I was faced with an etiquette dilemma a few months back when I received a text announcing the birth of a baby. Unfortunately, the number wasn’t stored in my phone and there were no details in the text itself that gave away the identity of the parents.
I mean, what would you have done? At the risk of sounding like a quiz out of Dolly magazine, would you:
a) write back “Congratulations!” and hope you work out who the kid belongs to some time before their 18th birthday;
b) write back “Look, I’m really happy for you and all but who the fuck ARE you?”; OR
c) do nothing in the hope the news will come via other channels, such as email, pamphlet drop or some kind of reality TV special.
In the end, I was so paralyzed by uncertainty I ended up going with c). And a few days later, I received an email from long-serving friend (and erstwhile reader of this blog) Madame Zap that revealed not only that she was the mysterious texter (and now newly-mother-of-three) but that the text had in fact been sent from the delivery bed.
I felt terrible. And not just because her mobile number details had obviously dropped out of my phone’s address book in one of three recent phone changes. Mostly I felt terrible because if had been me texting from the delivery bed, I’d like to think people could be bothered texting back. It doesn’t take that much effort to punch out a few words on your phone, you know. Unlike, say, pushing something the size of a small planet, for example, through your watoosy. Just sayin’.
Of course I immediately set about making amends and went out and bought a card and a present for the baby. Which then sat unsent on my desk for four long months. Etiquette failure number two.
And so, in the end, I had no choice but to drive across town to Madame Zap’s house with The Pixie and Tiddles McGee to hand-deliver both card and present. It was the only way to sort out this whole mess.
Now, I should point out here that Madame Zap had moved to a rather ritzy suburb since we’d last met. I had some trepidation about going there because the last time I’d driven ’round those parts I’d been with the whole family in the Love Bus and it was a little like the Beverly Hill Billies rolling into town. I think some local residents actually had to wash out their eyes after seeing us driving down their immaculate hedge-lined streets and, had they known where their gardeners stored the pitchforks, they probably would have tried to chase us out.
This time, however, I was driving the Star Wagon and therefore cloaked in the power of the Light Commercial Vehicle. Thus, I could easily pass myself off as a courier delivering a package. And since I was actually delivering a present or card, my story was water-tight – you know, just in case a member of the Local Citizen Action Group challenged me as I tried to enter the suburb. Which, somewhat disappointingly, they didn’t.
Anyway, it was lovely to catch up with Madame Zap, to meet the latest addition to her family and to see her beautiful new house. And it was a blessed relief to finally hand over the card and present.
And that might have been the happy end to this story, EXCEPT for some further breaches of etiquette I committed while there that have been weighing on my mind ever since, including:
1) managing to stretch a morning-tea invitation til well past lunchtime (not acceptable when there is a small baby in the house);
2) bringing a teenage mutant ninja turtle figure into a house previously untouched by the TMNT franchise and then leaving it there; and
3) changing Tiddles McGee’s shit-packed nappy in the back of the Star Wagon and in full view of the neighbourhood.
Lord knows how you even start making amends for that lot. Any suggestions? Anyone?