In the bookstore, downstairs off Collins Street, I was in the science fiction area, looking for a book recommended by my friend J. We'd had lunch and wandered around a little section of Fitzroy, enjoying conversation and the glorious autumn weather. A vision in hot pink spandex and matching sneakers excused himself. I looked up. The sound of the voice did not fit the expectations set by my peripheral vision. I was expecting a woman and saw a man. He was resplendent, with plumage in his hair to rival any bird during the mating season. His eyebrows were strong black diagonal lines. I figured he had been at the Supanova Pop Culture Expo which had been on at the Melbourne showgrounds until I saw him on the train this evening.
Tonight he was wearing a tight red mini dress with a purple faux fur jacket. Again, he was topped with spectacular plumage - red and purple feathers, sprinkled with jewels, covered his entire head. I noticed the eyebrows again.
As I made my way to the exit, he looked directly at me. We nodded at each other. Weirdly, it felt like we were recognising something kindred.
I took the plunge. "You look amazing," I said.
His face lit up. "So do you!"
This felt like high praise from someone who clearly spends A LOT of time on his appearance. I also work hard to maintain my artist's identity when I'm working in that capacity with corporate clients. I must have succeeded today.
"Same hair!" I laughed, referring to our matching red.
"Twins!" he responded with the appropriate amount of irony.
He held the door open for me and we both went out in the night. I found myself wondering where he'd spent his days and then decided he'd probably been earning a living, just like most of us travelling home at 6pm.