Excuse me?

On my way to the gym at lunch time, i ran into Les. He and i have worked together for about ten years, and he is currently running the other branch in my part of the office building. We frequently commiserate over the pain and suffering of being supervisors.

We’ve always had a very healthy, collegial working relationship. Professional.  Friendly, without being especially social outside the workplace.  We were joking about the latest office gossip.  i marked my whereabouts on the sign-out board as he headed down the hallway to his meeting.

Stopping about halfway down the hall, he turned back to me and said “By the way, are you still fucking your ex?”

i froze in my tracks, astonished. “Excuse me, what did you just say?”

“Are you still fucking your ex?”

Again, i was slack-jawed. In utter shock!  My secretary, Janice, was watching the exchange and i briefly wondered if she was going to be a star witness in my future manslaughter trial…

Bewildered and stunned, i walked a few steps closer to him and said “i’m sorry… i still couldn’t hear you. What was that again?”

“Are you still offering up your axe? The guitar?”

Late last week, Les had asked my advice on buying a nice, used guitar so he could refresh his skills. i’d offered him one from my collection as a loaner instead.

And had completely forgotten….

“OH! THAT! Yes. YES! No problem! i’ll bring it in tomorrow…”

“Yeah… I need to convince my wife I’m serious about this before an outlay of discretionary income!”

And he was on his way…

image found here

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Road Rash

“Handbrake turns on the beach. What do you think?”

After a few hours on the road, we decided that racing a rented Renault on a deserted beach, and pulling 180’s with the brake sounded like big fun.

So we did…

It was our last Friday in Turkey. Since The Girl and her roommate, Haji, had the day off, we rented a car to explore the Aegean coast. Haji, is a Brit, but spent many summers in India, and likes to drive – that perfect combination of experience and youthful reflexes.

He got us out of the city, and started up the coastal road, with The Girl as navigator.  The Boy and i were in the back seat bickering like the Turkish Toddlers we’d become. “Get off my side of the car!” “Mom! He’s lookin’ at me!” The Girl handed back some snacks and told us to pipe down and enjoy our day out!

Stopping at a deserted seaside spot, we got out to enjoy the view. Absolutely breath-taking – even on a gray and windy day. Just as we headed back to the car, we were joined two gentlemen in matching uniforms, arriving in an olive drab Land Rover.

The language barrier with the soldiers was insurmountable, until one of the gents said “Dangerous”, with a sweep of his arm suggesting we move along. Which we did.

daisyfae: i kinda remember seeing a sign back there saying “Prohibited” or something. And “Do not stop to take photographs”. i wonder if that was a restricted military area?

We cruised along, none the worse for wear, to the village of Teos. Small fishing town, with some delicious old structures to conquer.

And perhaps the freakiest collection of feral cats we’d yet encountered.  Channeling “Children of the Corn”. These critters have perfected the “What are you lookin’ at, shithead?” look – popular at redneck family gatherings.

From there? Southward, to Pamucak Beach. Stunning expanse of sand. In warmer weather, this is apparently the perfect spot for swimming. i fell madly in love with the fiberglass corn shack – looking a bit lonely in the winter.  Wondered briefly if corn smoothies were the Turkish equivalent of popsicles…

Right around then, Haji suggested the handbrake turns. “Turkish Mom” had some reservations, but she was out-numbered 3-1.  The Boy was up first… and proceeded to execute a respectable turn.

Unfortunately, the sand was a teeny bit less accommodating than expected, and he dug the rear wheels about 4” deep in wet sand. Three young, able-bodied 20-somethings got out to push, as i rocked the Renault until we were clear…

“Chinese Fire-Drill” style, they jumped back in the car, and we hauled out of there – as a few curious locals were wondering what the fuck the idiot tourists were doing to their beach…

Off to Şirince for dinner! Mountaintop village, and home to regional wineries. To get there? A slightly harrowing drive up a mountain road, full of hairpin turns.

Just as i was getting cocky with the driving, attempting to pass a slow-moving car ahead of us, we came around the corner and i was staring at the grill of a bigass bus.  A thin guard rail to my right, protecting us from a tumble down the mountain.

Doing what any skilled driver would do, i stopped the car, closed my eyes, and concentrated really hard on not shitting my pants. Calamity avoided across the board, but my confidence took a gentle hit.

We agreed before dinner that i’d drive home, so my two children and Haji sampled the local wine with dinner. It was dark as we hauled down the mountain, half expecting to be chased by villagers with torches and pitchforks.

Cruising the mountainous roads back to their apartment, i was enjoying the hell out of the drive. Halfway back, Haji said “We need road beers!”

daisyfae: Not sure that’s a good idea! What are the ‘open container’ laws here?

Both The Girl and Haji assured me that they’d never seen anyone actually pulled over for anything since arriving in Turkey. And that’s with a police station across the street from their apartment.

“Yay!  Road beers!”*

We continued cruising along. Good roads, which were fairly deserted. Each small town would have a few traffic lights – apparently on timers. Red lights, with no other traffic for miles.

Once again, The Girl and Haji shared their knowledge of local driving habits, and told me there was no need to actually stop. Given that i’d been on buses all week where the drivers consider traffic signals a suggestion, i figured ‘what the hell?’, and rolled on with caution.

About a quarter-mile past the fourth light i’d ignored, we saw the internationally recognizable red and blue flashing lights. As i slowed to figure out what was going on, i could clearly hear the sound of beer cans being stashed.

The rustling wrapped up right around the time i saw the police officer in the middle of the road, signaling me to pull over with his flashlight.

“mother fuck”

daisyfae [rolling down the window]:  Good evening!  Is there a problem?

Had absolutely no idea what was going on, and decided i should get out of the car – if for no other reason, to buy some time for any further beer-stashing if necessary.  As i opened the door, he waved me on.

At least i think that’s what he was doing.  i still don’t know.  Drove on down the road, no chase car in the rear-view mirror.  Whatever he was looking for, it was apparently did not involve a middle-aged American housewife.

A potential brush with “Oğuz Law” avoided.  As was an opportunity for “Midnight Express – Family Edition”.

* Not for me.  i’m crazy, not completely stupid…

Upon further reflection…

One of the imaginary friends who lives inside my laptop* wrote a lovely post this week – preparing for the new year ahead, which includes a milestone birthday.  This is the year that Manuel will turn 40.

Replying to his post while assaulting my liver with bourbon, i hoarked up this:

one small bright spot, perhaps.  i turned 40 ten years ago.  and my 40′s have been my best decade so far… mostly because i completely stopped giving a flying fuck what anyone thought of me.

“yes.  i’m fat.  fuck you for noticing.”

“yes.  i have wrinkles AND pimples.  fuck you for noticing.”

“yes.  i just drank a martini for breakfast.  at my desk.  because i needed it.  fuck you for noticing and alerting the management”

It was a toss off comment.  But it’s true.  And it’s incredibly liberating.

It’s not that i don’t care what others think or feel.  i simply couldn’t give a microscopic sliver of a fractionalized fuck about what they think or feel about me.  About how i live my life.  About how i look.  About how i choose to spend my time.

For the past few days i’ve felt like i should do a “year in review” sort of post… To clear my head, maybe.  Sort out a few things.  Take advantage of the pinning point of a new calendar year.

There are a few small flies in my soup.

But i didn’t really want to.  Just couldn’t get the words up.  Couldn’t be bothered, really…

i use the blog as a way to collect thoughts, amuse myself, make friends, sort out things that keep me awake, and to get a handle on the complex relationship i have with my extended family**.

It’s all still there.  i just don’t feel like examining any of it.

This is effectively captured in a quote that anniegirl1138 used in her New Year’s post that has nestled itself comfortably in my brainpan.

You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks or even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could’ve, would’ve happened…

or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move the fuck on.

– Tupac

Yep.  What he said… It was a good year.  Next.


* Sounds a bit freaky… kinda like that old joke about Princess Margaret and the Bentley…

** Who doesn’t?

Repayment

Leaving the country for two weeks can only postpone the requisite trip to the Trailer Park for the holidays. Today, i’d arranged to pick up Mom for a late lunch, and had invited the rest of the clan to join us if they were free.

When i arrived at DQ and BJ’s house to pick up Mom at 2:00 pm, i found the place pretty quiet. Mom was ready to go, and said that the others were going to stay home and rest up. My brother, T, and his wife had already pinged me, saying they had plans but were hoping for a rain check. My ridiculously self-absorbed sister, S, had sent a text saying she’d like to join us.

Just the three of us at a mid-scale Asian buffet* restaurant. Mid-afternoon on New Year’s Day? The place was pretty dead, so we didn’t have to rush the meal.

Although Mom has been having a lot more trouble walking, due to bone degeneration in her spine, she was off like an elder-rocket immediately after we were shown to our table to collect her first tray of kibbles. This left me alone at the table with S while Mom was tanking up at the trough.

S presented me with a small envelope. i thanked her, and apologized for not having brought a gift this year.

S: No. This is different. Just read it…

It was a thank you card. With a check enclosed.

daisyfae,

Years ago you gave me $700 to help me through my divorce and I don’t know if you realize how much I appreciated your help. I am finally able to start paying this back. This $200 check is the first towards repayment. I will be sending you more throughout the next few months. I apologize that it has taken me so long to repay, but believe me — I have never forgotten. Thank you so much for being there for me and always remember I’m there for you.

Love,

S

i was speechless. Over the past 30 years, i’ve “loaned” thousands of dollars to members of the family, never really expecting to see it again. This was, in fact, the first time anything has ever been repaid. i had forgotten about this.

S: Just sorry it has taken so long. It was what, 1991?

daisyfae: There were some pretty compelling reasons** for you to get out of that marriage! i didn’t consider it a loan! You really don’t need to do this…

S: Yes, I do. Sometimes I think the entire family takes you for granted. I don’t know what we’d have done all these years without you.

Mom returned from her first trip (of four) to the buffet, and i excused myself to grab a plate. As much to regain my composure as anything.

* Not quite up-scale, but nicer than most. Bright, clean and well-decorated. The food is also reasonably non-toxic… although i’m a little afraid of the sushi.

** Her second marriage. This was to G, the transvestite biker who later killed himself, and his dog, in a deer stand after attempting to rob a bank with a squirt gun.  This is why i don’t write fiction, folks.