Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Let's Hope There is Smoke Without Fire

A well-meaning friend sends me a chain email. “Subject: Fwd: Passing the purple hat on to you.” After scrolling through a gazillion other people's email addresses I learn that this imparts the dying pearls of wisdom of a somewhat schmaltzy American woman, listing all the things she would or wouldn’t do if she had her life to live over again. For example: “I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage” and “I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.” Well I would never own a candle or a hairdo like either of those.

I was born contemptuous by nature and I generally despise chain emails. Yet at the same time I’m touched by the thoughtfulness of the person who sent it. It would seem churlish not to send it on to five other women, as requested. Let the hard-hearted amongst them admonish me if they will.

Within minutes I receive a reply.

From: Iris

Subject: Re: Fwd: Passing the purple hat on to you.

Oh Christ!

May calls. “I’m sitting in my car and there’s a man parked next to me. I think his car is on fire. There’s lots of black smoke coming out from under the front wheels. Do you think I should tell him?”

“Hmm, yes I do.”

“He’s so good looking. I don’t want to ruin his day. I don’t think I’ll tell him.”

“Don’t you think it will ruin his day when he drives off and his car bursts into flames?”

“Yes but it won’t be my fault.”

An attitude of gratitude is not my normal style. But I’m so grateful that May is not a doctor. I’m so grateful for so many things these days. If I allow it, this cancer ordeal is really showing me what there is to love in my life. Today I am free of nausea. The sky is blue and it’s a glorious 26º. Everyone is out, lounging on the corners, sauntering without purpose. I don’t have to work. I don’t have to do anything. I am totally free to enjoy living right now in this moment.

“Where are you? I’ll come and meet you.”

The weather is so warm and lovely. I want to feel the sun on my skin. I consider wearing a halter-neck dress for the first time since my surgery. The scars would be almost totally covered by the dress, yet I still feel too exposed. Maybe next week.

As I saunter without purpose I nod to the street-sweeper. The flower-shop man pops out to say hello. A crowd of jolly Moroccan idlers spill out from the café, drinking mint tea, smoking and laughing loudly. Teenagers happily obstruct the footpath with their bicycles as they snack on chips and kebabs outside George’s Fish Bar and throw the polystyrene boxes about with gay abandon. Everything is as it should be.

On Golborne Road I find May sitting in her car. She is wearing a pair of fluorescent yellow sandals. “Do you think these are tacky” she asks. “No May. I think they’re the most fabulous sandals I’ve ever seen.”

It seems that, despite my worst intentions, I have passed along the purple hat.

p.s. If you would like your own copy of the chain email "Passing the purple hat on to you" please email me and I will happily forward it.