Well, it was time to move on, so off I headed on another bus, to another place, to see another cousin. For once, it was nice to relax with internet and a big, nice flat-screen TV. Heck, after almost two weeks without one, you realize what a luxury it really is! But it wasn’t all lazing around in my pjs, oh no, a few days of playing couch potato was enough for me. So I borrow my cousin’s hot little black dress, found my tough-girl boots and went for a night on the town! Since my last visit to our generation’s hot spot, nothing had changed. It was and still is the worst possible pick-up spot on the planet, unless, of course you’re looking for a quick hook-up. A few shots, however, did much to suppress my cynicism and I attempted to catch the eye of a very good-looker across the bar. No luck.
Turning to watch the crowd, I came face-to-face with a bloke who waggled his eyebrows invitingly. Embarrassed, I scooted closer to my cousin and struck up a conversation, ignoring the bold stranger. The rest of the night was a bit of a blur, -not funnily enough, due to alcohol. I learned quite quickly that I could hold my liquor pretty well and had by this time still not yet managed to get drunk, though this due more to a lack of sufficient funds than anything else!- mostly comprised of blinding lights, loud music and the occasional drunk idiot who tried to dance with me. Finally calling a taxi, we stumbled and tumbled home and, exhausted, into bed. Thinking back, I did have a great time, but that night was decidedly not the highlight of that weekend.
I had arrived, rather fortuitously, the day before a holiday which is known locally as Bonfire Day, but we Americans might recognize under the name “Guy Fawkes.” Celebrated much like our Fourth of July, this holiday features endless impromptu firecracker shows and feats of pyrotechnic display can be seen out of every window, not to mention one in the town centre that would have rivaled Navy Pier. Getting lost in a local fair in a fruitless attempt to find a donut stand was another happy memory.
But, all too soon, this wandering gypsy was off again, this time to the sights and pleasures of the infamous town of Oxford. The journey went smoothly, so smoothly, in fact, that I became rather uneasy. For getting from Point A to B without a single escapade was a first for me so far. However, the day was young and it was not long before my inevitable inclination towards scatter-brained antics kicked in. Forced to use a pay phone to contact my friend – due to a mutual lack of funds, she was unable to text and I unable to call- we arranged to meet a few blocks away. Accordingly, I made my way across town to the place she had named. No sign of her. Frustrated, I searched again. Still nothing. Loitering around for a good twenty minutes, I finally headed for the nearest phone booth, only to find it blocked by construction and was obliged to walk several streets in search of one. Once in contact, we tried to find out how we’d missed each other agreed to try again. Half an hour later, I still hadn’t found her.
Feeling as though I had unwittingly stumbled into a farce, I headed to the nearest book store and resigned myself to a solitary afternoon, though not before texting her as a last resort. As it turns out, she could read my texts, a fact that I would have done well to establish earlier, and found me sulking in a comfy chair, trying to drown my irritation in a favorite novel. Soon, we were able to laugh over our mistakes, especially when I found that she and I had been in two different places the whole time. Well, that was obvious, but there was a good reason: there were two shops with the same name on the same street. It was a humorous and, I must admit, classic example of the mishaps we had encountered in our long and unusual friendship. The next few hours flew by as we caught up over coffee.
While browsing the book store’s impressive collection, we were startled by the piercing tones of a stout lady with a posh accent boasting of being worth so much money that people were just waiting for her to die. A rather unfortunate circumstance to take pleasure in, I would’ve thought, until I realized that she actually seemed to think they were “out to get her.” After some further outrageous claims, she started a one-sided argument with a harassed-looking employee who had, unadvisedly, helped her to sort out a book she had ordered.
Claiming not only that the book was legally hers -no one had disputed this- but that, for some mysterious reason, people had accused her of stealing fifteen times in the last three weeks, which if true, might understandably have created some suspicion. Finally, after about 20 minutes of surreptitious giggling behind book covers, we decided that we’d had enough fun and made for the nearest elevator, fervently hoping that we would escape notice. It was not to be.
Just as the doors were closing, the furious woman charged through. “Move back, move back! Can’t you see I’m getting in?” “Excuse me, ma’am,” I said. “There’s plenty of room.” “Well, I can see there isn’t, so don’t lie to me!” said the lady. “I won’t be lied to!” My friend reached furtively for the elevator buttons. The doors opened. This isn’t the ground floor! I thought, then realized what my friend had done. “Move along, move along!” the irritable lady said, prodding us. “Don’t put your fingers in the door,” she said, as I tried to steady my bags out of her way. “If you’ll look, ma’am, I think you’ll see this isn’t the door,” said my friend, her hand resting innocently against the wall to the snickers of a few teenagers standing outside. “Just – stand back!” she huffed, and the doors slammed. We stumbled out of the book store, laughing uncontrollably and parted ways, promising to meet again soon.
Heading back to the station, I concentrated on my next task, locating a cousin I hadn’t seen for over eight years who had offered to pick me up. Scanning the faces around me, I tried, but failed, to recognize any. I noticed a tall, lanky guy on a cell phone eyeing me and fervently hoped I could find my cousin before some creep thought I was giving him the come-on. Sighing, I whipped out my phone to text my elusive relative. Then my phone rang. Frantically deleting the text, I picked up the call, trying again to avoid the eye of the creepy stranger. “Hi!” I said. “Hi. I think I’m standing right next to you.” I whirled around. My cousin was the creepy stranger. It was the third Kodak moment that day and, thankfully, also the last.