Beth Spencer’s books include Vagabondage (UWAP), How to Conceive of a Girl (Random House) and most recently, Never Too Late (PressPress). She writes fiction, poetry, essays and writing for radio and performance. She has won a number of awards, including the Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award in 2018 for her short fiction collection The Age of Fibs, now a Spineless Wonders ebook. She lives on the Central Coast NSW.


Eating the rich

The first time I went to a restaurant was
the local Chinese place for Dad’s birthday.
We ordered steak and eggs and chips,
except for my brother who shocked us all
by ordering these strange things
called dim sims. When they arrived
we watched, a little horrified,
as he poured a dark thin
sauce in his bowl and ate them.
I’m not sure what I expected might happen.

The second time I went to a restaurant
was the new Pizza Hut at Ringwood.
Once again it was Dad’s birthday.
This time it was my sister
who assured us that yes, that’s right
we all eat off the same plate!
She also showed us the proper way
to bite into the slice then pull it out away
so the mozzarella cheese
made a long gooey satisfying river.

The third time (Dad’s birthday again)
was a French Restaurant in Mitcham.
Chosen out of the phone book
and the only one open on a weeknight.
We had fun passing forks full of rich
sauce-coated dishes across the table – try this!
(whoops, a big glob plopped into an unused
wine glass — no worries, the waiter whipped it
away without a single word) and we laughed
and talked at the tops of our voices.

Then the bill came.
We grabbed a quick look
before Dad picked it up.
          The whole table went silent.
Dad’s eyebrows shot up, but he didn’t say a word.
Just pulled out his wallet and (lucky it was pay day)
placed way more money on the table
than at fifteen I could earn in a week.

The next year we went Bowling
and had fish and chips.