When you’re a married couple planning on driving across a Continent in a two-door Civic, what you take with you can become a matter of friction. Our car was packed to the brim, and virtually nothing was easily accessible. And, as is usually the case, it was always theother person’s stuff that was superfluous: if Amynah wanted access to her other pair of shoes, for instance, it would be my guitar that would be in the way. If I was attempting to squeeze in the tape recorder I use for interviews, one of Amynah’s superannuated pharmacology textbooks would be clogging the box.
One item that caused a certain amount of stress was my camping gear. "Why do we need a gas stove? Why do you own two hatchets?* What use for a mosquito net hat are you going to have?" asked Amynah, as I grunted and cursed, trying to squeeze these items into my bag.
As it turns out, plenty. We didn’t have power on the first day we lived here, and so our tea was brewed over the blue flame of my camp stove on our balcony, and the two flashlights I packed came in handy in the dark.
The upstairs bathroom has a skylight that has, over the years, been encrusted with a black coating of Substance X. Personally, I believe Substance X to be a combination of shower steam and smog residue, baked on the interior of the glass by the sun. Amynah, on the other hand, was convinced that it was a toxic mould of some sort. Given that she is relentless, pregnant, and able to conjure up all sorts of horrific scenarios as to what could happen if she or the baby inhaled Substance X (“We could have some sort of lizard baby, with two tails. You don’t want a two-tailed lizard baby do you?”) I was induced to clamber up onto the bathroom counter, stick my head into the skylight, and investigate.
Skylight, with Substance X
A swipe with a sponge did nothing, but when I poked at it with my jack knife (thanks Yann!) some flakes came loose – which I immediately inhaled as they fell on my upturned face. This was not going to be pleasant.
Fortunately, Amynah had brought home a filter mask from her lab for the job, but that did nothing for my eyes (not to mention my precious, precious hair**). Whatever Substance X was, I didn’t believe it was toxic, but on the other hand, I didn’t know it wasn’t.
Suddenly, a flash of brilliance. I would wear my mosquito-net hat, and the filter mask. Not only would it prevent me from turned into a reptilian monstrosity, but I would also be able to justify having carted the damned thing 9000 km in the first place.
Yet somehow, when I summoned Amynah to the bathroom to deliver a triumphant “I told you so!” all she could do was laugh, and insist I post this photo on the blog.
* Why do I have two hatchets?
** I recently got my first LA haircut. The barber referred to my hair as "strong" as he rubbed the cramps out of his scissor hand. If you're going to charge me twenty bucks for a 15 minute cut, you better work for it buddy.