(This the final in this little series of “Overheard conversations”. I’ve just spent a week in a hospital ward – a mixed ward, men and women. It can become tedious, so I jotted down some overheard conversations; some on the phone, some with visitors, some with other patients, some seemingly spoken into thin audienceless air. Slightly edited!)
Before I had the kiddies I always imagined I’d be Conan the Barbarian or something. Going round shooting up everything. The kiddies put a stop to that. Diapers stop everything. We gave Jarrod a gun for Christmas. Everyone said you don’t give boys guns anymore, and we gave Charlotte a doll. Give Jarrod the doll, they said, and Charlotte the gun. But I still think boys are blue and girls are pink, don’t you? I’m sorry, but that’s the way I was brought up. Some people dress them in yellow, but that’s cowardly. It didn’t matter anyway, because Charlotte played with the gun and rode motor bikes and Jarrod played Doctors and Nurses with the doll. He’s left home. We never hear from him now – where he is or what he’s doing. I think he might be in Auckland. He never brought his friends home. He might be married now, for all I know. But surely not. Surely we’d be asked to the wedding. Or he could be living in sin. Wouldn’t that be nice? At least he’d be happy. Living with a girl. A very pretty girl. I hope she’s pretty. They don’t call it living in sin anymore, but, my God, it would be better than anything – but he’s not. He won’t be. Once bitten twice shy. But once bitten and you’re dead, O Lord, you’re dead. Caught! Like a fish in a net. Caught! Caught! You’re trapped. Before I had the kiddies. Before I had the kiddies. Before I had the kiddies. Would you shut up, Barbara. Before I had the kiddies. Shut up, Barbara! Oh, the things I would get up to! Climbing trees, and riding horses. I was a regular Tom Boy. “You’re a regular little Tom Boy”, my grandmother used to say. “A regular little Tom Boy”. Isn’t that funny?