The measure of a triumph is by no means universal. This is particularly so when the components of one’s daily activity hardly approach clocking in at the Forum for an afternoon of diversion with the African feline set. In fact so remote are the details of my life from anything resembling challenge or adventure that it must per force appear quite presumptuous of me even to consider denominating my goings-on as a victory of any description whatsoever. Nevertheless I do. I have always accommodated my trifling affairs by reasoning that they are what life has afforded me; and within that vernacular I am entitled to ascribe any small comparative achievement I so desire. As some brainy bird has said, “It’s all relative!”
So while I hesitate to launch headlong into this matter of piffling victories for fear of representing myself as entirely shallow, the facts are the facts and I must relate them as I see them. Take for example hair, not normally considered by most to be an especially compelling subject. I must however divert my learned reader’s attention from the strict focus upon the res in question and ask instead that you allow the persuasion of metaphor to enlarge upon the otherwise cornball topic. Although I wouldn’t go so far as to attribute biblical proportions to hair as Samson and Delilah may have done, it is I believe arguable that hair in modern society has its poetic appeal. The appeal is traditionally aligned with youth and beauty (more of that metaphysical stuff) and as such it would normally be beyond the scope of someone my age. Call it bravado or arrogance or unqualified silliness, but I decided several months ago that I wanted a new hair style. I initiated the undertaking when we arrived on the Island. In a nutshell, the plan was to develop what might jokingly be called the “bowl” look, you know: the way one’s hair would look if a bowl had been put on one’s head, then the hair were cut below the rim. I put the proposal to my local hair architect. Somewhat to my surprise he embraced the idea without any apparent reservation. Arguably he could care less; but I believe he thought it might pass as fashionable even for someone of my vintage. I later noted with an instant of stinging regret that the proposed cut may even have loosely resembled the stylist’s own, but I let it go.
Our first run at the style seemed to work well. The finite lines on the side were visible with some effort. It would after all require time for the distinction between the length of the top and the bottom to become evident. My hair stylist said as much and we cheerfully coordinated our next appointment to give further force to the project. When we met again three weeks later matters took an unexpected turn for the worse. In a frenzy to share the mundane details of our lives (as hairdressers and patrons are apparently wont to do with sometimes startling liberality), I failed to reiterate my ambitions and the stylist completely forgot what he had previously pioneered. In the result he smoothed out the faint demarcation between the top and bottom cuts and in an instant I was restored to where I had been in the past as though nothing had changed!
Because the devastation wasn’t immediately apparent, it wasn’t until I returned home that I realized the mission had been effectively abandoned. There was naturally no point in doing anything about it at the time. But I certainly resolved that upon my subsequent return I would avoid falling into the contaminating chumminess of our prior congress and emphasize in the clearest of terms what I proposed. This I did three weeks later. The stylist was obliged to concede the oversight but he knew as well that no amount of remorse would reverse the loss. So we just charged ahead and did what could be done to restore the previous status quo; that is, the definitive line between the longer top and the shorter bottom. Because his previous work had done so much to eliminate this much desired distinction, we were once again at the mercy of time to cultivate what was only within the power of nature to do.
This brings me to the subsequent and latest visit with my hair stylist. That was yesterday. Fastened as I was to the “once burnt, twice shy” theorem, I spared no subtlety when restating to him what I wanted and what I expected. With predictable assiduity he applied himself to the fulfillment of these objectives. The effluxion of time had enabled the desired definition and it is thus that I proclaim a victory. So apparent was the advance of the collaborative enterprise that the stylist and I have agreed to rendez-vous one last time before I leave the Island for the season. This final meeting promises to be the crowning touch! The goal will have been won!
Now on the heels of that small victory it must seem unlikely that I should have the benefit of yet another in a short space of time. Yet I do! Last evening as I was playing my new keyboard the bench beneath me slowly collapsed. Although it was not my immediate conclusion, a subsequent examination and analysis of the bench revealed what was unquestionably a manufacturer’s assembly defect. Were it not for the assembly error the device would have performed without trouble. I was now faced with the task of resolving the issue.
I placed a dining room chair in the position of the former bench but my interest in playing the keyboard had by then dissipated. I was in the grip of a dilemma! I went to bed. But I could not sleep. My resolve was to return the bench to the retailer the following morning but I hadn’t worked through in my mind the many possible ramifications of doing so. In this age of on-line retailing I wondered whether the retailer would take what for him might be the convenient path of referring me directly to the manufacturer for satisfaction. The retailer had made it clear when I bought the keyboard a month ago that his price was the same as the on-line price which made me speculate he may now wish to extend the fact to embrace after-sale concerns. I dismissed that possible eventuality by reasoning that in view of what was likely the modest price of the bench I would in any event get a new one to replace it, to hell with the minimal cost of the other. I did however insulate my pride by fashioning that if that were the predicament in which I found myself I would make it clear to the retailer that I had no intention of repeating my initial error in dealing with him, and that I would purchase the replacement bench elsewhere (though I hadn’t any idea where that might be). It then occurred to me that the retailer may not even have a replacement. This in turn led me to consider whether he would be good enough to arrange for the return of the defective product to the manufacturer on my behalf. Then I became distressed about the timing – we were leaving the Island within a matter of weeks. Would the replacement from the manufacturer have to be sent to Canada? And what about Customs? Would I have duty to pay on it? And what if I had declared it already? Double duty? Should I deduct the cost from my Declaration upon our return? And what was the cost? Had the bench been included in the price of the keyboard? What if the retailer attempted to correct the bent hinge of the damaged bench? I wouldn’t accept it – it might weaken the strength of the metal! I had to have a new one and that was all there was to it! At any price!
These increasingly bizarre problems churned over and over again in now my enfeebled mind. At last I must have fallen asleep as it was after eight o’clock this morning when I awoke to the realization that the time had come to set in motion my much rehearsed Return Policy Statement. Almost instantly I was haunted by all possible outcomes but thankfully the moment of reckoning was so close as to limit amplification. We determined the retailer opened business at ten o’clock as I had expected. By ten o’clock I had completed my standard breakfast ritual and we were on our way, damaged bench repackaged in its original cardboard box, all now in the back seat of the car.
Upon entering the retailer’s premises and after exchanging the usual pleasantries concerning one’s health and the weather, he quizzically enquired about my concern. I provided a brief summary of the problem whereupon he seized a new bench and put it into my hands without question or hesitation. The many imagined complications dissolved in an instant! Another victory!
If that weren’t enough for one day, upon returning home I received an email from a colleague who, in addition to applauding my literary talents (incontestable music to any writer’s ears), affirmed his support of my recent political observations which I had shared with him and his wife. I could hardly believe my continuing good fortune! We ornamented the numerous advantages of the day by getting ourselves onto our bicycles and pedalling for close to three hours on the open, brilliantly sunny beach under a perfectly clear cerulean sky.