Fishy Christmas Tale
Teddy is coming home from Frankfurt today and I woke up to a frantic email to say that he had caught his plane with 5 minutes to spare; de-icing and other crazy northern stuff. This morning I did my usual hausfrau duties – fresh clean bed, washed the floor and went for food. When Teddy is out of town I eat like a squirrel; a few nuts and berries when I notice my tummy growling. We are fortunate enough to live a few minutes’ drive from all our grocery stores and most importantly, PETCO! Katniss has been eating twice a day and now runs to me. Then she stops and thinks, “Hang on, that’s not my mom – I am a proud feral cat”.
On my third trip out, I slowed down when I noticed a Volvo with no tire, collapsed on the road in front of me. I stopped behind it and put my flashers on. The young man (in his 40’s) looked shell-shocked, so I asked what had happened. He had just had an oil change and the mechanics hadn’t tightened the nuts on the wheels. “That place is crap!” I responded. He wasn’t sure what to do as he was partially blocking a junction. I told him to put his flashers on and I would drive to the auto shop to give them hell. As I drove in, they were just casually doing (crap) work. I suggested they get their asses in gear before the police came. This particular auto shop blatantly lied to me the only time I visited them, telling me I needed new brake pads. My sixth sense was alarmed and I checked with a decent place before letting them do it.
I returned to the broken down Volvo and he was still a bit panicky. It hadn’t occurred to me to wonder where the tire was but just then a Samaritan in a mega truck turned up having rescued the tire further down the main route. He was Shrek like – huge with a bald head. I have no idea how he lifted that tire, as if it was a soft toy. Then the auto shop idiots turned up. I wished the stranded Volvo owner a Merry Christmas and left to the sounds of police sirens. Since the hurricane, people have bought mega trucks in droves and it drives me CRAZY. Teddy has a whole list of acronyms for them: A.I.A.T; D.I.A.T; F.I.A.T. The acronyms spell out Ass in a Truck, Dick in a Truck and so on. I suspect they were bought to replace flooded vehicles and these new owners don’t know how to drive them properly. But Shrek was a hero – S.I.A.T!
Then I went to the supermarket, full of adrenaline because I have always wanted to shout at that auto shop. I hope he sues them if there was damage to his car. Then I saw the weirdest thing in the fish aisle. A lady was filling her cart with packets of salted cod. I knew she was not from Texas and suspected she was from Latin America. Curiosity overcame Kerry and I asked her where she was from. Mexico City was the answer and we chatted about our shared ancestry and the salted cod. She was making a dish called Bacalao – click on the word to find a recipe.
I would no more eat salted cod than roasted cockroaches but it brought back a nostalgic memory of Teddy’s mum. Nessie was from a farmer’s family and Teddy’s Dad came from a fisher family. Usually never the twain shall meet or certainly marry but Dad was a handsome POW that caught the eye of my pretty mother in law. Once they were seriously courting, Nessie was invited to the Duncan family home in Peterhead, Scotland for a special dinner. She was used to eating what we consider normal food – meat and two vegetables. Nessie wasn’t really keen on seafood or fish so when she was offered a choice of Sea Pie or Hairy Tatties, she somewhat tentatively accepted Hairy Tatties assuming that Sea Pie was full of seafood. Little did she know that Sea Pie was actually a gorgeous steak pie that the fishermen took out on the boats. Hairy Tatties was much worse… The fibers of salted cod were the hairy bits in the tatties (mashed potatoes). How she ate it was beyond me; a true heroine.
So, I helped a panicky man, found a new friend from Mexico and retold my favorite story about my beloved mother in law. Finally, I have some real Christmas Cheer! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Feliz Navidad!
Flirting on airplanes – it’s a special skill and it has taken me years to master it. Sometimes I mention my work at an airport to lead to upgrade on a plane. This trip to Scotland, I caught the eye of a charming middle-aged flight attendant from Lisbon. First, I complimented him on his lovely accent – that led to him giving me a ‘delicioso’ meal from business class. I heard him asking the young group of people in front of me why they were visiting and from what I could understand they were dancers on a cruise ship. The flight attendant suggested they might give some dance lessons in the galley later. I told him I could teach him the Samba and this led to 2 bottles of Cointreau from first class. We later had a short Samba in the galley…
On one occasion this professional schmoozing back-fired somewhat. I caught the eye of a flight attendant who snuck me up to Club class but he shouldn’t have. I had four wonderful seats to myself until the married businessman across the aisle came and sat next to me to chat quietly (night flight). We had fun sharing stories of disrepute. I was slightly surprised that he had a couple flings. Then…he asked me what I said during coitus. I was flabbergasted but laughingly said, “unintelligible moaning”. I could sense that an invitation to the mile high club was imminent so suggested, tactfully, he go back to his seat. During this scenario, the first flight attendant had come to visit me (he was in the next cabin) and looked appalled that someone was sniffing around his territory. No more treats for Kerry. We really haven’t evolved as much as we think we have and it is no wonder that STDs are spreading fastest between age 50 plus lovers.
I can hear you all thinking “poor Teddy – married to such a slutty Bunny”. But no…he is a handsome guy with a sexy Scottish accent who some years ago managed Europe and Kazakhstan in his particular role. Bunny was increasingly fed up with how GORGEOUS all Kazakh women were. Sometimes Blond Russians were appreciated but mostly Ethnic Kazakh were his preference. Bear in mind that there were two women to every male Kazakh at this time. He was suddenly a Greek God or whatever the Scottish equivalent was. Apparently he was the bees knees “rejecting myriad offers”… On one particular flight from Almaty (the capital of Kazakhstan) to Europe he was sitting next to a beautiful Kazakh woman, of an appropriate age, who was going to visit her daughter in the States. She was beautiful, dark with amazing cheekbones. She was entranced by the handsome guy chatting to her in Sean Connery’s accent. All was well until the meal and drinks were served. It’s a long journey – Kazakhstan is as broad as the USA. Teddy woke up sleeping on the beautiful woman’s shoulder, having drooled down her outfit. Suddenly not so attractive…. So as you can see Teddy and Bunny are a match made in heaven, both deceptively attractive. One drools and snores; the other needs a new deodorant.
There is a nice postscript to this anecdote. On the sad return journey from Scotland to Houston I used my powers for good not evil. The flight was not full and most passengers had a seat empty next to them. I started talking to the lady in my row, from Hawaii, who had just visited her new grandchild in Scotland and we celebrated that with every death there is a birth. Then I turned to the passenger on the row opposite. He was obviously of Arabic descent so I asked him where he had come from. He was in the armed forces and had just come from Baghdad. I asked if it was bad and he said yes. He was squashed next to two big guys, wasn’t wearing fatigues and seemed unwilling to ask the British Airways staff for a better seat. I went back into the galley and found a handsome flight attendant from the north of Scotland. I explained the situation and shortly afterwards he came along to the soldier and seated him in a row alone. The soldier said, “thank you, sweetie” and I responded, “thank you for your service”. I rarely say that to returning servicemen because it sometimes sounds trite and you can see that they seem traumatized. I have seen so many family reunions go badly because a loud welcome is the last thing they need no matter how well intentioned. Usually I just go out of my way to be accommodating because actions mean so much more than words. So, the next time you see a young man of Arabic descent, why don’t you just engage him in conversation? At the very least he might feel less isolated or you might find yourself talking to a real hero.
I think the word ‘hero’ is over-used today but my eye doctor really is one. Like many medical professionals, he started his career in the military – let’s say it was the Army. In the years, that I have been torturing him with my neuroses about my eyes, I only recently noticed either a certificate or medal of valor on his wall. When I queried this, he told me that he had noticed something was calibrated wrongly affecting the effectiveness of the sharp-shooters sights. This made a huge difference to their shooting ability. He shared that not everyone was happy about his discovery because a predecessor must have calibrated it incorrectly. Not every hero, in the military for example, has to be parachuting into enemy territory and carrying wounded comrades on their shoulders. Think of the importance of the work of the female covert operative who doggedly pursued the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden from a desk.
I see this eye doctor very regularly because I don’t follow any of his advice (using saline and anti-histamine drops on a regular basis), wear the wrong kind of make-up and then sleep in it… I also develop little blocked cysts along the eye rim if I wear oily make-up. On this occasion, I had flown for two days from my regular trip to an Alzheimer’s Unit in Scotland. In a vain effort to be upgraded (it has worked before), I had worn make-up, a revealing top, drank too much and fell asleep. I woke up looking like a panda and my eyes were gritty. So, two days later my eye is bright red and nothing is bringing the inflammation down. He looked in my eyes and said ‘there is something sparkly on your cornea…” I don’t wear sparkly eyeshadow much anymore. In case you think it is all neuroses, I do have a Pinguecula, which sounds kind of cute – maybe black and white? This is what it really is – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinguecula Recently, he found tiny, baby cataracts – not quite so cute.
Once he was comforting me about how uncomfortable one of my many eye problems was but I heard him say quietly to the assistant, “it’s just some inflammation”. He is a sweetie-pie for taking into account my anxiety. Then he prescribed a specific treatment that he wanted in ointment form to soothe my poor big blue eyes. When I went to the pharmacy, the assistant said to me, “I don’t know whether this is in liquid or ointment formulation?” I pointed out that it was definitely ointment because he had written ‘ung’ an abbreviation for unguent. She looked at me as though I was speaking Korean and I told her that it was a Latin word meaning ointment. Finally, the pharmacist came along and said, “Yes, it is an old-timey word for ointment”. I was flabbergasted and didn’t know who I was more annoyed at. The pharmacist (who I like) should have used it for a gentle training session. I would have explained that some pharmacy terminology is based on Latin and we would learn some more later. Look in the dictionary – unguent is still there in both US and UK versions.
Now I am sounding like an old-timey crabby lady who learned Latin at school… So, on a much lighter note, you might see that I have downward sloping eyes and a slight epicanthal fold from my Native ancestors. For years I struggled to find mascara that wouldn’t smudge the second I put it on. Some of the waterproof ones work but I am allergic to the heavy duty removers. Finally, it struck me that other people with epicanthic folds might have figured it out and found my first fabulous Japanese tubular mascara that never smudges and comes off with hot water and friction. They were quite expensive though I have recently found a fab inexpensive range made in Korea which is sold in most pharmacies and large supermarkets – http://www.nyxcosmetics.com/. Now I hope they sent me a free box of stuff. 🙂