Last night Mr Rabbit and Kiki and I were pulled up at some lights in Geelong. The sun was going down and we were urgently approaching the Indian restaurant after a day in the big town getting our backs cracked and laughing as the chiropractor swivelled Kiki’s tiny torso around making her legs fly out like a little full skirt. That was so funny. I still laugh when I think of it. Her face so serious.
Anyway we were pulled up at the lights and it was twilight and there was the big Ferris wheel there and two people meandered across the crossing in front of us. I knew Mr Rabbit was going to say something, but I wasn’t sure what.
“God,” he said, “Look at them.”
It was that sort of private conversation people have in cars.
“I know,” I said, “They look uncomfortable.”
To the common bystander these were innocent people. Normal people. But there was something about them, the way they slunk across the road. They were probably in their early twenties, a boy and a girl. The girl was wearing jeans and thongs and some sort of nondescript top. Her arms were folded across her chest. Her hair was pulled back in a rough pony tail. She was fine. Just sort of, nothing. And the guy, he was that typical Australian build, like he was once in a rowing team, not quite a neck, neat hair, cargo shorts, sandals and a striped polo shirt with the collar pulled up. It was strange that collar, cotton, you know, like a tennis shirt, but pulled up. It didn’t really stay up, it didn’t at all want to be stood up like that. But the boy had chosen to pull it up. Maybe he thought it looked cool.
His hands were deep inside his long pockets.
And they were just innocently walking across the road. Slinking really. His shoulders were up a bit. Hers were diagonal. They really did look distantly cool and very very unsure about it. You really would never ever look twice at them. But for some reason we did.
“I’m sure they’re very nice people,” said Mr Rabbit, sure this conversation would never escape the safety of the car, “But I hate them.”
The word hate was hit with such venom it made me laugh. My laugh was a sort of offended, mildly titillated laugh. He had said it with such honesty, such integrity. It made me shift a bit in my seat.
“What?” he asked. “I do, I hate them.”
“I know,” I said, “That’s what’s making me laugh.”
“I just hate them,” he said.
“It’s quite a strong word hate,” I said, “Especially when they’re just walking across the street.”
“I know but I just do,” he said.
We continued on and I felt quite good that he had said it and not me. Who could hate anyone they’d never met? We ate the Indian and Kiki crawled around the carpet and then got niggly so Mr Rabbit took her outside while I hoovered the rest of the lamb saag and paid the bill. When I got outside he was beaming.
“Guess who I just met out here?” he asked.
“Kylie Minogue?” I asked.
“No,” he said.
“No, the people I hate! When I came out they were looking at the menu in the window. And I said, “It’s good. If you like Indian, it’s really good.” And you know what – they said NOTHING – and looked at me like I was weird! For even speaking to them. And I said YOU’RE WELCOME like Stephen Colbert would and the fuckwit guy says ‘Oh… cheers’ and slinks off! I was right! I hate them!”
So Mr Rabbit was right to hate. I will never judge him again for judging so well and harshly.