One of these vignettes is true. The other two were dreams. Can you guess which?
They came in cars. A Mini and a Morris-minor both painted a shade of teal echoing the plumage of their passengers. There were no less than five inside each vehicle and a few more perched on the roof. Native parrots. Kea, Kākā, kakapo, kākāriki. All as big as the humans the cars were originally built for and by. Each bird had learned one or more phrases of human speech. They would shriek their pet-phrases at random intervals as if afflicted with Tourette’s and the bird-brained cacophony was hilarious. Then another vehicle pulled up. A white van this time. My grandmother hopped out of the van and kicked Liz up the ass. Then she got back in the van and drove away.
Young kids don’t think that way. That’s what a lot of women say. Bullshit! I was only five years old the first time we visited Toronto. School starts at age 6 in that part of the world. My age was more suited for the equivalent of what we call Kindergarten in New Zealand. Standing-desks were not trendy back then, but very common in school-type environments. So there we were standing by some table busy working away at … Goodness knows what … I can’t really remember, but that was probably when I was playing with the plastic castle that had a trapdoor leading into a secret room that could be accessed by locating the camouflaged sliding door on the side. The girl standing next to me was engrossed with something equally fascinating so I looked around to make sure no-one was watching, then bent down and looked up her skirt.
The beautiful and mysterious world of calligraphy. I don’t think the teacher was explaining it very well. Not my fault that I couldn’t read the blackboard from where I sat. Fortunately, my pencil-case was loaded for bear. I stopped scribbling with the blue ink and switched to felt-tips in bright colours. Then highlighters. At least two other kids at the same table followed my lead — either from boredom or rebellion — and we were soon making a fine mess on our pages. By the time my masterpiece was ready for grading I had used a decent amount of cellotape to ensure that the remains of my peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwhich would remain fixed to the page. The thesis scrawled in bright red tomato-sauce “Remember: The bigger the spider, the bigger the mess.”
Chelsea smiled. She was well aware that passing wind was a ridiculous passtime, but it was a fun way to let off some steam. And besides, she enjoyed it. Having the sitting-room all to herself in the evenings was a pleasant consequence of her new hobby, and Charlie –Chelsea’s lumbering old chocolate-Labrador– had no objection. Verily, Charlie was an expert in the field himself. But there was a remarkable downside: the feng-shui.
Bonjour. Ko wai tō ingoa?
Tēnā koe. Je m’appelle Manu. Comment tu t’appelle ?
Ko Bewilderbirdee taku ingoa. Kei te pēhea koe?
Très bien, engari kei te hiamimi ahau, et toi ?
Çe va. Merci.
E hara i te mea he aha. Je ne suis pas fort, engari J’aime manger les chattes, e wāhine mā.
Auē! E hika! Hei te wā titoki e hoa.
Oui, oui. À bientôt. I put my head on backwards to sleep. Kua kore he tangata inaianei. Kei hea tōku wai?
They come in all shapes and sizes. Actually they don’t really; they are all made out of tiffy-taffy and all very much the same. It’s the packaging that varies wildly. Walking down that aisle of the supermarket, it always fills one with superstitious and suspicious awe and wonder. The explosion of colors, patterns, styles. The uplifting mantras of confidence, hope, protection. The miracle of life, the mystery, the wish for a hysterectomy, the .. what the fuck?