Once upon a time there was a lady who was having a baby. Her belly was big and round, tight as a drum. The baby was only weeks away. So her friends decided she needed a celebration with cake and cups of tea and presents. A baby shower, it’s called. They rang around until they found a place that promised to provide room for them to talk and laugh out loud, drink their cups of tea or glasses of champagne, oooh and aaaah over little baby presents, and munch on delicious cakes. The girls asked “Can we come at 3?”, the restaurant said “It would be better for us if you could come around midday, that way there will be lots of cakes for you to eat”.
How delightful. Written invitations were sent out to all the pregnant lady’s friends, who promptly replied. Such was their great excitement and joy.
But then a week before the celebration, or thereabouts, the restaurant called and cancelled the booking. They said “We have too many lunchtime bookings. Maybe you could come around 3?” The ladies frowned and scratched their heads in wonder. Too many lunchtime bookings? Weren’t they a booking too? Weren’t they promised room to talk and laugh out loud, room to drink cups of tea or glasses of champagne, room to oooh and aaaah over little baby presents and to munch on delicious cakes? And weren’t all those lovely cakes going to be more plentiful at midday rather than at 3?
The pregnant lady’s friends put their heads together and scowled a little. “We’ve already sent out the invitations, we’ve already got all the RSVPs. We’ll need to tell everyone of the changed booking time. This is a problem.” So the ladies sent out fresh invitations announcing a change of venue, not time. They weren’t happy with having their booking seen as less important than other bookings. “How rude”, thought they.
But one of the ladies decided to play detectives. She rang the restaurant and played confused. “I’m confused”, she said. “I thought we were coming to eat cake with you, but now I think we have to go elsewhere because you have too many other bookings. I’m so confused.” The man on the telephone was most helpful. He checked the bookings list and said “Yes, we have a cancelled group booking. There’s a squiggly line right through it. But it doesn’t say why the booking was cancelled. We don’t have any other bookings at that time”. The lady’s eyebrow arched high above her left eye. “Oh, really. That is so confusing”, she purred. “But thank you anyway, you’ve been most helpful.”
The ladies had their baby shower yesterday, at another venue of course. They had lots of room to talk and laugh out loud, and to sip their glasses of champagne. But they didn’t have any cake at all. Instead they had an enormous lunch. They munched on pizzas and chicken, on seafood and dips. They talked and laughed about the other silly restaurant, and how glad they were that they hadn’t gone there. There were lots of presents for the pregnant lady, whose belly moved up and down with each laugh as she tore off the wrappings to see the gifts inside. She was surrounded by loving friends who cared about her and her baby. She was wrapped in joy. A happy ending after all.
Imagine. Eighteen women charged with champagne and indignation, feeling defensive on behalf of their pregnant friend. Imagine the power of these women as they march about Hobart furiously declaring their anger at the shabby treatment of their friend with the tight round belly. Imagine how this story will grow along with the growing child, how the baby shower was less important than other bookings. Other bookings that didn’t exist at all. Thank you to one of those cranky indignant ladies who regaled me with this story in great and glorious detail last night over a debriefing champagne. "Class act", she seethed, "Dumping a pregnant lady’s booking in case more money could be made from walk-ins. What’s next, strangling small furry animals?"
Amulet n. Something worn on the body as a charm against evil (Collins Australian Pocket English Dictionary)