(Note: An imagined dialogue between
by Diana van den Berg
me, a sixty-three year old,
and her, a twenty-five year old colleague)
“Blim, ” I said with a cheery smile.
“ Er, er par... don? ”
“Blim, ” I said again -
in a particularly explanatory way –
you know, like Winnie-the-Pooh
in his cuddly, teddy bear voice
explaining about honeypots or songs –
‘How cold my toes, tiddly pom’ and all that?
“What are you talking about? What’s ‘blim’? ”
she said in that voice –
you know the one a twenty-five year old
girl from Pretoria who always gets what she wants,
uses, when she thinks
that her sixty-three year old colleague
has misplaced her sanity.
”Well, ” I said, “I was hoping you would tell me! ”
“I really don’t know what you are talking about, ” she said
not knowing whether to be terrified or abrupt.
“Neither do I, for that matter.
Are you really telling me that you don’t know what ‘blim’ means?
After all, you mumbled it to your left thigh
in a very grumpy voice
yesterday afternoon just after half past four
when you were sitting on the wall
waiting for whoever you have extracted
a lift home from now.
I realise that it is probably means something
most unpleasant – and that it is a greeting of some sort –
perhaps one that you say just before you vomit.
I know that it is a greeting, “ I said pensively,
”because you said it immediately after
I walked past you from your right and said ‘Goodbye’ to you,
but perhaps you weren’t talking to me -
perhaps it was your left thigh you were talking to,
though why you would want to tell your left thigh
that you are going to vomit, I can hardly imagine.
It didn’t reply, as I recall, which was very rude of it.
I wonder where it learned that from.
Now, I wonnnnnder if it could have sommmmething to do
with the fact that
about two months ago
I was kind enough to go out of my way
every day for three weeks
and give you a lift home
in a car that needs attention
and with petrol I can hardly afford.
There is somebody
from another company in the building
who gives you
a lift home every day now,
except for now and then
and then you have no trouble
begging and getting a lift
from somebody else in our company –
Of course, you do prepare well for that
with all your friendliness
to the possible contenders –
the same friendliness you showed
so politely and diplomatically
- and with a week’s notice -
wriggled out of the position
you and a colleague put me into.
Funny, isn’t it
that it is I
who has given you more lifts
than the rest of the company
yet I am the bad guy –
the bad old woman!
It’s not your
for a lift that disgusts me –
although if it were me, I would catch the bus
from the bus stop right outside –
and when the bus drivers are on strike,
I would walk the mile and a half or so -
sixty-three or not -
but that’s me, not you.
the answer to be yes -
no matter the circumstances
nor the inconvenience –
when it’s not.
there are some people
for whom I would
sacrifice my life
(I hope – but you never can tell
until the bullet leaves the gun)
but there are others
even a particularly rusty cliché.
Have a lovely day! ”
(18 March 2009)