Sonja Dumas on a previously unheard-of dimension to the humble poached egg

  • Illustration by Jason Jarvis

There comes a time in a woman’s life when, try as she might to make her mark on the annals of feminism, she needs to resign herself to, even enjoy, the stereotypical behaviour assigned to the sexes.

Let me explain.

My car’s radiator was in need of repair. It was leaking badly. I knew this. But as we drivers are wont to do, I ignored it and went out with the car anyway. After all, my mechanic was on golfing vacation in some exotic tropical paradise and I needed to get around. So, armed with a two-gallon container of water to replenish the water in the radiator, I set off.

Of course I didn’t fill up the radiator on time, and of course it overheated and the car shut down in traffic. Knowing I was the architect of this scenario, I silently cursed my misguided bravado and resigned myself to sitting in the traffic until the radiator was cool enough for me to pour in the water.

One advantage (disadvantage?) of living in a conurbation of a small island is that one is never far from a watchful eye. Francis, a friend, saw me moments after my car had shut down, and helped me push it to the side of the road. He promised to return once he’d dropped off his wife. So he did.

But in that short space of time no fewer than three other men stopped or slowed down to ask if I needed help. I politely told them that the problem was simple and I could handle it. They looked at me with pitiful, solicitous eyes, certain I couldn’t possibly know how to fix anything related to motor vehicles. When I insisted that all would be well, they drove away, filled with sorrow on my behalf.

Knight-in-Shining-Armour Number Four, however, did not take no for an answer. Arriving soon after Francis’s return, he jumped out of his car, declaring categorically that “he hated to see a damsel in distress”, and took charge of the situation.

“Oh, the problem is the radiator, is it? That’s no problem. Your friend came back to help? Well, I have the perfect solution for you. I bet your friend never heard of this one — eggs! Yes, I saw it in a movie, tried it in my car and it worked like a charm for a month. You crack a couple of eggs in the radiator and they cook and go right to the source of the leak and act as a stopgap measure. Don’t mind the smell . . . I’ll just go and buy some eggs.”

Neither chivalry nor chauvinism is dead. Here I was with Francis, my Knight-in-Shining-Armour Number One, who had laughed politely at the notion of engaging in cuisine in a radiator, and who had dismissed the possibility of Knight-4 really putting his eggs-istential theory into practice. In fact, Francis declared his intention to open what seemed to me a still dangerously overheated radiator. But all yuh is man. All yuh could do dem tings.

“Doh min’ man, it cool,” Francis announced, on the verge of opening the radiator.

“But what about the eggs?” I protested.

“Eggs? Dat fellah ent comin’ back wit’ no eggs. In fact, he ent comin’ back . . .”

For a supposedly vehicular-illiterate, mechanically challenged woman, I seem to know you men better than you know yourselves. You will always return to the scene of a perceived damsel in distress. Your cute little hormones are built that way.

While Francis was dismissing the egg option, and amid my peals of uncontrollable laughter at the notion of poached eggs à la Ford Telstar, Knight Number Four returned with three eggs (he had put two eggs in his, but brought an extra one for mine, just to be sure).

The rest is history. I drove around for four days, until my mechanic returned from his holes-in-one, with three eggs in my radiator and no need to use my two-gallon container of water. I repeat, neither chivalry nor chauvinism is dead. I suppose you can’t have one without the other.

Thanks to all of my knights.

Funding provided by the 11th EDF Regional Private Sector Development Programme Direct Support Grants Programme.
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