Adelaide knew that the Magic Cave promised much more than it delivered.
As a child, Adelaide’s parents – teachers both – brought her to the Rundle Mall every school holidays. Adelaide traipsed behind them, stopping every four steps as her parents bumped into people they hadn’t seen since last term. People like Richard, who had just started his two years country service leave which he had earned by working at a school in a country town he loved. Or Simone who fell in love with the PE teacher, but married that guy who took biology because he didn’t already have a wife.
Adelaide’s parents took her to the Mall, they took her to John Martins. But they didn’t take her to the Magic Cave. Adelaide knew it was there, because girls at school told her about it. They had ridden on Nipper, they said. Patted Nimble’s mane, they had.
Adelaide begged to ride that horse.
One year, one glorious year, her parents did take her to the cave, but she was old enough by then to see that the icicles were made of foam, that the fairy floss was a rip off, and that if Father Christmas were real, he wouldn’t have two doors. One expensive and one cheap.
By the time Adelaide had her own children, the John Martin’s had closed and the Magic Cave had moved. Adelaide was no different to any other mother and she decided to do everything for her children that her parents had never done for her.
Adelaide took her children to the Magic Cave.
A good-looking young boy helped Adelaide’s children on to the merry-go-round and as he waited for the ride to finish he flirted with one of Santa’s elves who giggled and programmed his number into her mobile phone.
While her children rode the merry-go-round, Adelaide heard the whisper. The line to see Santa is an hour and a half long. So Adelaide waited while her children rode Nipper or Nimble. The white one, which is that? She showed them the mirrors which shrunk their legs and stretched their chests. And she pointed at the diaromas where the elf put his face in the porridge again and again and again.
Adelaide tried not to sneer at the dudes in mirror glasses who had followed their girlfriends here after school, because the Magic Cave is so daggy it’s cool.
And when her children had finished looking at the horses and the mirrors and the diaromas because that’s all there was, Adelaide took her children to Myer where it took ten minutes to get to the front of the line.
Ten minutes was much more Adelaide’s style.