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Stone cold poetry at the Dry Cleaners

Allison Tait author
Posted on June 9, 2010

Was it only weeks ago that I was blithely regaling overseas friends with tales of our never-ending Indian Summer? Oh, how the warm have fallen. Winter arrived on cue, with biting breath and blatant disregard for the fact that Autumn had missed the party.

It’s cold.

Very cold.

Not sub-freezing or anything and very unimpressive to anyone who’s just emerged from a Northern Hemisphere winter, but still. The shock of going from long, warm days in the low 20s to short, cold days in the low teens is much greater when you don’t get a mellow period in between.

Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. It’s not that we’re not a hardy lot, nosirree. Just fortunate.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I was blown through the drycleaner’s front door this morning to discover him standing there – right in front of the freezing blast – wearing a singlet. Not a wife-beater or anything, but a tank top nonetheless. I tried not to say anything. Chances were he’d heard a lot of ‘goodness me, you must be crazy cold’ in the hour since he’d opened. So I tried. I really did.

But I couldn’t help myself.

“Goodness me, aren’t you cold?” says I, throwing out the line that won me ‘wittiest opening gambit’ at the last Small Talk awards.

“I’m from New Zealand,” he answered, as though that said it all.

Mr3, resplendent in the corduroy jacket known by Fam. Fibro as ‘The Furry Bear’ because that’s what every child who wears it looks like, peered out from behind his pram’s plastic windbreak, removed the scarf from the bottom half of his face, and looked up into the man’s face with a raised eyebrow.

It was enough to provoke a further response.

“I had a paper run when I was a kid,” said the meaty, blokey drycleaner, directly to Mr3. “I would go out in the morning and the frost would crunch under my feet. I used to love watching my breath blowing hot into the cold. The air smelt so new and fresh…”

He turned his attention back to me.

“Nothing has ever felt cold since.”

Mr3 nodded. I nodded.

Poetry at the Dry Cleaners. True story.

29 Comments

  1. Muddled Up Mumma

    My husband is of similar breed to your kiwi drycleaner bloke. Not sure if it’s man thing or cold climate thing. Mr T is from Tasmania and tells with pride how he would go surfing in winter with icicles crunching underfoot as he made his way over the sand to the chilly water. Happy weekend.

  2. Ry

    Sounds like he needs to come to Canada. He would fit right in with the shorts wearing dudes in December… crazy!

    Ry

  3. Here Under the Rainbow

    That is poetry from such an unexpected place. I love moments like this when you are feeling most jaded and life surprises you, and makes you smile that small smile, and the world feels okay again.

  4. Cheers!

    I have found if you are willing and open to embrace it…people everywhere are entertaining. You can choose to find each little exchange you have during your day annoying or weird, or you can find them quirky and poetic. I love your take on this!

  5. tinsenpup

    That is beautifully poetic, but he’s still crazy.

    That lame summer we had this year wasn’t enough to warm us right through. The cold will take it’s toll this year. I’m already perpetually cold and it’s still autumn.

  6. Renee

    Hahahaha that is so funny! I’m a kiwi and I certainly struggle with the cold – you won’t catch me running about in singlets at the moment! Have just found your blog, have saved it to my list, looking forward to reading through some more!!!

  7. therhythmmethod

    I don’t think it’s a kiwi thing, i think it’s a bloke thing. In high school most of the boys wore shorts in winter … I never understood. Great post.

  8. -- SARAH --

    Ugh! When it comes to the cold – I hear ya! In fact it’s some sort of joke among my family that I feel the cold on a 40 degree day. Not fair.

    I love this story though! I often can’t resist the ‘aren’t you cold?!’ outburst when I see someone wearing less than the eskimo suit I dress myself in during cold weather.

    I’m grateful I married a man who’s warm all the time!

  9. Penny

    My mum’s husband is the skinniest man in the world, regardless of how many Toblerone cheesecakes she feeds him. He wears a jumper when it’s 40 degrees.

  10. cjtato

    I love this post. I think only one of my girls feels the cold like me. The other two are like their father and could have fans going all night through winter. This is why I live in flannelette pyjamas until around October each year! LOL

  11. Donna

    Ah I love that poetry can be found in even the most unlikely of places…

    My Dad is one who never feels the need to wear jumpers (or shoes if he can get away it it) in winter. he grew up on a farm and early morning cool starts were part of the deal. I usually freeze just by looking at him and his lack of warm clothes in winter!

  12. Seana Smith

    As a great lover of men of few words… excellent post!

  13. Jodie Ansted

    Oh, wow! I had a similar conversation with one of the Dads at soccer training the other day. We were all standing around rugged up, and he – and my 4yo – were standing around in t-shirts. He’s originally from Ireland and he just doesn’t feel the cold. He said the Irish blood in the 4yo (my MIL is Irish) made him tough like him. 😉

  14. Gemma @ My Big Nutshell

    I love when something unexpected happens, it can change the course of your day so nicely!

  15. A Farmer's Wife

    Gorgeous story.

    You always write so beautifully.

  16. Diminishing Lucy

    If I were ever to move internationally again, it would indedd be to the frosty climate of NZ. I love it.

    Love a bloke with choice words too.

  17. Jodi Gibson

    Wow! How amazing. Never underestimate anyone 🙂 Love that story.

  18. thatblogyoudo

    Wow, Poetry indeed… I love this post thanks for re-posting it, i sit here with my toes all frozen off as the last of 2011’s autumn days slip away…

  19. Cate

    Yes, I agree with Lori – surely “I’m from NZ” would explain *a lot* of things!!
    And yes, I too love a burly man that can talk from the heart 🙂
    xxxCate

  20. LisaNReynolds

    I haven’t been to the dry-cleaners since I tried to get a tray-load of ‘slippery nipple’ shooter stains off my wedding dress. But that’s another story 🙂

    That dry-cleaner couldn’t even be bothered to talk to me about the cost of cleaning my dress, let about his childhood memories.

    For someone who dreads opening the fridge because they hate the cold so much, I loved this story.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  21. deer baby

    My drycleaner only ever says – hung or folded?

    It takes a poet though to hear the poetry. You are one.

    I love hearing things in the most unexpected of places. I need a notebook in my hand not just in my head.

  22. Anonymous

    I have always wanted to experience a white christmas, hating the humidity we suffer through every summer I imagine myself living up on the highlands enjoying four distinct seasons…. then last night I found myself at tennis wearing more clothes than Serena or Venus probably have in their closets including a beanie and gloves…… roll on summer!!!!!! Joli

  23. Kylie L

    Beatiful! I lived in Edinburgh for 3 years, then Montreal for two, where the January average MAXIMUM was -20 C. I swore after that stint that I would never complain about anything in Australia again, yet yesterday I decided that given it was only 28 it was too cool to go to the beach.

    OK, I’ll show myself out, shall I?

  24. Anj (@anjwrites)

    I love unexpected poetry…especially when the poet doesn’t even recognise their own words spilling out in beauty.

  25. Lori @ RRSAHM

    “I’m from New Zealand”. I say that a lot. And I’m not actually. But it is a good excuse for most things.

    My Man was walking around yesterday morning, outside, in just undies. Our neighbors must freaking hate us.

  26. Maxabella

    I had a small tear in the eye. Is there anything more breath catching than a boofy bloke with soul? (Except maybe a NZ winter morning by the sounds of things…)

  27. Stacia

    Now I’m sitting here sweating at the kitchen table as the summer sun streams in and dreaming of snow crunching under my feet … and freshly pressed pants. (Maybe one day I’ll make it to the dry cleaner again!)

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