We’re in the car, driving from Yarraville to Richmond. IKEA country.
It’s hot. 37 degrees hot.
I line the burning black leather seat with my denim jacket before I sit. The silver foil windscreen cover stings my fingers as I peel it off for the drive.
My armful of CDs falls beside me with a plastic clatter.
We’ve chosen most of them for F’s tastes. AC DC. Blur. The Beatles. The Verve. (He loves Bittersweet Symphony since Matt Corby sang it on Idol.) I’ve snuck in an ‘oldie but goodie’ of mine, too, one that jumped out at me as I rifled through my CD rack on the way out the door.
We agree to take turns choosing the music. The order, decides F (and we don’t challenge him), is youngest to oldest. So, F goes first. He chooses Back in Black.
I turn to see him listening earnestly, a faint smile hovering at his lips. He is quite still.
‘Are you enjoying that?’
‘He’s a connoisseur, not a headbanger,’ says The Husband.
I glance back again. He is now bobbing back and forth, the dreamy expression replaced by a fierce, slightly self-conscious, expression.
The Husband is right, of course, but F prefers the idea of himself as a headbanger.
‘What will you pick?’ he asks The Husband. ‘You’re the next youngest.’
‘Mum can go next,’ says The Husband. He’s into reggae at the moment and isn’t about to throw that into the mix.
‘Great!’ I settle back with a grin, enjoying the lukewarm breeze in my hair.
‘What will you choose, Mum? I bet I know! I bet it’s Bittersweet Symphony! To get us in the mood for driving.’
I’d mused on this on the way from the house to the car.
‘No,’ I say. ‘I’ve changed my mind.’
‘What? It’s A Long Way to the Top?’ He sounds hopeful.
‘Nope. Something you don’t know.’
‘F, you need to take turns. That’s the rule. That means I can choose whatever I like, not what you want me to choose.’
‘It’s rock,’ I venture, as I fumble for my CD in the pile. ‘It’s good.’
A few beats later ...
‘Do you know what kind of person I am?’
‘No. What kind of person are you?’
‘I’m the kind of PERSON,’ he replies, somewhat imperiously, ‘who when someone TELLS me to like something, WON’T like it.’
‘Ah,’ I say. ‘Are you now?’
He is silent when my song comes on. Not, I think, the silence of the connoisseur.
More like a silent protest.
Earlier that day ...
‘Hey!’ says The Husband. ‘We’re out of dental floss!’
I don’t look up from my newspaper.
‘You’re using it!’
The Husband got back from his overseas sojourn fanatical about the wonders of daily flossing and preached about it with all the fervour of a Mormon on a train for his first month back.
‘You know what?’ I say, folding down my paper to fix him with a stare. ‘I’m the kind of person who, if you bug me about doing something, if you TELL me to do it, I won’t. You left me alone, so I’m doing it.’
Is it genetics or small ears lurking in hallways? Or both?