Does Anyone Here Speak English?

Among her exceptional qualities, my wife is significantly dyslexic. Its not just reading, but her hearing and speech are affected as well. Sometimes it requires an in depth analysis to make out what she has said. Usually, we just refer to the family code book.  I have become quite adept at decoding her speech, and have been able to adjust my speech to facilitate her understanding of  what I am  trying to express.

tf1I am no stranger to communicating with those who suffer from speech and/or hearing issues. During my travels through Europe, I was wandering through Rome, looking for the Trevi Fountain. I suspected I was lost, and ducked into a small cafe to ask for directions. “Mi scusi, parla inglese?”, I asked the man behind the counter. “Si”, he replied, “I speak English good”.

“I think I am lost. Can you tell me how to get to the Trevi Fountain?” , I asked.

“Oh,Yes we accept Traveller’s Checks”, he replied. Despite this total lack of help, I finally made it to my destination.  This singular experience prepared me for a lifetime of communicating with my wife.

A few months ago, there was a noxious odor emanating from somewhere in the house. The city was called, and they recommended contacting Toronto Fire Services. The Fire Department arrived, investigated, and were able to correct the situation. I was not home for this excitement, but heard all about later. “So, is this going to happen again?”, I asked my wife.

“They don’t think so.”, she said. “It’s been fixed.”

dys1“Did they say anything else?”, I inquired.

“They said we should get a different ecstingisher.”

“What?”

“A better ecstingisher.”, she replied. “One that puts out all different types of fires.”

“Oh”, I laughed, “An extinguisher.”

“Yes. That’s what I said. A fire ecstingisher.”

“The word is extinguisher.”, I informed her.

“Are you sure?”, she asked. “That doesn’t sound right.” All I could do was smile, and kiss her on the forehead.

One summer, when her asthma was particularly bad, she wanted to purchase a pearlafiler. “What is that?”, one of my daughters asked,

“You know, the thing that cleans the air”.

My daughter almost fell over laughing. “Its an air purifier. Not pearlafiler. Purifier.”

“I don’t think so.”, she stated. “How do you spell it?” She grabbed a pen and paper. My daughter spelled it out for her, as my wife purposely wrote each letter down. After looking at what she had written, she shook her head. “Pearlafiler.”, she stated. “That’s what I said.”

dict1There has been talk in the house of creating a Dyslexic Dictionary, a sort of guide for the non dyslexic. It would include such items as ‘kneehives’-nothing to do with bees, but rather stockings that go up to the knees; psychosymetric-not about the perfect relationship with the various aspects of the mind, but refers to the physical illness associated with psychological distress; Alltimers-nothing to do with people who are available around the clock, but a disease of the mind, occurring in the elderly; Sawsticker-not a decal of a carpenter’s tool, but the emblem of Nazi Germany. There are so many more, but for now, I will continue to decipher using my intuition, and the family code book as necessary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

A Tale of Mystery & Imagination

 

I don’t know why I should be surprised  by anything anymore, but there are things going on that defy explanation.

Toilet paper seems to be vanishing in my house. No, really!! This has been going on for years, and no one in my family can offer a reasonable explanation. I purchase a package of 30 double rolls, tp2equivalent to 60 rolls on Saturday, and by Wednesday morning, I am informed that we are out of toilet paper. I have asked, on numerous occasions, what happened to the toilet paper I had just purchased, but no one seems to know. There are only 4 of us now, and when I do the math, that works out to be 7 1/2 double rolls, equivalent to 15 rolls of toilet paper. Based on the package lasting only 5 days, Saturday to Wednesday, that is 3 double rolls per person, or 6 single rolls, per day. “This is bordering on insanity.”, I inform the family. “What are you doing with toilet paper?”

I have discovered that no one is involved in any sort of arts & craft project, and no one is using it to express their disdain at one of our neighbors. What then is happening to the toilet paper? I have spoken to my wife about this on several occasions. She believes that I am over reacting just a bit, I mean, it is only toilet paper. I, tp1however, stand by the premise that something weird is afoot. She informs me that there are 3 females living in the home, and well, girls use toilet paper more than boys. “They need it when they pee.”, she says. But how many times do my wife and daughters pee in a day? No, that doesn’t solve the mystery.

It has become so severe, that I have taken to hiding a couple of rolls for my own personal use. I refuse to be caught with my pants down, and well, you know what I mean. There have been many attempts to pilfer my stash. I have found them going through my drawers and closet looking for additional rolls when they have run out. My wife has even taken to asking me to lend her some, but only on special occasions.

I have come into the bedroom, while my daughter has been in the shower for well over 30 minutes. Now, we only have the 1 bathroom, and sometimes, it is quite difficult to wait to use the bathroom. tp5So, as I said, I have come into the bedroom, and found my wife, squatting over a Tim Horton’s coffee cup, urinating into the cup. “I couldn’t hold it any longer.”, she quips. “Well”, I say with a grin, “I see you finally got the ensuite you wanted.”

“Can I borrow some of your toilet paper?”. I let her know, that despite how much I love her, I will not want it back. Consider it a gift.

My wife denies any collusion from her other worldly relatives. “I don’t think they need any”, she advises. ” I doubt spirits need to go to the bathroom.”

“How do you know?” , I inquire. “Perhaps they do.”

“Well, if that were true, don’t you think there would be toilet paper over there?”

 

tp3I don’t believe, not even for a moment that ghosts are taking my toilet paper. Perhaps there is a vortex to another dimension in my bathroom. It could be that aliens are in need of toilet paper.  Something sinister is going on here. My wife says that it’s not a big deal, and that I am imagining things. I think my wife, with her new found frugality, would be more concerned about this. Unless, of course, she is behind it all.

I will be going back to buying single rolls of the cheapest toilet paper I can find. Neither the aliens, nor my family can be trusted with the expensive stuff.

 

 

The Minimalist Wife

My wife does not do well with clutter. She finds having a lot of possessions quite anxiety provoking. It applies to clothes, furniture, appliances, even tableware. It is fascinating  to watch her try to unclutter. My kids and I are quite the opposite, so her uncluttering usually occurs when no one else is home. Everyday, as I  come home from work, I pray that the couch is still in the living room.

She spends an inordinate amount of time going through her belongings, and with much delight, fills boxes and bags with the items she longer needs. She has parted ways with small appliances as well. We no longer own a toaster. She believes that bread can be toasted in the oven, so, the toaster is gone. She has decimated her once spectacular collection of canisters. She says that if she is not using it, then she doesn’t need it. And if she doesn’t need it, she shouldn’t have it.

There have been a few attempts at minimalizing my possessions. “Get away from my stuff!”, I tell freakouther, as she looks at my drawer full of t shirts.

“What is INK FLY?’, she asks, holding up a shirt for me to see.

“Just put it back.” But she goes on and on about how much easier it is to live with less, and how simplifying her life has made her so very happy. I remind her that I don’t do well with simple. I thrive in chaos and emotional crisis. She thinks I am just being difficult.

She had been after me to get rid of the wall unit we have had for 15 years or so. It still works, holds the stereo, the television, and other assorted items we have accumulated over the years. The plan was to mount the television on the wall, eliminate most of the other stuff on the unit, and using a hammer, destroy the wall unit, and take it out to the trash. I have discovered that her passion for minimalism has brought out a very aggressive and violent side of her.  She has removed most of our table ware and cutlery, leaving just enough so that each person living in the house, has 1 full set. She says that is all anyone needs. If it is dirty, you need to wash it.

vwShe reads me items from the minimalist groups and forums she subscribes to in an attempt to convert me. She has told me of a couple who sold everything they own, and travel around in a Volkswagon van, living with very little. I am still trying to figure out where in the Volkswagon van did they put the toilet, and the shower? It seems that they stop at gas stations to use a bathroom, and bathe in rivers. Well, I will not be travelling the world in a Volkswagon van. Ever.

I have always believed that I am a simple man. I don’t want much, and I really don’t need much. I have never had any desire to live in a mansion, or travel the world. I do however, want my stuff. She would like it if I thinned out my clothing. “Just donate the things you haven’t worn in a long time, and the things that don’t fit”, she says.

“I wear it all”, I tell her. She will begin to pull thingd from my closet, “I haven’t seen you wear this since we moved here”, she says, as if to prove a point.

“I’m saving it for a special occasion”, I say.

The battle ensues, but there will be no peaceful outcome, short of complete and total surrender to this wide eyed, minimalist enthusiast. I have tried to talk with her about it. Tried to negotiate a settlement we could both live with. It took some time, and at least 5 years off of my life, but we have agreed. The wall unit will go, the bed will stay on the box spring and frame. We will never move into a Volkswagon van, and I will go through my stuff and try to downsize,

She sits on the edge of the bed, watching me go through my clothes. She says nothing, but I can hear her fidgeting as I slowly, and purposefully begin the uncluttering of my life. It is difficult, but I give up my Ink Fly t-shirt, remembering that it once read Pink Floyd. As the pile continues to grow, she jumps up, gives me a hug, and reminds me that next week we will start minimizing the kitchen. If she even looks at my waffle maker, there will be hell to pay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret Life Of Ghosts

So, as I have mentioned, my wife has the ability to see ghosts moving about the house. Not just our current home, but everywhere we have lived. These are not ordinary spirits. They do not exist in any particular place, but rather follow us around, from house to house. My wife reminds me that they are with us to ghost13watch over us. I would prefer a security system, and a very large dog, but it seems, I have ghosts.

Many years ago, my wife went through a period where these visitors were frequently in our home. It was an almost daily event. She said that she could smell bread baking. She said that she heard glasses clinking. On more than one occasion she said she heard sounds, like muted laughter, coming from the family room. Much to my chagrin, I had to go and check. I heard nothing. I saw nothing. But I stayed downstairs for a while, appearing to be thoroughly investigated the apparent haunting of my home.

Upon my safe return, my wife demanded to know what I found on my ghost11harrowing adventure. I told her I had neither seen or heard anything. She insisted that I was not telling her the truth. She believed that I had witnessed some paranormal event, and was either too frightened to talk about it, or I was unsure what I had seen. After several more demands, I relented, and, trying not to upset her, I told her what I had seen that fateful night in our family room.

I informed her that I had seen three spirits, one of whom I am certain was her father. I did not recognize the other two men. They were sitting at a table, playing cards. I thought it was poker, but I couldn’t be certain. They were drinking beer out of our shot glasses, and seemed to be quite inebriated. So ghost12much so, that one of the men kept falling off of his chair, and this made the other two laugh hysterically. They had bowls of peanuts, and pretzels, which they kept throwing in the air, trying to catch the morsels in their mouths. They missed often, leaving quite a mess on the floor. The television was on, and I they were watching porn. They had re heated and ate the left over pizza, and had left the empty pizza box, and pieces of crust all over the counter. It was horrible, I informed her. Frighteningly horrible. I asked them what they thought they were doing, and they vanished. Just like that. Totally disappeared. Without cleaning up the mess.

My wife sat silent for a moment, seemingly deep in thought, and then turned to me. “You’re an ass.”, she said. “If there’s a mess, I suggest you go and clean it”.

“It wasn’t me”, I told her, “it’s the spirits. What do you think they do when they’re here?”

“I suggest that you just go clean it NOW.”, she said.

I don’t know why, but  she just didn’t believe me. I was never asked to investigate the paranormal again, which is quite upsetting, I mean, I would really like the opportunity to win some of my money back.

 

 

 

 

Life Is A Carnival

I seem to have a propensity for not being able to hang on to money. I never really spend any, yet I rarely come home with the money I left the house with. I don’t buy anything. I simply lose it. Not nomoney1gambling losses. I just can’t find it. It was in my pocket, and then it is not! My wife says that she has seen people follow me around, just waiting to pick up the money that falls from my pockets. She has decided knows not to put money in my hand. If I am going shopping with one of my kids, she gives them the money. I am permitted to debit. But no cash.

I suppose there are good reasons for this. Many years ago I went to the drug store to pick something up for one of the kids. I left with a $20 bill, and returned with a $10 item and no change. I had no idea what happened to the other $10. “Did the cashier give you back the change?”, my wife asked.

“I don’t know.”, I replied. “Why wouldn’t she?”

“Where is it?”, she asked.

“I don.t know”.

My wife called the drug store, and, when they closed, they discovered a $10 overage. “Well, at least I didn’t lose it.”, I told her proudly. I drove back to the drug store to collect the money.

It is not just money I seem to lose. I have misplaced, or forgotten my debit card at ATMs and gas stations. I have left packages or newly purchased items on the counter of stores after debiting. And, on one occasion, I forgot my infant daughter in a bank after depositing a cheque. Now, I didn’t leave her there. By the time I got to the car, I realized that I had left her in the bank, and went back confusedto retrieve her. My wife insists it is a memory problem, possibly early onset Alzheimer’s.

She tells me there are times when I get lost. Okay, there was the time in WalMart, when I wandered off, and couldn’t find her in the store afterwards. I roamed up and down the aisles, but to no avail. I decided to sit on the bench at the front of the store believing that sooner or later, she would head for the door. About 30 minutes later, she appeared, not the least bit concerned that I had been missing, but focusing on whether or not I had learnt my lesson about wandering off. I didn’t. I still do it.

I am no longer permitted to cook unless someone else is home to check up on me. It seems I have a habit of forgetting to turn the oven or stove top off when I am done, and forgetting that I have left something in the oven cooking. She is afraid that the house will be incinerated, and therefor, the kitchen is off limits unless I am supervised.  She bought me a kitchen timer, which I am to set for cookingthe time needed to cook. It rings when the time has expired, and that is my cue to go back to the kitchen, check on the food, and turn the oven off. Can you see the problems with this plan? Yes, I usually forget to set the damn thing, and if I do set it, I don’t always know what the ringing is for. My kids have said, and they laugh quite hard at me for this, that they have seen me answer the telephone when the kitchen timer goes off.

A doctor appointment was made to look into this. I sat with my doctor who asked me a series of questions. What day of the week is it? What year is it? My date of birth? My address? my wife’s date of birth. All of these were answered correctly, and he concluded that I do not have Alzheimer’s.

As if this was not enough, I have been told by 2 of my daughters who live with me, that I do some rather bizarre things. Once, after putting groceries away, my daughter found a package of cheese in the cutlery drawer, and canned tuna in the freezer. To my credit, this drawer is right beside the fridge, and well, I cannot explain the tuna in the freezer.

clumsymanI have been breaking many household items recently. We have a shopping cart to bring groceries home so we can walk to the stores. Well, I have broken the wheels on 2 of them. And, somehow, I have broken the electric can opener. I am not certain how, but it now requires a butter knife be inserted between the lever and the activation button in order to operate. In essence, one requires 3 hands to use this small appliance now. I told my wife it promotes togetherness and cooperation. Surprisingly, no one wants to participate.

While changing a light bulb in the kitchen, I dropped the fixture, and well, we no longer have a fixture in the kitchen. I installed a ceiling fan in the bedroom, and was surprised there was so much left over hardware. The fan works, however it seems to sit off to the left, making a whirring noise as the blades spin. We don’t use it much. Years and years ago, we purchased a small, charcoal barbecue that I had to assemble. While putting it together, in the backyard, I dropped some screws handymanand nuts in the grass. I finished the assembly, and we began a wonderful Sunday family event. Once the coals were just the right color, and the flames had ebbed, I put the food on the grill, only to have it collapse. I think we ordered in Chinese food that night.

I remind my wife that I never claimed to be handy. Not in any way. I have a list of people I know who are handy, and I can call them and they will be here as fast as they can to fix, build, construct anything. That is my area of expertise. Knowing who the right person for the job is and getting them to do the job. Enough said!!! I remind myself that most of these ‘accidents’ were intended to impress my wife, to demonstrate some level of testosterone driven manliness. If not, I hope that at least I have made her laugh. And that seems to more than compensate for the lost money, broken items, and potential fire hazard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Boo Radley Moment

When my wife and I first lived together, we rented a century old farm house just north of the city.. It was a wonderfully exciting house, imagesfilled with creaks and moans, and squeaks and bangs. There was a sudden staircase, leading from the living room to the 2nd floor, and a dumbwaiter that was still functional. . It was old, and, at times, seemed quite eerie.  After a while, we got used to the noises, and accepted the creaking, banging, and moaning as a part of our lives.

One night, my wife was woken by a noise she claimed that she had not heard before. She woke me, and we sat listening to what can best be described as 2 pieces of wood being banged togethers. We suspected that someone had broken in.  I told my wife to call the police.

When the police arrived,  they too heard someone moving around. They believed it was coming from the basement. We all stood in the kitchen, listening intently to the would be thieves, waiting for the police to spring into action.

downloadFinally, it was time. The 2 officers pulled their guns and asked where the basement door was. I led them to it. “Okay”, one of them said, “you lead the way. We’ll be right behind you.” You’re kidding, I thought. What the hell am I doing leading the charge up San Juan Hill?  I looked at my wife in disbelief. “Come on. Let’s go”, he urged. I opened the basement door, and headed down the stairs. Behind me, the 2 police officers had their guns drawn, and we’re using their flashlights to illuminate the darkened cellar. “You’re not going to shoot me in the back”, I said.

“I hope not”, one of them replied.

I moved down the stairs as stealthily as my trembling legs wold permit,  and was amazed at just how creepy this basement was in the dark. In tje dead of night. The wooden rafters seemed almost alive in the shadows. I felt like a character out of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, skulking around the Radley house, terrified to find Boo. The noises were much louder now, and the police, still behind me, were moving their flashlights around, looking for any sign of  an intruder. We reached the bottom of the stairs, and the noise seemed to be coming from the log beams that ran across the ceiling. Their flashlights were focused above us now, and there,  partially hidden behind a box nestled in the rafters, they saw something. “It’s a raccoon”, one of them shouted. I looked up, and there was the biggest raccoon I had ever seen.

“Stay back”, one or the officers remarked, “she’s pregnant. “They’re when they’re pregnant.”

“Can you get it out?” I asked.

images-1“Ah, no.”, He answered. “She’s likely to rip your face off”

Well, can you shoot it?”

I was informed that they could not shoot it. The best that I could do was to call animal control in the morning. They would come out, and humanely removed the mutation. In the meanwhile, I was advised to stay far away from this animal. It could be rabid.

They put their guns away and we went upstairs. I thanked them for not shooting me in the back, and they departed, leaving me, and my wife, with one giant, potentially rabid rodent. My wife and I stayed awake all night, making sure the killer raccoon from hell did not make it upstairs to shred our faces. Animal control came in the morning and trapped the masked bastard, ending one scary night in paradise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paging Dr. Seuss

 

seuss5I had read Dr. Seuss to my kids when they were little. Mostly, I read Dr. Seuss for me, but they seemed to enjoy it as well. Recently, while sitting in Emerg. with my wife, awaiting the Doctor, I began playing with the medical equipment. Its something I have always done. I check my blood pressure, look through the opthalmoscope, and have at times, attempted to look into my own ears, using an otoscope and a series of precisely arranged mirrors. It drives my wife crazy. She thinks we will get caught and then, oh, hell no, embarrassed. No matter how many times I tell her to relax, she continues to ask me, no, tell me to stop. “Just sit down, and behave”, she quips. More often than not, I ignore her.

To be fair, many years ago, while we waited at  The Hospital For Sick Children, I somehow managed to break the opthalmoscope, and when the Doctor came into the room, my daughter threw me under the bus. ” My dad was playing with that thing, and he broke it”, she squealed. My wife turned all kinds of colors. “Shit happens”, I suggested, and left it at that. The Doctor said nothing. I suspect that moment of mortification has been etched indelibly in her mind.

sejuss2And, as we continued to wait for the Doctor, I had finished playing with the equipment, and had moved on to opening drawers, looking to see what they kept in these rooms. My wife became increasingly agitated, but before I could put her mind at ease, the Doctor arrived. “Good afternoon”, he said. “I’m Dr. Seuss. So, what’s going on with you?”. I looked up. “We’re glad you came, we’re glad you’re here. My wife hears ringing in her ear”.

“Excuse me?”, he  replied.

“I’ve read all of your books.”, I informed him.

“It’s Dr. Seuss”, he informed me. “S-o-o-s. Soos”.

“Well”, I told him, “that’s okay. A doctor is a doctor despite his name.”

I was asked to leave the room by the now somewhat irritated Dr. Soos, so he could examine the patient in private.

The ride home was a difficult one. My had a slight ear infection, and was given a prescription for drops. She would be fine. Her mood, however, was another story altogether. Shew was eerily quiet. “Thank you”, she said.

seuss1“For what?”, I asked.

“For always surprising me”, she added,  “and for always making me laugh”.

“Listen”, I told her, “to paraphrase the real Doctor Seuss, ‘sometimes it is wet and the sun is not sunny, but we’ll always have lots of good fun that is funny’.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zaidie Joe & The Bubbie Monster

Its been a long, long time since my grandfather passed away. 40 years or so, but there are memories of him that remain as clear as if they had happened yesterday.

During the last year of his life, some of the family were believing that he was losing his mind. There was talk of zaidie3moving to a senior’s home, but when he got wind of it, he threatened to play chess with death, and lose on purpose.

My grandmother said that there were signs of his impending dementia. He would sit in the backyard all day and feed little carrots she had bought for soup to the squirrels. He would go into the basement, and stay there for hours at a time, refusing to eat meals. She was convinced that he no longer knew who she was, as he rarely spoke to her, unless it was to drone on and on about something that happened 50 years ago.  I had spent a great deal of time with this man, and I loved him. We would often go to United Bakers,. He would order tea, and rugelach, and proceed to dunk each into the tea before he ate it. He had been doing this for as long as I had known him. I kept telling my parents that he was fine, but no one believed me.

In the mid 1970’s, I went to Miami Beach for reading week during my 2nd year of University. My grandparents, coincidentally, were sent there by my parents for some rest at the same time. During the week I was there, my grandfather became ill, and was hospitalized. I went to visit him, in an attempt to keep his spirits up.

I went in the room and sat in a chair beside him. “How are you feeling?”, I asked.

“Come here”, he said, pointing to the bed. “Come closer. I have something to tell you”.

zaidie1I sat on the side of his bed, waiting for him to say something insightful  “What is it?”.

“Your Bubbie is driving me crazy!” he said, looking to see if anyone else was in the room. “And I think she’s trying to kill me.”.

“What are you talking about?”. I asked.

“Ok. Listen.” he said with all seriousness. “She has been putting those little carrots in my soup.You know, the ones I give to the squirrels. I hate those little carrots. She knows I hate them. And yet, she keeps putting them in my soup. Who would put little carrots in soup?”.

“I don’t think she’s trying to kill you with carrots.”, I told him.

“Really? What am I doing in here then?”

I had no idea what to say. Could it be that my Zaidie was losing his mind? “What do you want me to do?”, I asked him.

“Throw out those little carrots. Better yet, throw out your Bubbie”.

I laughed. He laughed. “I’m not sure we would get away with it”, I replied.

“They all think I’m crazy”, he added. “I know what they say. I hear them talking. They can think what they want to think. Only me and you know the truth”.

“Ok, Zaidie.”

zaidie2“She’s a monster!”. he said.  “I think I would like one of those Irish girls, you know, with the red hair. A young, ginger girl”.

“Well, you have to get better first. Then I will help you find you one”. I told him.

“You’re a good boy”, he said.

I flew back to school a few days later. My grandfather stayed in the hospital for another 2 weeks. He passed away the departure lounge of Mami International Airport. In his pocket was a picture postcard of Dublin. When I heard this, I smiled, and I chuckled.

 

 

 

 

Sheer Heart Attack

It is ironic that I first met my wife at a Queen concert during their ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ tour. We didn’t connect on that day just a cursory hello, as we stood in line waiting for the gates to open. 25 years later we were once again involved in a heart attack.

It was an ordinary day, as ordinary as any day of my life has been. We took the kids out. I think we had been to Pioneer Village with them. We made dinner, watched some children’s show with them, and then put them to bed. It wasn’t often that we had alone time back then, what with so many kids running around all of the time. So, we took advantage of this rare opportunity, and went off to our bed.

Sometime during what followed, I began to have chest pains. I ignored it at first, but they quickly worsened. I got up, drank some water, and clutched at my chest. “What are you doing?”, she asked ha1me.

“Call 911.”, I said, “I don’t feel good.”

“What’s wrong?”, she asked.

“Call 911!” I said, as I began pacing the floor. “I think I’m having a heart attack.”

“Are you sure?”, she said. “You always think something’s wrong, and then it turns out to be nothing.”

“Pretty fucking sure.”, I informed her. “Now is not the time for this discussion. Call fucking 911!”

She made the call, and within minutes, EMS was at the door, inserting IV, dispensing chewable ha4aspirins, and placing me on a stretcher. Before I knew it I was being whisked out of the house, as my wife shouted “Don’t worry. It’s probably nothing, You’ll be back in a few hours.”

I arrived at the hospital in record time. I was placed in a bed, with doctors and nurses as far as my eyes could see. I was hooked up to IV, monitors, given some wonder drug for heart attacks, and seemed to stabalize quickly. I was scared. So very scared. I thought about my wife, and my kids. A nurse came over to check some reading, I grabbed her arm, and whispered “Let my wife know she was wrong”.

They gave me something to make me sleep, and in the morning, a Cardiologist arrived to talk to me. I had indeed suffered myocardial infarction. Luckily, there was no damage to the heart muscle, but it seemed that one of my arteries was significantly blocked. I was transferred to another nearby hospital where they would perform an angioplasty. I had heard about this, but I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I found myself at hospital 2, and met the cardiac surgeon who was to perform the procedure. While ha2awake, a tube is inserted through an artery in my thigh, and fed up to my heart, where they can get into the artery and see just how blocked it is. “It will feel almost like your heart attack”, the surgeon informed me, “but don’t worry, you are completely safe”. The cardiac team gathered around my bed, and the decision was made to insert a stent into the blocked artery. I spent the next few hours, wondering about my mortality, thinking about who I would be leaving behind, and what I had to do to prepare for them to be ok.

The next day, my wife came to visit. She sat on the edge of the bed and cried. ‘It’s ok, I told her. It will be ok”.

“I have to tell you something”, she said, “Please don’t get  upset”.

“What?”

ha3“2 days ago, I asked my father to send me some kind of sign that he was watching over me.”

“Yes”, I answered.

“Well, I think your heart attack was the sign”.

“Really? He couldn’t just kick me in the nuts or something?”

“No, no.”, she exclaimed. “The sign is that you survived. Don’t you understand. He kept you alive!”

What an amazing woman. She almost kills me during sex, and then wants me to thank her father for saving me.

“Well, thank him for me”, I told her.

“Already did”, she said.

“Honey”, I said, “Do me a favor and please don’t ask for any more signs. I don’t think I can take it”.

Dutch Treat

maid4I spent the better part of 1976 travelling through Europe, and much of it was spent in Amsterdam. I stayed at The Cok Hotel on Jan Luijkenstraat, which was not only insanely cheap, but had the coolest bar in its basement. I spent many an afternoon, sitting in the bar, talking with bartender Julian, and drinking lager & lime, and talking to the tourists who stayed there, and the many locals who frequented the hotel’s bar.

In the mornings, I often attended the Amstel Brewery tour, or frequented maid3many of the local museums and art galleries. The Van Gough museum was nice, but I much preferred the Rijksmuseum, and the Stedelijkmuseum. At night, I headed out to the Melkweg, stayed for hours, and could never really remember how I got back to the hotel.

The Cok Hotel was designed as a student hotel, a kind of hostel for back packed foreign travellers. It was here that I met 2 American soldiers, Carlos, a Cuban American, and Willie, a boy from somewhere in the hills of Arkansas. They were stationed in Germany, and were on leave in Amsterdam.

One afternoon, Carlos and Willie were going on one of those cruises up the canals of the city. I declined to go, feeling tired and worn from the previous night’s events. and retired to my room. I jumped in the shower, and had planned on going to sleep for a few hours before heading down to the bar, to discuss the latest release from Bad Company, which Julian insisted on playing non stop, every day. I came out of the shower, towel in hand, to find this insanely beautiful woman cleaning my room. “Sorry”, I said, trying to cover up with the towel I was holding in my hand.

“Don’t worry”, she replied, “it’s not the first one I’ve seen”. Man, how I loved that accent. I couldn’t stop staring at her.

“I didn’t know you’d be in here.”, I said in my defence. Watching her bend to make the bed, had created a problem for me. I was afraid to move, lest she noticed.

maid1“Well, it seems that now you are happy I am here”, she said, gazing at the towel that no longer hid my excitement. “Let me get you a fresh towel”, she added, “that one must be very wet”. She smiled as she pulled a towel off the cart she wheeled from room to room, and brought it to me. “Let me help you”, she said, pulling the damp towel away from me. She dropped to her knees in front of me, and well, I swear I heard angels singing!

During the next 2 weeks, I made sure that I was in the room when she was cleaning my floor. I found out her name was Tessa, and, according to Julian, she was married. I saw her many times during the 2 weeks, and she continued to bring me a dry towel, fresh linen, and when she left the room, there was  a smile on both of our faces. We could never be seen together, and Carlos & Willie insisted that I had made the whole story up. I left the Cok Hotel, and continued my European adventure, without even saying goodbye to her. Several months later, I returned to Amsterdam, and headed straight to the hotel. Julian was still pouring lager & lime, but Tessa no longer worked there. It seems, that she had been fired after an argument with a hotel guest over money owed for services rendered.

Thank you, Tessa.