When I was a boy, all I ever wanted was to be invisible. I would lay awake at night staring up at the glowing, plastic solar-system on my bedroom ceiling and ponder the possibilities. I could do anything. I could rob banks peacefully and share the millions with my friends. I could infiltrate secret government meetings and record the clandestine conversations. I could and almost certainly would pull down the pants of the school bully, Ryan McGregor, at morning assembly as retribution for Chloe Martins’ clown party where he did the same to me. Undies included. On the 26th of January, 2016, Australia Day, my wish finally came true. For a full twenty-five minutes, I was completely invisible as the world continued spinning around me. This is what I encountered:
Beep. Beep. Beep. Carissa – Bondi – 3 minutes
“Hang on, sorry, I’m just hopping into the Uber. Just one-sec,” said the tall blonde woman in her early-thirties as she sat down directly behind me. She was wearing blue-denim overalls but had a full face of makeup and a pair of black high-heels on; which took her from 6” to 6”3’. I guess maybe she wasn’t painting a fence this afternoon and I was, once again, well behind on Sydney’s latest fashion trends. Whatever she was doing, she certainly wouldn’t need a ladder. Forget calling the fire-brigade to save the kitten up the tree, call Carissa. She had already entered her destination into the Uber App. so she didn’t need to acknowledge my existence at all. I had recently read an article about Uber investing in driverless cars, maybe Carissa had read the same article. She continued her phone conversation:
“Jazzy, what do you mean you haven’t told him yet, babe? You’re getting married in two weeks. Listen, I know it’s going to be hard but trust me, these things have a way of getting out. No, I haven’t told anyone! I don’t know, maybe the two male strippers I saw double-teaming you in the disabled toilets on the harbour cruise at your hens night will spread the word, and before you know it Luke will be asking you the question, ‘Did you have a gang-bang two weeks before our wedding?.’
I don’t think I took a breath for a full fifteen-seconds as that sentence sunk in. Call me a prude, but I had never heard a woman say gang-bang and double-teaming in the same breath. I was so distracted I almost missed the turn-off to Tamarama, not that Carissa would have noticed. “Babe, I’ve gotta go. I’ll see you down at Neighbourhood later, alright?. I’ve just pulled up to Lou’s place now. Ok, Byeeeee.”
I parked out the front of the address Carissa had entered. My next passenger, Lou, emerged from the red-brick apartment block wearing the exact same blue-denim overalls as Carissa. A Bob The Builder themed dress-up party, perhaps?
“Ohhhh you’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” said Carissa through gritted teeth as she lowered her window. “Lou! Lou, you fucking spazz!”
The tanned, overall wearing woman with shoulder-length, curly brown-hair scrunched up her face as she walked toward my car. Carissa continued:
“Hey! I told you I was wearing the overalls tonight. There is no way I’m going to Icebergs dressed as your twin. Now turn your little Spanish arse around and go inside and get changed. I’m going to go and pick up Zara and I’ll be back to get you in ten minutes.”
Lou rolled her eyes and without saying a word turned around and walked back up the driveway. Carissa was an expert with the Uber app. Before I had a chance to ask where we were headed next, my phone flashed with the words, “New destination entered.” Clovelly – 4 minutes
Carissa was immediately back on her phone:
“Zara, Carissa. Listen, you’re not wearing the overalls tonight are you? Fucking Lou the dumbass just walked out of her apartment block wearing them. What’s the fucking point of our Facebook group if shit like this keeps happening. The group is called ‘don’t double-up’, for fuck’s sake. Ohhh cute! I love that mini-dress on you! It’s from Bec and Bridge, right?”
Carissa and Zara continued their conversation all the way until Zara reached my car. She was wearing what I guess could only be described as a mini-dress. It was white with vertical pink stripes and showed off plenty of leg. She was about the same height as Carissa but had auburn coloured hair, tied in a high ponytail. I turned my head to give her a polite smile and greeting as she sat down on my backseat. She completely blanked me, like I was invisible, before jumping straight back into her conversation with Carissa. Zara had white powder on her right nostril which continued down to her upper lip. It looked like she had fallen face first into a jam doughnut.
“Have you been on the bloody rack?” Carissa asked, pointing to her own nose to make Zara aware of the leftovers on her face.
“Arghhhh! Don’t judge me, alright. I’ve had a fucking nightmare. Has Jazzy told Luke she got spit-roasted on the hens yet?” Zara replied, before retrieving a mirror from her handbag and dusting away the white powder from her face.
“Nup! Hasn’t told him. I don’t reckon she will. She will wait till he fucks up one day and will then throw it in his face. Why have you had a nightmare, babe?”
“Well, on the topic of filthy, lying cheaters. That slut from Jason’s work, the one with the big tits and shit eyebrows, well, she has been sending him snapchats every day for the past week. Her snapchat name is like juicymama69 or something like that. WTF, ay?” said Zara, raising her hands in protest. “Anyway, I’ll get him back tonight. Let’s head to Bar34 after Neighbourhood. I want to see if that Brazilian I met at the beach is around.”
“Jason thinks he’s top shit. Did you check his texts as well?” Carissa added.
“Yeah, but there wasn’t any evidence in there. He’s down at Anchor right now wearing that lame wide-brimmed hat he just bought. What the fuck is up with every guy in Bondi wearing those hats? It’s like they all got gift certificates for the women’s section at Witchery for Christmas. Fucken try-hards.”
I had just pulled back up at Lou’s apartment block when the poor girl started walking, for the second time, down the driveway. She was wearing a white mini-dress with vertical pink stripes. I turned my head to see Zaras’ reaction. She didn’t say a word, just unbuckled her seatbelt and crawled across my backseat over the top of Carissa, before lowering my window and leaning the top half of her body from my car. She pointed to her own dress before sticking her middle finger up at Lou.
Lou didn’t protest. She performed a swift pirouette and walked back toward the apartment block.
In a split second my phone screen lit up once more with ‘New Destination Entered’. Carissa was lightning quick with the Uber app.
I drove my passengers to Icebergs as they vigorously discussed the reasons they were even friends Lou. They left my car without saying goodbye and disappeared through the glass doors of the iconic cliff-side venue.
My single experience of being invisible was underwhelming to say the least. I wasn’t privy to the conversations of world leaders at Geneva. I didn’t even get to exact my revenge on Ryan McGregor. What I did learn though, is I’m not the only person who thinks those wide-brimmed hats are the most ridiculous men’s fashion accessory since skinny jeans.