Friday, February 19, 2010

Stranger on my porch

A few days ago, a ridiculously large lightning storm ripped through here. There's something about the ranges we live underneath - they seem to attract lightning. And thunder. Loud, echoing, cracking thunder like you've never heard before, that bounces off all the hillsides round here.

This is what we arrived home to, the LGBB and me. We made it into the driveway just as the first drops started. We watched with a bit of trepidation laced with trace amounts of fear as it got instantly heavy, with lightning now hiccupping across the landscape. It was daytime and not particularly dark with the storm clouds, but the lightning was even more blinding - sheet lightning - not hitting the ground. But then it did start to hit the ground. Somewhere, close. And we were still in the car.

The LGBB began to whimper and look to me. Her big, brave, capable Mummy. Still sitting behind the wheel of the car and saying absent-mindedly, "Oooh, well, would you look at that, then," whilst simultaneously doing the wee dance (that wiggle-in-your-seat dance that you have to do when your bladder knows you're home and your seatbelt's just come off and those pelvic floor muscles that got ripped so violently during the birth of your second child just aren't as effective as they used to be to hold back the Hoover Dam... one false move and it's all over).

And then, as we were sitting there and I was contemplating when to make a dash for it with the LGBB, a young woman passed the front of our driveway. With her shopping in one hand and a most pissy, pathetic umbrella in the other. It was at this moment that we were out of the car and dashing to the porch, Lolly and I. So I called out to the woman, who could barely hear me even those few short metres away.

"Do you want to come wait on our porch?" I called out again, gesturing with my free arm. Lolly was gripping me like a tree monkey on my opposite hip, headbutting me at every new lightning strike and rumble from above. The woman called out her thanks and started heading towards us. The poor thing was drenched. I had no idea who she was.

So I'm thinking myself very ... very neighbourly, very community, at this point. I'd seen this girl walking our street before (ours is a bit of a thoroughfare and I love the diversity to be seen). She was a bit of a rock chick - perhaps a retired/settled down one, she looked about my age - and had rings on her fingers and out her ears and mouth and you get the picture. And she laughed appreciatively at my attempts to allay any discomfort about standing on our porch - we were strangers to each other but we had a good old laugh. I wasn't uncomfortable with her being there, I was quite happy for her to stay there for as long as the storm was around and felt quite relieved for her that she was out from under all the huge trees that are up and down our street (last year, a week before Black Saturday, a huge storm passed through and hit the oak in the yard next door - blew up most of our electrical equipment, even stuff that hadn't been on at the time).

But I needed to get inside. Really. Urgently. Lolly was now sitting on my side and squeezing my kidney.

Then, in one of those moments when you wish you could rewind and make yourself a bit clearer next time, I said to the LGBB, "Would you like to come in?" I wanted her to get inside and off the porch, it was really so loud, with the teeming rain and angry thunder. She nodded. And the woman uttered a gushing, "Oh thank you, you're so kind!" and bent over, bundling up her shopping bags.

Er.... It was too late. Or I am too nice. Or something. So I let this stranger in, all of us a little wary of each other and quite amused at the gusto with which she strode in, put her wet shopping on my neat floor, had a browse through our rogues' gallery in the front entrance and then helped herself to standing on *my* side of the kitchen, that is, the one I usually stand on to assume the role of hostess to guest. I wonder if she thought it was as odd of me to invite her in as much as I thought it was a bit strange that she'd thought I had asked her in.

I couldn't go to the toily either. Not with her now in the house and my scared child at my feet (not that the child thing in the toilet has ever stopped me before - cripes, I'd have to hold on until Satan announced the next Winter Olympics were being held down there if I was going to wait until the next pee in peace, without demands, requests for stories to be read.... you get the picture and, I'm sure, many of you can sympathize).

So I did the only thing I knew to do. For the next 20 MINUTES, PEOPLE (that is a Herculean effort for my bladder.... though possibly a bit bad for it.), I made polite chat and kept the laughs coming. Thank God it was her laughing and not me, or I would have been in a very embarrassing predicament. And she would have walked past our house from that day forth and remembered when the nice woman who lives there invited her in and lost control of her water. Whoops.

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