I should have been wearing the epaulets

It is neither here nor there for me to be dazed and confused, obviously. I was born to make the wrong decision. Were the Red Sea to open before my feet and eyes, I would walk straight into the ocean.

But going into Easter, I fell victim to so much dazeding and confusedness I just about gave up. It had never been this bad before; in one dizzying day, I made three idiot decisions that could not be defended on any rational level.

The day began with a bus ride to the Gardens to meet my driver. I got on opposite the former Chief Post Office.

''Mate,'' said the driver, ''this a coach stop. The bus stop is back there.''

He was indicating a sign about one metre behind him. So I got off the bus. My first idiot decision for the day. After he had released his head from his hands, the driver told me I could get back on the bus, he was just telling me for future reference. His telling dripped with sarcasm. The whole bus tittered.

So from the Gardens, my driver and I embarked on a day of canny shopping at low socio-economic outlets. I purchased a purple wig for two dollars and a sparkling Puma dartboard for the same price. I nearly bought a fistful of kit-set jeans (one dollar) for the grandchildren, which would have been my second bad decision. On our way back through Green Island, we stopped at the Cafe Vega, which we mis-read as Vegas, thinking Vegas gave the afternoon ironic flair. It was empty. Kylie Minogue told me one should never eat at an empty cafe, but the Cafe Vega seemed special. The two women behind the counter were wearing bunny-rabbit ears.

Thinking because I was from the city and therefore superior, I asked if the bunny-rabbit ears were being worn for a dare, my tone of voice as dry as the dry bit of the opened Red Sea. There was a long silence, filled with what in retrospect was a tinge of incredulity and derision.

''They're for Easter,'' she said.

It was clear who was the superior human, but I didn't get to where I am today without being monstrously inferior. So I smiled sweetly and ordered. The food was lovely. And the cafe was two-thirds full 10 minutes later. I will definitely return. If, of course, they will have me.

Bad decisions come in threes, and the third one was Aberfanian. When I am in a shop, I like to feel things. If I am buying a used car, yes, I will kick the tyres. All four. Hard. And if there are clothes in a store, I will touch them. I like to feel fabric. Op shops have wild and surrealistic fabrics and I absently stroke and pinch them when I get in there as if in a narcoleptic zone. So when I scratched and tugged at what I thought was an extremely unusually-decorated mannequin and the live woman I was assaulting asked me what on earth I was doing, I knew it was one of those should-have-stayed-under-the-bed days. I told her I thought she was a display. Her icy glare suggested I could have done a lot better.

But I have resolved to correct Bad Decision Days. This will start, ironically, with clothes, because clothes maketh the man. Good clothing will give me social focus. For some time I have owned an excellent jacket, epaulets, whose sleeves are ludicrously long. My wife told me it was the fashion to have long sleeves, but sheesh, I can't even find my hands. At prestigious dinner parties I have to wait until nobody is looking and then whang my mouth into the plate and hope I come away with enough food to tide me over until the next moment when everyone is looking away. Not easy.

I have taken the jacket to Quality Tailors, in Princes St, to have three inches slashed from the sleeves. Wearing this fixed fashionable jacket, there is no way I will ever make a bad decision again.

• Roy Colbert is a Dunedin writer.

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