Sunday, 16 March 2008

SPQR meets Te Puke March 16

It was one of those days you wished to dear God you had stopped long enough to at least drag a brush through your hair and maybe put on some shoes. But hey, it was Te Puke on a rainy Friday afternoon, who was I going to see?
“You look like something the cat dragged in,” murmured Judy at the camping ground shop as I checked out.
“You’d look like this too if you’d just dismantled an entire awning on your own in gale force winds and driving rain,” I mumbled miserably. I always enter the first stage of depression when I leave my caravan.
She gave me a look which said “you could at least have washed your face” and tallied up my ground fees.
“There’s a forest in your hair,” she added as she swiped my card in the machine.
“I know but no one cares down here, everyone’s so laid back, that’s what I love about this place,” I proffered trying to avoid my reflection in the window.
Judy gave me another look which I would have preferred not to decipher because it went something like “yeah and that’s why my hair is perfect and I’m wearing make-up and something on my feet.”
I then realised that I had dirt smeared all over my legs from when I fell down the bank thankfully still hanging on to the awning. And I’d forgotten that I went fishing in my denim skirt the day before and it still had a few fish scales on it.
“Go on you, get back to the city and get yourself cleaned up,” she laughed before giving me a kiss goodbye.
Oh well, I reasoned only a few hours and I’d be back in Auckland and my big bath.
But first there was a stop to be made at the Te Puke Op Shop which last time I looked had a rather special cake mixer for only $5. In I went with my forest, dirt and fish scales and within moments I heard his voice.
There’s only one place I hear it and that’s SPQR, my favourite restaurant, a place I never set foot in without make-up, brushed hair and occasionally even heels.
I hastily hid behind the “larger sizes” clothes rack and peered cautiously through a pair of size 24 elastic waist black polyester trousers to determine that yes, Auckland had caught up with me.
There examining an indeterminate appliance was my favourite waiter we’ll call Mike (not his real name) in his trademark hat and discussing the merits of the appliance with his girlfriend.
The guy who makes sure I try beautiful wines and pours them for me in the “special” glasses he gets from out the back. Who bothers to stop and have a chat with me, even if I am being lame and not at all funny.
I like him. I like him a lot. But until I found myself cowering behind the humongous pair of pants trying to avoid getting too near the crotch I had no idea I cared what he thought. Was I so shallow that the thought of a Ponsonby waiter seeing me looking less than groomed in Te Puke really mattered? Was it really so bad being outed by an Aucklander for looking a fright?
I had to admit that yes, I was indeed shallow and what’s more I had to get out of the shop and away from the pants which were now emitting a rather disturbing odour.
What to do? Tough it out by waltzing up and saying some pathetic line like: “Ha no Astrolabe chardonnay for me today eh!”
Bad approach on two counts. For a start I’m talking about work and he’s obviously on holiday, though why in Te Puke I have no idea. And secondly he’ll probably mistake me for the local homeless woman who wanders the streets begging for leftovers and cigarettes.
So I just got out of there fast. The dog looked a little surprised to see me back quite so soon, and then we were gone.
“God are you alright?” asked my husband on greeting me at our front door. “You didn’t have an accident did you?”
“You’d look like this too if you’d just dismantled an entire awning on your own in gale force winds and driving rain,” I repeated forcefully. “And been spotted by my SPQR waiter!”“I’ll get you a drink and you can tell me all about it,” he soothed before adding,
“What’s that fish smell?”

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