My mission over the next couple of weeks is to buy a dress for my niece's wedding. I have been looking online, and checking out the stores over the last few months, but as always, what I am looking for is never on the rack unless I am not looking! It would probably make me sound a little paranoid if I were to suggest that as soon as I enter the mall, the alarms go off, and rails of suitable clothing are taken to the storeroom!
I had decided that Saturday was going to be 'the day' and I was going to get up extra early, finish my chores extra early, and leave for the shops, extra early. I probably do not have to quote the saying about plans, as obviously this did not happen. The first two functions were completed without a problem. Dana had left for the office around six, as he wanted to be finished early, too. I was very focused, and when I received a call from Samantha, aka my Saturday chauffeur, at a little after 8, and I was well on my way to be completed by 9:30, I was less than excited by her news. She had been invited out to breakfast! Edward and his co-worker had decided it would be nice to ask their wives to join them after their 'shift'. It was definitely time to think about getting a second car. Ours had gone into the 'shop' on Friday, and although our mechanic always provides us with a loaner, there have been more occasions over the past few months when I would have benefited from the extra vehicle. However, I digress!
By 10am, I was feeling very sorry for myself. Samantha had dropped the dog, so that she would not have to drive home and back again, and he was barking at anything that moved. I decided that I should not waste time bemoaning my fate, and headed down to the pool. An earlyish morning swim would not hurt. I was not the first to arrive. I greeted a neighbour, who was seated under the trees, and swam a few lengths. It was a beautiful morning, and the water was perfect. As I clambered out of the pool, more like Bo Diddley than Bo Derek, the lady sitting under the tree called out to me. Within less than ten minutes, I knew that she had recently bought a condo in our complex, so that her youngest daughter would have somewhere to live while she went to college. Her daughter was sharing with two other girls, and was the youngest of six children. Unfortunately she had divorced several years ago, but had no regrets, and was a grandma of four. All her children were born in her native home of Venezuela. I sat mesmerised that someone could manage to recite their life story quicker than I! When Samantha called at 11 to say she was almost at my house, my new friend and I had discussed our previous lives up to around 2007, and were heading to the present at full speed! I had lost all motivation to go and look for an outfit, and suggested Samantha join us by the pool. Shortly before noon, my German neighbour appeared.
The European Union in our complex has been growing over the past few years, with several nations competing for most populated! I had met Frank last year, whilst swimming, and after seeing him by the pool a couple of times, espied him at the supermarket, as Dana and I were on our way home one evening. I whispered that the man in front of us was a neighbour, and said hello, but he did not answer, so I tapped him lightly on the shoulder, and re-introduced myself. 'Oh, I didn't recognise you', he said. Dana decided to lighten the situation by announcing, 'I suppose you are going to say that you don't recognise my wife with her clothes on?' As I have mentioned before, Dana is a little over 6'4. Frank is probably not 5'10. Jumping back, he stammered that we had only met at the pool a couple of times, and was quite relieved when my husband roared with laughter and put out a welcoming hand to shake. From that time on, the story has been repeated over and over, with Frank letting everyone know that my other half is over average height, but could probably not run as fast!
Realising I am now almost a veteran at my complex, I introduced Frank to Mercedes, my new friend. 'Oh, is this your husband?' was met with emphatic denial by both of us. 'No! We are not related, anyway, anyhow!' was Frank's answer. I started to giggle, as Mercedes added fuel to the fire in an attempt to exonerate herself; 'But I thought because he was English...........'. Fortunately a sense of humour is something we do share, and when I pointed out that he was in fact German, he told her that it was a mistake not often made, but he had been here for over 20 years, so the accent may be slightly subdued.
It was much later in the afternoon when the Spaniard arrived. Frank had left, and Mercedes' son had arrived with a few friends, to say 'hi to mom', and after the entourage left, he and his mother spoke in their native tongue. My neighbour from Spain actually lives and works in Paris, but he and his American wife had bought a unit for her father, a year after I had emigrated. They visit twice a year, and he takes advantage of the pool. For thirty minutes he puts the rest of us to shame, and swims like Michael Phelps, up and down, at a speed that would have me gasping half way through the first lap! It was a pleasure this year to greet him with not only a 'hello', but a British winner at Wimbledon! With Spain having won two titles, over the past few years, coupled in 2010 with the World Cup success, I have not had much to crow about! However, hearing his native tongue being spoken, he chatted with Mercedes and her son for quite some time. He explained that he does not get to practise his language very much and every opportunity is a gift! Samantha and I decided that a revival of cockney rhyming slang was needed!
After a while, Frank returned, and there remained in the pool, a Spaniard, a German and an Englishwoman. What a start for a comedian! After deciding that we could possibly buy Detroit between us, (sorry Michigan, but it would be a topical subject for said stand-up comic,) it was agreed that there would be little point. Perhaps we could just buy a building. Staying topical, and highly political, the German asked the Spaniard, if his country was suffering commercially and financially, why were two of his native banks overtaking many others, especially here in the USA. The Spaniard claimed that if the country was to fail, the banks would claim independence! As the Englishwoman, I smiled and told them that my country folk were used to be overtaken; Saxons, Vikings, Romans, and then the French! I was now over here staging a British comeback after the loss in 1776! The German commented, very tongue in cheek, that his country, too, had its fair share of infamy in this area! It is always best to let the countryman (or woman) create the joke about their own nation.
Frank and I explained to Pablo that despite us being legal residents, we still had problems with people understanding us. Our sense of humour generally leaves something to be desired, and sarcasm is not always seen as being funny. Although it is often referred to as the lowest form of wit, those of us who are experts in the area continue to use it prolifically! We all agreed that a lot of the time there is a problem with pronunciation, which is not restricted between the Europeans and the Americans. 'It is pronounced
Ree-o'cha, with a guttural ch!', the Spaniard said, after Frank announced his favourite wine was Rioja. We practised until we were almost perfect.
Before long, it was time for the Spaniard to go. He bade farewell to Mercedes and her son, in his native language, but they were too involved in their own conversation to notice. 'It is pronounced, Chow, you need to practice' said Frank, as our neighbour left the area. The Anglo-Germanic alliance remained. With two Germans, one French woman, and a Spaniard, Frank claimed victory over the European take-over. Samantha apparently did not count, as she no longer lived in the complex. After seven hours of sun, I conceded and reluctantly left the pool area.
Sunday morning got off to a later start than I anticipated, and while I did not purchase a dress, I did look and eliminated a couple of stores. My search will continue. Of course, I did go down to the pool and met my neighbour KC, and her sister, and we chatted while Frank sat and chimed in when he presumed we needed answers. The two ladies enjoy British television and KC's sister had recently become an avid Dr. Who fan. I talked, incessantly, which is my forte, and after a couple of short, sharp showers, the ladies left to go back to their condo. The Spaniard did not appear, but the alliance continued to practise, 'Ree-o'cha', in case we were tested in the future!
I have to go to work tomorrow, and will again be in the minority, both as a female and by nationality. Kelly retired on Friday and our new guy, Jason, will be put to the test! I plan to take some time off to go shopping, but as I said in the beginning, the best plans, etc, etc. I plan to have a very busy, and eventful week, otherwise I shall have a problem writing........ another story.