18 January 2012

New Zealand Chronicles | Earning Ham


7 December 2011

The trip flew by after my epiphany. We headed up to Mount Victoria to take a look at the city from across the bay. It was gorgeous. Don't worry, I documented. 



Toadstools.


Ang took pictures of me. She did not bother to remind me they were full body shots. She did not think to say "um Danielle you should fix the way you stand." I suppose that means she'll take me as I am, which is typically great. And me -- as giddy and as close to being in the clouds as I was -- did not think to look at the first five pictures. We should all just forget they exist. But I did get my act somewhat together. We had our first encounter with other Americans up there. It was less of an encounter and more of a "let's do our best not to be associated with them." Really America, a little class could do our national image good. Inside voices people, even when you're outside.

We bopped from Mt. Victoria to the North Head Historic Reserve, a crucial military installation in the universe where the Japanese were going to attack. Once we had all the pictures we could think to take and retake, we had to get to the mall.


Brilliant idea. You stand on those footprints and
the camera / monitor shows the truth.
That's right. I was on the other side of the Pacific, in a town called Albany, at a Westfield Mall. It was very un-holiday of me, but we had business to which we had to attend. Ang needed work grown work clothes. It dawned on me that I had somehow become an expert on such a topic, after insisting for years that it didn't matter. We shopped. Well, I shopped. Ang listed every possible reason why we were wasting our time. She talked about how she wouldn't find anything she liked. How what she would find would be too expensive. She mentioned the store wouldn't have her size, and that we were wasting our time because she wasn't going to get a second job interview before the one that was scheduled a few days from then. I tell you Angie's list of glass-half-empty-isms because she was wrong about every one of them. Every. Single. One. She found a grown up something she liked, could afford, and fit. She got a call for a second interview that would happen before the first. Positive things happened in rapid succession. I forced her to notice. It didn't stop her incessant nail biting or brow furrowing. But I like to think there were moments were she had perspective. And then we went to the beach bowls.

Lawn bowling is a thing. It's a big thing. On the night in question, it was the season finale. Ang, The Squash Player, The Ladies' Man and others (like the VERY important Sharron) have a team. Hold on.  I'm getting ahead of myself. Lawn bowling is a sport typically played by older people. The (unofficially named) Bowls Association started seasonal leagues as a way to get young people involved. It appeared to me to have been a success. One can never go wrong with 30- & 40-somethings competing over drinks for the possibility of prizes. Now as far as the rules, I did not quite figure those out. Bowls isn't really about the bowling anyway. It's very obviously about the chatting.

So. Ang & I arrived on time and met Grumpy Gus. Grumpy Gus might really be more of a Pensive Pete, but I'm being honest with my feelings here and he seemed grumpy at first pass. Grumpy Gus is a mate of The Squash Player. He also plays squash. Gus may have been grumpy because no one else from the team had arrived. I don't know. I was a guest. And he did not seem like the type to believe in full disclosure. And then there were more. The Squash Player and The Ladies' Man arrived. As did Sharron. Ang did not introduce me to Sharron. I somehow think that's what caused the subsequent confusion. I'm sure of it. I'm not giving Sharron a nickname, because she already has one. Come to think of it, that may also have contributed to the subsequent confusion. I could be convinced of that.  I met Sharron. Subsequently, there was confusion.

Angie has told me about everyone. She's told me a fair amount about all of them. I knew about people before I met them. I'd done a really good job of matching names to stories for days. I was impressed with myself, right up until the aforementioned subsequent confusion.

I had nothing on Sharron. In reality I did, but when I first met her, I drew a blank. And what could have been mild confusion was immediately exacerbated by her saying something akin to "I'm sure Ang's told you loads about me," and my replying "no, not really."

Gasps and guffaws, my friends. Gasps. And. Guffaws. Angie was across the field, unaware I was in that boat, up that creek and frantically searching for a paddle. There are no paddles in bowls!

In my haste to use my wits to rebound, I said "oh you work where [The Ladies' Man] lives." While that's true, it's worded poorly. Sharron's office is a house. At the time, The LM was living there after hours. So I should have said "oh, [The Ladies' Man] is occupying your office like a gremlin." Oh hindsight. You hurt me with your clarity. Ang returned from the other side of the field unknowingly on the defensive. She handled it (in my opinion) like a champ. Balls were rolled.  

The Ladies' Man.

Us.

Us. Without the zoom.


"Oh that's really good. Danielle get a picture of that." - The LM
As it was the last day of the season, there was a big feeds afterward. I ate as if I belonged, which I very much did not. Once dinner wrapped, it was time for the prizes. I'm going to go ahead and say the prizes were the best part of the evening. I now know what happens if your chief sponsor is a butcher. And I have to say never were more practical prizes awarded.

The prizes.


Ang, Jess(?), Grumpy Gus.


The big winners. Champagne AND ham.
Signing up for next season.