Sunday, January 31, 2010
Bordeaux redux; sil vous plait...ball
When I was young, about twelve, I was visiting my grandmother and grandfather in Providence, R.I. My grandfather was at Brown University as the dean of students, and I was at Gram’s with my family. During the course of the day, my mother left Saskia my younger sister, and I alone with Gram. Well to make a long story short, I scraped my knee up pretty well, and was on the porch crying. She approached me and sequestered Saskia into the kitchen to pour some glasses of fresh lemonade she had just prepared. I remember this frail elderly matriarch sitting down next to me and holding my hand and looking into my tear stained face and sweetly ask me, “ Do you know where you find sympathy in Webster’s dictionary Henry?” Quivering I meekly answered, “ Why no Gram, where would I find it?” Still looking into my eyes she answered, “ Between syphilis and shit, now get in to the kitchen and help Saki get those lemonades.”
Well we just got back from Bordeaux and that’s how I felt the entire way back. My own fault really. Caleigh and a couple of her friends had plotted,…planned on taking the train to Bordeaux and meeting a few fifteen year old school chums enroute. Simple huh, and no I’m not out of my #$%$@ing mind. We were informed by a couple parents this was the norm. This was also reinforced by our daughter, who obviously had no stake in the outcome. Well throughout the week the plans were fine tuned, to the point where it still didn’t add up, so I volunteered to drive them, and Cindy offered as well to make a day of it. Well that was as good as this fieldtrip ever got, the best laid plans of mice and men…..more like two wet feral cats fighting in a small canvas sack. The day before we were to leave, one of the friends cold / flu hadn’t gotten any better, and for her wellbeing she would stay at home. It was at that point that Cindy and I were considering just calling it off, but insanity prevailed.
“High and inside swinging , Strike One”
Driving to the wine capital, soon to be whine capital we approach Bordeaux, splendid visually, ok so which map shows the best route into the city center…..
”Low and away swinging, Strike Two”
We finally get over the river and head 180 degrees wrong by north west. We deduce our mistake and correctly circumnavigate to get back on course about twenty minutes later. By now the other friend gets her bearings and correctly identifies the correct subterranean parking structure. Parking is rewarding and as we exit the garage, the rain stops. “Lord thank you for this sign, we shall have a bounteous journey in thy name, and by the way, we are not worthy………..
"Just inside, One ball, two strikes”
Caleigh gets a hold of their friends who arrived earlier. We have cell phones. What could go wrong?
“Back in the batters box batter!”
With our child safely in the hands of one twelve year old and three fifteen year old girls, we set off to explore the wonders of Bordeaux. We walk street by street, a little unnerved as we see the scale of this ancient metropolitan cityscape. As we near the end of this main shopping promenade we start seeing a lot of scary individuals, poster boys for pick pocketing, passport dealing, camera stealing, white slave trade recruiters, and Jacques le Ripper wanna bes, oh my.
“In the dirt swinging, Strike three .”
O.K. we got our phone, “Hi Caleigh, everything O.K.?, …No I’m just checking in …..Hey do me a favor put the Nikon in your purse and lets…ah meet….so where are you?….uh huh.. Hagen das, O.K. where?……..well what do you mean you don’t know, go out and look…………..O.K. we’re near, we’ll be there in fifteen minutes……….no of course you can finish your ----- ice cream.” click We get there and are met by her in the street without her jacket on and without her purse. Ah Fudge,.. “Cal, where’s your jacket and the Camera and your purse?……..O.K. good you left it at the table with your friends, go get them now, …no I don‘t want to discuss anything, go get the camera“………..So she returns and see that everything is fine…..even though ice cream is today’s special replacement item on the menu for good warm healthy lunch…..
”Batter hit by the pitch!……..one ball three strikes, back in the batters box batter!”
So Cindy and I, along with the really valuable camera, head into a nice restaurant. I have the Risotto avec Champignons, she has the Fruits of the land, which was canard, jambon, foie gras ( thinking of you Gary) the meal was great, we paired it with a 25cl caraf of Bordeaux red. We’re finishing our meal and the cell phone rings and I meekly answer……….nothing. Crap the phones dead. Cindy asks for the phone and turns it back on correctly, Caleigh calls back…..“Cal call us in fifteen minutes, were finishing up lunch.” we pay up and depart the restaurant, realizing that had the phone really been dead we would have been somewhere with out a paddle by north west.
“Ohhh, hit by another pitch, right in the back of the neck!……..back in the batters box batter!”
We call her and learn that the other friends have just left so we set up to meet her just down the street. Well not the best laid plans, but we meet up with them and continue by going into a few different stores and head to the parking garage, which we do find. Well all loaded up, ticket paid at the Caisse we proceed to leave this wonderful city that we’ll need to return to. Ideally to make better memories at next visit. The sun is shining and we depart Bordeaux, after spending twenty minutes trying to find the ramp to the bridge.
“ Batter hit by another pitch………back in the batters box batter!…..batter!”
We get on the bridge and at one of the many rotary’s mistakenly head wrong by north east this time. We head northerly for quite a few kilometers and tour St. Emilion then finally make it back onto the correct route and then home.
“Batter is ejected from the game!”
So my mother returns from whatever task she had to accomplish leaving Saskia and I with Gram. I’m still sitting on the porch, looking dejected, alone with my empty plastic lemonade glass. “Well hey sweetie, everything O.K.?” she asks knowing I’m sad. “I scrapped my knee on the sidewalk, and it still hurts.” I whine “Hey, how about Knock, knock?” She knows I try to invent knock, knock jokes to make her laugh when she’s sad. “Yeah that would be swell, thanks.” anxious…..“Knock knock” my mother says……..Real quickly I reply..” Who’s there”….As she starts up the stairs into the house I hear. “ So boo fuckin.”