They recommend that couples play games to keep their romance alive. Well everyday is Valentine’s Day with Mr. Bill, for he and I are keen gamers. Our two favorites are “Guess What?” and “Memory”. It’s game on, as soon as Mr. Bill walks through the door, when I excitedly say, “you’ll never guess what happened today”! He doesn’t. Mr. Bill then asks, “did I tell you what happened last week”? He hasn’t. We’re hopelessly addicted and it doesn’t matter if you win or lose; just having skin in the game, is all that’s needed to keep Cupid’s arrows flying.
I was bursting with excitement last month to play, “Guess What?”. So much so, that I didn’t even give poor Mr. Bill his turn, before I blurted out the answer to- “you’ll never guess where I went and what I joined today”! That was being a spoilsport. I am certain Mr. Bill would have correctly guessed, ‘Whakatane Library’ and ‘Writers Group’ but I didn’t give him a chance.
Joining the Whakatane Writers Group came about in the usual Ohope way; someone knows someone, who has the same interest as you and puts you together. I had invited Keturah, who was new to Ohope, to Pilates Class and for coffee afterwards. When Keturah mentioned that she was looking for a writer’s group, Erin looked up from her flat white and said that Annie, who was at the far end of the table, belonged to one. Hearing her name, Annie nodded and said that yes, she was a member of the Whakatane Writers Group, their monthly meeting was at 2pm and would we like to come along? Would we? Yes please! Talk about, ‘ask and ye shall receive’! I don’t have a car but Keturah has an adventure van and off we went to our first meeting.
The Whakatane Writers Group meets at the Whakatane Library on the first Tuesday of the month. It’s a delightful and welcoming club. Imagine finding camaraderie in an otherwise solitary pursuit. I was inspired and excited by the other writers. Some are writing their memoirs, others are penning novels and I am chuffed to be the only one with a blog. Colleen was the moderator and the meeting began with Carol’s brain teasing vocabulary quiz. Next, the overuse of commas and the passive voice were the topic of conversation before the critique of the members’ stories. Colleen led the discussion-active voice. The discussion was led by Colleen.Voila-passive voice! In the former, the subject performs the action of the verb. In the latter, the subject is acted upon by the verb. (Annoyingly, Microsoft word does not recognize the brilliance of a passive voice sentence and will prompt you to revise. Don’t!) The meeting was entertaining and informative. Ah, if only school was always that enjoyable.
Colleen is this month’s leader as well and has suggested that we find examples of the passive voice. Done and done! Our writing task is :
A story (fact or fiction) based on ‘sixth sense’ or ‘intuition’,i.e.. do you have a story or an incident where you or your character had a feeling or a premonition that something or a situation was not right and took action to save the day? Or you/they made a decision , which leads to a positive outcome.
I did not have to ponder long on how to incorporate September’s assignment into my blog, for as you will read, all roads lead back to Mr. Bill. The following story is my homework.
Six weeks is the longest time that Mr. Bill and I have spent apart. Six weeks is an eternity when you are in love. Yet six weeks and not a day less, was how long it would take me to earn the ninety-nine dollar student airfare, to fly from Boston to Washington, D.C. That ratio of cost to wages, should tell you just how long ago it was, that I was studying art at Regis College and Mr. Bill was a student at Georgetown University Medical School. Six long weeks stretched between each parting. Time is the enemy in a long distance relationship; it slows down when you are apart, speeds up when you are together and no amount of wishing will make it stop. Was it any wonder, that I ignored the clock on one fateful visit, when Mr. Bill was then my boyfriend Bill?
Since it was a long weekend for me but not for Bill, I flew to our nation’s capital for a three day visit. A whole extra day, we couldn’t believe our good fortune. Not only was time on our side for once but there was also time to kill. While Bill was attending lectures, I borrowed his car and drove down to the mall, to spend the afternoon at the National Gallery. Blessed with the luck of the Irish, not only did I find a parking space near the museum on busy Constitution Avenue, I even had the correct change for the parking meter. With time on my side for once, I went for the maximum allowed and dropped in enough coins for four hours.
At first I wandered through the galleries at a leisurely pace, mindful yet unconcerned about the passing time. It was strange, after a while a sense of unease permeated my reverie. Worried that the meter had expired, I checked my watch and was relieved to see that I had over two hours left. I continued on through the vast collections but my relief was short lived. That vague misgiving soon turned to alarm and I found myself obsessively noting the time. My anxiety grew and grew despite being well within the allotted time. The bothersome inner voice, which began as a whisper of worry that I had at first ignored, then shushed, was now shouting, that it was time to leave. It was ridiculous. I told myself sternly that I was being silly. Yet my inner voice would not be silenced. It screamed, “GO NOW”! I left.
Tramping down this irrational panic, I hurried through the long galleries until I was finally out on Constitution Avenue, emerging a few blocks from where I had parked Bill’s car. Something was not right. There were no longer any parked cars on the crowed boulevard. Not one. I began running. In the distance I could see a tow truck where I had left the car. I ran faster, my heart pounding as hard as my feet pounded the pavement. I had to over take that truck. Too late! It was my boyfriend’s, white Chevy Malibu, that was about to be hoisted into the air. What can a girl do? I cried. I pleaded. Gasping for breath, I was incoherent as I begged the two operators to please, please release the car. I was a stranger in the city! I would be stranded! It was my boyfriend’s car! He would be waiting for me! How would I be able to contact him? All these words tumbled out in a rush, my voice catching as I shook with sobs. Bemused they looked at one another, shrugged and released the chain around the front bumper, while I wept at their feet.
I thanked them again and again as they unhooked the car. I shuddered at the narrow escape from disaster; one minute more and I would have been too late but hold on a second, looking over I saw that there was still time left on the parking meter. What? Now I was confused. Politely, I pointed to the meter and asked my new friends, why were they towing the car, when the meter had not yet expired. In turn, they pointed to the sign mid block which read, “No Parking After 4 pm – Tow Away Zone”. Tick tock, it was now past four o’clock. More than a little embarrassed, I waved goodbye as I unlocked the car door. That’s when I noticed the bright red ticket, tucked neatly under the windshield wiper. It was no ordinary parking violation; this one charged a towing fee, in addition to a hefty fine. No wonder they did not mind releasing the car, the tow charge would still be collected and they were on to the next vehicle. Well, at least I rescued the car from a trip to the impound yard and that saved some time and money.
I didn’t play, “You’ll Never Guess What happened Today”, when I picked Bill up that day, the whole story came out in a rush with more tears. If he was upset, he never said. It was going to take more than a ‘little’ ticket to ruin the weekend. We had each other and the car!
I believe that inner voice, which was so insistent that I leave ‘early’ that day , was my guardian angel watching over me. She is much quieter these days, now that I am traveling with instead of to and from Mr. Bill. She gets to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride, confident in my travel companion’s driving. And Mr. Bill always reads the signs.
Deja Vu. Oh no, Mr. Bill, it’s happened again! Bizarre but true, history repeated itself in downtown Tauranga, a scant four days after submitting this story to my writers group. However, this time there was a delightful Kiwi ending. What can I say? Mr. Bill and I were both away with the fairies, when we left our car on Elizabeth Street. There were no parking meters and neither one of us saw the parking kiosk further down the block, nor the bright blue parking sign above us on the telephone pole. We should have looked, after all we were in the city and not Whakatane, where parking is free. Ignorance is bliss and we strolled through the CBD, without a care in the world. Why even my guardian angel and sixth sense were on holiday. Returning by a different route some hours later, we noticed first the parking kiosk and secondly the parking attendant, standing alongside our car, electronic ticket book in hand. There were no tears this time. We quickly apologized, admitting our mistake. Cheerfully, the meter man excused us, saying,”That’s all right then. I’m just writing the ticket now. I’ll just back out of the screen and give you a warning instead of a ticket”. With a smile, he added that parking wasn’t free until after 1pm on Saturdays. This time, it was our American accents saved the day.