By Monday afternoon—after taking that giant leap across the chasm of Sunday—I was overcome by a strange sensation. Time appeared entirely arbitrary to me.
Before I knew it the seam between one day and the next had disappeared, and I was forced to do some arithmetic, condense 2 days into one. And if you knew anything about my arithmetic skills, you’d know this was not an easy problem for me to solve. I knew the time had come. I had to go and rinse myself with the rays of the sun. And so, I clasped the hand of mother tightly and allowed myself to follow wherever she led me, and by the time I left the apartment, early afternoon, I soon found myself careening along slippery slopes, and onto additional adventures. Wrong connections. Wrong numbers. Trolleys. Subterranean passages. Chance encounters. New connections because of wrong connections—
All of these were…
The Specials of the Day
The day began somewhere around Sunday afternoon, and, with light rapidly folding its wings so that dusk may emerge, I went out to replenish my supply of cigarettes. Realizing, along the way, that I was not only out of cigarettes, but my refrigerator was empty, as well, I had to consider the problem of nutrition and sustenance, and, seeing on my return the China man, standing outside of his establishment, featuring—what else—but Chinese food, I decided to stop there for some nourishment.
And as I enjoy talking to people, and listening to what they have to say, I hoped to engage the China man a bit of conversation. And being the only patron at his establishment, I thought… This is entirely possible…
And so it happened.
But because of the peculiar sensations in the air… The ones that have to do with time… The Wisdom of The China Man— Dire Predictions and Clouds is presently no where in sight. So I must jump ahead. Or backward, is it? Back to Monday.
Where I sat
Feeling the pangs of hunger reaching into me, once again, I thought it best to eat something first, before continuing my journey. With so many options before me, I had some difficulty choosing where I would sit, but the solution swiftly appeared as soon as I eyed two establishments, directly across from each other, but each with a significant difference. It was the battle between Pepsi and Coke, right before my eyes, taking place, and I knew whose side I was on!
I searched for a spot in the shade—but, why?—perhaps to safely distance myself from the thick pedestrian traffic on the street, and attempted to sit there. But soon as my rump touched the seat, the server appeared, and asked me a question, which tickled, and tossed reason aside.
“Are there 5 of you?” the server said.
“As far as I know… There is only one of me.” I said, looking around.
Thus, he ushered me to a table that set me smack in the middle between sun and shade, dividing me in half, and on the edge.
Congestion Ahead. Detour… Again!
Onward. Tuesday has now appeared. I’m afraid, alas, The Friend of Icarus, Hungry for Homer, and Transatlantic Connections are now behind me. But here is…
The Dove on My Plate
Perhaps the oddest of all Starbucks in all of Athens is the one in my neighborhood.
The people who congregate there are, well, extremely difficult to decipher… Hieroglyphic in stature.
Some appear to be talking to someone on the telephone, when they actually are talking to something or someone whose origin is unknown, or not readily apparent. Others who are talking to someone on their telephones, often engage a high pitch—OUCH! My ears.—often cursing whoever is on the other end of the line. But since I like my beans roasted Starbucks-style, and since I was out of coffee, I had to make the stop and pick up beans.
That was the major task of the day— Which was on Tuesday, I think—
One, Two, Pick up beans!
But as I stepped out the door, and not more than 2 blocks away, I soon realized the day was stamped with Caution all over its face. I found myself dodging buses and cars, leaping to safety across sidewalks, my footsteps ruled by hesitation and reversals— Which way now? They seemed to ask. In the meantime, my stomach began to grumble, and demanded food, so I thought, might as well stop at my favorite neighborhood restaurant, and eat someone.
Besides the excellent cuisine there, the thing I like most about my neighborhood restaurant is how well they know me there. They act as my advisors on all things culinary. Plus they know what and how much I consume. “Are you sure that’s not too much food for today,” the server has asked more than once. “But I’m hungry!” And because my eyes are always bigger than the size of my stomach, I often ask for more than I can consume.
Not only that—
But these advisors of mine remember what I have eaten there when I cannot! And guide me accordingly.
So while I previewed the dishes of the day (they know I have a passion for fish, lemons, and dandelions grown in the wild, as well as a slice of lemon in my favorite beverage—indeed, they give me not one, but two slices of lemon!) and couldn’t remember which fish I had eaten last time I was there, the server quickly refreshed my memory, and I settled into the garden to eat my meal.
And while I usually take my meals alone, on this day I was joined by a most extraordinary guest, who arrived shortly after I had finished my meal, and began eating his meal. Dignified and handsome, he picked the meat from bones on my plate—not the bones my teeth had crushed for their calcium value—and feasted on lettuce, fish and bread, and scrutinized me, every now and then. And I sat there enchanted by his presence.
To my satisfaction, I discovered my guest and I shared a common distaste for eating the heads of other things, preferring to leave them intact, and just as I refrained from touching the head of my meal, so he too stayed clear from its path.
But as the afternoon began to shorten, I realized I must make haste and return to The Kingdom of Words before night approached, so I left abruptly.
And then something strange happened…
After the barista had crushed my beans, the cash register refused to document the transaction. And after more than a dozen unsuccessful attempts to feed the card into the machine, the barista apologized for the confusion—No problem, I said.—and offered me a cup of coffee on-the-house, while he wrestled with my card and his register. Because it wasn’t like the machine refused my card because it was not valid; it just refused to flat-out, register the experience.
At that instant, I knew my patron had taken a fraction of her time and had devoted it to me. — I could see her smiling. — And although my patron never rewards me with things like money, she arms me with more useful tools, and for the most part, leaves it up to me to be resourceful, where the sphere of money is concerned. And being a product of the streets, I have managed the economical calculations and implications of species survival relatively well, despite my poor arithmetic skills.
And though I hadn’t planned to pause at that point—I certainly didn’t need more coffee—I thought, if my patron could pause and take notice, I certainly could, too, so I drank my shot of espresso, while the barista struggled to get a response … from my card.
In the end, they were unsuccessful. The manager explained they had been having technical difficulties over the past several days, and since they know me there, allowed me to leave with a promissory note in one hand, beans in the other.
And so I left, and hastened back to the Kingdom, before the moat was pulled, locking me out—and before I even knew it—wings sprouted, hips flapped—and … I was back!
Back in the Kingdom of Words.