The Four Muskevets: An Introduction

It occurred to me after my last post that there were two things that I’d failed to talk to you about. One is more of a fun baptism into the Scottish culture which could have waited until another post. But the other is significantly more important and has been mostly missing from my previous posts.

That is, the four muskevets themselves.

Now that I’ve been mentioned in one of their posts, I feel like I can talk freely about their identities to you. Besides, I think I’d better get in there and say some nice stuff before others introduce me, for brownie points and the like.

To remind you of all our beautiful faces, here’s that mugshot from atop the Scott Monument:

Left to right: Kristen, Moi, Rowena, Claire

Let’s start with Kristen. I know she’ll read this the minute I’m done, so hi Kristen, here we go. Kristen originates from America, and has lived in China for eleven years, and now finds herself stuck in Scotland with me. This has been the source of much hilarity… that and the way she seems to trip over 80% of the paving slabs. It’s been a week of defining every third word I use, debating correct pronunciations, explaining frankly inexplicable British habits, introducing chocolate oranges and pulling her out of oncoming traffic as she learns to look the right way. Truth be told, she’s returned the favour, except that I don’t have an excuse for nearly being flattened.

Kristen is, quite literally, me. All the good bits, that is. The result of this is moments of excitability and uncontrolled laughter that can turn heads for a good block’s radius. Nothing is ever relaxing with her, but more importantly, neither is it ever boring. For the most part this is ideal, but not between the silent shelves of the university library.

Speaking of which, Dolly the Sheep in all her stuffed glory is in the library temporarily, and we dropped by because we’re easily distracted:

Who next? Ah, yes… Rowena.

Rowena originates from Britain, but has lived in Canada since she was two. Similar culture introductions have occurred between us as between Kristen and myself, but to a much lesser degree, because Rowena is much more familiar with this great country of ours. What can I say? I keep good company, because although less overtly excitable and loud than Kristen, Rowena has a fantastic sense of humour, and I never stop laughing.

She’s the one with the sensible ideas, the one who pays attention, and the one who ultimately keeps us going on the right track. Thank goodness one of us does. But like I said, she’s the furthest thing from boring-sensible as you can get. What would I do without her though.

And then there’s Claire… the quiet, calming influence with a fantastically sharp wit. Claire doesn’t have as much to say as the rest of us, but when she does speak, it’s either profoundly useful or profoundly funny. And every word is in the most beautiful Scottish accent. I love Claire. Thankfully, she’s in my set for small-group teaching, so we’ll be wielding scalpels over bunnies on Friday, and she’s the girl for the job!

Claire, like Rowena, is also very good at organising and remembering things, which is a lifeline for me. I wondered out loud the other day how far it was from Pollock Halls to Cameron Toll and she said to me, “Hmm… I’m not sure… 1.3 miles?” And I had to stop and grin for a second. What an accurate estimate. And it is, actually, 1.3 miles… go Claire.

So there you have my three muskevets, and I love each and every one of them. Together we are pretty much unstoppable, and five years with these guys is not a bad thing at all. Needless to say, all are incredibly intelligent, and have actually worked out a strategy to make use of my outstanding ability to go headlong into something without really knowing what I’m doing. It’s brilliantly simple: let Elise go first, watch her mistakes (entertainment is an added bonus) and then follow suit, avoiding said mistakes. Key point: never let on that you know who she is.

Prime example: our first time at the library. It was one of those rare occasions that Claire wasn’t sure where she’d seen something, but turning the corner to a sign of six-foot high letters screaming “LIBRARY” soon fixed that.

The entry is like an underground train station, where you swipe your card/ticket and the barriers open. But I didn’t know this, so I wandered in waving my student card absently in the air while the girls hung back. I paced the row of gates for a few seconds, unsure whether the card I had was the right one to open the gates. Probably having watched me dither from a distance, an assistant told me to scan my card on the machine. Oh, right, that’s simple enough.

Being the daft lefty that I am, I scanned my card on the machine to my left, and waited for my gates to open. Instead, the gates on my left (duh) opened and I lunged for them to make it through. I wasn’t quick enough, and had I been born a boy, would have lost my manlihood, it was that close. Sheepishly trying again, I made it through and turned to watched my “friends” glide smoothly through the gates. Ta, guys.

No doubt these people will feature very much over the next five years, through the good times and the tough ones. I look forward to every minute! As for that Scottish cultural baptism… well that will just have to wait for the next installment of thedogsbody…


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