My life is now complete, kiddies. I just saw the man who I’ve been lusting after longer than Sexy Ed from Radiohead, longer than Mr Darcy, longer than The Cute Guy At Flight Centre. I’ve been fixated on this particular lad since the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Yes folks, I am of course talking about Russia’s finest son, swimming superstar ALEX POPOV!
My sister and I had been out Dog Kennel Shopping, which is a thrilling activity for a rainy Sunday. We were heading home, kennel-less and disillusioned (who the hell wants to pay $200 for a plastic kennel? I mean I love Harry and all, but, crikey), when Rhiannon said she was hungry and fancied one of those bread roll thingies from Baker’s Delight that have cheese and tomato and herbs stuffed into them.
I said that sounded nice but it meant we’d have to go to Manuka because it is the best stocked of the bazillion BD’s in Canberra. But could I be arsed going to Manuka when the Civic one is right near our place? So we ummed and ahhed over this vexing issue… do we go all that way and be guaranteed to get the bread but take half an hour to find a park… or do we take a risk and go to the closer Civic and hope that they’ll have what we want?
Well I am such a wild thing, I live on the edge and all, so we went to Civic. I cruised on in to the City Markets looking my sexiest in tracky dacks and sweatshirt with Harry paw-mark on my hip (he’d jumped up with muddy feet to say bye) and ratty hair when I see this long, lean graceful specimen of a man towering over the ATM, picking away at the buttons.
I gasped. Be still my raging hormones!
“Wot?” said my sister.
“Looooooook!” I hissed, as discreetly as possible, as we walked past him.
“Him? Oh. Very nice.”
“Yes yes, but LOOK who it is! It’s Alex Popov!”
“Holy shit, you’re right!”
I busied myself with some random fruit at the veggie markets while casually looking back at him. Yep, it was him alright. That impossibly tall and long body, lovely hair, and sleek, shiny, daggy looking tracksuit that all Eastern Bloc countries bought in bulk in 1950 and have been using ever since (amidst decades of political turmoil, bloody wars, the fall of communism, one thing has remained constant – the Daggy Tracksuits).
“We’re going to the bakery,” Rhiannon reminded me as I gawked away.
Oh yes. Bakery.
They didn’t have our bread.
We went into Supabarn to find an alternative, my sister looking for food while I babbled, “Should I go get my camera out of the car? I can’t believe I left the camera in the car! The one time I leave it behind and something actually happens. It’s only a tiny camera. A spy camera if you will. I could have taken a picture while he was at the ATM. I could have pretended I was lining up for cash. Hey he’s going over to that cafe now. He’s looking at the pastries. Oh there’s his wife and kids too. They’re very sweet. I could just duck out and get the camera. Do you think I should go get the camera?”
Rhiannon rolled her eyes. “You can go get the camera if you want,” she said, adding silently, “And if you do, I’ll forever think you’re a fucking idiot.”
He was taking his sweet time at the cafe, looking at all the pastries and sandwiches. Noooo Alex! I wanted to say. I’ve had those sandwiches, they’re total shite! The bread always tastes stale and they slather them in mayo. Oh that poor misguided, aesthetically pleasing fool. Oh… yes. Must go get that camera.
My sister said she would wait in the car and babysit our lunch, that she would have nothing to do with my paparazzi exploits.
I huffed back into the shops, camera fired up and hidden under my sleeve, already zoomed in to the max with the flash turned off, so I could shoot from as far away as possible.
I did about three laps of the cafe, which is just an open plan kind of thing plonked in the middle of the markets, hiding behind some shopping trolleys, behind the pasta place, behind a pot plant, looking for the perfect place to shoot.
But then I looked at him there with the wifey and kiddies, looking all happy and ordinary eating their lunch and I thought how rude, creepy and wrong it would be for me to take his picture.
Still, I fired the shutter in his general direction as I ran back to the car, feeling most ridiculous. I captured this lovely frame:
…which bears little or no resemblance to Mr Popov (pictured below):
Oh well. What kind of shot would it have been anyway? Not a skimpy Speedo in sight.