I know I shouldn't but I do. I listen in to your conversations, especially in cafes and bars, sometimes in the line at the supermarket, or if I'm hidden away in a cubicle while you're talking to a girlfriend while you fix your hair in the mirror in the toilets on a night out.
I'm a listener. My father would have said a "Billy Big-Ears", which I think was a reference to former prime minister Billy Hughes, but it was a tag often used in our house.
There's a lot to be learned by listening in. I would have made a good spy. I tried to be a spy, applying for a graduate job at ASIO fresh out of university. I guess that it was my penchant to share what I had heard with anyone that was my downfall. Perhaps it still is.
Anyway, I'm here at Tilley's, working remotely, make sure you catch this week's Good Food cover on the best places to not be in the office. And I'm listening in to a very intense conversation between three young women, probably in their late teens, early 20s. They're discussing, somewhat discouragingly, the fickleness of girlfriends. How, when you're in that first flush of young adult relationships, that perhaps you neglect your girlfriends. And then when it doesn't all work out, you come back to them expecting things to be the same.
They are three spirited girls, their conversation is seasoned with the occasional swear word, voices have been raised, one of them in particular is waving her hands around, angry even, that one of their mutual friends has treated her poorly just recently.
They're calling each other out about their own relationships, their own behaviour, about the behaviour of others.
At the moment they're discussing the relationship of a friend and her man. One girl said she thinks they're in love. Another one said she thinks they're in love with the idea of being in love. The third thinks she's in love with him, and that while the said man is not a bad bloke, he's not in love with their friend. The parents of this friend, apparently, are recently divorced, and this bloke is the first man who's paid her attention since, according to these three friends who really have no idea what was going on in that family, her father left.
Part of me is hoping that in 30 years time they'll still be having such conversations with their girlfriends.
As much as I want to smack them, it's quite refreshing, their honesty. It's important to have girlfriends you can have serious discussions with, important to have girlfriends who will call you out on all your shit and love you anyway.
Lord knows I've put my circle through some pathetic conversations in the past few years, unburdening myself from my first-world problems. But they've always been there, listening, offering advice. Or just listening.
I know too that occasionally, friends, you discuss me behind my back, dissecting my life like the three girls in the booth opposite me are dissecting their girlfriends' lives. I know you do this because you care.
But all of us have been through a bit recently. I know because I listen to your problems too. You have every right to call me out on all sorts of things. And I love you for that.
Oh, hang on, angry-hand-waving-one has completely thrown me. She just said something like 'I need a man who will put me in my place. A man who will say you're a woman, this is your place.'
What's going on? She wants a man who respects himself enough to not take any shit from her. Young adulthood is so confusing.
Just wait till they hit middle age.
Oh hang on, now she's gone off on a tangent, talking about popularity, she's saying you can't be "popular", in all the Mean Girls permutations of the word popular, when you're an adult. Like, it's not like you turn up to a nightclub and heaps of people know you, is that being popular?
Is hoping that more than 40 people click on your story - even better that 10 people might actually subscribe to The Canberra Times to read your weekly column - trying to be popular?
Part of me is dying to tell them I'm writing this column. Part of me is hoping that perhaps they might listen to my wisdom, that as an "older woman" I might have some hindsight I could share with them. Most of all, part of me is hoping that in 30 years' time they'll still be having such conversations with their girlfriends. And that they'll be there to listen to whoever has a problem.