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I was walking home up my steep hill a few weeks ago and noticed a neighbour up ahead. She was carrying two large plastic supermarket shopping bags. They looked heavy. On many occasions we walk in and out of town at precisely the same times. Normally we say hello to each other. We don't know each other's names though. On this occasion she hadn't seen me because her walkman was playing. I could hear her singing under her breath but I didn't recognise the song. Her shopping bags were banging against her legs. Suddenly, a small hole teased itself open in the left bag thanks to the rubbing motion of a sharp corner of something inside. An orange appeared at the gap. It looked like it was trying to escape. Then her mobile phone started ringing. It was the I Dream of Jeannie song. The lady didn't notice it though, kept walking. The next events happened fast. The orange at the gap made its way slowly out of the widening hole and before I knew what was happening it had dropped onto the road and started rolling. Another one followed it. And then another ("hey, wait for me!!!"). The phone stopped ringing. Neighbour With The Oranges still hadn't seen what was happening. I ran after one of the oranges but my reflexes were slow and the road is steep and the oranges were faster. They were disappearing into various places, like dreams lost, hopes passing, fantasies vanishing with age. One went down a drain. One went under a parked car. I lost track of the other one. The lady turned into her driveway and opened her front door. It closed behind her.

I saw her at a Greek restaurant a few days later. She was sitting at the next table. We exchanged glances. I was tempted to tell her about the oranges. How was I going to introduce the subject though?

"Excuse me! You don't know me … yes, I see you in the street sometimes … um, I just wanted you to know that I was walking behind you the other day while you were going home and you were listening to your walkman and didn't notice that you lost three oranges but they were rolling too fast so I couldn't get them back to you. I tried. Great mobile ring tone by the way ... "

There's no way I was going to bring it up. Interestingly there's no word in the English language that rhymes with the word 'orange’. I let her enjoy her tzatziki in peace. I went bowling on Friday night with work colleagues. I'm sure that if you were missing both arms you could arrange to get attachments that would allow you to bowl and you would play much better than me. I played really badly. The number of people at the bowling alley was surprising – the place was packed. Disco music accompanied the sounds of pins being knocked down (or in my case the orange thing rolling down the gutter).  I saw an old friend in Aisle 3. He disappeared a few years ago. I recalled images of him from the past - neatly cut hair and conservative clothes. Now he sported long locks with green highlights. The glasses were gone and there was a mountain climber's beard. A tattoo of a vine-like image snaked up his neck and highlighted a large orb earring that reminded me of a documentary I saw recently about long-lost Amazon tribes and their piercings. We greeted each other and I asked him about how things were going. "I'm not doing anything special. Just making things happen, you know? Living a normal life in town and that sort of thing."

Making things happen. He was bowling really well. He had an orange ball. Daylight savings has ended now and I made things happen over the weekend by turning the clocks back. The calendars needed to be changed, too. I have one from Australia, and one from Switzerland. They both reflect the seasons in their respective hemispheres. The Swiss one is showing autumnal scenes with orange glow and the Aussie one is showing summer beaches with orange sunset. The contrast brought to mind the work of a Thai artist that I saw years ago. He titled his exhibition: ‘Same Same Only Different’.

I like it.

Copyright © 2008 Richard Cannane Publishing
03. Mai 2013