My recent adventures in corkscrews reminded me this is not the first time they've caused me grief.
Some years ago (it's not for me to say how many), I was studying French in a town I'll call Pate a Papier (Pulp and Paper), Quebec. My roommate was a schoolteacher from Newfoundland, and through her I met another Newfoundlander - a very tall, very brash, very blond girl who called me "Brainchild" because, having absolutely nothing else to do in Pate a Papier, I did my homework. Through her, I met the Quebecois guy with whom she did a weekly language exchange. He was about a foot shorter than she was and as dark as she was blond, and I came to think of them as Hall and Oates.
When my roommate returned to Newfoundland at Christmas, she advised me to "be very cold" to Hall. She didn't elaborate, but the unspoken message was, "or pay the price." Moments after she'd left (or so it seems, in retrospect), Hall called to invite me to attend the school Christmas party with her and Oates. Throwing my ex-roommate's warnings to the four winds, I agreed.
The night of the party, they arrived to pick me up in Oates' car. Hall announced she had a bottle of wine to drink at the party but no corkscrew. I realized I had none either. Oates, however, announced that he had one, and that we'd simply have to return to his house and get it.
What he meant, I realized 15 minutes later, was that his MOTHER had one and we could return to the house he shared with her (and his father) and borrow it - but only after I'd been introduced to his parents and looked at photos of their cat swimming in the toilet.
Wait, it gets worse.
We arrived at the party, opened the wine, I poured a glass and detached myself from Hall and Oates as quickly as possible. Until, that is, Oates approached me in a panic, asking if I'd seen his mother's corkscrew. I told him I hadn't, and he looked like he was about to burst into tears. If he didn't find it, he said, his mother would kill him. Or maybe make him swim in the toilet. I can't remember, but whatever the threat, it scared him. He told me I had to help him search, and I, being a nicer person in those days, did - wandering around the hall, peering surreptitiously over people's shoulders, trying to find the corkscrew.
I had no luck, and told Oates as much, but he had a new plan: he'd talked to the DJ, who had agreed to give me the microphone after the next song so that I could announce, in English, that we were missing a corkscrew and could we please have it back.
Now, to this point, I'd kept a very low profile in our program, and the idea of being known as the girl who lost her corkscrew at the Christmas party did not appeal to me at all, but I couldn't see anyway out -- Oates was so upset (and Hall was SO gone). Oates was by now standing next to the DJ, holding out a microphone toward me, and so I began the long, horrible walk to the DJ booth, thinking that I could always transfer to another university after Christmas. Just as I was reaching for the microphone, a guy ran up and handed Oates his corkscrew.
An 11th hour reprieve.
Joyfully, I returned to the party, and after Christmas I returned to the university. But I never again returned a call from Hall or Oates. I was very cold. I'd learned.
[Pictured above right: A girl from Newfoundland and her Quebecois language exchange partner, or Hall and Oates. Your call. And while we're on the subject, if you haven't watched Yacht Rock, you should.]