If they hadn't been so easy-going, Harry and Lucile might've made it out for tea.
Out for Tea
By Philippe McMurdo
When I think about it now, I reckon Harry and Lucile Wilson have to be about the most easy-going pair I've ever come across. In the time I've known them, I've never seen a single thing phase this tranquil twosome - that is as far as the usual, couple-based arguments go.
Where in some cases you might sense unspoken hostilities between two people, or witness a few subtle digs aimed at each other over an evening's repast spent with another couple (if you're into that sort of social couple's caper), the Wilson's just weren't into that sort of carry-on.
One of the more common bicker-baits it occurs to me, is getting the other person out the door when you've planned to go out somewhere. Either one's in a rush and the other isn't, or you're both in rush and end up tripping over each other.
On one occasion, the Wilson's had been invited out to our place for tea. My wife had gone through her usual rigmarole of whipping us all into shape before the guests arrived - we cleaned everything from the bathroom to the kitchen, from the lounge to the toilet, and I was even asked to sweep up the pile of badly behaved autumn leaves that always fall right at our doorstep in windy Oxford. Our boys were touched up too.
Nails were cut, bedrooms were cleaned, toys were packed away, clothes were changed, and they were both made to promise they wouldn't jump on the furniture while our guests were with us. I myself was even made to put a nice shirt on.
The clock had struck five-thirty and the lamb was about to be put out onto the table where lay our only set of matching plates, knives and forks (the nice ones), cups that had been dusted off, and a number of bowls and trays that had everything from roasted spuds to fresh-baked bread. My wife's always made food as if Her Majesty the Queen and her company were coming. And that's not a complaint, let me tell you. You'd be damn lucky to have such a lady in your house.
Well, we'd all sat at about six, and our oldest boy was the first to ask - "When are they coming?"
"I don't know", I'd said telling the truth. "I thought they might already be here."
By the time it'd gotten to 7 o'clock, we'd all starting getting a bit worried to tell the truth, so I'd hopped on the phone and given old Harry a call.
He'd answered in his usual easy-going way, and I could hear Lucile singing nonchalantly in the background.
"Harry, mate, you guys alright?"
"Sure Philippe, why's that?"
"Well it's just we're waiting for you here for tea."
"Oh yeah, nah don't worry about that, mate, we just got a bit caught up here that's all."
After a bit of questioning as to what all that meant, I got the story.
It'd turned out they were about set to go when Harry had heard 'Luci' pop to the bathroom and figured that he'd had five minutes to whip out and feed the chooks. Luci had come out and seen him feeding the chooks and figured she'd had a couple of minutes to go try on some different shoes.
When Harry had come in from throwing feed about the place, he'd seen Luci trying on shoes and reckoned he'd had just enough time to pop a bit of oil on the push-mower wheels - a job he'd been meaning to get to for a couple of weeks now. With shoes chosen, Luci had stuck her head out the laundry window, noticed Harry in the garage, and thought she'd put the washing on while she waited for him to come back inside - they'd hang it out the next morning.
Their washing machine was one of those old jobs that just about took off into outer space every time it was switched on, and it made one heck of a racket. Hearing the din the washing machine had been making from the garage, Harry had thought they'd stick around and put the washing out before they left for our place, so he'd taken the freshly oiled mower out to the small strip of lawn out their kitchen window, and started pushing it around giving it a trim.
Seeing Harry with the mower had told Luci that she had about thirty minutes to tidy up a few of the dishes that they'd worked up from lunch, and from making the apple pie they'd planned to take for pudding, so she'd set to filling the sink. It'd seemed a reasonable idea seeing as they'd likely be out late, and coming home to a clean kitchen was something they both liked.
The kitchen window of their house, as I said before, looks out onto the strip of lawn that Harry was mowing, so Harry had seen her filling the sink. The two had no-doubt shared a nice, easy-going, loving gaze as they'd both pottered away at their jobs, both waiting for the other to finish so they could go. But, seeing as there was a fairly decent stack there, he'd thought he'd carry on mowing until he got the call to hop in the car. So, he'd gone into the main yard and started up a circuit which he was still on when Lucile had come outside carrying the basket of washing for the line. At that, Harry had stopped his mowing and had gone over to help her hang it out.
They'd chatted away about this and that - the house, the mower moving better now, and what a lovely afternoon it was turning out to be. Lucile had said how much she'd liked the colours that the maples were turning, and remarked on how peaceful everything looked to her in the autumn. With the washing out, Harry had told her he'd just finish of this bit of lawn and then they'd get going. Then he'd suggested she have a cuppa while she waited. That seemed reasonable to Lucile, so she'd put the jug on.
About five minutes later, Lucile had brought out a brew to Harry who'd downed it smartly saying he reckoned they should probably take off pretty soon. Lucile had agreed and told him she'd do a quick sweep of the house to make sure they'd got everything.
As unlikely as it seemed at this point, ten minutes later, both of them had actually made it to sitting in the car. Harry had turned the ignition and had reversed out of his parking bay situated by the back door of his house. He'd positioned the car facing forwards down their long driveway, and it was then that Lucile remembered that she hadn't grabbed her jacket (just in case the weather turned). "You're 'right, Luci, I'll wait here while you grab it," he'd said to her.
Five minutes had gone by and Harry had suddenly recalled that he'd left the lid off the oil he'd been using in the garage, so he'd whipped out of the car to go and put it back on. Unfortunately for the lamb that was going cold on our dinner table by then, Lucile had come back out at that time and had seen Harry back in the garage so she'd decided to pop to the bathroom again. Harry had made his way back to the car only to hear the hot water running in the house from Lucile washing her hands. He had mistaken this for her deciding to have a quick shower before going, so he'd turned the car off, went back into the yard and started up mowing again. It'd taken him about another fifteen minutes to finish up and by the time he'd got into the house, Lucile wasn't to be seen - she'd gone back to the car to wait for Harry.
Harry had figured that she'd must've been getting dressed, and took the opportunity to nab a quick rinse for himself in the shower after the mowing.
Another ten minutes later, Harry had made his way out to the car once again where Lucile was still waiting. He'd sat in the driver's seat again, turned the ignition again, and noticed the time on the car clock that read 6:45pm.
"Crikey, Luci", he'd said, "look at the time - it's 6:45 you know."
"Help - It was 4:30 only a few minutes ago, I swear, Harry. Should we give them a call?"
"Nah I wou'n't worry 'bout it, They've prob'ly forgotten 'bout it. They'll've eat'n by now anyway. Come on, we'll go in n' catch the end a' the news ay?"
"Yeah, alright. I'll make us another cuppa."
About fifteen minutes later is when I'd called them to find out where they'd gotten to.
I won't lie, we've thought twice about planning anything serious with the Wilsons since that experience. I suppose there's such a thing as too easy going, but at the end of the day, as long as they're happy it doesn't really matter if they don't make it out for tea.