Mooloolaba. Tuesday, 3.40pm
I would rather be anywhere else in the world than here right now.
If the clouds could open and the sky suck me up, I would be happy. Except that there are no clouds. It’s an empty summer sky under which people are basking in sunshine and material wealth. It’s postcard perfect. It’s like the home page from sunshinecoasttourism.com.
But I wish I was elsewhere. I would happily rather be standing in line at the Lismore Kmart checkout with fifty sour-faced Xmas shoppers pushing trolleys of bright, happy plastic. I would even gladly rather be watching a Xmas television special. Anything. Rather than be here, now.
Not that here is a bad place; it isn’t. It’s a pretty beach scene: In front of me, thousands of people are herded between the flags by a dune buggy with a megaphone. The sea sparkles, the sands shimmer and a helicopter rumbles overhead.
Behind me, shiny cars crawl, nose to tail, along a road that separates the beach from a string of restaurants where outside dining offers food from around the world served by young women with colourful tatts and multi-coloured hair.
Me, I’m standing next to a rubbish bin, holding a leash connected to a poodle, wishing I could just jump into the bin and quickly compost back into the earth (except for the toxic bits which I would donate to Monsanto).
Mooloolaba beach has a modern shaded pavilion with change rooms. From it extends a concrete path which follows the beach, north and south, riding the dune ridge. On it flows a stream of beach-goers.
There are surfer blokes with orange skin, steroidal muscles and tatts; young women with orange skin, painted toe nails and tatts; older women with sensible hats, diamante sandals and orange skin; old blokes with paunches, open shirts and real sunburn; teenagers with skateboards, no fat, no hats, and nascent melanoma; young couples with serious expressions, even more serious sunglasses, and all-terrain prams.
As they go by, they stop for a moment, look at the path and then look at me with utter disdain.
On the path are two bits of poo. The poo belongs to the dog that I’m holding on a very tight leash. I’m so embarrassed.
Now, let’s get something straight: The dog doesn’t belong to me; it belongs to my sister. I don’t, and wouldn’t, own a dog. I’m not good with responsibility. I once had a couple of goldfish in a pond. They died. Goanna attack. (I once had children. Luckily, kids are bigger than goannas.)
‘You should clean that up,’ says a woman with huge sunglasses and a lot of lipstick.
‘Oh, this is not my dog,’ I say.
‘Yeah, sure,’ she thinks.
Mooloolaba is a clean beach. Even though this is a place (and a time) of conspicuous consumption, there are no cigarette butts, Fourex cans, Coke bottles or McDonalds wrappings on the path. Just two bits of poo. From the dog with me.
I was walking with my sister (and her dog) chatting about the last time I’d visited Mooloolaba. I used to ride my motorbike around here decades ago, when people drove rusty Kombis, a serve of fish and chips was less than $20, and only old women had purple hair. We stopped for a minute, reminiscing… and the dog did its awful thing.
‘Oh my god,’ says a woman in a Santa hat and bikinis, pointing her phone at the poo.
I can’t take much more of this. I’m gonna dump the dog and run.
My sister returns, having found some tissues. She laughs at my obvious distress. She cleans up the offending mess and takes the leash from my hand, still smiling.
Merry Christmas everyone.