HOW NOT TO LUNCH
And speaking of Monash, as I did in my last post, I am in no doubt at all which job I was holding down at the time when an incident sort of peculiar to me arose ..
I’d been employed by a man who was, I think, the Union Manager; and if I have his title incorrect, I can only clarify it by telling you that everything within the Monash Student Union was under his ægis.
He had been a little dubious about giving me the job of maintaining the student newspaper office, owing to my being only a couple of years older than most of the students (and in one or two cases, the same age as the happily perennials). He apostrophised me rather sternly about this, adding in emotionally blackmailing terms that he had high expectations of me with regard to not getting ‘involved’ with them.
But I was thinking of a plan
To feed oneself on batter;
And so go on from day to day
Getting a little fatter.
Lewis Carroll aside, I was thinking how much I looked forward to having lunch in the staff dining-room; and assured him grandiosely that no such intertwining was ever going to occur !
For I had recently followed some diet or other – a matter of swallowing copious numbers of capsules that would never be sold over the counter after that year, I believe (1967 we’re talking) .. amphetamines of some kind, they were – very successfully; and I was, for me, almost slim ! I had a dressmaker who made me terrific clothes, and I intended to wear them all to lunch with the staff.
In my fashion, I made quite an impression; for I was not the normal kind of administrative young woman to be found within the pale halls of academe, I suppose. I have always had the ability to make people laugh and was, in my youth, mostly a centre of attention kind of person. Lunch in the staff room became a bit of an event.
My boss the Union Manager was told of this – by an infernal busybody who should’ve had much better things to do ! – as he sat in his office in the Union Building, little thinking that I was across the way in the Ming Wing, up there on the somethingth floor, having a whale of a time. His expression became grave when it became known, and he Sent For Me.
I swanned in to his office in my burgundy velvet corduroy suit with a black silk blouse and black shoes (good grief ! – I actually remember this !) and lounged in a chair opposite his desk. His expression became graver.
“Margaret Rose ..” he started. Then he stopped, realising he hadn’t thought it all through, and would have to lecture me on the fly. “Margaret Rose ..” he said again: “I’m not sure that the Lot’s Wife office manager is considered to be .. ahh .. on the same .. um .. level as the rest of the University staff.” He shut his eyes.
He should’ve put his fingers in his ears.
I was offended. Rightly so, I think; for my staff standing had never been discussed with me – that I, a full-time staff member, was seen only as a hybrid .. and even as some kind of pariah !
I let my feelings on this injustice be known, perhaps a little loudly as has always been my wont. He opened his eyes to wince. It seemed I had hit a nerve.
When I’d wound down, having exhausted my self-pity, he put both hands on his desk and stood up, looking down at me.
“Very well,” he said; “you may continue to lunch in the staff-room .. but only if you promise me to behave and not make a spectacle of yourself. I have been informed” he added quickly, before I could say anything, “that you have been up there flirting with the male staff-members .. This is to cease, do you understand ? I do not want to hear another word concerning you from the staff dining-room; and if I hear even a whisper about your extravagant behaviour I shall be extremely displeased !”
I was dismissed, and went off down the wide Union corridor, past the large student canteen and back to the newspaper office, where I pushed someone out of a game of 500 and didn’t soothe my temper at all by losing an 8 no trumps bid (my reluctant partner hadn’t wanted it anyway, and wasn’t able to help at all, the loser).
[Aside: I say ‘reluctant’ because all the students would tread on their own feet in their eagerness NOT to partner me in the endless 500 games that the newspaper office was home to. I played the game like I drove a car – intolerantly and with much bad language when anyone made an error. Fortunately for me, there was a small group of pretty good players – PK and Tank and Phil come to mind – and I could let my tongue rest when they were around.]
I didn’t go back to lunch in the Ming Wing for a few days.
And when almost a week later I turned up again, the first person I saw was the infernal busybody, who had the unmitigated gall to shake his head at me.
And the second person was a not-so-young man, a hail-fellow-well-met kind of bloke who fancied himself with the ladies. He was standing half-way down the room when he turned and saw me. A huge smile followed and he threw his arms out in an I-am-going-to-hug-you kind of way and bellowed, inviting everyone there to share in his welcome of me ..
“HERE SHE IS ! — THE VENUS FLY TRAP !!”
 Such a lie this turned out to be ..  No, do not attempt to find any sense or logic here – you’d be wasting your time  What, me exaggerate ??  Alright alright ! – the large canteen for students ..  “YOU HAD THE FUCKING KING ???”