That list somewhere below of “things I have done which you probably haven’t” has got me thinking back to days gone by.
And for some reason, embarrassing “moments I’d rather forget” seem to head the list of memories. Why on earth do we tend to remember the awful bits with such crystal clarity and not the good ones?? Anyway, here’s one I remembered.
My husband often used to invite his overseas work-related visitors to dinner at our house, together with some of his colleagues. On this particular occasion, everything conspired to ruin the event…
Firstly, we had a new live-in maid. (Yeah, yeah, I know…) She was fairly young and very shy, straight out of a Javanese-speaking village down in Johor. At the time my two girls were three and a baby of a couple of a couple months. I cooked most of the dinner, but was running late. My husband had to leave to pick up the visitors from their hotel. The locals were coming by themselves, of course.
And just to complete the scenario: our lounge room had concertina doors, which were pushed completely open to the side that night, but also a wrought iron grille – which was locked. So anyone arriving at the door could see in, and of course, hear everything. The main bedroom gave off the lounge room.
I left the baby with the maid, and dashed into the shower with about 15 minutes to spare (this is the tropics, remember – having been slaving away in the kitchen, I wasn’t about to appear before the guests dripping in sweat.) I came out of the shower, and was still quite naked, when my three-year-old comes running into the bedroom, saying “They’re here! They’re here!” – meaning the contingent of (early) local guests.
“Close the door!” I hiss at her, not wanted to be on display to the guests in my state of undress.
A number of things then happen more or less simultaneously. I reach out to grab up the roll-on deodorant from the dressing table, and the whole roll-on top comes flying off, dousing me in sticky deodorant from hair all the way to feet. And three-year-old slams the door on her hand and sets off a bawl that could have been heard in the next suburb.
So there I am, with visitors at the front door for a fancy dinner party, a daughter screaming blue murder, her sticky, naked mother panicking wondering whether her child’s broken her fingers, husband not back, and a maid to shy too come out of her room and let the visitors in.
Moments like that, there really ain’t much you can do.
I comfort daughter, check out all the fingers, run water into the basin and get her to soak her hand (she’s still yelling), ignore the doorbell and puzzled snatches of conversation (“Well, someone’s home, I can hear a child screaming” and “Are you sure we have the right house?”).
I then get back under the shower and wash off the goo and shampoo my hair. I try to persuade daughter – whose sobs have faded by this time – to go and let the guests in while I get dressed. She’s not budging.
And so it was my husband arrives back to find the house grille locked and puzzled guests milling around the front driveway…