Sometimes, I worry about humans. They don’t understand priorities. We are heading towards an important familial occasion, a busy, once in a lifetime, precious season, when certain formalities must be observed – and buying the Mother of the Bride outfit is of utmost significance. Yet, Liz spends every waking minute hunched over her keyboard.
‘Please,’ I beg. ‘Don’t leave it to the last minute.’
‘I have to submit by the end of November, Biskit.’
‘But Liz, your daughter’s getting married. You are the Mother of the Bride.’
I have visions, terrible visions, of Liz entering the wedding chapel in work clothes with a badge that says – didn’t have time – hanging from her lanyard.
I suppose, when a respected Melbourne publishers calls and asks to see your novel, a certain amount of work is required. But in my opinion, she ought to be focussing on important things – like permanent rinses, waxing, eyebrow tinting, and clothing.
I don’t wish to misrepresent Liz (after all, she feeds me). Occasionally she does interrupt her writing – to read a book, for example, to work at the library, or attend TAFE Novel classes. Sometimes, she even remembers the grocery shopping.
But for the most part … she is in another world.
How to motivate her? That was the question. How to tear her away from her desk, just for a minute? Priya and I decided guilt was the best strategy.
‘Mum,’ Priya said, ‘I need a wedding outfit.’
‘We’ll go shopping next month.’
‘But Mum, the wedding is in December – I need to start looking now!’
‘Not now, Priya. I’m busy.’
‘You don’t care about me,’ Priya wailed, stamping her foot, ‘only your stupid book.’
Liz and Priya went shopping the next day. Liz wasn’t in the mood for shopping (and didn’t we know it). But I knew once she hit the shops, temptation would take over. She would start flicking through hangers, holding up items and trying things on … just quickly. I wasn’t there, of course. It’s one of the injustices of my canine disposition. Quite unfair, I’m sure you’ll agree. Fluffy white dogs are bred for their beauty, not their brains. We have a natural affinity towards shopping.
But this is how the plan unfolded.
First, Liz tried on a red dress. It made her look round and chunky, like a pillar box. Next she chose something a little more subtle – a pewter dress. She looked more like a tankard than a goblet. A black skirt with a paper bag hem looked frumpy. Hot pink made her feel like a Rhododendron and, as for the purple dress, well, what can I say? A New Age nightmare!
Fortunately, at this point the shop assistant intervened. ‘Can I help you?’
‘My daughter’s getting married,’ Liz said. ‘And I’m too fat for anything.’
The assistant eyed her appraisingly. She fetched a pencil skirt, a soft non-crease top, and a cropped satin jacket, from the difficult figures section, and teamed it with a pair of gorgeous black high heeled shoes. Liz disappeared into the cubicle. Priya heard huffing and puffing. The shop assistant answered a few urgent questions about belts and zippers. Then Liz tottered out looking magnificent.
‘Wow!’ Priya said.
‘It doesn’t get better than this,’ Liz said, laughing.
‘No,’ Priya agreed. ‘Are you going to buy it?’
‘What do you think?’
Liz bought the lot: skirt, top, jacket and shoes from Dianna Ferrari. I’m not going to reveal the colours, nor divulge anything as skanky as prices. But Andrew has seen the Mastercard statement – and he is still recovering.