Saturday, 20 January 2007

Dangerous trousers and tales of the city

I may be the one taking the dancing class, but it was Andrew who suffered a wardrobe malfunction this week at work when he bent over the jammed photocopier.
Oh yeah, big tear in the trousers, right in the ass. This was no subtle loosening of the seams either, but a virtual canyon between the two pieces of fabric. So off he trudged to the female-dominated office down the hall, where he asked if any of the ladies happened to have a needle and thread in her desk.
Of course they asked why he needed it. If they had known Andrew better they wouldn’t have pushed that button. Not one to be easily embarrassed, Andrew simply turned his back to them, and bent over.
After recoiling in horror, one of the women produced a needle and black thread while announcing to the room that she “always knew it would come in handy.”
Andrew managed to patch up his trousers, but when he told me the story that night and handed me the offending article of clothing, I could see that the stitches were barely holding. It reminded me of a gaping, aging suspension bridge.
(I have hardly been able to hold myself together while writing this, and not because of this story. It is because (and I’m going to be killed for this, I know) suddenly the whole “hole in the trousers” image brought me back to Moose Valley, where years ago six women in three canoes attempted to assert their feminine strength in the wild. There’s our precious Moe in her rubber boots, with all of her mom’s camping gear from the 1970s, including a pair of bright yellow waterproofs. At this moment I am placing myself back on my seat beside the fire on that first night. I can see Moe standing across from me, her plastic pants catching the firelight and casting a warm, jaundiced glow over the scene.
The conversation is flowing; all is well. Then she turns around to warm her back, and we see it. The seat of her ultra-roomy outdoor wear has bunched up, displaying a sizeable hole right in centre of the sea of yellow. The placement of the hole, along with the way the plastic is jutting out, makes it look like a sudden violent force has split the seam from the inside.
I suppose you had to be there. But oh, how we laughed. Please don’t kill me, Moe).

Moving on. Taking a dance class is proving to be beneficial outside of the studio, since every week I have two hours to wander Edinburgh after work before the 7pm lesson.
On Wednesday I had planned to be practical and get myself a sandwich. But soon enough my luscious palate (Luscious Palate – the ultimate name for a catering company) convinced me that cake and a good cup of tea was just as practical.
Soon my eyes were sweeping over the menu at Plasir du Chocolat. On instinct I avoided several teas, including the “Pu-Erh” and the “Dung Ti.” I also didn’t trust the “Goomtee First Flush,” and of course being German I stayed far back from the “Polka Tea.”
I finally settled on the Autumn Blend, a mix of figs, grapes, quinces, nuts and raisins (and even some sunflower petals), on a base of China and Ceylon teas. Next time I shall have the Lapsang Crocodile, just because. Either that or I shall order the Santo Domingo hot chocolate, described in the menu as “a chocolate with all the fire and passion of the Caribbean.”
I made an error with my cake selection and chose the chocolate cake made with almond flour. I should have had the raspberry ganache. Lesson learned. Still, not a bad way to spend an hour “sugaring-up” before the walk to class.

I adore Edinburgh in the dark. I love the single low drone of the bell at St. Giles Cathedral as it marks the quarter hour. This is quickly followed by the boom of a guide’s voice as he gathers his latest ghost tour victims together. “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome,” he says as he leads them around the side of the cathedral to begin the tales of hangings and witch burnings. Who will the MacKenzie Poltergeist attack tonight? Invisible electric hands groping and pinching.
Then I catch sight of a small white feather drifting along just above the damp stones. The cold wind pushes it along and it is such a contrast to the surrounding grey that I consider that somewhere, an angel has sneezed. It bobs and weaves but soon it floats too close to the cobbles, which in the dark look like stacked slick volcano tongues, wet from the rain and lying in wait. It takes but one caress of curiosity and the feather is caught, its tender spine stuck to the stone. A few soft strands still finger the air, a delicate dance of bewilderment and acceptance. “Oh! Is it time? Really? Oh. Alright then. Goodbye. Bye.” A group of students walk by and the feather that just before looked alive in the shimmering gloom is nothing more than a smear of greying mush.
Down towards Grassmarket, where I stop by one window to read the slogans on the t-shirts. One shirt features a man doing a high karate kick. The platform for his demonstration of might are the words “I got a black belt in keepin’ it real,” and it makes me think of Kryce.
The trunks and heavy lower branches of the trees down at Grassmarket (now a small funky shopping area but formerly a great spot to witness a hanging or two) are still wrapped in a close net of white-purple lights. No matter how long I stare at them in wonder, I cannot think of a suitable metaphor to describe them. Just magic. A clutch of magic against cold bark.
And that's all I have to say about that.


your new best friend said...

that was pretty damn embar-assing alright. I was all nonchalant, having no effing idea the hole was there. thanks mom. thanks me for being a camping reject with no goretex in sight...

PurestGreen said...

If it makes you feel better Gen and I had to wear garbage bags in Well's Grey because we didn't have rain gear. And then Av accidentally dumped our pasta dinner into the fire, which the next morning (early) attracted crows that fought over the pieces still lying in the coals. Oh, and one time I ripped by pants bowling.