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May 16, 2011

by Prue Miller

Being distracted with other issues at the moment, I hope I will be forgiven with posting Part II of my Mature Aged Student diary, rather than a brand new musing.



There’s another mature aged broad (actually older than me can you believe it?) called Margaret who is about 6 feet tall and speaks at a dull roar, punctuated at every chance by Sweetie and Dahl. She immediately spies me as the same vintage and decides I must be her best bud. Oh dear. I fear alliances at every level imaginable. (the divorced woman syndrome I’m sure).We are given a lecture about how it is demeaning and degrading to refer to any one by anything other than their real name. Margaret looks crushed and loses the power of speech.

Then there’s Graham who’s about 60 (or maybe more) odd, with thinning bed-hair streaked with grey, no dentures, filthy clothes and skin, reeking of cigarettes and adorned with a majestic scarf that looks like it came from Bangladesh. He, I think to myself, is a story waiting to be told. As he writes his answers he holds his spectacles on his face with one had, as they have only one arm. Holy hell, what a group. We talk briefly, or at least Rita talks briefly about various streams of nursing and what we might like to do. She immediately discourages any thought of being an EN, going to great lengths to explain why it will never happen for us. The disappointment in the room is palpable. Why did she do that? She doesn’t know any of us; we might be reincarnations of the lady with the flipping lamp.

Then I look around the group and think, yeah, she’s got a point.

There is one smart arse kid, Max, shedding testosterone like a dog on heat. Centre of the room, smart alec answers, proud crotch display as Alan Pease would say and chatting up chicks clear across the room. When Rita mentions some people might like Psychiatric nursing, Max shoots his hand up in the air “Miss! Miss! That’s what I’m going to do!” Well, go figure. Lunchtime Marg and Graham and I group up and check out each other’s food styles. Graham has Heinz spaghetti from home which he heated up in the students association room and a thermos of coffee. He says he has eight dollars to spend on food until next week. Marg has food in tiny packets, little raisins, little biscuits …then I think that Marg’s been liberating this food from the facility where she visits. I launch out and buy my Caesar salad from the canteen for $4.50 and feel like Ivana Trump. Wild woman. We are given an early mark. Thank God.

Day Two Wear a little more colour, arrive five minutes late again. Ugh. Today the teacher is Maria and she is another firm bundle of energy and she likes to talk. A lot. All about her grandparents, in-laws, three children, things that happen in nursing homes, she never shuts up. She’s bloody marvelous. She asks a lot of questions of the class. I don’t want to seem like the smart arse old student so I don’t answer all the questions….but I do answer a few. Marg however, likes to bellow ideas, thoughts, anecdotes and answers just about every time. I am conscious of the fact that she’s giving us ‘olds’ a bad name. But I am too shy to say ‘shuddup already’. Graham’s hand shoots up a lot too. He’s bloody smart and divorced multiple times. It’s plausible, he looks like he might have been a good sort before he lost track sanitation. He lives in a caravan on the other side of the city and travels like forever every day to come to TAFE. The day was spent talking about the most dreary aspects of everything remotely involved in nursing and I feel bored, uncomfortable and a little down about the whole idea. I’m worried that I’m not earning any money while I sit here bored shitless. Max the loud mouth has a friend called Uri who speaks in an MGM Russian accent. His dad was a airforce guy or something and now Uri’s a pilot or some such nonsense and he wears his sunglasses on his forehead like a real wanker. He has a permanent brooding beard shadow has the heavy gold chain of the most tragic cliché. He, too, is sniffing around the girls like some zoo exhibit. Graham and I think it’s a hoot.

Day Three and it’s Elaine’s turn to inspire us. But she doesn’t. She’s dressed in beige and talks in beige and wears sensible, loose clothing. I don’t like her. I remind her a couple of times when she starts to tell us stuff we’ve heard if not once before this week, then twice before. PLEASE not more. She ignored the possibility that I might be telling the truth. I left early.

(Calendar wipe to…..)

Can’t believe this is Week Four already. Something weird has happened. I seem to have made new friends. It seems odd. Before when I have joined a new group I have always been aware of my social or sexual standing. Here I’m as old as rock so that’s just not an issue. I am just me. And that’s kinda easy – no stress. I like being just me. This time they are real friends with no sexual rivalry between me and the girls or the boys. It’s sort of nice to ‘belong’ to a group.

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