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international librarian of mystery

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Everyone needs a lucky coin

After just about bringing serious injury to superstar librarian Josh earlier in the week, I was stuck for a descent excuse for refusing his invitation to a drink on Thursday night. Not that I minded too much. It was the perfect chance for me to try out my new Voon summer frock I'd bought in a New Zealand Fashion Week-inspired shopping frenzy earlier in the week.

I was running a bit early on the bus back into town from Newtown, so I jumped off at the Embassy end of Courtenay Place to walk the rest of the way to the rendez-vous at Cuba Street. Despite my misfortune at the Sky Tower Casino a couple of weeks back, and my subsequent resolution to never gamble again, I found myself in a pokie parlour, thinking it'd be a fun way to burn off half an hour.

I watched aghast as the pokie swallowed $20 of twenties without a single pay-out. I hadn't even begun to figure out the system of the game I was playing when I got a wee tap on the shoulder.

"Excuse me dear, you don't seem to be having any luck on that slot."

It was a wizened old guy, dressed in black, a whispy white beard sprouting from his chin.

"Err, no." I agreed.
"Do you mind if I put in my lucky coin now?" he asked, holding up a twenty cent coin. "I will split any winnings with you on this slot 50/50 if I win," he said.

How could I resist the lucky coin?


He put it in. Of course, he struck some crazy combo, asked me if he wouldn't mind me investing one of my own coins into the machine to take advantage of a multiplier, and I said yes, and he did manage to double the take, but asked if I'd invest in another nudge, at which point I found some sense and said no, I'd rather quit while I was ahead, as it was time for me to go. He cashed it in. We split it. I was ahead by five bucks. It was only after I left the pokie and was another 50 metres down the road that it really occurred to me that I'd been scammed in any way. Still ahead, but scammed.

When I wandered past some swanky do going on at the St James further down the road, and spotted champagne being passed around on big silver platters within, I was feeling a little like the world owed me something. So I drifted into the general throng going in through the main doors, carefully managed to avoid showing anyone any supposed invite or ID, plucked a couple of champagne flutes from the first tray that came within reach, and sidled off to a corner to figure out just what event I was gate-crashing.

"Ms Biz, nice frock," said a voice behind me.

I jumped. Why are people always sneaking up on me?

"Ah! Noizy, hi. What are you doing here?"
"We're in the awards. Did you guys get nominated?"
"No. No idea. I just walked in. What for?"
"Ahaha. Nice work. This."

Noizy pointed, and I finally spotted the big 'TUANZ (e)-vision Awards' banner on one of the Foyer's walls. Aha, another industry back-patting event.

Noizy had bought over a champagne for me, having somehow missed the fact I already had two, so we stood there with two drinks each and surveyed the badly dressed men and well dressed woman that made up the cream of NZ's interactive and media design sector. Noizy was one of them, actually. Good shirt. Bad jacket.

"Noizy, do you ever go to anything but awards ceremonies?"
"Recently? Ummm, no."

His work crowd were in a couple of categories whose names I instantly forgot upon hearing them, so 'Best-Technical-Achievement-in-the-Field-of-Geekery-and-Gadgetry' did they sound. A gong went, and people started upstairs to the auditorium where, presumably, the presentations were to be held. Noizy slipped me his ticket in case there were any problems with security, and headed back to his mob for a pre-awards group shot. Having guzzled the two champagne flutes I'd grabbed upon entry, purloined another one while gabbing with noizy, and having had no dinner, I was starting to feel a little light. I flitted upstairs to see if there was a free bite to eat or buffet to be taken advantage of, but, before I knew it, I was ushered into the middle of a row of people, one in many tightly-packed rows made up of collapsible corporate seating facing towards a small stage. Trapped.

I made it through to the half-time without too much drama. There was one excellent prize given out for the Student Work Award, that seemed, to me, to be the kind of sound-visualiser that comes pretty standard with winamp or media player. Whatever it was, it had apparently been picked up by Pioneer Car Stereo for installing into their products. As the MC had to point out, 'Ours is not to wonder why Pioneer are wanting to install an intensely distracting visual display unit into the dash of your car.'

They handed out more champagne at half-time, so I figured I might as well stick it out until the end. With a couple of backup drinks stashed discreetly under my chair, the second half was most notable for the moment one of the award-winners took a step too far towards the back of the stage, fell off, threw her arms backwards to steady herself, only to find the wall sized display screen they'd been using to project images of the nominee's work onto wasn't as secure as it looked, and ended up knocking the whole thing off its perch and onto the floor. Yet another Occupational Safety and Health incident to report! I seem to a bit of a catalyst for that sort of thing at the moment.

Anyway, noizy's bunch won an award near the end of the evening, and then, much to my surprise and professional delight, the National Library won the major Innovation Award right at the end of the ceremony, for their Matapihi site, which is, indeed, excellent. (Actually, being a bit of a geekgirl, I also checked out some of the other finalists later on as well - the Shift interactive NZ map they did for Tourism NZ is also very cool). I had to have a drink to toast the work of my fellow librarians, and did so, and another, so, by the time everyone had mingled back downstairs again, and were planning on what to do next, I was totally trolleyed.

And then I remembered Josh. Terrible. I weaved out of the St James, and half-ran half-staggered to the cafe down Cuba Street we'd agreed to meet at, about two hours earlier. Bless his heart. He was still there. Looking only moderately grumpy.

"A blaurgle, err...wards, uh...thing, sorry," I spluttered drunkenly at him.
"Ah, it's okay. A couple of friends were here anyway and just left, so no harm done."

I felt a headache coming on already.

"Ugh, don't know about that. I need food or I'm going to pass out."

I regaled him with my tale of gatecrashing the awards ceremony as we headed down the road for some sushi. He laughed at the appropriate places, and twice managed to stop me walking headlong into lampposts, so his stock was rising rapidly in my book. When he paid for my sushi (and sake) and offered to take me out dancing, I could have just about swooned, but we'd somehow managed to go about four hours chatting about stuff, and I was starting to crash, so suggested we just call it a night and perhaps catch up again at the Low Hum gig on Saturday night. He offered to share a taxi back towards my place (he lives in Berhampore, a bit further on from my place), so, with all the dodgy taxi action that's been taking place in Wellington recently, I accepted and we jumped in a cab and headed home.

"You up for a cup of tea?" suggested Josh, as we pulled up to my flat.
"Umm, yes, why not?" I acquiesced.

A cup of tea. That's all, I told myself.

We went inside. I actually made him a cup of tea. By the time I got back to the lounge, he'd already booted up my laptop and was reading my blog.

"Errr, um, you might recognise some of that," I said.
"Ahaha. Yes. I'm a regular reader."
"Been reading for ages. I'm pleased to see I've finally warranted an entry or two."
"Err, yes. Um, hell."
"Don't worry, I'm not telling anyone. God forbid that Mrs Oolong should find out."
"Don't even joke about that."
"Haha. I won't. It's a good read. You say a lot of the things I wish I could say."
"Anyway, I should, um, probably get going. Thanks for the cuppa."

Brain implosion time.

"Oh, look, if it's too much of a hassle, you can just crash here tonight. On the, err, couch?"

We both looked at the couch, covered in magazines and probably about two feet too short for a comfortable's night sleep. Josh noded through to my bed, visible through my bedroom door.

"Top and tail?"

Him, so forward! Me, so drunk!

"Oh, all right. No funny business though."
"On my honour."

And, tell you what, he wasn't too bad behaved himself quite well.