“Vegemite, fairy bread, Savoys and butter:” visioning the queer-feminist utopia

Words by Beth Raywood-Cross

Beth is a theatre director and writer and her work focuses on the intersection between female and queer experiences. Her production Pink Matter was the research outcome of her thesis into queer feminsims and utopianism in the theatre. It was presented at Dancehouse Carlton North as part of their 2019 Melbourne Fringe program. She is based in Melbourne.

Her room smells like sex.

She rarely cleans it, so the scent of sweating bodies and dried cum festers in the air. It’s a nice smell.
You get used to it. If you close the door to her bedroom and sit inside the room for a while, you can’t
smell sex anymore. The smell becomes your air. You begin to feel more alive in this room. Like you
can be who you want to be in this room. Unwashed food containers are left next to the bed. There is
an open jar of Vegemite, nearly full, a butter knife stabbed into the centre of it. The Vegemite is so
thick that it holds the knife vertical. The lid is on the other side of the room. Wedged behind the door.
When she asked me to get the Vegemite from the kitchen (with a side of vegan butter and Savoys), I
knew it would be trapped inside the room for a while. Maybe two weeks. I guess I could take it back
to the kitchen, take the knife out, put the lid back on, return it to the cupboard. But I can’t really be
bothered. The Vegemite has stained all my things – the inside of my bag, the sides of my books. I’m
fascinated by the way the Vegemite has followed me through the room, followed me onto the train, to
the office where I work. I’ve gotten used to seeing it sitting there, open. Its yeasty, salty smell mixing
with the smell of sex.

Our first date: We had drinks at a pub not far from her house. We drank mulled wines beneath the
outdoor heater. Middle of Winter. We stayed at the pub until close and afterwards, walked half an
hour down Sydney Road. “What should we do now? You live close to here, don’t you? Let’s just
walk to yours. You can make me a tea,” I say. I had told my housemates I wouldn’t be home much
past 10pm. I had work the next day. The pub had closed at 11pm. Oh well. She agrees to go back to
hers. We walk through the back gate, open the door to the house gently. Her five housemates have
retreated to their rooms, turned off all the lights. Anticipation illuminates the hallway. When we get to
the door of her room, she stops me from going in. “It’s too messy. Don’t look.” I look anyway, peek
from the corridor. “It looks fiiiiine – my room gets just as bad.” It doesn’t. She doesn’t let me into her
room though, and instead, takes me outside, through the garden. Into the back room, built off their
garage. I know what kind of room this is – the back room is for a stage in life. It is the room for every
mid-20-year-old passed out drunk on a yoga mat. She covers me with a doona, cuddles me in the
same way she does now. “You are so comfy,” she tells me. She kisses me, nervously. I kiss her again.
We have sex on the stained couch of the back room. Our bodies move amongst used nangs and open
bottles of alcohol on the floor. Cigarette, vape and weed smoke embedded into the furniture, the
walls. “Wonder what that stain is from.”

When she eventually let me inside, I showered, collapsed in her bed. Slept in her room for the first
night of many. She woke me up in half hour intervals all night: “Wake up, I wanna hang out with
you.” She barely knew me then.

Sometimes I call her room “my room” or “our room.” I don’t even bother stopping myself.
“Can I tell you a secret?”
“Yes, what?”
“That first night you stayed over?”
“I didn’t let you inside for a while because a week before I’d gotten high and decided to make a
(vegan) fairy bread ice cream sandwich. I didn’t finish it. It was rotting on a plate beside my bed. I
had to get rid of it.”
Now, I think, that sandwich would just stay there. For a little while at least. It would sit there,
following me, just like the Vegemite does. I would get used to its smell, start to find it comforting,
even though I don’t like fairy bread much. It’s too buttery, smells a bit sickening. I hate Vegemite too.
Always have.

When I go back to her/my/our room, I glimpse the time-warp of our stationery, messy utopia. Old
dinner dishes amongst birthday cards and love letters. The Vegemite forgotten on top of antique
shelves. The ghost of a (vegan) fairy bread ice cream sandwich. My clothes on the floor, mixed with
hers. Echoing arguments about how little I do the washing. Sometimes her best friend crawls into bed
with us, but mostly it is just us here.

“If we had kids one day, how would we have them? IVF? We could adopt. I like your eyes so much
though. I guess either way we’d still end up with a dyslexic-dreaming-to-be-a-writer kid.”
We are watching “House of Lies” on Stan. I talk too much through scenes. We keep the lamp on so
she can eat Vegemite Savoys again. We sleep with the door closed. We wake up when it’s dark to
have sex before work.

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