Patience is a virtue, and after many years of being me, I’ve realized I possess very little of it. I have made foolish purchases, and then to add insult to injury, ruined said purchases because I couldn’t be bothered to read the instructions. I have asked the ever-endearing “So-where-is-this-going?” question on a second date and lost my temper many a time when it was inadvisable to do so. You’d think by now I’d have learned my lesson, but that’s a chapter for another time…
Years ago I made the mistake of watching TV at 2:00 in the morning and I happened upon an infomercial for a weight-loss program that was guaranteed to work. Past customers who had experienced all kinds of success with the product waxed lyrical about the incredible results, accompanied by Before (why are these always as blurry as the Bigfoot sighting?) and After pictures. Their transformations were undeniable, but of course that’s the whole point of infomercials – to make weak individuals such as myself believe that we can’t do without an item. A more patient, even-keeled kind of person might have thought about it, waited until the morning when impulse buys and the monster in the closet were just a distant memory, and decided against Bob Muscles and his Wonder Weight Loss Extravaganza. I couldn’t get my credit card out fast enough, and paid for extra express shipping which cost more than the program itself. The box arrived, I opened it; the recipes looked too complicated; I discarded it.
I own a 12ft inflatable movie screen. Every household should have one. I can’t even remember now what possessed me to want one, but want it I did – badly enough that I paid Fedex charges to ship a box roughly the size and weight of a Mini. Once I made my mind up to have one that was it, and I would not be swayed by the good advice of my friend Lynne who recognized the signs of madness when she saw them. “Why don’t you wait and see if you still want it in a few days?” she ventured, familiar with this well-worn path. No, no – my eyes had already glassed over as I envisioned all the backyard movie nights I would host. Now that I think about it, I believe I bought it with Christmas in mind. Friends would come around to the house for a night of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and eggnog. They would marvel at the spectacle and wonder how they were ever so lucky to know someone like me (I might add that I didn’t even have a projector at this stage.) Even the vendor in the US tried to talk some sense. “Are you sure you want this sent via Fedex to the Cayman Islands?” he asked. I could almost hear him boggling at the figure on his calculator.
“Of course my good man! And while you’re about it, do you know that prize turkey in the window? Have it delivered to Bob Cratchit’s home if you please…”
The screen arrived; I paid someone’s salary in duty and lugged it home. Could I even wait until the weekend to erect it? Of course not! I grabbed the reluctant Lynne and we started unpacking the box. I gave the instructions only a perfunctory glance, completely missing the portion that strongly advised against inflating and securing the screen in windy conditions. As the huge frame sprang to life and we attempted to manoeuvre it into a vertical stance, the breeze caught the screen and turned it into a live thing, buffeting faces and bodies as it fought against its captors. Lynne had been a good sport thus far, but her abundance of patience was wearing thin. She also knew that there was no way I could handle it on my own, so she played the devilish card of This-stops-now-or-I-walk. I was torn between really wanting to see it resplendent on the lawn and not wanting to see it fly over Crystal Harbour like an inflatable Manta Ray. She won (which was probably best) and we wrestled the beast to the ground, cutting off the air supply at the same time. Into the bag it went. Since that experiment in 2007 I have taken it out twice to test a projector that I bought and put it straight back into storage. Maybe this Christmas…but I’ll need a popcorn machine…
Once in a while making a snap decision is a good thing. A couple of weeks ago I suddenly decided that I could no longer bear the plethora of possessions in the house that were overflowing onto the front porch. My vast closet, which could lead to Narnia for all I know, was brimming with boxes of costumes, audio equipment and my collection of ornamental owls biding their time before dazzling at some future Antiques Roadshow. It was time to buy some alternative storage, and so I went to Cox Lumber, handed over the funds and got myself a large Rubbermaid shed. It was delivered on the long weekend and I expertly redirected housemate Dermott from enjoying his time off to assist me with its construction. By “assist” I mean I completely left him to it in the rain whilst I decided what would be stored inside. An hour later it was ready to go – sans the 2 x 4 planks the instructions recommended be inserted to strengthen the floor. I was impatient and besides, it’s not as though we’re putting a lawn mower in there fer cryin’ out loud!
Cut to a year later when the warped remains lie strewn about the grass thanks to my eager beaverness.
I recently sang at a prominent local businessman’s wedding, held in the beautiful gardens surrounding his house. The only problem was that it had rained earlier that day, and as the nuptials drew near we wondered if it would abate. Celebrations had set up tables, centerpieces, gazebos, flowers, decorations…absolutely beautiful and now covered by plastic until the coast was clear. The whole event was a major operation and could have been seriously affected by bad weather, yet there was Joanne Brown, calm and collected (if a little pink-cheeked) in the midst of the maelstrom, coordinating everyone and generally displaying the patience of Job. In the end the clouds cleared away, the plastic was removed and the day was saved. Not once did I see her lose her cool. I would have either been screaming or sitting in a corner gently rocking and murmuring. I don’t know how she does it but the woman has the gift.
They say that as we age, we mellow but unfortunately I don’t think that will apply to me; I’m just too highly strung. Maybe I will calm down a bit in the future and breathe before I make a decision. We can only hope. Supposedly good things come to those who wait. Yikes.