The bloke at the paint shop is retiring.
News of his imminent departure hits hard and it is with heavy heart that I bid him farewell.
It's been a good 12 years since he first sold me a tub of of his finest and there have been many litres of it since. Paint for the roof, house and fence - acrylic, enamel, you name it ... I've bought it.
Not to mention the turps, pigmented sealers, paint brushes, rollers, sand paper and masking tape - miles and miles of it.
And he's been there throughout - unbelievably enthusiastic and all knowing; on hand to advise, guide and encourage me on the sometimes painful road to home renovation.
There is a wounded look in her eye.
And for good reason.
Numerous miscarriages preceded the birth of her only child several years ago and the trauma of each tragic loss still cuts deep.
It was IVF treatment that finally produced the long awaited infant that has brought such joy to her life - his birth was something she had all but given up hope of ever seeing.
She tells me her tale during a social evening of fun and frivolity.
Chop it up and throw it away.
Those were the instructions from my frustrated mother who is about to buy her third suitcase in as many years.
Version number 2, a $200 plus job on wheels, failed to live through some rough treatment meted out by airport staff on its last trip overseas and she is forced to get a replacement.
Version number one - a little more expensive, suffered a similar fate after a relatively short period.
The interior plastic lining in one was shattered and the handles on both were torn from their mountings.
They are a select few.
A small group of blokes who - apart from my wife - know, as few others do, the good, the bad and the ugly sides of Joe Citizen.
Our bond was forged through years of truancy, mischief and mayhem at high school and tempered with all that followed in our carefree, reckless and often miserably hung over days as immature bachelors.
Boozing, brawling, fast cars, loud music, cigarettes and the occasional joint were among the vices that frequently got us all into strife.
And through it all there was always a collective effort to make sure everyone got home safely - in a figurative sense.
Depression, alcohol and God.
What a combo.
Sunday afternoon and two men are tossing around all three subjects during a brief and intensely artificial exchange.
The first is soon to be homeless and in dire need of new digs.
The dilapidated and condemned shack he lives in has been sold by the bank to recoup mortgage repayments and other debts accrued over a very long period of time.
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