Saturday, May 19, 2007

Reaching Out To The City Lights...Chapter Seven

The “Top Secret” show at Lennons was a roaring success. Kolotex Hosiery certainly was no longer top secret. We’d made a grand entrance into the Brisbane fashion trade. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the invitees turned up for our promotional evening. The function room, filled to capacity with interested buyers, departmental heads, store managers, boutique owners, advertising and media people, etc., buzzed with the hum of excitement. The “Top Secret” launch was the first of many bigger, more adventurous promotional evenings we were to produce and entertain the trade with throughout the coming years. At this stage we were just dipping our toes into the shallow end of the pool. Many much more exciting times were ahead, though we weren't aware of that at the time.

Business increased. Our little office became busier by the day. Along with that growth the contents of our small storeroom grew and grew as well. Excess stocks of the various styles of stockings and panti-hose were bursting out of the shelves. Soon, our office of two expanded to three. A young fellow, Barry Lamont, was hired to assist in the storeroom with the packing of orders, also for stock counts and stock-control in the city retail stores, freeing up John Trimmer to handle the more pressing managerial, marketing and sales matters. After about twelve months, Barry left our employ and two young men were hired in his stead. Then we were four.

Sales in the country and regional areas, handled by our wholesale agents, Gresham, Down and Johnson, were exploding daily, too. I didn’t like dealing with our agents. I found the head of the company to be a pompous snob and his son, headed in a similar direction, to be a carbon copy of his father. He was a spoilt “private school” left-over! Often I would see the son, a few years older than me, at various night-spots or social gatherings I attended. I always dodged him, not particularly desirous of his loud-mouthed company and over-inflated ego. My dream was that we, in our own office, could handle all our sales ourselves, without the wholesale agents.

“Gavin John” also was growing into an even more beautiful, blonde-haired baby, chubby of cheek with wide, inquisitive blue eyes. As the months passed I got to know him well, often baby-sitting when his parents wanted a night out together. This was a wonderful treat for me, as well, not only because he was a very contented baby, but I’d fallen under his spell. He was a joy to be with and to spoil!

“R” and I continued to exchange letters. I wrote more often than he, of course, being “naturally gabby” in that department as friends of mine will testify to! He’d gained employment at a resort hotel in the North Island of New Zealand at Waitomo in the Waikato Region. He was having a wonderful time from all accounts. I didn’t stay at home packed in “moth-balls” either. I was a young, attractive woman who enjoyed life and all that it had to offer. I was damned sure I wasn’t going to sit around knitting. I was a hopeless knitter, anyway! I went out, met new people and had fun. I missed “R”. I loved him, but I wasn't prepared to let life pass me by, not for him, not for anyone.

Dawn and I rarely saw each, perhaps only once a week or so, and then only briefly. We both were busy going our own ways, living our own lives. She was still seeing her boss, socially and Jack made his odd appearances. One night when she was out with her boss, Jack arrived looking very forlorn on my doorstep. Feeling very sorry for himself, he blurted out to a surprised me (as during the very few times I’d met him, he hardly opened his mouth), that he was aware of Dawn’s “double life”. Obviously distressed, he didn’t know how to handle the situation. I sat him down and shared some words of wisdom with him, wisdom I never heeded myself, but was expert at sharing with others! Telling him he had to start putting Dawn ahead of his football and his football mates, I explained to him she was not to blame in seeking comfort and the company of another as he was never around. If he loved her as he said he did, he had to fight for her, be there for her and put her first in his life over and above his rugby league and "the boys". A relationship couldn’t survive on absence and a telephone call once in a while, or a visit once in a blue moon. He needed to “woo” her back. Send her flowers, take her to dinner, go on picnics, spend his time with her doing the "little things" together. I knew she cared for him but he was never “there”. I spoke at length to him that night and he listened quietly. Within weeks, they set a date to be married, and he became a regular feature at our flat. Whether he told Dawn of our chat or not I never learned, and I never mentioned it to her.

At a much-frequented nightspot, one night I ran into an old friend. I’ve mentioned him previously. During the Gympie Ball Season, he would return from Brisbane where he lived and worked, for the weekend to escort me to the balls. It became an unspoken habit with us for whatever reason, that he was my regular partner at the balls. Mervyn was also a lifesaver with the Noosa Heads Surf Club, along with my brother, Graham. My brother had since moved to live and work in Mackay and was no longer a member of the club. Mervyn had been raised and schooled in Gympie before moving to Brisbane to work in telecommunications and study when he completed high school. He grew up in a home in a street behind where my family and I lived. As he was older than me, I didn’t know him when we were children. From when I started going to Noosa Heads at weekends, he’d had a bit of a “crush” on me, but as he was five or so years older than me, he purposely stood from afar looking on, believing I was too young, when we first met, to be getting serious about anyone. He was right. I liked him. I always had. We both enjoyed surfing, rock ‘n roll, dancing and having good times. We had mutual friends! He would search me out at the record hops, but that was the limit of our “relationship”. When our paths crossed in Brisbane, we started seeing a bit of each other, going out for dinners, attending parties and various social events. His weekends were spent at Noosa with the lifesaving club. Sometimes I accompanied him, sometimes not.

Still engaged to “R”, I was in a bit of a quandary, torn between where my heart was, made tender and vulnerable by distance and absence. I found myself caught in a whirl at what was at hand. We’d not been seeing each other for very long when Mervyn asked me to marry him. Caught up in the moment, I said, “Yes”. The news shocked not only me, but everyone else around me. A few detractors tried to give me advice, my mother included, but stubbornly I didn’t listen to them, nor did I listen to my heart. I wanted to be placed on a pedestal and Mervyn had done that. I wanted to be “first” in someone’s life. Mervyn had placed me as Number One in his. My personal life had been thrown into turmoil when “R” left. I’d felt lost and alone, then Mervyn walked into my small world with love and caring. I wrote to “R” finally to give him an ultimatum. An ultimatum I’d never considered giving him when he first announced his plans to travel overseas, as I believed in his right to do for himself what he felt best to do, but now caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, I needed definition. I wrote saying, “if you don’t come home, I’m going to get married.” He didn’t come home. I got married.

Easter Thursday, 6th April, at 6pm, four months or so, after “R” left Australia’s shores, I was to walk down the aisle to be married to Mervyn. Misgivings began to make their presence known, but I forged forwards forcing myself to ignore them, naively believing I couldn’t go back on my word or decision. “Everyone knows”, I kept telling myself. “I can’t back out now.”

I’ve never been one to have pined for the whole “wedding catastrophe” of tulle, satin, silk or chiffon, penguin suits and lavish receptions, always believing it was all a total waste of money. Following my beliefs, I had a sheath mini-length dress of white linen made for the event. You can see a picture of me in it alighting from a car, which I’ve posted in an earlier chapter in this saga. Our guest list, which included immediate family members and very close friends, was very small. We offended some family members on Mervyn’s side as he came from a large family, but I didn’t care. The date was set for our wedding. We were wasting no time. I could see no point in being engaged again. I'd already done that and look what happened there! We didn’t have the money to waste on a big affair. I didn't want that anyway. We promised "the family" we’d throw a party in Gympie at a later date to celebrate our union.

My brother, mother and grandmother arrived in the morning of the "day". As I’d taken only that day off work, I was busy organizing the food for our “reception” that was just going to be a small party held in my flat after the ceremony. Again, I was the caterer. I’ve always been a demon for punishment, it would seem! Mervyn had found us a small one-bedroom apartment in Merthyr Road, New Farm, which we were moving into after our marriage. Mum and Nana would remain in my existing flat until the day after our wedding, helping Dawn with the cleaning up of the aftermath from the previous evening.

The time rapidly arrived. The clock ticked down. Soon it was time for me to shower and dress for my “event”. I could see the look in the eyes of my mother and grandmother but they said nothing. I knew they still were sure that I was doing the right thing, but they held their counsel.

We arrived at the little Presbyterian Church in Sylvan Road, Toowong just before the appointed time. Mervyn was already in the church. I froze at the top of the stairs. I couldn’t and wouldn’t move. Again the floodgates opened. Unstoppable tears poured down my face. I cried and cried. Mum and Nana tried to console me, telling me I didn’t have to go ahead if I didn’t want to. I shrugged off their words in a fruitless effort to compose myself. The minister came out to see what the hold-up was. Seeing the state I was in he told me to take my time because he had no other weddings or pressing matters to attend to that evening. I had all the time in the world to get myself in order. Poor guy he must have wondered what he had stumbled into. Finally, I calmed myself down, composed my fragile self, wiped away the remnants of my tears, took a deep breath or three and firmly held my brother’s arm. He walked me down the aisle to a beaming Mervyn, who was completely unaware of the drama that had unfolded outside the church.

Without further delay or hitch, the marriage ceremony went ahead, then the small group descended upon Dawn and my flat for a party. And it was a great party wherein everyone had a wonderful, happy time. My tears were forgotten. I was married….to Mervyn. We spent our wedding night in our new apartment before heading up to Noosa for a week’s honeymoon.

The day I got married, “R” stepped aboard a flight to Canada, en route to New York. Separately, both of us were heading into the unknown...

To be continued....

19 comments:

  1. Wonderful Lee, sorry if I gave the impression I thought this was a Sat arvo serial, I am rapt, along with all the others.

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  2. No need, Peter...I laughed at your description! ;)

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  3. Whoo wee, I could not have guessed that one. Married Mervyn, did ya? Wow!

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  4. I love a surprise, CD! ;)

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  5. Well that came out of left field. I was sure that R was the one, just taking the long way round.
    Can't wait for Chapter 8
    regards
    jmb

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  6. I've just started working on Chapter Eight this moment, jmb...so hopefully you won't have too long to wait. Thanks for your visit. :)

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  7. Good Lord.....weeping in the church porch and then going through with it? Like - real weeping I mean......Did Mervyn ever find out the truth?

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  8. Hi Lee ~~ Still enjoying this story, but was surprised at how soon you married Mervyn after "R"'s departure
    But await further episodes. I hope you were happy at that time for awhile anyway. Thanks for keeping us
    entertained and interested.
    Take care, Love, Merle.

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  9. Oh Lee, your thoughts were so much like mine at my own first marriage, I found myself saying, "Don't do it, don't do it" as I was reading your words.

    Talk about suspense making...you really know how to do that.

    Looking forward to the next episode.

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  10. Love is a many splendored thing. Right?
    I'm fearful hear. No one should marry a man named Mervyn. Charles, Peter, Cliff, but never a Mervyn.
    It can't possibly last. He just wanted...gotta go. Bye.

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  11. Lee, After reading this chapter, I'm at a loss for words. Waiting like everyone else for it to continue.

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  12. I'm amazed too! But I cab understand your need to feel cherished and to be "first" with someone. I thought you weren't going to go through with it at the end! I remember the photo - you did look elegant. Fancy doing the catering for your own wedding, too! - A glutton for punishment, indeed! Btw, I can't knit either!

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  13. Wow! Look at all of you...you all snuck in on me when I was elsewhere!

    Hello to you all...Rebecca, Merle, Cliff, Steve,Robyn and Welsh...sorry I caused such a surprise to you all! Just imagine how I was! ;)

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  14. So M put you first and foremost; enticing you at the time ........So we will wait and see what unfolds ....Best wishes

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  15. OMG, Lee, what an incredible story. Hanging out for the next chapter.
    Take care, Meow

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  16. Hey Lindsay and Meow...the mystery of life unfolds.... ;)

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  17. Gidday Lee,
    The "saga" continues. I'm not getting away with reading all the chapters in "one go" this time as I've caught up and now waiting "with baited breath" like everybody else for the next post.

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  18. Wow, I agree it was shocking to read that you had married. It is hard for me to wear my emotions on my sleeve like you have done in the past two stories. Wonderful read and I am waiting like the rest of the group for the next saga. :)

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  19. Hi Wazza and Sandra...I won't keep you waiting much longer... ;)

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