Saturday, December 6, 2008

My Few Moments as a Modern Brigitte Bardot

I would like to begin by saying, to any who may doubt the veracity of this story, that I would willingly place my hand on a Bible and swear that the story I am about to relate is 100% true. Okay, so now you know that this is going to be another of those "these-things-only-happen-to-Stephanie" stories. And, I repeat, the whole thing is true!

It all began innocently enough. I realized as I went to prepare dinner this evening that the proverbial cupboard was bare, so I pulled on three layers of clothing and my winter coat, and rode my bike over to HomePlus. HomePlus is a bit of a ride from here when the weather is so cold, but it has a much better selection than Lotte, the grocery store that is closest to my apartment. As it was almost 8:00 pm, it was very dark outside, which almost made me rethink taking the journey to buy provisions, but the thought of eating only rice and a past-its-prime apple spurred me onward.

I was out of just about everything, so my groceries completely filled my large cloth grocery bag and my backpack. To keep the bread safe, I tied it to the outside of the backpack. As for the bag of five HUGE Asian pears, there was just no room for them, so I decided to carry that bag on the side of the bike not encumbered by the bloated cloth grocery bag. I made quite the amusing spectacle, as I usually tend to do. I had no idea just how amusing things were going to get (for passers-by)...

A short distance away from the store, the bag holding the pears decided that life was not worth living, and promptly broke. Five ginormous Asian pears saw their chance for freedom, and joyously rolled as far as they could down the sidewalk. I propped the bike and grocery bag against a tree, and then proceeded to spend the next few minutes hunting down all five of the gleefully delinquent pears. Considering that I had on a huge backpack with a bag of bread strapped to it and was muttering to myself like a less-than-sane (and foreign) individual, I am confident that I was the topic of many a conversation between the drivers on the road and their families once they arrived home.

I managed to round up all the pears, but was faced with a dilemma: how to get them and the groceries (and let's not forget the bike) home. I finally did what any frustrated, tired, freezing cold, and slightly balmy person would do - I stuck the blasted things down my coat, hopped back on the bike, and hoped for the best.

I made it in this manner for about two blocks before running into more trouble. Apparently, the pears had had one taste of freedom and were determined to get back to it. They were clustered at the bottom of the coat, ready to fall out at the next slight bump. I stopped the bike, and with considerable shoving and muttered oaths, managed to cram two of the pears into the grocery bag. With even more effort, I convinced the smallest pear to squeeze into one of the large pockets on my coat (it was an extremely tight fit). Left with two pears to stow away, and not a lot of options at this point, I finally did what I'm sure has occurred to several of you as soon as you heard that there were only two unsecured pears left - oh yes, indeed, I did!

I'll spare the precise details of exactly how I secured the two pears, but lets just say that they spent the rest of the journey riding in a very strategic, albeit exceedingly uncomfortable, part of my upper body. It brought back traumatic memories of when I was in fifth grade and my mother forced me to go as Dolly Parton for Halloween (I had wanted to be a mummy). The icing on the cake came a few minutes later when a Korean guy in a car honked at me and then, using pantomime, expressed his admiration for my chest.

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"