The absurdity of being human: Portrait of Suzanne


You are absurd. I am absurd. Being human is absurd. Take the case of my friend, Suzanne.

Early last Friday morning, around 6am, she woke to a sound under her bed. As she woke, she saw an intruder at the end of her bed going through her handbag. She leapt out of bed screaming. He took off through the house, with her bag, and she went in pursuit. He got out the back door and was halfway over the high fence leading into her neighbour’s house when she came out. She went to the fence, got hold of her bag and hauled it down, bringing him with it. Then, having no access to the street from her back garden, she grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and marched him back through the house out to the front garden so she could get him off her property.

As they got out to the front garden, she must have relaxed a bit and he escaped from her hold, doubled back behind her and went back into the house, locking Suzanne out. Now she was outside in just a t-shirt (“Thank God, I was wearing a t-shirt at least”) and he, the intruder, was inside.

She ran out into the street, flagged down a woman going for an early morning run and asked her to call the police. Meanwhile, a neighbour came by and offered to climb over the back fence to let her back in to her house. A short while later the police arrived and told her they had caught the burglar as he was running away (he’d made his escape over the back fence) and had recovered her handbag and all its contents.

Later, at the police station making her statement, the police were amazed at what she’d done. The burglar it turned out had been out of jail, on parole, only a week. When she told me the story about 36 hours later, she could still barely speak. She had screamed so hard her throat was wrecked.

Several days later, the police asked her to come to the station again to see if some jewellery they had recovered belonged to her. When she got there, she discovered she was the talk of the station. The police officers thought she was sensational, and the whole incident, highly satisfying. They joked,

Just imagine what his mates are going to say when he turns up back at Port Phillip [the prison] … “What? You got caught by a girl?”


When she’s not catching burglars, Suzanne works raising funds for the Big Issue, the magazine sold by homeless people to provide income and purpose. She spends most of her day cold-calling CEOs and senior leaders to ask for support, and is as formidable and charming with CEOs as she is formidable and effective with burglars.

She makes the impossible look easy and fun. Recently, she resolved to settle a longstanding legal matter she had become involved in many years ago with the government of a foreign country. Anyone else would go to their nearest solicitor. Not Suzanne. Through sheer charm, she got 45 minutes of free advice with the highest profile lawyer in Australia, a man every Australian knows of.

So when I tell you she’s like this, and that she’s beautiful and single to boot, what would you think she’d say to the prospect of asking a man out for coffee?

It happened that one of the police officers after her burglary was very attractive and spoke Dutch, like her. And she liked him, and so I asked her if she would ask him to coffee. “Oh no, I just couldn’t,” she said, or something like that. “Do you get the craziness of that?” I asked. “Here you are, you’ve just singlehandedly disposed of a burglar, you’re the talk of the police station, and you can’t ask a guy for coffee?”

We both laughed at that. Isn’t it absurd?


Image: Child with Dove, 1901, by Pablo Picasso


10 thoughts on “The absurdity of being human: Portrait of Suzanne

  1. I guess we all have our own unique fears. Fantastic story. The nerve (or should I say stupidity?) of that guy, though, to go back into the house and lock the door. The Picasso painting is wonderful, the child looking out at the viewer, but plainly focused on the dove.


    • He must have been scared and wanted to keep himself safe from the avenging Fury. What a nerve to creep right through her house and go through her bag while she was right there asleep. He definitely got more than he bargained for :)

      I love this painting; when I look at it I feel the most perfect tenderness. It’s a miracle given the subtlety of tenderness as a distinct emotion. Picasso was only 20 when he painted it. Interesting to see the dove stayed with him as a motif throughout his long life.


  2. Only funny in retrospect. The girl has guts I’ll say that for her. I know when we get mad enough we can accomplish wonders. I once hit a drunk over the head with my umbrella in Venice after he exposed himself in front of my girls. They hustled me off to the nearest bar to get me off the street.


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