Orion’s Belt? You Can’t Be Sirius
Don’t get me wrong. I love stars. Like diamonds on black velvet they are to me; best seen from a deserted beach or game reserve but sadly, starry nights also attract one of the worst species of bore – the amateur astronomer. Like the mosquito, this pest can drone on for hours – swat away as you may.
Left to myself I’d have no truck with either but clearly I have an irresistible attraction for both. I’m no sooner masticating the mixed nuts and sucking down a whisky sour at sunset, when the blood-sucking beasties descend for their own Happy Hour. But, if that’s not bad enough, nightfall brings a more pernicious pest – the self-appointed Galileo of the Game Farm.
While a liberal application of repellent or a few whiffs of a citronella candle may help keep the mosquitoes at bay, so powerful is my attraction for the star bore that no insecticide can counteract it. No way. Already he has singled me out from the pack of travel hacks. See how he eyes me like a speculative hyena sizing up his odds with the lagging impala at the back.
How my heart sinks as he makes his approach with the infallibility of a GPS. He’s staggering a little. Perhaps he’s fortified himself with too many free G&Ts or perhaps it’s the weight of the Southern Cross on his back. Whichever it is, he’ll want to lay it on me, for sure.
I bet myself 100 bucks that he’ll ask if I’ve noticed how bright the stars are tonight. That’ll be his opening gambit. It always is.
“Hey, noticed how bright the stars are?” says he, right on cue.
“No, I’m not wearing my specs,” is the retort that springs to my lips, but he continues undeterred.
“Come with me and I’ll show you the belt of Orion …”
This is exactly what I’ve been dreading. “I’m really not interested in celestial accessories,” I murmur but Galileo doesn’t take no for an answer. Mistaking my hesitation for shyness, he hauls me to my feet and propels me to a quiet corner away from the group, the better to bend my ear.
“Know how to find Alpha and Beta Centauri?” he asks.
“Yes,” I say, hoping to cut the conversation short. Actually, I have no clue. I’d much rather find another G&T. And make it a double.
“Where?” he persists.
“There,” I say, waving an expansive hand towards the night sky. Clearly I’ve got it wrong because Galileo soon has me on my back while he bangs on about brown dwarfs and meteorites. His supine position next to mine might be considered a little risqué and I’m just wondering how I can extricate myself when another inebriated journalist, if you’ll pardon the tautology, trips over us.
“Well, well, well … Excuse me,” says he, barely suppressing a snigger before hotfooting it back to the rest of the party, full of scurrilous gossip.
Nobody believes my explanation about Orion’s belt.
“What, the one holding up Galileo’s trousers?”
These and other ribald comments ring about my ears as I make my way back to my room, my evening and reputation ruined. Thanks for nothing, Star Gazer!