This year I happily hosted my sister and her family and my brother and his family (separately!) in my little postage-stamp sized condo – at one-bathroom, one-bedroom plus den, it’s an intimate arrangement. I am not sure how much longer my nephews and nieces, never mind my brother and sister’s spouses, are going to entertain overnight visiting as much-fun, but for now they keep coming and I love hosting.
It is during these visits where I am included in the little worlds that my nephew’s and niece’s inhabit as they curiously expand their intellect.
A few of my favourite moments this year in no particular order:
It’s a miracle! I am cooking in my condo kitchen for my family. Mind you I am making the simplest of dinners – fajita’s.
We are chatting away, my nephew and niece are playing with bits and pieces of Lego when I hear this question:
“Aunt D-D, why do you need a kitchen in your hotel room?”
“Aunt D-D has the biggest house! She even has an elevator!”
As they enter the smallest living space they’ve ever seen in their life-time.
We leave my condo, I pull down my prescription sunglasses so I can see what I am doing and I lock the door. My nephew quietly twists and turns making his way down the hallway in front of me reaching the elevators first. We can hear the “beep, beep, beep” of the elevator as it climbs up to our floor. In serious thought my nephew turns to me and dead-pans:
“Auntie D-D,” long pause as he fidgets his shoe against the carpet, he stops and stands-still looking directly at me, “You look K-E-W-L”
He doesn’t wait for an answer, he turns around to focus on the nothing at the other end of the hallway.
Points for me and my shades!
A year ago a friend of mine signed up as an Arbonne consultant. Yes, a dreaded multi-marketing company! It’s been a year, she hasn’t lost her house, her car, her job or her friends – gasp – it’s gone really well in fact.
I was first introduced to the facial products and they have worked for me, and I have since tried other products. I recently picked up a few new items to try, one of them a “moisturizer”.
I squeezed some product out of the bottle.
“Hmm the colour looks a little odd,” I thought to myself and applied it anyways.
“Wow this is really thick it’s not rubbing in very well,” brief pause, “I need some more.”
And I squeezed more out of the bottle and smeared it over my back. I was having a tough time getting it to smooth out when I noticed a spot where it was foaming.
“Odd for a moisturizer,” and I grabbed the container….a body wash!! I mistakenly ordered a body wash.
As a body wash – amazing – as a moisturizer – not so much.
We were sock sisters. Sharing the same, mostly free adidas sport socks. They were peaking out over the tops of our shoes.
All the cool kids were wearing hideaway socks and adidas Stan Smiths. Were we even allowed on the street?
Sitting on the curb of Piazza deal Duomo we discussed our sneakers, our unfashionable socks and what we’d buy if we were to replace our well-loved, well-worn kicks. She, Originals, Green trimmed Stan Smiths. Me, VANS all the way baby! It’s all about the 80’s and Penn putting them on the map, forget about the 70’s 😉
That is when it started. The obsession of finding the perfect VANS.
Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon a store, close to home, full of VANS!
I tried on this pair, that pair, the other pair, the sales girl obliged. We talked about Italy, about my age-inappropriateness of shopping for skater shoes and then I bought two pairs, I was feeling lucky.
Back home, I took the garbage down wearing one pair of my new VANS.
Maiden voyage in my new kicks – garbage room. Nice.
That is when I realized perhaps I should have tried on the 1/2 size larger.
Shoes packed back in their boxes and the next day back to the store I went hoping that a new day meant new staff.
How embarrassing would it be, “Hello I’d like to return one pair of shoes and exchange the other pair for a 1/2 size larger even though you asked me yesterday and I said no.”
Nothing from that dialogue screams, intelligent, well thought through purchase decision!
Turned out, new day, new staff!
Exciting – one return, one exchanged pair 1/2 size larger.
But the excitement was short lived replaced by disappointment, my ankles were falling out of my shoes.
Back in their box and the next day back to the store for an exchange.
Turns out different day, not always new staff!
“Hey,” I greet the sales guy, “I am back again!” There is only one way to treat this situation with dignity and that is to play the bouncy, absent-minded, 30-something who has no business buying skater shoes to begin with.
He’s busy behind the cash, uncomfortable with his attempt to dress a male mannequin in board shorts. He makes a comment about it and to distract himself he’s given the mannequin a name. He may be more embarrassed about his work related predicament than I am about returning a 3rd time to the store 3 days in a row.
I crack a joke to get him focused off his awkward mannequin dressing and onto my much more important embarrassment.
“I’m the girl who simply buys things and finds an excuse to come in to the store each and every day.”
He laughs and adds on to the joke, “And instead of actually returning anything, you’ll just keep exchanging between the 8’s and the 8 1/2’s, back to the 8’s…always in the same style!”
His mannequin is no longer a point of embarrassment, he is 100% engrossed in mine!
Spending time with my nieces and nephews is always an adventure, from hearing about my car being too small, letting me in on their “family secrets” (dad farts…) and explaining their “big” complaint about life not being fair (…not always getting their way…).
Today was spent ferrying around two of my nieces, 11 and 9.
We were discussing something super important, I don’t remember the topic! The littlest, in the back seat being obtuse and making broad snappy sweeping statements directed at her older sister.
And then my eldest niece said something so unexpected.
Growing up she loved listening to adults share stories. I’ve told my fair share of stories. One story in particular has evidently made its mark. The story involved an old boss of mine and the go-to-question he’d ask us when challenging the statements we’d make when we wanted his support.
So as we were travelling along the highway at break-neck speed (faster than walking), the littlest niece was goading her older sister into an argument.
That is when my eldest niece quietly pulled out my old bosses favourite challenging question and asked her little sister, “Would you bet your future house on that statement?”
(Artwork from when they were “kids”, before they started saying adult-like statements, can we stop them from growing up!!)
The two Lufthansa flight crew stood like statues, only their faces showing their amusement at watching me walk from the gangway onto the plane.
At the very step where I had to cross the threshold I decided to multitask and turn the data off on my phone. While doing this I lost depth perception and I made a very large, albeit graceful step onto the plane.
I realized what I had done and looked to see if the flight crew had noticed and of course they had!
I laughed my boisterous North American laugh, they shared their well structured German laughs and that just made me laugh more.
The one flight member asked me if I’d do the step again, it was so well performed, natural even!
As I made my way past them one crew member made a comment about the need for laughing.
I turned, smiled, laughed and said, “I am good at laughing!”
To which he replied, “Well in that case, Welcome Aboard!”
Did I mention how much I love zeGermans and their quiet, direct humour! Can I stay on Frankfurt!
I had a nervous uncomfortbale laugh and then immediately washed my hand five times.
This evening I stayed again at the hotel instead of going out, which meant I was dining alone.
My Waiter (I really should get his name), gave me the option of sitting in a back corner tonight, thank you! As it is getting close to the end of my trip I decided I might as well go all out and try 3 of the 5 courses available on almost every Italian menu. How does anyone stay thin? I ordered an Appetizer, First Course and Dessert with a coffee.
I managed through the Appetizer and the First Course when two older gentlemen entered the dinning room and sat at the table beside mine. They were sharing a news paper and seemed to be discussing it’s contents.
My Dessert arrived and as I finished up reading an email, noticed out of the corner of my eye one of the old men getting up from his seat and making his way towards me.
He arrived at my table and asked “Are you Italian”, in what seemed like Italian. I shook my head no. That pleased him and he continued by listing off a bunch of languages I might possibly speak, “French, English etc.”. I stopped him and responded “English and some French.”
Ahhhh, and he reached down for my hand, picked my left hand off the table. His the palm of his old hand was fleshy, soft and warm, the top of his hand was veined, hairy and rough. He raised our hands together and kissed the back of my hand and I pulled my hand back.
He pointed to my waiting dessert and asked in French, “Is it good?”
“I Haven’t tried yet,” and I took my spoon and a small bite and gave him the thumbs up. He was pleased and asked me to point out which dessert it was on his Italian language menu.
Before he left my table he took my hand a second time, held it slighly longer than the first, kissed it again, looked into my eyes to said Ciao.
I looked away. Uncomfortable.
I am slightly frazzled, but I have this and I focused on my dessert and my coffee.
The wait staff dropped off a dish of complimentary biscuits on my table. I ignore the biscuits, how do they do this? Pre-appetizer rolls, sliced dried baguette, three course meal AND Biscuits!
The old man noticed and again got up from his table. He asked if I minded if he had my biscuits. He didn’t try to take my hand, I didn’t look at him and I gestured “Go ahead”.
I am completely involved in my email, but I noticed movement to my left and I took a little sideways peak over. He was sitting, staring at me, jiggling his legs giving me the impression was waiting for an opening, a reason to pop back over to my table. I went back to my email and focused, focused on not looking up. I felt trapped. I desperately wanted to leave the room but I feared he’d follow me, so it became a little game of whom can out-sit whom!
He managed to stand up. He waited. I did not look up but I could sense the movement as he made his way back to my table. I cringed. He leaned in much closer than before and in his broken French he asked me, “Do you want to have breakfast with me tomorrow.”
I wished desperately for my invisibility cloak.
I shook my head no and said, “That will not work for me.”
He is not detterred and repeats in earnest his question, “Will yo have beakfast with me tomorrow.”
I shook my head no, more vigorously than before.
He is an old man, he’s been told no many times, he isn’t going to give up and he tried a new route, “Give me your hotel room number and I will call you.”
MY HOTEL ROOM NUMBER AND HE WILL CALL ME! I wanted to die.
This time I left out the shaking of my head and the verbal no’s and I pulled out my arm gesture that I’ve picked up while being in Italy. The arm gesture that gets in your face and is the ultimate go the F*ck away. I had tried the nice Canadian approach and it clearly did not work.
I pulled my right arm up from my lap and I shook it firmly from side to side in front of his bent over nose.
He knows I am not Italian and doesn’t believe my agressive arm gesture and he simply said, “What time are you planning to have breakfast.”
I ignored him. I was out of material and he shrugged and left the dinning room.
I am ready to come home thanks.