I got a text from my friend yesterday morning, asking if I wanted to come to a barbecue in the park. I'm not normally much of a morning person, but I was already up because I had a hair appointment booked around noon, this time with a real stylist (I got it cheap on Groupon so don't worry, I haven't compromised my haircare ethics), who incidentally gave me a shorter cut on the right side of my head on the basis that it "looks edgy". It actually just makes me look a bit lop-sided. If you can, try to picture a puzzled collie. That's pretty accurate.
In any case, I graciously accepted the invitation, by which I mean I replied with "what you're proposing is actually against the law in this country, so I'll be there shortly". However, I hadn't factored in her ability to give directions which might have worked for a normal person, but had certainly not been translated into Otterspeak for me. Therefore, I got to the proposed park (somewhere I'd never actually been before despite it being about 400 yards from a main road I used to live on) only to find that I couldn't see my friends anywhere.
Me: The east quadrant, she says? My ass, it's the east quadrant (pulling out my phone) Okay, it's fine, I'll just call her. No big deal.
Friend: (picking up) Dude, where are you?
Me: You are not in the east quadrant. At all. When the zombie apocalypse comes, I'm not letting you near the map collection.
Friend: I was speaking in terms of the park itself.
Me: Forgive me for thinking that when you said 'east' you meant 'east' as in compass east. Anyway, where are you?
Friend: You can't see us? Okay, take off your shirt and we'll come find you.
Me: Okay, sure- wait, what?!
Friend: We took a vote and we all agreed that it would make you easier to find. And would in fact be a reward for us for finding you.
Me: This is a children's park. I am right next to a sandpit.
Friend: You're always so full of excuses.
Me: I'll work on that.
It turned out to be a lovely day, even if three of us nearly set ourselves/alcohol/food/grass on fire in an attempt to prove that we were tough and outdoorsy enough to light a disposable barbecue with a firelighter tool. It wasn't until we'd finally managed to get the damn thing lit that we realised we'd forgotten to take the cardboard packaging off it, and let me tell you, if they'd included that as a challenge in one of the Crystal Maze rooms, the program would have benefited from the added suspense and danger. I no longer allow myself to watch Crystal Maze reruns as I can't helping myself hurling the most foul-mouthed and harsh criticism at the contestants ("Steven, you ham-fisted bastarding moron, the long bricks are supposed to slot in the other way! You wasted thirty seconds on reading out the instructions and now this? How can you live with yourself?")
I also discovered that with this particular group of friends, all I need to do to be included in the zombie apocalypse group is to agree to take my shirt off. What was I thinking, trying to impress them with my intelligence and language skills? What need do they have for a Risk strategy expert who is also very good with animals and has an incredibly photographic memory? None! None at all. If only I'd known my appeal from the beginning I wouldn't have had to endure the anxiety about being left behind. At least now I feel reassured. Zombies on, shirt off. It's my new motto.