Last week, my parents set off on a road trip.
Even to minor excursions – going to the shops, picking up mail – Dad brings the same measure of care and precision as he might to, say, invading a small country. There are maps to be consulted, schedules to be drawn, checklists to be ticked, bags to be packed, socks to be pulled up.
Undoubtedly, Dad is thorough and organised – but he likes to keep his options open. When Dad is ready to go, he’ll stand around roaring, “I THOUGHT WE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE LEAVING AT <INSERT CURRENT TIME MINUS X MINUTES TO THE NEAREST HOUR>!” even though nobody can remember seeing that particular bulletpoint in the circulated itinerary.
Now, while Dad sits in the car beeping and occasionally bawling, “VERA!” up the stairs, Mum pootles around achieving very little in comparison to the impressive acreage she covers. She’ll tootle downstairs with a bag of apricots, a whisk and a bottle of suntan lotion, wedge them into a non-existent gap in Dad’s painstakingly packed car, then womble off again to hunt down picnic blankets or savour a cup of tea while she envisions Dad going mad with the impatience.
I seriously thought her life might be in jeopardy when, after Dad had been downstairs fine-tuning the luggage for twenty minutes, she decided to boil an egg. (You think I’m making this up, don’t you? Bear this in mind: I did not spring from a vacuum.)
“Why didn’t you boil it yesterday?” asked Dad reasonably and admirably mildly.
“You know how to boil an egg as well as I do,” responded Mum defensively and undeniably perversely.
I don’t know whether Dad has mellowed, or merely appreciates that attempting to increase the tempo of Mum’s internal beat would be an exercise on the same scale as bailing out a boat with a fork. He might feasibly have dissuaded her from boiling her egg, whereupon she would have undertaken some emergency darning or decided to make an omelette.
Husband and I follow a similar pattern when leaving the house. I have never been innovative enough to boil an egg, but I find that sitting on the loo is an extremely defensible position. Andrew has been known to rev the car in the garage, but thankfully these days he does a spot of motorbike maintenance instead.
Leaving for Onemana last Friday, the roles were reversed when Andrew first spent half an hour wrapping up a PABX, and then decided to check the oil differential on the Toyota Surf. Evidence suggests Andrew didn’t spring from a vacuum either.
We finally arrived in Onemana at four o’clock.