a small street corner in too-groovy Surry Hills. Good coffee, better croissants, the olive oil bread and sausage rolls. But despite so many, many visits, maybe I have never quite been taken into the family.

 

I know I have a name that few feel confident pronouncing. And I mean my first name. For those who realise I am not Matilda, I am an M sound at the front and a swallowed second syllable which could stand in for many possible variations. And if the pronunciation does come first time, it will rarely come again. It is a name people forget because they know it is a bit different, they just can’t remember how.

 

I need a coffee name, I tell the Cygnet. A girl I work with orders her lunch from the local Wok-on-Inn using Helen rather than her more complicated 3 syllable name. Just the relief of being called easily. The Cygnet and I explore the possibilities. Anna? No, that’s an aunty’s name. Susan? I can’t see myself as a Susan. Grace? Too pious. Amber? I suggest. Too mineral?

 

Amber is not a mineral, mum, it’s old, hardened sap.

 

*

 

I remember Luke Parker’s arrival. (It makes you realise you’re footy-old when you can say you’ve seen the beginnings of most of the current players.) 18 years old and built like a house, his teammates called him the man-child. Taken late in the draft, to us, he was just another addition to the blond injected midfield. But he soon became far more than that. It felt almost unfair that he was sub for the 2012 Grand Final, such had his play impressed us. After some particularly fine moments during season 2013, Gwen in Row T turned to me and we said in unison: Luke Parker, future captain. Two weeks later she handed me a badge, bought at South Melbourne markets. It was Parks. We’d previously shared the Number 9; like a talismanic stone we kept Mal in our pockets and pressed him when the going got tough.

 

I remember Macca’s arrival too. Crusty the clown hair, tidy, elegant skills but an inconsistent kid, a tagger in a midfielder’s soul. And I remember Rohan. Burst onto the SCG from the back of a farm ute, red hair and speed and a crazed attack on the ball. Gazza.

 

I knew I wouldn’t make the game at Homebush Saturday night. Had a 5 hour class in Bronte ’til almost 7; I might have made the SCG! I picked up the Cygnet who was miserable with winter lurgy and we headed home to the soundtrack of the first quarter, across the league traffic to home and couch and a deficit of one point. The cat followed us to the box.

 

It was one of those games viewed in grabs that every parent or partner knows. Hot water bottles and scrambled eggs followed by a run on the wing and a shameful intercept mark by the opposition. The cat’s kangaroo warmed and diced followed by the Cats’ corridor dash. The washing folded between the goal and the bounce. The honey and lemon served with Panadol while Macca clutched his shorts. The vacuuming done for Dad as the half drew to a break. Grabs of things: another one of Selwood’s ridiculous free kicks; Parker backwards in a contest; another almost mark from Tippett; another of Jetta’s much missed creative stoppage circles; Parker scooping and goaling; a super tackle from Lance; another contested possession for Parker. They call Parker’s name all night!

 

But the thread keeping the whole night together for me was that connection with the footy family. My Cat mate who has taken his family off around Australia messaged in from Bourke at 7.32: Are you at the game? Glad to see the Cats have a goal in the first quarter. A Melbourne dwelling Freo friend sent word at 7.24: Good luck tonight and attached that yellow faced emoticon, the one with the teeth bared in concern. (Hubris from the purple haze.) Sydney Sal was concise at 7.41pm: U here? We are 404.

 

O’Reilly Max had been there before the bounce. Tadhg Kennelly reported in impossible English that Hawkins was out. At that exact moment, O’Reilly Max sent word: Hawkins out. And we continued our see-saw conversation across 12 km of Sydney’s west. Nostalgia for the kick outs with Marty and Mal. Tippett’s knee. The Swans don’t kick to 50:50s. They prefer 30:70s, he wrote. The 10% lift needed. Had I caught the vision of Longmire looking at the receipt for Tippett? Norwegian novels and whiskey flasks, the poverty of commentary and the beauty of Mitchell’s hands.

 

I’m about to lose batteries, he wrote.

You or the phone?

I thought he was gone until at 9.42 his final words arrived. Love beating Geelong. Hannebery Mitchell Parker.

 

At the end of the game Parker’s name was on everyone’s lips. I sent Gwen a message: Our man. Future captain. And then I saw the replay of Jarrad McVeigh coming through the banner with his mini-me daughter, Lolita. It seemed somehow angelic that his milestone game came against Geelong, the club his teammates miraculously beat at home the week Luella died.

 

Often, this game is like an adhesive that keeps us close to our lives. The moves, the swells, the plays, the game —one family and another in exchange, moment for moment, the strands that make a strong life plait.

 

*

 

I made a coffee at 7 on Sunday morning, shortly before leaving for the airport. As the milk jug hissed, I wondered whether some 1960s American novel had a girl protagonist named Parker. Parker. They couldn’t mess that up, could they?

 

I ran it by the Cygnet as we waited at Gate B. I’m thinking of Parker. Cause you can’t make a girl’s name out of Luke.

 

            What about Lucia?

 

            But that’s just as bad.

 

Lucy! He cried.

 

Lucy, I repeated. I like Lucy. I could be Lucy.

 

            But you won’t be able to do that at Bourke Street, mum. They know you there.

 

 

Dad came in on a plane that shook through the sky all night. He emptied his cases while the boys on morning sport unpacked the Riewoldt injury and the coach carousel at Carlton. He mowed the jungle lawn in intervals, drifting in to see a longed-for goal for Jesse, a missed shot by Deledio and then a cascade of Richmond effort.

 

All of us are home. The cat’s come in for the evening. And the three of them are squeezed onto the couch watching the Addams Family.

 

About Mathilde de Hauteclocque

Swans member since 2000, Mathilde likes to wile away her winters in the O'Reilly stand with 'the boys', flicking through the Record and waiting to see the half backs drive an explosive forward movement. She lives in Sydney and raises a thirteen year old Cygnet.

Comments

  1. I know what you mean a little, I have a different name at the local Thai place, just easier to be John than Sean there when I order by phone. I just need to pay attention when they call out “order for John” and I have to remember that’s me!

    Sean

  2. Mathilde – why don’t you call yourself “Ripley” after the Segourney Weaver character in the “Alien” movies, because Parker ripped the guts out of Geelong on Saturday night.

    I thought the Cats we good for 2.5 quarters until the big bodies of the Swans took over.

    The surface of that ground is a disgrace.

    Lovely piece. When all my family is at home together I refer to them as “the set”. No pieces missing.

  3. Calls to mind the classic University of Woolloomooloo sketch from Monty Python?

    “Your name’s Michael? That might cause some confusion. We’ll just call you Bruce…”

    I never EVER give a barista my real name.

  4. Pete Wilson says

    I deliberately call myself Pete because I thought it would save everyone time compared with the more laborious Peter. I mostly get called Steve or Keith when getting takeaway coffee.

  5. E.regnans says

    Grand writing, Lucy.
    The cats and Cats, the impossible English, the plait… *applause emoticon*

    I often need another name.
    Too many Dave/Davids and even Wilsons.
    Lots of confusion.
    It’s lead me to identify now with the world’s tallest flowering plant.
    va-voom.

  6. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Aha Dave, Mountain Ash. Now I get it. That would probably go down well at the hipster counters of inner Sydney. Perhaps I could be Ash. As in Ashley.

    Although I’m starting to get a bit intrigued and concerned by what appears to be quite an a significant and generally acceptable identity cover up approach to baristas. I had no idea I was so behind on this one.

    Thank God for Pete, Pete. I may never have talked to you a second time if I’d had to handle Peter.

    Love ‘the set’ Dips.

  7. Your pieces always bring me great joy.

  8. Nice one Mathilde, my daughter, (roogirl her footy tipping pseudonym) often refers to our local barista’s as mum’s “coffee boyfriends”,,,, when i get settled into a new spot with the perfect 3/4 strong latte, she will come home gladly informing all that mum has a new boyfriend.

  9. Brilliant, Mathilde.

    I have been called Smokie for so long that, apart from it being my coffee name, I now introduce myself to new acquaintances as “Smokie”.

  10. As always I enjoyed your piece. Goodness me, coffee’s become a complex world hasn’t it? There’s terror in too much choice!

    Thanks Mathilde.

  11. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    That in itself is joy, Cookie.
    Well, baristas are like boyfriends aren’t they Kate? I fell in love with my man for the coffee he made me in the house we shared (as flatmates).
    I wouldn’t dare ask what the other name is Smokie. Smoke is just perfect.
    Coffee is beyond complex Mickey. At least my work local makes your coffee and hands it over the counter sans name. The irony being it’s a French cafe!

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