The Great Coffee Cup Incident of 2010

 |  May 26, 2010

Two of the three cups on my desk had been there for a few days. The patterns growing in the remnants of coffee, milk and sugar were quite artistic if now somewhat aromatic. Even the ants had moved on to more tasty morsels.

“Why the hell are those cups still there?” Mrs. D exclaimed. “You do nothing around here and just sit there pretending to work. It’s about bloody time you start pulling your weight!”

“Easier than pulling yours” I thought but in a remarkable exhibition of gonad protection, kept my mouth shout.

“I’m going out and by the time I get back, you WILL have done the shopping and you WILL have finished my garden table that’s been sitting at the bottom of the stairs for weeks.” She fixed me with a look that has been known to fry eggs at 10 paces; satisfied that I understood the message, she left the house and drove off.

I had started the table in the hall because it was too hot to work outside. And it was also true that having assembled it, I did discover that I could not actually get it out of the front door and so it stayed where I had started it. A few cuts with a saw and some nails on the other side would soon sort that out and I guess she was right. So – shopping first, table afterwards and I would once again be the apple of my darling’s eye.

Car-less, I decided to cycle the 15 km to the supermarket. That had to be worth some brownie points for effort and so I set off. Unfortunately, I had not considered the fact that the furthest I had cycled in the last two years had been down to the corner shop at the end of our soi. I had also failed to consider the temperature.

I lasted ten minutes before I collapsed at the side of the road next to a small shop, panting like a dog and perspiring from places where I did not know that I could. A litre of water later, I set off again. An hour and a half later after several more stops, I arrived at the

supermarket. My clothes could only be described as being ‘crusty’ and the way in which the ATM queue cleared in front of me told me I didn’t smell too good either.

Still – I was there and ran into the air-conditioning clutching Mrs. D’s list. Taking slightly longer than planned, I arrived at the checkout with a trolley filled with everything that she wanted plus lots of other goodies too. The bill was more than the money I had and serious chafing meant that I was not keen to walk back outside again to get more. So I half emptied the trolley and paid.

As I rode back in a red-bus with my bike on the roof and feeling pretty pleased with myself, I called Mrs. D and told her about all the great things I had bought. As she enquired about the items on the list, I realised that maybe I had emptied the wrong half of the trolley. This was confirmed as I heard the line go dead but not before the first syllable of an expletive filled my ear before the silence. Still – maybe I could keep one testicle if I finished the table before she got home.

With limited storage space in the house, the tools were in the attic. So I set up the stepladder at the top of the stairs, opened the hatch and stuck my head into the roof space. It was like a furnace without the flames. And apparently without oxygen. As my head started to swim, I knew that I might be in trouble.

When I opened my eyes, I was surrounded by shattered wood, lying on my back and staring up the stairs. I must have fainted and slid down the stepladder but continued to slide down the stairs. At some point, I must have tumbled backwards and landed on the table which broke my fall.

Although sore, everything seemed to be working. I consoled myself with a premium beer and a runny cheese from my shopping trip and sat on the sofa to survey the scene. It was then that the door opened and Mrs. D was framed in the doorway. With an expressionless face she looked at the remains of the table, at the beer and the cheese in my hand and then her gaze became fixed over my shoulder.

I turned my head to see what she was looking at. It was the three coffee cups still on my desk.

Oh dear. It was going to be a long night…