Saturday, February 26, 2011

Curiosity can leave a nasty taste in the mouth

The whole world knows what a dreadful week it's been in Christchurch. My own daughter was there and has thankfully escaped to a safer area. Frightened people have been evacuating the area and catching a plane to anywhere - except there. People all over the country are offering their homes as billets to complete strangers who are wanting to escape the trauma inflicted by Mother Nature rattling her children. I know friends who are about to have a family of 7 added to their household in the next day or so. I'd been worried sick about a former student of mine, K. She's a stroppy teenager at times but I love her to bits and it was a relief to get a call asking if I could pick her up from the airport and have her for the night.

We detoured to some friends' for dinner and it quickly became apparent that the stuffing had pretty much been knocked out of this kid. She had no belongings, she was separated from her family, she was scared, she hadn't seen fresh water for days...and she needed a cigarette. My attitude to smoking has always been pretty negative, especially in kids but if ever I saw someone who needed a smoke, it was K. My friend S and I exchanged glances and, unspoken, we made a decision to go to the local shop and get a nicotine fix for our young friend. The concept of roll your owns, filters and papers flew right over my head so we asked her what she'd smoke if we got her something ready made (is that the right terminology?).
K: "B & H"
Me: "Huh?"
S: "I think that's Benson and Hedges"
Me: (thinking inside my head) Sounds like a gardening and landscaping business.

Knowing what to ask the man at the shop for, I felt pretty confident when I stepped up to the counter. Since I haven't bought a pack of smokes since I was 14 and tried it out in the ladies' loos at Devonport Beach, I was feeling a little naughty so I figured the best approach would be to swagger up and casually ask for a pack of Benson and Hedges. Maintain a nonchalant demeanor - as if I pop into the shops and by fags on a regular basis. It would be easy.
Man at counter: "Sure, what kind would you like?"
Me: "Wha??!?"
S: "Ummm...what have you got?"
Me: "They come in different flavours??"
The man proceeded to prattle off a list of information that had my head spinning. It was just like going into a Subway store and being asked what kind of mayo I'd like on my salad. It was all too much. I panicked. S interrupted my hyperventilating and pointed randomly. We both attempted to look innocent and vehemently claimed that they weren't for US! We were buying them for someone else. We weren't going to touch a single smoke, no siree. We're not smokers...nasty, filthy things!

As we left the shop with our contraband I jammed the pack down my bra. It was instinct. S insisted that I didn't have to hide them so I took them out and had a look at the pack. That's when a cunning plan ticked over in my head.
Me: "Let's SMOKE ONE!!!!" S wasn't too keen.

Once we got back to K I hovered...then - and I'm not proud of this - I asked this 16 year old seasoned smoker to show me what to do. Meanwhile, Beloved is an avid anti smoker. I knew he wouldn't be best pleased so naturally I hid under S's patio table with my vice. My vice was not nice. I choked, I swallowed, I persevered. It's just a pity that I hadn't counted on the smoke billowing up from K's knees where I was crouched down on the pavers, torturing my virgin lungs. My Beloved and S's Beloved heard stifled giggles. They could smell smoke. They looked out the kitchen window. My Beloved quickly understood that smoke coming from a girl's knees and an obscured wife was not a good sign.
I asked K to teach me how to do this. I "sucked" at it.

Incidentally, I never did smoke those cigarettes I bought when I was 14. I got as far as opening the packet of Pall Mall (my dad's brand), heard someone coming, dropped the lot in the stainless steal handbasin and ran. A complete waste of two weeks' pocket money! However, I have exaggerated slightly in saying that my lungs were virgin. Sometime in 2006 I found a shiny new cigarette lying on the ground. Curiosity got the better of me and...'nuf said.
I blame my childhood hero for leading me "ashtray"
So I've decided, smoking is icky. Tic Tacs don't take the taste away and carbonated pink grapefruit drink only added insult to the injury.
Looks classy, eh?

Friday, February 25, 2011

We're DOING it!

Me and Smiley...we're doing it. We're making it happen! Instead of just floating around the school grounds looking cute, we're strutting about the place with black compendiums, looking efficient! Oh, and still cute of course.

We're making it all look so easy - on the surface. The reality is that once we get to our little office, there's a lot of arm flapping, rummaging through drawers and even the occasional naughty word (that would be Smiley because I would never dream of using a naughty word out loud)

I think it's the black compendiums giving us a sense of confidence.  They're left overs from a work conference Beloved went to in 2004 (although I'm not sure why he felt the need to come home with a box load). They look quite classy and have a pad, a pen and a calculator inside. I'm not sure what we're going to need to calculate on our way to the ladies' loos but if ever something crops up, we'll be ready.

So the boss asked me to get some "Overviews" ready. Errrmmm....not that I have the faintest idea what an Overview is, but I followed Marie's lead when she hissed at me to just nod my head while she dug her elbow into my ribs. Ahh, so that's what we're meant to do: Fake it.  It all looked so convincing until we got back to the little office where further arm flapping became necessary in completing the set task. Or...actually starting it.

I've learned how to make a table in Excel and fill it with pretty colours - just like Ant used to do. Smiley has learned how to bat her eyelids at the young computer technician when we can't get our program to do what it's meant to do (thereby making the computer technician do whatever she wants him to do) and that blue file mentioned here has actually come in useful. Heck, we've even interacted with students on the odd occasion! Individual Diagnostic Maths and Vocab Testing is even becoming fun. Smiley has the joyous role of "Probing" the little Year 9s. I love the look of terror on their faces when we mention latex gloves. I get to do the one on one Maths, which would be more fun if I knew all the answers. I'm just hoping I don't get a kid who knows more than me or I'll be in over my head. 

Yup, we're quite a team Smiley and me. We're on FIRE at the moment. We're blonde. We're cute. And we're still just a little confused.

Footnote: For anyone concerned about how close I am to the devastating Canterbury earthquake, Auckland is some distance away and we're safe here. However, everyone knows somebody in Christchurch. My daughter was there and has managed to get somewhere safe. Our prayers and thoughts are with those who are still waiting to hear what has happened to family and friends they haven't been able to locate.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Another of my little tantrums

I hate shopping with Beloved. And I hate Sylvia Park Shopping Centre. As much as I love Beloved, there are valid reasons why I find shopping with him so detestable - some of them mentioned here in an earlier post. No man should take a woman shopping and then vanish into all the blokey-type shops before melting into the crowd, leaving her waiting outside some random electronic store. The same courtesy doesn't extend to him waiting outside Bras 'n' things for me!  What I hate about Sylvia Park is that it is a long passage of shops that extends under a motorway bridge with bright lights making me feel like I'm in an over sized interrogation unit.

As you can imagine, the combination of shopping with Beloved at Sylvia Park Shopping centre is nothing short of a nightmare. Most of the outing is wasted with me texting to find out where he is and if he still has C with him. Trouble is, Beloved likes popping into shops and he likes Sylvia Park. Zeeb works in a the children's clothing store there and Beloved is under some delusion that she might like it if we pop into her shop to surprise her. Ummm...yeah...that sounds like quite the family outing. We'll just hide behind the clothing racks and then jump out and say..."SURPRISE!!!"
Only we're not quite as good-looking as these people
Then Zeeb will jump right out from behind her cash register and go like this:
We did it one day. Zeeb was totally underwhelmed by the entire experience.

I don't know how he talked me into it but last weekend Beloved conned me into shopping with him at this Hell Hole once again. It didn't go well. We hadn't had lunch. I was hungry. C was bored. It was hot. I was carrying new pillows wrapped in plastic and my arms were sticky. And he'd disappeared again. When he finally surfaced he had armloads of junk food and lollies. I was unamused (the man is recovering from a near fatal blood clot, has high cholesterol and is overweight). My limits had been reached.
"That's it! I'm catching the train home. You can feed C and bring her home when you're finally ready!" and with that I dramatically stalked off towards the nearest exit. Yeah, that really showed HIM!

There was a flaw in my plan. Sylvia Park is so flippin' big that I have no idea where the train station is. So I switched to Plan B:

I would find where our van was parked, drop my sticky pillows in the front and then hide in the back seat until Beloved came and took Charlie home. Then I would wait until they got into the house before slipping out and sneaking in the back door, and pretending that I'd been home for an hour or so before they arrived. I know, I can tell you're impressed. Sometimes my thought processes are nothing short of stunning!
Dramatization: Not actually me hiding in our actual van.

There was a flaw in my plan.

Without my knowledge, Beloved and C had followed me to the van. Without my knowledge, and certainly without my consent, they had been stalking me! 

It's very difficult to look cool and in control when you're caught sneaking into your own van. "Ummm...I was just...errrm....putting my shopping in the van so I don't have to carry it home. Ummm...RIGHT then...I'll just be heading off to the train station now and you can carry on with what you're doing...What's that? Oh, you're heading home now? Oh...errr...well...I might as well come with you now then. But I WAS only dropping my shopping off..." it's not like I was going to hide in the back seat or anything.

Still, I think I made my point! 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

More ponderous ponderings

Last week Beloved and I were driving across town on the southern motorway when I began to think deep thoughts.  All those people in all those cars just going somewhere. All that potential chaos - it's mind blowing that anyone manages to get anywhere. So I looked into the distance to the south. I turned and looked to the north then I asked Beloved, "How does it all end?" Surprisingly, he didn't have a clue what I was talking about so further explanation was necessary. "I mean, what happens to the motorway when it gets to Cape Rienga at the tippy top of the country?"  This was answered with a puzzled grunt. Not especially helpful.  "Yeah, but how does it stop? Does it just...I dunno....end?"  Beloved mumbled something which seemed to confirm this notion.

Although I was quite taken with the idea that cars might just keep driving off Cape Reinga and fly off into the sun like the end of the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang movie, the thought that one could drive from one end of the country to the other and then simply...stop...blew my mind.

"Wooooaaaah....cooool. So really, the motorway is just a dead-end street. Oooooooooo!!"

Beloved looked anxious, "I feel like I'm being visited by the 60s. Have you been smoking something?"
I think I always have been a closet hippy at heart. The only thing is that I've never had any desire to smoke anything - apart from my good looks. My friend was telling me yesterday that she doesn't think there are many hippies left. Only those old guys with grey ponytails who forget to shave and can't really be bothered washing their hemp shirts.

Anyway, back to the conversation:
"Well, it's a bit like life on earth really. Everyone thinks it goes on forever and then one day it...stops. Ooooooo!" Yeah I know. Deep stuff, eh?

Beloved picked his nose.
"Are you picking your nose?"
"Very sexy" I made that comment with a hint of sarcasm.

I carried on pondering the mysteries of the motorway and wondered if it Wellington too. So I thought I'd ask.

"What about the other end?"
"Oh, I would need toilet paper for that end."