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November 10, 2002
Key news item #1: the Coaxer made a recent appearance in Melbourne.
Key news item #2: I got a lock of her hair.
At this point you might want to put a "do not disturb" sign on your door. This is important stuff.
Some time ago I described the Coaxer as having a high-speed, glittering intelligence. As far as descriptions go, I like this one. It's happy proof that I'm occasionally capable of understatement. The Coaxer is ridiculously clever. Her nickname at work is "Brainhammer." Her workmates defer to her on every issue, usually from a cowering position on the floor. She knows how everything works, she remembers everything, and her verbal facility is extraordinary. Intelligence, it seems to me, is how you express it, and her powers of expression defy belief.
A few years ago, she turned her intelligence in my direction, and I'm not expecting to ever be the same.
So seeing her again was lovely reminder of the incredible appeal of intelligence. It was also a reminder of the appeal of very long hair. The Coaxer has such long hair that she has a little ritual to deal with it.
The Coaxer versus her own hair
On the first day of every month, she cuts an inch or two of it off. Her hair grows to her waist, but she doesn't let it grow any further. When she announced this policy, I immediately jumped into the queue to grab this hair.
While in the queue I realised that I didn't actually know what I would do with a lock of her hair. But years of travelling have taught me to take opportunities while they're there. So I figured: get the hair first, and then work out a use for it later on. I also became dimly aware that I was in a very short queue. It started with me, and thinned out very quickly.
The Coaxer produced a pair of scissors, and I suddenly realised that I'd have to find something to contain the hair. After all, a lock of hair needs active guidance and encouragement to remain a lock. Otherwise it scatters into its component pieces and becomes extremely difficult to reassemble.
But the only thing I could find was a wooden clothes-peg. This didn't seem enormously appropriate, but I looked at it as a stopgap measure. The Coaxer used the scissors to make the snip, and I used the peg to snap the lock.
A few days later she returned to Sydney, and I was left with this incredibly cool souvenir of her visit. I put it on top of my CD stand and commenced a rigorous routine of occasionally looking at it.
Eventually this strategy paid off. I picked it up.
And if you're one of those people who took my advice and put up a "do not disturb" sign, you'll want to know exactly how I picked up the hair. So let's be clear about this: I picked it up by the peg. It seemed the obvious thing to do, the clearest strategy to take. And thus we come to ...
The crux of the issue
Key news item #3: to the enormous astonishment of this correspondent, a lock of the Coaxer's hair makes a surprisingly effective fake moustache. True, you need to use one hand to keep it in place, but that's a small price to pay for the convenience. And it's an even smaller price to pay for the style. Let's face it: you get an enormous amount of style for almost no price at all. A century ago it was fashionable to stroll around holding a monocle to one eye. This is a bit like that, except you hold your hand a little lower and never need squint.
I've taken to striding around Fitzroy holding a lock of hair over my lip with a clothes-peg. It's surprisingly satisfying to be a world leader in portable hair fashion.
But, sadly, it's not always easy. Recently, on Brunswick Street, I was confronted by an agitated passerby. This poor, downtrodden soul obviously scratched out a meagre existence in some kind of retail area. Jangling what looked like keys to a BMW, he loudly asked "what the hell is that on your lip?"
If memory serves me correctly, this was the one and only time I used its full name. "It's a Coaxer Moustache," I responded, "and I bet you're jealous you don't have one."
My interrogator, a man of no breeding, no education, and no Kombi Van, snorted in disgust. Then he got into his expensive car and drove off. Cacophonous music played, headlights flashed, and the attractive blonde woman sitting in the passenger seat smiled at him.
I was left standing on Brunswick Street, a confused soul in the middle of a changing world.
But I was a confused soul with a souvenir of the Coaxer, and that makes all the difference.
I've spent a month away, but I'm back now. I use a NoPro and wear a CoMo. If you've been checking my site in vain for the last few weeks, thank you. I'm honoured by your interest, your patience, and your willingness to put up a "do not disturb" sign. And if this is your first visit, welcome to SoFo.Posted by Sean Hegarty at 10:40 PM in the People category | Comments (5)
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