It was a Friday afternoon and
I was on the roof drinking a beer
listening to the Beastie Boys – either
because all the jobs were done for the
day, or most certainly because there
was no better place to be, with no
And then my friend turned up to remind
me I’d offered to drive him to the airport
to pick up his mother, visiting from Auckland.
On the way he warned me that she was
a person with rather high standards – I forget
how he phrased it exactly, but it seemed to run
on straight after his criticism of my decision to
not put on any shoes.
I was wearing pants. And a t-shirt. And I had
the car-keys. Those were the crucial things.
(There was a Faith No More CD in the car’s
stereo too – speaking of crucial things)
We got to the airport and waited. And then she
arrived – and my mate’s whole tone shifted, like
he was meeting the queen. He straightened up
and told me to just lurk – to not make a scene, to
stand back. And I did – since that had been my
plan all along.
She stared down at my feet and I caught the end
of a massive roll of the eyes when she looked back
As soon as we got in the car she instinctively switched
the car stereo off. I flicked it back on and lowered
The silence around the rest of the car was now drowning
out the music anyway.
She small-talked us about Auckland’s weather and the
gala event she was in town for and asked me a few things
about the state of my future. She made some cheap swipe
about me not wearing shoes and I replied that I was in such
a rush to be on time – to meet this most important person,
to not be late.
Another eye-roll and I could feel my mate sweating in the
back seat. He kept trying to break the tension by laughing this
loud, fake-Eddie Murphy laugh. He would over-compensate by
saying to his mum that I was hilarious and talented and so
busy with so many things.
She questioned me about the many things and I said that I
was playing in a band and doing a bit of writing
And there was this pause. And then she said – in 5pm Friday
traffic; we were sat with nowhere to go for quite some time –
“Are you a motivated person, Simon?”
And the question hung there – and then she added that on
her initial impression it didn’t seem like it.
And I replied as quick as I’ve ever been that I was motivated
enough to get off the roof and turn down another beer to
pick her up since she was saving the coins on taxi-fare or even
on paying the parking for me.
Suddenly we could hear every word Mike Patton was barking:
“It would be wrong to ask you why”
I think about this scene a lot.
It’s true. Not a word is a lie.
But even as it was happening
and forever after
it has felt like a scene from a film
– a short film, granted. Low budget
too – but a film, or maybe a TV
show; some webisode these days
When I’m wondering what I’m going to do
which is often, still, I hear her voice – this
impossibly awful person that I only met
once – I hear her asking
“are you a motivated person, Simon?”
I’ve never been able to answer that.
At least not correctly. Not with any
My spin is to see that as a good thing.
My reality is she had me pegged
in that instant. She got me good and
Her question is hanging there still.