Fraser Gehrig normally isn’t too fond of going to the footy.Between being stared at and having grown men hug him,the reasons to watch the footy from the comfort of his home were typically too enticing.But today,he thought he’d make an in-person appearance for old times’ sake,agreeing to spend the evening with his first love,St Kilda(Well,technically his 2ndlove but who’s keeping track?)The crowds getting around him would have been a big draw to come to the ‘G in the past.But this Fraser was not the same big living,big loving Fraser as he had once been in his youth.This Fraser enjoyed painting,gardening and lending an ear to those in crisis housing who needed someone to talk to.Gehrig had found hisikigai,his reason for being;taking everything as it came and letting negativity slip through him like sand slipping through an outstretched palm.
He had spent less than a minute at his seat before sensing two very familiar feelings:the dagger-like stares of those sitting around him and the pangs of hunger.Whispers became murmurs,which became emboldened pointing and shouting.“Is that Fraser Gehrig?” Like a moth drawn towards a lamp,Gehrig instinctively made moves for the food stand.Ah yes,the old trusty concession stand,nothing that a hot pie can’t fix.
“Is that all for today–OH MY FUCKEN GOD IT’S THE FUCKEN G-TRAIN.”
Gehrig cringed.What crass language.He had also outgrown the old ‘G-Train’ moniker.Were employees of Spotless permitted to behave in such a way on the clock?
“Haha yes it’s me.”
“You want some extra pies mate?On the house,here ya go.Oops these don’t have wrappers,but you probably don’t mind hey G-Train,you’d probably swallow them whole anyway ya big unit!”
Fraser did mind.Besides not being able to finish a handful of pies,having them in his possession in the first place would only bolster the image that he was a big buffoon who did ‘big unit’ things.
“Ah ok,sure.Thanks.” He had learnt that acquiescing to the demands of fan would typically make them go away faster.Come on now,Frase,you’ve learnt to deal with these people.Just breathe.Grab the pies.
“The bar’s that way,you probably missed it.”
The kid was still grinning like an idiot.Fraser smiled back without a word for a fraction of a second and made his way back towards his seat.He hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol for years and his life was much,much better without it.
Saints not off to a crash hot start,early days at least,he thought.This pie is exquisite.Maybe having these extras wasn’t such a bad thing.
“’Scuse me Mr.Gehrig,do you mind if I have one?”
Gehrig looked up.It was another kid,a much more respectful,earnest one.Nothing made him happier than being referred to as ‘mister’.
“It would be my pleasure son.Here you go.”
“Gee,thanks heaps!How many do you reckon you could eat in one go,ya big unit?”
“What’s that mate?”
“I said how many do you reckon you eat in one go,ya big unit?”
There was that word again.Why couldn’t people acknowledge him as a fellow human rather than an unspecified quantity,a circus act to be in awe of?Just breathe.He’s not trying to ruffle your feathers.
“Haha I dunno probably 4 or 5.Maybe 6.”
“I reckon at least 10.You’re a ledge mate.”
The rest of the half went by without an incident until he received a text from his wife.“Putting on a show again I see Fraser.” The pie incident made its way onto the broadcast.
“I will never be able to shake my past.” Fraser lamented to himself.“But I can accept it and not let it affect me”.He smiled and compartmentalised the nights’ events.His journey towards healing continued.