Cousins. Long-distance-mysterious, or next-best-thing-to-a-sibling – sort of bonus family members that you’re always intending to be closer to. But not always successfully. In our family, it’s usually the latter. Never a terribly close bunch, and with the usual Irish emigration issues thrown in, they’re always people I would like to be closer to, but the best laid mice …
Three-thirty a.m. of a post-Saturday night sortie: girl talk at the too-brightly lit kitchen table, over tea and ridiculous biscuits. April and me having the long-overdue cousinly catch-up. We remove to the patio outside, to indulge April’s still-bad-girl-at-heart cigarette habit, hovering in the seaside darkness, with dawn getting ready backstage in the far clouds.
Conversation stumbled on a communication issue, where one of us is having a problem getting through to an official entity and encountering increasing bother. April pulls on her nicotine stick, which momentarily illuminates her bright, last-gasp-of-the-night eyes.
“Yeah, open the pod bay doors, Hal … “ she says.
“Open the pod bay … ah, never mind, it’s a … “
I put my hand on her arm, with cousine affection, and slowly whisper: “It’s what you read just under the password text box on my log-in screen.”
“It’s been there since I upgraded to 10.9 …”
“I’ve always used that phrase, I love it … “
“Hal gets stubborn … “
“The sudden realisation that he’s completely and utterly fucked …”
“The way it builds … “
“I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow happen … “
“I use it like people use ‘don’t panic’ from Hitchhiker’s.”
“It’s such a perfect expression of sheer, hopeless terror!”
“In any communication … “
So, with random lack of logic, for my cousin April, this phrase from a 1968 movie finale means exactly the same thing as it does to me. A useful expression to denote fear when confronted by denial, especially in the context of an official body or even a person. Used separately, by said cousins, down the years, with no previous mention. I have never, ever heard anyone else use this phrase in a similar context.
We stand in the dark garden as April finishes her cigarette. Ah, yes … the possibilities of gene-sharing, inter-cousinly connections blaze. The music comes up – and the pair of us link arms, burst into a rousing chorus of “Daisy, Daisy” and hail the nearest alien craft, ascending into the lime-tinged beams just as the dawn breaks.
Well, not really.
“Anyway,” she says. “10.9! I wish you wouldn’t spout that MAC crap. And how do I know when you installed 10.9?”
“Nah, that’s another thing. You have to switch to MAC, obviously … “
“No, listen to me, I’m telling you …. “
And it’s five o’clock before the two of us actually get to sleep.