Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Ostrich or the Egg

I was so annoyed last night. When I tried to post a new blog article, Myspace blogs were down for "20 minutes." After an hour and a half of waiting, I gave up and went to bed. I can only apologize to my loyal readers. The technology that brings us together sometimes separates us.
This past weekend, I had a lovely visit from my artist friend, Jan. Because of my cold (flu, whatever), I had opted out of our scheduled Bridge game, on Saturday. I had caught this sickness while visiting Jan the weekend before. She probably picked it up from some disease ridden child at one of the schools where she worked as a "supply teacher." For my American readers, a "supply teacher" is not someone who teaches supply. It's a British term for a substitute teacher. Although Jan is retired from teaching (oh I wish I didn't have to go to work), she does a bit of temping, as a supply teacher, to bring in some extra cash. Anyway, this experience has re-confirmed my suspicion that children are mostly useless and simply act as carriers of disease (and you only thought you could re-confirm reservations).
I think Jan felt a little guilty for getting me ill, so she came over with a care package and to keep me a little company. I called her on Friday night and mentioned that Nando was working late. I think I gave her the impression that I was lonely, what with Nando not at home. Nando was working all weekend, so Jan probably concluded that I would be lonesome all on my own. The care package consisted of Lemsip, salad dressing, fresh broccoli, tartar sauce, and a box of microwave popcorn. Despite my dropping hints that I prefer Lemsip capsules, she turned up with the original powder, which one has to mix with hot water, then drink. She brought what she likes. Never mind what I like. Oh well, it's the thought that counts.
On Sunday afternoon, I showed Jan some videos on my computer. I had warned her that my bedroom was a bit untidy. She reassured me that her daughter's room is also messy, so she's used to that sort of thing. I bet her my room would outdo her daughter's. I think I won that bet. Jan decided to amuse herself by picking up some books that were piled on my bedroom floor. This was a task I had started, myself, last year, but hadn't yet managed to finish. The pile of books was left over from moving in, a year ago. Although I have wanted to finish putting the books on my bookshelf for ages, it still felt a little intrusive to have Jan doing it. I tried to talk her out of it, to no avail. She said her daughter makes the same complaints when Jan cleans her room. Jan may be only five feet, two inches tall, but she has this gentle pushiness that's so unobtrusive, it's hard to resist. It's kind of like the tide coming in. It starts out lapping at your ankles, then the next thing you know, you're up to your neck in it.
From the books, she moved on to some of my ties that were tossed on a pile of folded clothes. They were deposited there after I took them to some costume fitting or another. Defensively, I tried to help, so I could put my spin on where thinks were put. After a while, I told Jan to stop. She would agree, but as soon as I relaxed, she'd start picking up something or the other. It was all I could do to stop her from throwing away my prized supermarket carrier bags. Eventually, Jan came across my ostrich egg. It was given to me in South Africa, back in December, 2002, by a rep from a travel company. I carried the egg all the way back to England, without breaking it. I have lugged it around to three rented residences, over the past four years. I looked at the egg and I looked at Jan. Suddenly, an idea sprang into my mind. "Jan, do you want that egg? You can have it, if you want it," I said.
"Is it an ostrich egg?" Jan asked.
"Yes," I said. Did it matter? It's a big flipping egg. Either she wanted it, or she didn't.
"I could have used it when I was a full-time art teacher," she informed me. That was interesting, but mostly irrelevant. That was then, this is now. Would she take it off my hands, now? I hoped she would. Finally, I could be rid of that useless thing. She agreed, but did so unenthusiastically. I was worried she was just being polite.
"Are you sure you want it?" I asked. "As much as I want to be rid of the damned thing, I want it to go to a good home. I don't want you to take it and end up putting it in your garage." Jan thought out loud about where she could put it, in her house. She held the large egg shell in her hands. Would she bond with it? I started to feel reluctant to let it go. Maybe this is how mothers feel who put their babies up for adoption before giving birth. When push comes to shove, they have second thoughts about giving the child up. I asked her, "if you were me, would you give the egg away, or keep it?" I sat on the end of my bed, while Jan stood with the egg in her hands. We debated the egg's future. No matter how much I wanted to be rid of it, I just wasn't convinced that Jan really wanted it. We decided that I would keep the egg, for now, while Jan thought about it. If she decided she really did want it, I would give it to her in the future.
If any of you would like to have an ostrich egg and will commit to giving it a good home, let me know. It's just the egg shell. All the innards have been drained out of it, so it's never going to hatch into anything. It will forever be dependant on you for care and attention. On the plus side, it doesn't eat anything and is very quiet. All of this discussion of the egg's fate has led me to ponder that age old question: which came first the ostrich or the egg?

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