This week New Zealanders of all backgrounds rallied around compatriots who found themselves disenfranchised and humiliated after being denied the birthright of every ordinary hardworking Kiwi: entry into the Koru Lounge. The Spinoff is proud to publish this harrowing and brave first-person account from a Koru Club member, whose identity we have agreed to protect.
It was a Saturday just like any other. I breezed from the backseat of my Prius Lexus with my teenage daughter Emeryld in tow, through security, whereupon I mingled with the commoners. I reminded myself that Grace Kelly probably had to mingle with the commoners, even in her days as Princess of Monaco, and I drew upon her bravery and spirit.
I knew salvation would not be far away. A familiar salvation – a cold light on dark blue furniture, cold cuts next to cheeses from cows and goats alike, and a chance to mingle with like-minded and like-financed people. My kind of people. The right kind of people. Free wine for succor, potatoes hashed right to brown, pears sliced as thin as my Visa Black.
I swanned, how I swanned, through security – security being for the safety of all, I deigned to allow myself to be checked, yes, Emerylde, take your laptop out of your bag yes for the gentleman, yes, Emerylde, we’ll be safe soon. All will be well soon.
I thought of our salvation. I thought of little rectangle plates, elegant in design and utilitarian in function. Ayn Rand would be proud of these plates, and my dears, Ayn Rand was proud of very little in her life. Barely even The Fountainhead. I thought of chocolate croissants – not pains au chocolat, because I feel no pains whenuponce I eat them. I think of the solid hard ‘t’ that makes its way from my Gucci lips as I request a tenth pastry from the soulless vessel that once called itself a “Koru Club Lounge attendant”.
But, salvation, my like-minded and like-taxed friends, was … not to be ours.
I understood at once the shame heaped upon knight of the realm Sir Robert Bob Jones, whose dignity was incinerated when some airline serf politely asked him to comply with the rules for sitting in an emergency exit row. For we were rejected. Rejected from salvation. From the Koru Lounge. We were rolled from salvation like the r was rolled from the woman’s mouth as she denied us. Like Mary from the inn, we were turfed out into the wilderness. How else am I supposed, like our fair Optimus Prime Minister John Key, to mingle with folk from all walks of life? Where else is provided for me, and my daughter Amiryldee?
Et tu, Koru? Et tu?
Where was our stable? Where were our wise men? Where was the frankincense, the gold, the myrrh?
Like a well-trained member of a Nicaraguan death squad, the woman informed us that we would be allowed complimentary – and how very dare she because I feel no compliments from this, just a deep and scathing insult, one that wounds me deep like Heke cutting down the fair blanket of our god-fearing nation – access to the Strata Lounge instead.
The Strata Lounge? I covered Ymyrydlyde’s ears lest her gentle soul be bruised by such words. Strata? The name mocked us. It promised through poison teeth something of a higher echelon, an echelon that matched me, that matched my kind, but I knew ’twas lies.
The woman – the harpy, the beast, this Hel from Nordic myth – outstretched a gnarled finger and pointed us in the direction of Strata. Even now, the ‘S’ hisses throughout the world, a promise of venom, a promise of betrayal.
I think once more: Et tu, Koru. Et tu.
What was I, a loving mother, to do? Should I leave Formaldahyde to the wolves?
For then my blue eyes, framed by double lashes, gazed around me in horror.
Wild-eyed quick-replenishment attendants were garroting helpless passersby with their Ay-Ess-Colour uniforms, a stranded group of elderly passengers had been set upon by feral makeup counter assistants, and a vibrating chair had gone rogue and assumed dominion over the mall.
A crackly voice sirened through my brain: “Please do not leave your luggage unattended.” As though I could stop a battle-hardened travel journalist from taking my chattel for her nest of horrors. Rumours reached my ears of a newly formed slave trade by Gates Five through Ten. I could not let such horrors befall Monohydrate.
I had but one choice – the poison lounge where I had been offered residence. Not shelter from the storm, but a cage where oxygen also happened to reside.
Methandiol and I sat in the Strata Lounge and prayed for death to take us. ‘Twould be kinder than this thing I once called life. Second class citizen, I laughed. Barely citizen at all.
Et tu, Koru. Et tu.
As told to, and absolutely not written by, Sam Brooks.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.