l i l e p h y t e

November 8th, 16:42 | The Banner Saga.

Fall has arrived on my parents' street, quiet and misty. I like driving down their road, seeing all the trees, no reds left, just orangey-yellows, all in varying states of shed, soft-edged and water-colour-looking with the fog. If people have their outside lights on, they look soft and globular, small yellow lanterns marking my path home.

It's warmed up, but gotten damper, so there's that woodburned smell in the air, but the chill has bite; your clothes get damp and leech the heat out of you if you're not wearing wool (or some fancy new camping material I haven't heard of) against the air.

I should have told this story on Monday (which was, after all, my dad's birthday), but things have been a little crazy (did I mention I was writing a novel?) and I haven't really been in the journalling mood for a bit, but now that I am, I can regale you all with... The Banner Saga.

The story actually starts at Thanksgiving, when my aunts and uncles congregated around me and informed me that my dad's birthday was coming up, and that it was An Occasion Of Import. They were preparing a surprise, and I had to make sure that the banquet hall looked good; there had to be balloons. (As a side-note, I'm glad they told me that; I would never have thought of balloons.)

Anyhow. Fast forward to a couple weeks before Hallowe'en. My mother informs me that she realizes I'm not in town, seeing as that I live in The Frozen North and all, so my two duties for the banquet are 1) make placecards with the guests' names on, and 2) get a banner printed for my dad. Simple, yes? I thought so too.

So I toddled merrily off to the party supply store in The Frozen North, bought balloons according to the colour scheme I'd devised (royal blue and gold), ribbon, placecards, also in the theme, and a couple extra balloons, and a gaudy banner. I called my mom a few days later letting her know I'd got everything, including a campy banner. Silence.

"lilephyte, this is your dad's birthday. It needs to look nice. No campy banners."

Well. Didn't I feel like a failure as a good daughter. So now, with just over a week before the banquet, I started looking up places that would print banners. I found one, haggled over the price, got it made, and picked it up two days before we were to return to the city. I lovingly inked the names of the guests on the cards (to the mixed compliment of "Cool, where'd you get these printed? What, you wrote them? Seriously? How come I can never read your writing then??" from The Boy), including my aunt's name which I apparently spelled wrong, and packed everything away into plastic bags, ready for travel.

The Friday came. Complete with heavy-ass gift, we threw everything in the car, and hit the freeway. Four and a half hours later, we were in the city, headed for home when I realized: I'd left the banner in The Frozen North.

No icy panic, no rage, just frustration, and that cold despondency which comes from resignation. I was the worst daughter ever.

The Boy, at this point toting all my luggage as I wandered hazily towards home, tried all the Good Boyfriend lines: well, it's not that important; you're here -- that's what really matters; we can get another one; it's only a banner, etc. On the subway ride home (necessary subterfuge to hide aforementionned heavy-ass gift), he suggested that perhaps some of our friends in The Frozen North might be able to break into our apartment and put the banner on a bus. Hope. A drop of golden sun.

We got home, where I wearily confessed to my dad (but carefully avoided telling my mom) about the banner, and emailed one friend (who had been considering a trip out of province for the weekend). By morning, no reply. In a fit of inspiration, the boy IM'ed another friend, notorious for sleeping in on weekends, and to our shock (it was, after all, about 9am), he was awake, and up to the task. We called the maintenance folks in our building, and called the friend to dispatch the details. At this point, my heart started racing, and stayed that way for the better part of the day. The trip by bus was 5 hours, so if he could get the banner onto an 11 o'clock bus, that would be perfect; the 1 o'clock bus would sadly be a bit too late. I started watching the clock.

A phone call at 11:10 had my heart (still racing) sink in my chest. It was too late. Our friend informed me that the bus driver was being a tool and disallowing packages -- they would need to be placed on the 2 o'clock Parcel Express bus, which would arrive far too late to be useful.

"Hang on. I'll see if I can give it to one of the passengers."
"Wh-what? Hello?"
(Heard in the background)"Excuse me, I have a friend in the city who needs this banner. Could you please take it with you -- she'll meet you at the station."
(Also in the background)"Whah? Huh? I'm sorry, I'm new here, I really don't think I can-"
"lilephyte? I'm going to try to find someone. I'll call when I find a passenger."
"Wait! It-" click.

Ten adrenalinated minutes later, the phone rang again, with a slightly breathless friend ready to report:

"Okay. It's on the bus. I gave it to a guy who's got really shiny black shoes, a black coat, black hair in a ponytail at the back of his neck. He's either brown or native, and he's going to the city."
"Oh, and he's greying a little."
"...did you get his name?"
"Well, it was all sort of a rush; he was buying candy, and I told him I had a friend who needed the banner in the city, and he took it, but then the bus was leaving..."
"Is he getting off at the suburb? or the city downtown?"
"I'm SURE it was downtown. It has to be! It was the city."
"You know, you could make a sign. Have it say 'Looking for banner handed to you by creepy Asian guy'."
"Umm, alright, I think about it. Thank you!"

Five long hours later (heart still racing, ulcer slowly forming) The Boy and I were at the bus depot waiting for its arrival. Over the course of the afternoon, we'd had the balloons inflated with helium, and bought an emergency alternate banner (of much gaud and tackiness), as well as let my mom in on the gag. My parents had driven us downtown and were circling, looking for parking. The bus arrived.

"Hey, that guy looks like he's got your banner."
lilephyte waves frantically at passenger
Passenger points to banner inquisitively, then points to lilephyte
lilephyte nods emphatically, grinning maniacally

So the banner was retrieved, the banquet was a resounding success, complete with mini Deal or No Deal-style gameshow created by cousin to present dad with gift.

Happy Birthday Dad.

I'm happy to relate that my life has been much less exciting since Saturday, although it has been no less strange and fun.

And now, back to my novel-writing. (Seriously, have you seen this wordcount? Look -> I broke 10K in the first week!)

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