Shiny isn't always good....but can be funny

At the end of December, a few days before Christmas, right before our vacation would start our exams ended. Aaaaah after a few weeks of enormous stress in our teenage life we could deflate and enjoy a bit of unofficial vacations while our teachers were correcting our exams and while our parents were still working.  We traditionally went hunting for some Christmas presents, we often went to Ghent by train to the movie theatre....and usually my friends came over to watch a video at our house.  We didn't have the habit to go and hang out at each other's houses at all, apart from some occasional visits during the summer and these post-exam video sessions.

We watched the "The Little Match Girl" TV movie from 1987 which I had taped once. By the time my parents came home they found much to their surprise 5 15-year old girls in tears with swollen red cheeks. But we kept assuring them that we were fine and that it was oooh so beautiful, after which they left us alone in the living room with our tear jerker.

Before dinner time everyone left and I took my bike to ride along through the winter cold up to the main crosspoint where everybody's roads would part.  2 went straight one, 1 turned left and the last 2 kept chit-chatting along at the traffic lights not wanting to part yet. There was still sooo much to tell and the afternoon had been so cosy. The lights turned red and green again and we were still there.

"Look there's someone walking back on the bike road there"
"She looks a bit like M"
The figure was waving at us with the arms high up in the air. 
"That is M!'"
For a moment we stared surprised in the dark at the walking figure, shiny in the reflection of the road lamps and then we got on our bikes to approach the trail of big grey circles she left on the concrete with each step.  Getting closer, it hit us that she was soaking wet.

"I rode into the gracht" she yelled half laughing, half crying.
We had to bite our lips not to start laughing at the sight of her dripping posture, clothes hanging heavily along her body.  I can't explain but there was something rather hilarious about that picture.
"My bike's still in the water, I'm gonna be late for dinner"  she now said with a rising level of panic so we bit our lips a bit harder, biked along her puddle trace until it lead us right to the edge of the water in order to look for her bike in the undeep ditch.  With a calculated jump across the water we positioned ourselves each on one side and we plunged our hands into the water. Accompagnied with quite some gigles and shrieks when we risked losing our balance, we managed to catch the bike frame and lift it up and set it on the road again dripping next to our shivering friend.

She almost took off because she really was late for dinner now and she still had to bike for another 45 minutes to home and I believe the cold had frozen her brain or so.  But we were in the majority to convince her that the only acceptable & smart thing to do was return with us to my home to get dry clothes and phone home.  She thought that was too much hassle, that my clothes would never fit etc  but she followed us nevertheless.

And so my parents were quite surprised again to hear 3 girls coming back in stumbling into the garage.  Some towels, a hairdryer, loaned clothes and a phone call later, M could finally hop back on her bike with the promise not to ride into the ditch again.  And I was left with a rather unusual Christmas memory that always leaves a smile on my face. Sorry M, I hope you warmed up fine.


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