by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Life, the Universe, and Everything”

So Here's An Embarrassing Story For You All

Posted 27 November 2009 in by Catriona

I wasn’t going to tell this story, because it seemed, for a while, as though I had committed a serious crime.

But it turns out that I’m just an idiot.

On Saturday night, Nick and I took a bus into the city to see Handel’s Messiah performed in Brisbane City Hall. On the bus, I glanced at my driver’s license for the first time in years.

And I saw that the expiry date was 2007.

I think you can imagine the panicking that ensued then. (Quiet panic, at first, because we were on a bus. But as I became more and more hysterical at the thought that I’d been driving illegally for two years, it culminated in an argument in a restaurant. You know, as it does.)

But that was later. Back on the bus, I said to Nick, “My driver’s license expired. Two years ago!”

He said, “That’s impossible. They would have sent you a letter.”

“But they didn’t!” I said. “If they’d sent me a letter, I would have renewed my driver’s license, and I wouldn’t have been driving illegally for two years!”

“Well,” said Nick, “just go into the city on Monday and renew it.”

“I can’t !” I said. “I’m a naturalised citizen. I need papers to renew it, because it’s been expired for over two years!”

“Take your citizenship certificate in,” suggested Nick, who at this point seemed to be taking far too much pleasure in his unaccustomed calm-and-sensible role.

“I can’t do that, either!” I said. (It was at this point that the panicking shifted into full argument mode.) “You know I was a minor. You know I’m on my father’s certificate. And you know my parents are in Tasmania for another week!”

“Ask your brother to post it up,” said Nick.

“Oh, yes,” I said. “As though my brother knows where the citizenship papers are.”

In this, I slandered him, but I didn’t know it at the time, and I wouldn’t have cared if I had.

When I remembered that I might have some spare certified copies of the certificate filed away, from the last time I’d applied for a scholarship, I calmed down enough to enjoy the Messiah. And, sure enough, there were copies in my filing cabinet.

Of course, I was too terrified by my new status as an illegal driver to want to drive out to Nick’s mother’s house for lunch the next day, so we had to ask for a lift from Nick’s father, who was passing our way.

“Don’t tell them that my license expired two years ago,” I hissed to Nick. “I know you don’t like lying to them, but do not tell them that.”

“I’ll tell them it only just expired,” he said.

“Don’t tell them that it expired at all!” I said.

So we told them that I was just inexplicably too tired to drive anywhere.

“It’s been a long week,” I said. “You know, final grades and marking.” That seemed to deflect any questions they might have asked.

On Monday morning, I packed up my certified copy of the citizenship papers, my proof of ID, and my proof of residence, and I dashed into the city as early as possible, desperate to make my covert driving activities legal again.

The woman behind the counter asked me if I’d filled out a form. I hadn’t, but she didn’t make me queue again. I filled out boxes about my height (which I couldn’t remember offhand), my eye colour, my hair colour, my need to wear glasses.

I said, “I have my citizenship papers here.”

She said, “Oh, you don’t need those. You have the license.”

We agreed that $73 was a small price to pay to renew my license for five years, and I happily completed the EFTPOS process.

And then she said, “Oh.”

I froze. “Oh, god,” I thought. “They’ve spotted I’ve had a car registered to me for two years. They know I’ve been driving illegally. Stay calm.”

Thankfully, it was 32 degrees and about 80% humidity, so I didn’t have to worry about telltale perspiration. Or, at least, I didn’t have to worry about it being telltale.

“I can’t renew this license,” she said.

“Oh, god,” I thought. “Fight or flight? Fight or flight?”

“Why not?” I asked.

“It’s already valid until 2012,” she said, and she flipped the license over to show me the renewal notice glued to the back.

I didn’t start laughing until I was halfway back to the bus stop.

Then I drove everywhere for the next two days.

The Wishbone

Posted 10 November 2009 in by Catriona

Nick was making a pasta bake out of last night’s leftover rustic pasta with lentils, carrots, and celery, shredding part of a roast chicken to put over the top, when he found the wishbone.

“Let’s pull it and make a wish,” I said.

He came out on to the back verandah, and we wrapped our fingers around the bone. But it slipped out of Nick’s grasp. We tried again, and it slipped out of my grasp.

“I’ll dry it out and we’ll try again,” he said.

“No,” I said, “that’s a bit revolting. We don’t need to make wishes. We do okay.”

“I think we won a moral victory,” he said.

“I think the wishbone won a moral victory,” I said.

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