Sometimes it takes very little to evoke the memory of someone. A smell, a tone of voice, a quote from a movie, an act of public stupidity that you wished they had witnessed. The Wasp, M.D. has been on my mind a lot lately, brought to the front of my mess of a brain by sometimes the most unexpected events.
Perhaps this has been brought on by the fact that I recently flew back to Australia in order to be the totally useless* maid of honour at her wedding. Maybe it’s the visiting Australians, maybe it’s the stress of my exams making me revert back to my childhood, I don’t know. All I know is that I have to resist the impulse to WhatsApp totally nonsensical messages to her every other day based on some tenuous link between that thing I just did/ate/saw and that thing that happened at some point in our childhoods that she probably has forgotten and I’m probably remembering wrong anyway.
* I was three hours late to the hens night; I improvised my speech on the spot; I napped through the day-after-wedding-bushwalk; I had laryngitis and couldn’t sing during the ceremony. Bringing me back from The Netherlands = worst investment ever.
Seeing as I can’t think of any cleverer way to present this, I hereby present the top five triggers that get me thinking of the Wasp, M.D.
On 6th January, 2014, the Wasp and I made a pact that we wouldn’t eat chocolate until the next time we saw each other: 20th April 2014, Easter Sunday. This was intended to break the grip of an epic chocolate addiction. This pact excluded all forms of chocolate and chocolate flavours: nothing involving cocoa was to pass our lips for three and a half months. I succeeded, she didn’t. Every time I eat chocolate now, I can’t but help but think of her… with scorn and derision. Some people are so easily broken.
The Wasp is a connoisseur of trifle, no inferior offering is allowed to grace any celebratory table in her vicinity. She was horrified to hear how much time had lapsed since I had promised to make Flying Tiger some trifle. So upon my return to The Hague, I duly spent four hours in the kitchen creating my first trifle out of Australia. I’m ever so glad she wasn’t present to witness the result. Tiger accepted it gleefully, knowing no different. However, a hotplate with no subtlety resulted in smoky blancmange, the absence of an electric mixer resulted in rather flat mousse, and weird Dutch jelly crystals resulted in weird Dutch jelly. I was as deflated as my egg whites, and will need to request that my next care package from home include some Aeroplane jelly if I’m ever to represent the family tradition at an acceptable level.
Sense held her birthday gathering in the Clingendael gardens the other week, and the merry making bunch of musicians present decided to out-juvenile all surrounding children by embarking on extended rounds of Frisbee, Red Rover and Duck, Duck, Goose. This is probably the first time in my life that I could play these games without the fear of being beaten up by the Wasp if I performed poorly or transgressed against some made-up rule that I was naturally unaware of. I enjoyed these games so much, I have to admit I have a secret desire to teach Tribes and Territories to the unsuspecting Europeans… if only I could remember the rules.
A visiting Australian friend joined the Portuguese Mafia and I at the beach last weekend. We challenged the Trailblazer and Wren to a game of catch: Australia vs. Madeira. Latent netball skills and competitiveness came in handy when the Trailblazer started to play dirty. Australia eventually won 10-8, but I couldn’t help but wonder how quickly the Wasp would have demolished the Portuguese with her centre-court speediness, powerful shoulder pass and no-nonsense game face. Happily for the mental health of all involved, we will never know.
4. Doctor visits.
While playing Frisbee, I decided to embrace my competitive nature by taking of my shoes in order to better chase down the lop-sided disk of doom. Whilst frolicking, a rather large twig decided to momentarily embed itself in my foot. I thought nothing of it until later that night when I stood up to walk to the bathroom and experienced some rather sharp pain. My foot was red and hot to the touch. I cleaned it with iodine and hot water and figured I’d just keep an eye on it over the next few days in case it got worse.
The next morning I got up, and could barely walk. It was too painful to stand any pressure on my foot, so I limped off to class deciding that I would book an emergency doctor’s appointment after my class finished. I duly called the doctor and was told to come in to the surgery at 5pm. I was secretly certain I would have died of septicaemia by then, but figured I could always call an ambulance if my foot became gangrenous.
Of course, two hours later my foot was completely fine. I went to the doctor anyway, just in case, and had to lamely explain that my foot hurt a lot in the morning, but had fixed itself. I felt like John Cleese in Monty Python’s Holy Grail: “She turned me into a newt!…I got better…”. After hearing many a whinge about idiot patients from the Wasp, I felt so embarrassed to waste the doctors time, and could feel the exasperated glare of the Wasp from across oceans and time zones.
5. Pedal, pedal, glide.
One of the fellow bridesmaid’s at The Wasp’s wedding was a Kiwi activity enthusiast who had spent some of her childhood in Holland. She was horrified when I described my biking style, which goes a little something like: pedal, pedal, glide… Her life motto seems to be pedal, pedal, pedal. She and the Wasp met while backpacking in Africa (as you do) and share a love of all things out-doorsy and active. I have to admit I felt judged. And ashamed of my laziness. Since being back in The Hague I have changed my biking style to pedal, pedal, pedal. And every time I find myself biking with relative intensity (for me) I feel so proud of myself that I want to tell the Wasp, not only so she will perhaps praise me, but also so she will tell the Kiwi and I can stop fearing a surprise attack.
And in case the Wasp is reading this and is brimming with indignation at the waspishness of her pseudonym, let me clarify that it is in no way indicative of her personality. Rather, I gave her this name after coming to the conclusion that a wasp is a slighter bigger version of a bee.