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Saturday, August 25, 2018

School Camp Cooties

Lake Moogerah

“You know what thing I dread most about the school camp?” I whined to Scotto on the eve of my departure on a three day foray into the wilderness with twenty-five small children and a nervous mindset. “I dread having a shower in the freezing cold, uninsulated shed.” I continued my whinging after a period of non-response from him. “The temperature gets down to below zero out there in the bush!” 

“Don’t have a shower then,” Scotto answered blithely. “Just give your moot a splash and use extra deodorant.”

After I googled what a “moot” was, I sat for a while musing on how typical this response was for a male of our species.

One little boy wore the same shirt for the entire three days. He slept in the same shirt as well because he’d forgotten to pack anything else. By the end of camp he’d cultivated and housed his own personal, interactive community of organisms.

On the second day, I spied another boy heading to the shower with only a towel draped over his arm.

“Where are your clean clothes, Othello?” I called out to him as he hurtled along the path.

He shrugged and beamed innocently.

“Well? Where are they?” I repeated.

“I’m wearing them, Mrs Poinker.”

“But aren’t they the clothes you’ve had on all day?” I asked, recalling the day’s sweaty hike up to a gorge, the muddy trek along the lake’s edge and the enthusiastic rolling around in the dirt during a particularly intense orienteering activity.

He nodded, grinning sheepishly and shuffling his feet.

“You can’t put dirty clothes on again after a shower,” I said. “Have you at least got some clean jocks with you?”

He vigorously shook his head in the negative.

I sent him, dragging his feet reluctantly, back to the cabin to retrieve clean clothes and watched him return with his fresh clothes clutched in filthy hands.

It was imperative that I sit outside the shower block while the boys were ensconced inside, ‘pretending’ to wash themselves, in case anyone did anything silly. There was quite a lot of boisterous activity to be heard from within.

Little Aloysius emerged from the building and sat beside me on the steps with his wet hair sticking up at all angles.

“Smell this, Mrs Poinker,” he shoved an opened, liquid soap bottle under my nose.

“Mmmm, it smells lovely,” I said politely. It was very… earthy smelling... with unknown undertones.

“Do you want it Mrs Poinker? You can have it!” he offered passionately.

“No thanks, Aloysius,” I declined with as much grace as possible.

“No really Mrs Poinker. You can have it. I mean it.”

“No Aloysius. You take it home to Mum. I have some soap already.”

“Just take it Mrs Poinker. I want you to have it.” He was most insistent.

Othello emerged from the raucous cacophony that was the shower block, barely three minutes after he’d entered.

His hair was slightly damp so I presumed he’d at least stuck his head under the shower nozzle.

“Smell this!” Aloysius thrust the soap bottle under Othello’s nose. Othello grimaced and shuddered, then vaulted down the stairs and bounded back to the cabin before I could do a proper visual inspection of his person.

“I really, really, really want you to have this soap, Mrs Poinker,” Aloysius resumed his sales pitch.

At that point, I heard the dinner bell and managed to shuffle Aloysius off to the dining hall without hurting his feelings.

After dinner, my school principal (who was on camp with us) decided to take the kids out star gazing. The bitterly cold air bit into my face as I tentatively picked my way along the rocky path to the lake with only the children’s’ torches to light our way. 

By this stage, an exhausted, feverish euphoria began to set into my brain and I had to muffle hysterical giggling as my principal attempted to point out the Southern Cross while simultaneously chastising the boys who were pointing blinding torches directly into his face.

“Do you see those stars forming Orion’s Belt?” he asked the kids with more patience than a saint. Some of the boys were doing ‘the floss’ to keep warm which made me giggle even more because they looked funny doing the floss in their pyjamas.

“Who was the ‘Orion’ that Orion’s Belt was named after?” my principal asked the group of flossing midgets.

“Windscreens Orion,” I whispered deliriously.

One of the boys overheard me. “Yeah! That’s right!” he exclaimed gleefully and whispered this revelation to two of his buddies. They all had their hands wriggling desperately in the air to tell the principal that Orion’s Belt was named after Windscreens Orion.

Disappointingly, he didn’t call on them so my extremely immature joke went unappreciated.

Despite arriving home with chapped lips, bright red, wind burned cheeks and a bruise on my forehead from being struck with an errant oar during canoeing, it was a great camp.

Nobody was homesick and we all slept soundly every night.

“Mrs Poinker, I can’t even really remember what my parents are like,” quipped one little girl in amazement on the third day of camp.

Now that’s proof that we ALL had a good time.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

A School Story...

One of my lunch duties at school involves conveying the preps and grade ones and twos down to the back oval in a semi-orderly fashion. One of the other teachers travels ahead of us to circumnavigate the oval in a golf buggy to investigate the malevolent presence of venomous snakes and rabid, undomesticated kangaroos.

Last week, while we were down on that very oval, little Aloysius inched up to me as I attempted to eat chunks of watermelon from my plastic container at the same time as I was untying a preppie’s shoelace which had fallen off his foot when he'd kicked a soccer ball.

Whenever I am asked to untie a preppie’s shoelaces, they’re always tied in multiple, unfathomable knots and sopping wet.

“Have you been trying to undo these knots with your teeth?” I always ask, suspicious about the presence of spit and possible cross-infection. They always deny it but I know the truth.

Little Aloysius coughed to get my attention. “Mrs. Poinker,” he lisped self-righteously. “Bronson is up on the hill playing with rocks and sticks!”

I glanced at him and choked down a hunk of watermelon. “Well… there’s nothing wrong with that, Aloysius. You’re allowed to play with rocks and sticks as long as you don’t throw them.”

Aloysius considered this for a moment, disappointed that Bronson wasn’t going to cop a serve from a teacher. “But Mrs. Poinker, Bronson said that I can’t play with him,” he whined.

My eyes scoured the top of the slope for Bronson. I could see the tiny six-year old crouched in the dirt, too far away for me to call out and much too far away for me to hike to, what with my watermelon and hands full of soggy, knotted shoelaces.

“Go tell Bronson to come and see me at once,” I said to Aloysius. “It’s against the rules to say people can’t play with you.”

Satisfied with this promising outcome and the thought of Bronson getting into trouble, Aloysius took off up the hill with his secondhand directive as fast as his pudgy legs could carry him.

Naturally, Bronson completely ignored the subpoena, but I caught up with him when the bell went and we were all trudging back to class.

“Bronson,” I demanded. “What’s this about you telling Aloysius he CAN’T play with you. That’s against school rules!”

Bronson’s eyes flickered like a fluorescent light powering up and I could see him calculating his careful response.

“No, Mrs. Poinker,” he drawled with the confidence only a practised Machiavelli can muster on command. “I said that Aloysius CAN play with me.”

Aloysius’ eyes lit up in gratitude. “Oooooh! I thought you said I CAN’T play with you!” he grinned, happy to hear that he’d made a mistake and that Bronson liked him after all.

I’m going to keep my eye on young Bronson.

I reckon he might become president of the United States one day.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

You Can't Lead a Cat to Water...or Anything Really.

Last night I snuggled in bed, clad in my cow-print flannelette pajamas, anxiously googling, 'Why doesn’t my cat like me?'.

It was a Saturday night and it wasn’t quite 8 o’clock which I suppose goes some way to explain why my cat doesn’t like me… But the information I gleaned from Google was fascinating.

Apparently, cats don’t like people who like them.

The cat adores Scotto. The cat treats Scotto like a god.

Scotto sprays it with water when it scratches up the couch.

Scotto yells at the cat when it swipes the unassuming Chihuahua as he casually saunters along, unaware of the insidious goblin hiding under the coffee table waiting to spring with whetted and extended talons.

Scotto pays no attention to the cat and only ever pats it when it’s passionately nuzzling up to him (which it does all the time with sickening devotion).

I (on the other hand) feed it expensive designer cat food bought with my hard-earned money. I tenderly sweep it up from the floor, cuddle its soft fluffiness and coo nonstop at it in a baby voice. It returns my affection with a bitey scrabble to escape my unsavoury clutches, leaving me with scratches, puncture marks and a full blown asthma attack.

I’m the one who lets it out of the bathroom in the morning when it proceeds to frenetically hurtle past me, up the hallway and into the bedroom so it can leap into bed with its truelove… Scotto. The pair of them have their own special little relationship of which I am excluded.

But of course the cat hates me. I’m clearly too needy, desperate and starey for its liking.

I read on Google that if you want a cat to like you, you shouldn't EVER stare at it. 

Catch a cat’s gaze for no longer than 3.02 seconds. You must then quickly look away and ever so slowly turn back to it, glancing at it briefly with a slightly twisted grimace on your face.

I’ve tried that several times and it hasn’t work. The cat merely turns it steel-blue eyes away from me in a superior manner as if to say, 'Idiot human, I fart in your general direction'.

I suspect a cat wrote that particular website just to prove how gullible some humans are.

“What are you doing?” Scotto asks when he catches me poking faces at the cat.

“I’m trying to get it to like me,” I bleat.

“Don’t try so hard. Just let it come to you when it’s ready,” he comments smugly as he strokes the cat like Dr Evil strokes Mr Bigglesworth.

“Well if it loves you so much, why don’t you marry it?” 

I retort shrilly and stomp out of the room.

It’s alright for him. He can’t sit down for five seconds without the cat jumping on his lap, head butting him amorously and purring so loudly it’s like there’s a tuned-up Jaguar F-Type SVR revving in our kitchen.

I know for a fact that Scotto would sell the cat down the river for a Jaguar F-Type whereas I’d rather have the cat. That's how loyal I am.

If only I could tell it that fact… it might not like you-know-who so much after it knew Scotto's true, shallow affection.

When a dog doesn’t like you, it’s probably because you aren’t a very nice person because dogs are a good judge of character.

When a cat doesn’t like you, it’s because the cat sees you as a non-challenge; a walkover, a pitiful and tragic loser.

The little shit is hiding in the pantry as we speak. Maybe I should lock him in there for a while and teach him a lesson about who the real loser is.

Criminal cat