CUBAN MISSIVES

In many ways it was the perfect place to walk right up to the edge, and not a bad place to fall right over the edge either if push came to shove.
Trapped on a heat crazed Cuban island for a week, fueled by a constant round the clock supply of free 7 year old Havana Club and cerveza. When the stifling heat combines with the dark rum it can seriously begin to mess with the senses. It¨s unnerving as hell to have Cuban gardeners jumping out at you from behind trees and bushes trying to pawn off all manner of palm leaf and coconut creations. Then, already off kilter, the array of familiar faces that keep popping up over and over cause minor moments of paranoia, before I manage to remind myself that they are in fact fellow travellers on this twisted journey and most of them just as rum addled as I am, plus hopped up on dangerous combinations of insecticide and sinus medication. The insecticide is still required, despite the massive fuming efforts and early morning low flying crop dusters.
When I first saw clouds of white smoke wafting past my balcony window I thought perhaps the whole damned island was on fire. I would have responded in kind as well and jumped out of bed in alarm, were it not for the afore-mentioned level of rum in my blood, which I knew made it advisable to stay away from open flame. Besides that I was wearing my trusty tempur sleeping mask, which has helped me ignore heinous realities on many occasions and did not fail me again this time.
Of course the cloud of smoke could just as well have been the result of the massive amount of cigar smoking that takes place. Every Tom, Dick and Hermes seems to suddenly become obsessed with cigars, whether or not they have ever touched one in their lives before, creating constant walls of tobacco everywhere on a pretty much permanent basis. Cubans are either far behind or way ahead of the rest of us with their smoking laws, depending on how you look at it, but either way the act of smoking is pretty much celebrated and encouraged and occurs virtually everywhere unchecked. I was tempted to partake myself, virgin cigar afficianado that I am, but I didn’t dare risk affecting the taste of the rum. A matter of respect of craftsmanship really. I did however wonder why I never saw any of the nubile young women that were prancing around the island with a large stogie in their mouths. But then again, that’s the sort of random pondering I’m prone to with or without the demon rum. I did manage to bring back a select number of Romeo & Julietas though, and I am not yet sure of their destiny.

Tired

I am tired and exhausted.  My brain is fried and I am having problems keeping my eyelids open.  I want to sleep but I can’t, another work day has begun.  I have no-one to blame but myself.  I should not have stayed up until 2:30am in the morning.  A reasonable man who has to work the next morning would not have stayed up that late.  A reasonable man would have gone to bed at a sensible hour, like perhaps 9pm.  I wish I was a reasonable man.  Three hours of sleep is definitely not enough.

Still, a lesser man would not have drug himself to work.  A lesser man would have called in sick.  A lesser man would have been reasonable.

Sitting and waiting

I’m sitting and waiting.  Normally I don’t mind sitting, because I can read a book, but I can’t do that here.  I hate waiting.  I think most people hate waiting.  I don’t like getting bad news, I don’t think any of us do, but waiting for bad news is the worst.  Waiting for good news is only recognized after the fact.  Since I don’t know whether or not I will get good or bad news, I find myself sitting and waiting, sitting and waiting.  It’s eternity…  I also just realized that I’m out of beer.

Those people…

Have you ever bought a newspaper and then forget to read it?  This happens to me all the time, especially with my favorite Sunday Editions of The New York Times.   At $6 dollars each, they are as expensive as a paperback novel, and probably contain as much writing.  I enjoy the Sunday New York Times, even though a lot of my peers give me grief for its liberal bias.  So what?  I watch Fox News too, and you can’t say that they don’t have a conservative bias.  You see, there’s two sides to every story, and I enjoy reading, listening, and watching both the liberals and the conservatives.  This entire country was founded on discourse, debate, and heaven forbid, compromise.

At any rate, last night I was cleaning up the man cave and I stumbled across the March 13, 2011 edition of The New York Times.  Good grief, that was a while ago.  The paper is already fading as some papers tend to do under the elements and time.  I’m now catching up on the past if you will.

Turning the pages I come to the Weddings/Celebrations pages in the Sunday Styles section.  I don’t know why, but I read the fabulous wedding announcements and I can’t help wonder, who the hell are those people, or is it, these people?  They look great, and reading their short bios I’m intrigued by how the majority of them come from wealthy families and places, have super awesome jobs, and are genuinely, not like us.  I’m lucky if I find a good deal at an outlet store, and these people are sporting the finest linens.

Not that I’m jealous, I’m just wondering what it would take for my sons to make it to the back pages of The New York Times Style section.  This fills me with a certain amount of dread that perhaps I’m not providing enough for my family in order to have this kind of lavish lifestyle.  I am partially comforted by the fact that I am able to provide for my family, we have clothes on our back, food on the table, a roof over our heads, health insurance, and books, oh yes, lots of books.  And yet I wonder about those people…

A funny thing happened on the way to my apartment…

Now that was weird. Earlier today as I was walking home from the tram stop, I recognized the woman who was getting her hair done at the same time I was getting mine done on Saturday. I think she and the salon owner might be friends because they both come from Iran and were speaking Persian to one another while I was there. I was headed home and listening to Lullaby by The Cure when she looked straight at me, obviously recognizing me. I smiled and nodded back, but as I mentioned, I was listening to my music and not in the position, nor the mood, to have a conversation with anyone.

A minute or so passed and I felt a tap on the back of my shoulder. I turned around and looked. It was her. I took my earphones out, thinking that she probably just wanted to say hello. Instead she took a small handbag out of her shopping bag and then reached in the small bag and removed two lipsticks. She said that the handbag and the lipsticks were new, that she had just bought them for 200 SEK, but that now she was out of money until Monday. Would I please buy them for 100 SEK? I looked at the handbag and it didn’t look new to me. There were no tags on it and it looked faded and worn. And only one of the lipsticks was unopened. The shrink wrap on the other one was broken.

I usually pay for things with my bank card and very rarely carry much cash. The grand total of cash I had on me was one 20 kronor bill (approx. $3.15) and a few coins. This is hardly anything. I honestly and sincerely didn’t have the money to help her and I told her this. She then continued to beg me to buy the items. I said that I understood and wished I could help her but I just didn’t have enough money on me. She looked like she was going to cry at that point, but she finally understood, and I finally was able to continue walking home.

I’ve seen many beggars and I’ve occasionally given them money to them, but I’ve never experienced anything like someone trying to sell me used makeup and handbags before. If I had a significantly larger amount of cash then I might have helped her out, but I wouldn’t have taken her used stuff.

Weird. It was just weird.

The Original Random Misanthrope

If anyone lives up to the title of “random misanthrope,” it’s my dad. I got a letter in the mail from him a couple of days ago. It contained a personal check for $300 and a piece of paper (dated May 5) upon which was written the most…well, I suppose the right word is random, nonsensical unrelated ideas. These are not the thoughts of a rational mind. The most lucid thing he wrote was the last line, “Please do not cash the check until after the 1st of June.”

No worries there. There’s no way I can “cash” anything. The only way to deal with checks sent from the United States is to send them right back and have them deposited in my Wells Fargo bank account. A few years ago I did some freelance writing work for a website and was paid $50 per article. I was paid by check and the checks were sent to my address in Sweden, where I would endorse them and send them to my mom in California, where she’d deposit them in my bank account. Then I could withdraw the funds here using my Wells Fargo ATM card. I considered just having them sent directly to my mom’s house, but then I wouldn’t be able to endorse them.

At least he remembered to use the correct address this time. I never got last year’s annual check and letter because he sent it to my old address and then it disappeared. It was never returned or forwarded. I tried to explain this to him when I saw him in February but I wasn’t sure if he understood. He did after all. It just took him almost four months to do anything about it.

One thing you have to understand about my dad is that he moves very slowly. Snails seem like cheetahs in comparison.

 

Fine dining my bottom

So last Friday Sharkette and I went on a date after many months of no restaurant visits.  We decided to check out the restaurant at the airport that we’ve heard so much about and try their Italian-American fare.  Though the interior was nice, I found several things lacking.  Maybe it’s because I’ve watched one too many Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsay, but some things are just so common that you should just know that you don’t do that in a restaurant.

First, if somebody orders a slice of pie for dessert, it would be nice if you told them it was frozen when they bite into it!  I don’t know if it was supposed to have been served cold, or they forgot to defrost it, but Sharkette doesn’t dig ice pie.

Secondly, if you are going to be a waitress, try to look at least a little interested in your patrons.  I know we might not be the most interesting people in the world, but we are paying for your tip so please show us some frakking courtesy!

Thirdly, though the adage, “if you got time to lean, you have time to clean,” is wonderful, please don’t do that when you still have diners eating!  How annoying would it be if I invited you over for dinner and I vacuumed the dining room while you ate???  Seriously!

Fourthly, I know there is only an hour left before the restaurant closes, but you could you please not have the entire staff sitting at another table gabbing away???  I could hear everything they were saying, and I didn’t much care for their conversation.  It’s bad enough having to listen to other diners, but I certainly don’t want to hear from the wait staff as well.

That said, the prime rib was outstanding and your fries were excellent.  The bread sticks were to die for.