Crazy in the coconut

20 Dec

Never trust someone who goes around saying “I’m mad, me.” Invariably they turn out to be the most straight-laced, boring, sane person in the room. Their definition of mad is wearing some red tights and sparkly reindeer ears at Christmas. You want to steer clear of these people, usually because at the first sign of real madness from anyone else, they would run for the hills.

I spent the whole of yesterday trying to convince people that I wasn’t mad. An accumulation of tiredness, lack of adult conversation, mixed with the fact that I had decided on a shopping trip to Clapham, made me do some bonkers things. Quite why I chose Clapham is beyond me, but I woke up and realised that I had bought a total of five presents and this would amount to a sixth of a present for everyone I needed to buy for. I had no choice but to go out and face the mayhem and pick up a few more things that nobody really wants or needs.

I passed a café and saw a guy I recognised from Brixton. We waved enthusiastically at each other. I went in and asked him how things were, how his wife was, how the baby was doing. He looked at me, and then minutes into our conversation said “I’m not really sure who you’re talking about. Sorry. I’m Dillon. We worked in Balham together.”

Of course I knew. How I had managed to confuse his life entirely with another man I know was a little worrying, even to the uncrazy me. They didn’t even look alike, which would have made the confusion a little more understandable if it had been the case.

A little like falling over and wanting people to laugh with you, I wanted him to see the faux pas as funny. I wanted him to brush it off like I was trying to, and see the idiocy of mixing him up with an entirely different person, giving him a new name and attaching a new life to him, as a simple mistake. In my head I was thinking “I can’t really explain to him why I thought he was the guy I know who is married, has a new baby, is half Vietnamese and works in Graphic Design with someone who is gay, northern, and works as a massage therapist. If I had tried to it would have made me appear even more crazy.

I said I hoped to see him soon, saw the pity in his eyes as he thought “Having that third child must have really pushed her over the edge” and left muttering “You’re bloody mad, you’re fucking insane. (It is fine to tell yourself that you’re mad. As I walked down the street I continued to mouth “Fucking idiot” (me, not him) over and over. Somebody walking by caught my eye. I could see he was thinking “Mad”, so I just smiled.

Next up was the shoe shop. I often find myself side-tracked and looking at things for myself when I’m meant to be shopping for others. I saw some brogues I liked, asked to try them on and took my shoes off to reveal some very wet socks. I explained to the lady that they were old and had holes in their soles. I then slipped my feet into the new pair, realising that the assistant was grimacing at the thought of someone else trying them on and contracting athlete’s foot from me. I looked around at my baby who I’d released from his pushchair. He was crawling around with a slipper in his mouth, like a dog. He had snot smeared all over his cheek, a kind of egg-white glaze that had set so hard it would have to be scoured off. He had been clean in the morning.

Then I noticed the wine in the bottom of my buggy, four bottles I had forgotten to remove on a shopping trip from the previous day. He was tugging at a bottle, slipper still in mouth. I said, looking at my feet, “I’ll take them, they’re lovely” because I realised that I’d made the new shoes damp. They didn’t really fit, but I was embarrassed. It was either that or explain that I did in fact wash regularly, I was not an alcoholic and that my baby preferred everyday objects to toys. The shoes were quite expensive so I put them on my credit card, the one for emergencies.

Still continuing on my high street trek, now not so much on a mission to find presents but more to find somebody who I could behave normally with, I realised it was lunch. Clapham Junction is not full of very lovely places to eat. I pulled into a café that looked alright, only to realise that it was a twee Jamie Oliver deli. There was lots of food but no seats. I tried to look interested in the bottles of olive oil and the jam but none of this was stuff to stave off hunger. I swung around to look for something, anything, and then the force of my bags swept a whole corner of baby focaccias onto the floor. I looked at a shopgirl and said I’d buy them. She said not to worry. Of course I worried and then thought I couldn’t leave without buying something, so I picked a bottle of olive oil for £15 and bought it. That wouldn’t feed the baby.

By this time the baby was crying. I looked up and down that high street again and stepped inside Starbucks opposite, home to NCT groups and large joke sized mugs of vanilla flavoured milk with a touch of coffee. I sat in a corner, put the baby on the floor and calculated that I’d spent more than £100 on some shoes and oil, neither of which I needed. I was now eating a shit sandwich and my baby was chewing on a fluffy Haribo from the floor. Presentless and poor I was going home.

3 Mad Moments from my past
I walked to the pool one morning whilst on holiday in Mexico, aged 19. I was wearing my swimsuit and a sarong, and for some reason I took it all off in front of the pool maintenance man, the cleaner, and my friend’s younger sister. For one strange moment I thought I was getting undressed for bed. I stood there naked for at least five seconds before I realised what I’d done.

I once called someone over in a supermarket carpark to help me with my keys. I could not get into my car. With no luck I called up my boyfriend and asked him to come and help. On arrival he looked at me and said, “Your car is over there. This is somebody else’s.”

A year after getting an N in my French A level, I asked for a napkin from a waiter in Paris. “Une serviette s’il vous plait.” He gave me one, and to show my gratitude (and because I quite fancied him) I said “S’il vous plait, s’il vous plait, s’il vous plait.” He looked baffled. I thought I was thanking him.


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