Recently (for the umpteenth time) I decided to be all grown up and “take life seriously” and all that stuff so I signed up for a workshop on How to Write a Picture Book (because what could be more adulty and serious than that, right?) The workshop was yesterday and I was pretty excited because a) I got to go out of town for the day, and b) I didn’t have to make food for anyone. I was also excited to attend the workshop but was plagued with thoughts of being totally crap and looking like an idiot.
You can imagine then, that when I woke up in the early hours of yesterday morning with tummy rumblings that suggested that I might become intimately involved with a loo for at least part of the day, I took it as a bad omen. BK had complained of similar rumblings in the night and we shared a romantic moment – as all couples do - where we contemplated the cause of our cranky guts.
As of yesterday, I’ve learnt that it’s hard to get ready for the day and go to the loo more than the standard amount of times (I’m strictly a once-a-day, lets-get-this-shit-over-with kind of girl). I’m not quite sure how I did it, but I even managed to apply eyeliner (though to be fair, I can’t promise that they were equal.)
As you well know, there’s nothing like a sense of fear and urgency to make you want to poo. Already running late, all manner of fresh cuss words escaped my mouth when I found that the route I’d planned to take was closed for road works and that the detour would not only take longer, but would also take me through a dodgy part of town.
Typical to all detourees, there was a brief moment when I thought I’d trick the system and duck down a side road but alas, this only led to more cuss words and an even later ETA. What I also learnt, as of yesterday, is that it’s one thing to be armed with an emergency roll of loo paper whilst driving along a nice, green, foliaged stretch of road. It’s quite another thing finding yourself scoping out the heart of Cape Town’s gangland for a suitable emergency stop.
I drove like exactly like a running-late idiot does: flashing little grannies in small cars so that I could overtake, trying to make up time by speeding on the open road, only for the same granny to cruise up calmly next to me at the traffic light and give me a smug look. It was infuriating.
When I finally arrived I was six minutes late and as you know, late is what you want to be when you hope to make a good impression. With dog hair clinging to my dress (they wouldn’t let me do the school run without them) and my “writerly” scarf all askew, I came into a room of quietly-seated people. I talked too loudly when I apologised for being late and I believe a small laugh escaped my lips, as it always does when I’m nervous.
Because I now felt so large and noisy and late, I tried to make myself small and quiet and invisible. And just as I felt as if I was doing rather well with this being small, quiet and invisible business, I felt a nip in the air and decided to put on my cardigan. (If you go to writer’s workshops you get to call it a “cardigan” and not a “jersey”. We’re fancy that way.) All I can say is that it’s tricky as hell trying to stay small and invisible when you have to stretch out your arm to slide it through a cardigan’s sleeve. The very movement in itself demands a degree of bigness.
Perhaps it was the conflict between trying to do a big movement in a small way, or perhaps it was just that I was trying get this cardigan-putting-on-affair done as quickly as possible, either way, just as I thought I was home free, my flailing arm slid through the sleeve too quickly. And then, how does the saying go: ”More haste, less speed”. I managed to knock over a glass of water which then splashed all over the course convenors iPhone and then ran like a mini-waterfall down the table and onto the floor. I’m not sure where all the blasted water came from but I swear, somewhere between being in the glass and landing on the phone and floor, it seemed to triple in quantity.
The course convenor was very cool about it all but secretly, I just know he was thinking WWWW. TTTTTT. FFFFFFF.
While he went to fetch a small beach-cabana’s worth of towels to mop it up, I made a weak joke to the rest of the attendees about how this is exactly how I’d like them to remember me.
I feel it would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about the chair I was seated on. In the movie Madagascar 3, there is a very big bear that rides on a very small tricycle. If you find a picture of this bear on this bicycle, keep that image in your mind for that is exactly how I looked. As it is, I have trust issues with fold-out chairs – I’ve seen too many of them break in my lifetime – but this one seemed particularly fragile. (While we’re on it, is it just me or do you also think that there should be some kind of law whereby chairs can only be sold if they are able to carry a certain load?) To make matters worse, not long ago, I broke one of my friend’s Eames replica dining chairs. It was mortifying. As a consequence, much of my day yesterday was dedicated to trying to sit lightly but comfortably on a small chair. Everyone must have thought I had stomach flu or something, such was my fidgeting.
It was rather a relief then, when lunchtime rolled around. Although I’d hoped to take a nice walk around Stellenbosch to stretch my legs, I feared my rumbling stomach may actually have been distracting to the other people in the room and I decided instead to get something to eat. I found a nice table, under an oak tree at a cute looking restaurant that primarily served roosterbrood. You cannot imagine my disappointment when I sat down at said table, only to find that the legs were on such uneven levels, that I was forced to sit with just one bum-cheek on the very edge of the chair in order to stay upright. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten quite so quickly.
If there was a moral to this story, it would probably be “If you have stomach flu and you’re late and you knock over water and piss everyone off, don’t let it break your stride”. And who knows, I may decide to write a picture book after all. It could be about a clumsy, tardy girl who is prone to small chairs and misfortune. I can’t think why anyone wouldn’t buy it.