Friday, 15 December 2006

Now, about these damsels in distress

Distressed damsels are hard to come by these days. I myself am very rarely distressed, and that's despite the fact that I can't do handstands. Your typical damsel round these parts carries her own mobile telephone, hanky and emergency flotation device, so would-be distress-alleviators are hard pressed for business.

No one wants to go back to the bad old days of regularly distressed damsels. Far too much valium was consumed; far too few damsels knew how to tie reef knots. Nonetheless, when the phone call came on tuesday night, the phone call of an unmistakeably distressed damsel, I dropped my knitting, grabbed my bag of tricks and rushed out into the night with the gleam of adventure in my eyes, my messianic delusions in full throe.

(That's me, staring danger in the face. As you may notice, I'm not wearing jeans; this was just a practice run danger-staring-into-face-thereof, back in August 2005. I have since grown considerably taller, stopped wearing industrial-strength over-sized blundstones, and now look like Michelle Pfeiffer.)

The phone call was from my friend the Data Entry Clerk, who moved into the 'hood a month ago. While the 'hood affords many delights for an up-and-coming Data Entry Clerk (viz., fancy coffee, lots of buses, interesting young people on bicycles), she had chanced upon a none-too-suitable housemate. It would be unkind to call this housemate the housemate from hell. Or even the housemate from the last chapter of purgatory. But certainly she was the Housemate With Whom No Self-Respecting Data Entry Clerk Could Long Sustain Enclosure in a Confined Space. The incompatibilities were many and various, the Housemate With Whom seemed not to have noticed any of them, and my friend the Data Entry Clerk felt that in the interests of her future will to live it would be best if she gave her notice and began to look around for an alternative habitat.

On tuesday night, the Data Entry Clerk summoned all her gumption and began to speak words of lease termination with the Housemate With Whom. I can vouch for the honour, tact and kindness of this Data Entry Clerk. No bulldozerer over the tender feelings, the abandonment anxieties, or the perhaps precarious finances of the Housemate With Whom is she. Be that as it may, the Housemate With Whom exploded into furious threats, and the gist of them was that the Data Entry Clerk had better get herself and her collection of antique Moroccan ceramics out of the Confined Space pronto.

Enter moi, with my trusty swag of cardboard boxes (amassing in anticipation of Melborneo), my sticky-tape, my driver's license, and my convenient ability to avoid the extra truck-rental levy for under-25-year-olds.

Soon it was wednesday morning. The Housemate With Whom left for gainful employment, the Data Entry Clerk had to take the day off from entering data, I postponed my daily quest for truth and wisdom, and found myself down at Balmain Rentals, signing up as pilot of an alarmingly large rent-a-truck.

A thing or two about me: I am not a natural driver. They sent a letter home in 1989 advising my parents that I needed to stay behind after school for remedial Phys.Ed.. My attempts to get about on two wheels normally end with me and my bicycle entangled in an unseemly knot. I am, as they say in circles I prefer (for obvious reasons) not to frequent, profoundly un-co. Inveterately so. And so I drive infrequently, with considerable anxiety, and only in vehicles with a reliable gravitational centre.

Here I was, then, trying to reassure the Data Entry Clerk that her world was not imploding, unable to locate the handbrake in the alarmingly large rent-a-truck, hoping to channel the spirit of a co person. Somehow, magically, even in the absence of a ouija board, the spirit of that co person came to me. I found the hand-brake (projecting out of the dashboard, just below the steering wheel), we loaded the alarmingly large rent-a-truck with carefully wrapped Moroccan ceramics (with a little assistance from assembled under-25-year-olds and an Aged P.), and the Data Entry Clerk and I sailed up Victoria Rd to her temporary refuge in the bosom of her family. Hereupon, my friend bequeathed me a year's supply of free data entry and a bowl of fried rice. To this very day (Friday), she rejoices that she made her escape and she goes about her data entering with a renewed gusto.

As for the Housemate With Whom, the very next day she fell deeply in love with a croissant vendor, and lived happily ever after. Aw.