Monday, December 24, 2012

An Account is Settled

Mr Tabubil and I have just returned from three weeks holiday – a week in Holland, so that I might see a bit of his country and meet his family, and two weeks together after that in Italy.  Right now, we're in Venice. 

That night, wandering, we heard children shouting.  On a wide and empty avenue, alongside a narrow canal, we saw a knot of small boys jumping and pointing toward the water.  They were caught in one of the pitfalls of being six years old in Venice: with a certain amount of narrative inevitability, the soccer ball IS going to be kicked into the canal.
Ahead of us, an elderly couple in furs and evening dress arrived at the scene of the disaster.  There was a babble of tut-tut-tutting and "Better wait for a boatman" drowned out by a rising chorus of "Oh, PLEASE."
Enter the heroine.
            "Oh NO, dear!" The elderly lady was horrified.
The heroine was cool, serene, and purposeful of word and movement. A confident smile quirked the corner of her mouth.
            "I really think I can."  I said calmly.
The lady cogitated briefly.
            "All right.  But I'm going to keep a good hold of your legs."
So I lay full length on the paving stones and with two manicured handfuls of trouser securing me to dry ground, swung my torso out and into space.
And an axiom sixteen years old was disproved:  Tabubilgirl does not HAVE to fall into the canal.  Even when doing something very silly and far more perilous than the original circumstances had been.  (And THAT is a story for another time, and I may never tell.)
Standing once again by the canal, the heroine solemnly, almost ritualistically, received her purse and her hat and her scarf, returned to her item by item by a reverent six year old boy.  Deep inside, the she was elated.  Nothing can wipe away the permanent embarrassment of falling into the Grand Canal of Venice at age eight, but tonight, the score had been evened slightly. 

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