Men at Work

by Julie Bruck August 30, 2010


I said, “Do you speak-a my language?”
He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich.
                                                            —“Down Under.”

We middle-aged sense them immediately:

four brittle pop stars sprawled across

the rigid fibreglass chairs at the airport gate.

It’s not just that they’re Australian, that gorgeous

thunk of English, the stacked electric-guitar cases

draped with black leather jackets, or their deep

tans on this Sunday night in midwinter Toronto

that holds everyone’s attention, drawn as we are,

pale filings to their pull. Even their rail-thin

lassitude attracts us, as it must Doug, the portly

Air Canada gate manager in his personalized jacket,

who arrives to greet the band, cranking hands

and cracking jokes. Doug, who must live in

Mississauga with the wife and a couple of kids,

and who insists the boys come back to play Toronto

next year, when we clutchers of boarding passes

will have abandoned our carry-ons for tickets

to a midsized arena and a resurrected band

whose lyrics never did make sense but

which are laced to a beat that won’t let go—

propelling us down the carpeted ramps

of late-night flights on feeder airlines, hips

back in charge of our strange young bodies,

now shaking down runways in rows.

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