Monday, February 29, 2016

This Other Half Week In Not Surfing

1. The Italian twins have asked Jeremy over for dinner to which he responds by bringing dinner. One twin cancels, leaving another Italian in her place along with her English husband. They are all artists. The replacement Italian comes from a Milanese family. She is currently working feverishly to produce a line of new scents for the family business of which she is fast becoming the creative face. One half the original Italian, a painter, is just returning to her work from having to do someone else's work. She complains about commissions. But only so much. The Englishman starts dour, hunkered in the corner staring at a computer screen, but evolves into entertaining stories about trapeze classes. I shuck kale and sauté garlic, jobs I am grateful for but also fill me with anxiety. Sautéing garlic in an Italian's home. Nothing could be more terrifying.

2. A consistent item on the menu of dinner conversations the world over is a bubbling stew called "Tales of Altered States, Homeopathic Remedies and the Upending of Expectation." The recipe rarely loses steam, offers anecdotal hilarity and allows for a soap box moment for every participant.

3. I witness the isolation of the displaced professional athlete. I witness the adulation of fans and the misplacement of hopes. I take four train rides. Up and back. Up and back. The English countryside looks identical three times. The fourth is at night.

4. I buy two books about Italian football. I eat at an Italian restaurant which isn't any good. I finish half my meal, half my glass of wine, pay, and go next door to another Italian restaurant and order a similar dish. I finish half that meal and glass of wine, pay and leave. Afterward I have a stomach ache.

5. I try to read one of the Italian books, an anecdotal history about great Italian soccer players, but it is awful. I have read many great books about the history of soccer, the utterly brilliant Soccer in the Sun and Shadow being my nearest hope for this flaccid drone. But, alas.

6. I travel to two Premier League soccer games on back to back days. The two teams are currently battling it out at the top of the table. Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur. In both cases I find the palpable excitement of gameday offset by that peculiar English a) overt misery in the case of Spurs and b) blunt resignation in the case of the Foxes. But the cheering, the chanting, the singing and general grandiose chummy appreciation on display in both stadiums make me resigned and miserable to the right degree in the end.

7. At St. Pancras I spill my coffee. At St. Pancras they unpack both my enormous bags completely at the security line. I had expected to travel to India after Paris for another couple weeks of work but the job fell through and my bags have far more gear and varied clothing than I'd ever need for a couple weeks work in dour European winter weather. The security lady cannot understand why I have so many bags within bags full little cables. But I smile at her and she smiles at me and I repack my bags slowly.

8. All the attendants on the train to Paris are tall. The men are tall, the women are tall. The women are very pretty and wear blue uniforms that make them even prettier. The driver who picks me up in Paris was born in Israel and has two children. They are six, three and 11 months. He has a quick gait, wears a long beige trench coat on a sunny day with cool black Ray Bans and is very bad at maths.


BigDan said...

#4 is hilarious. Sorry about not going to India. You would have loved it. You'll go some day. Maybe after Vietnam.

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