Monday, July 7, 2008

The World...from my doorstep

It’s vacation season, but I experience it second hand. Vicariously. Working for the local Recreation Dept. means I do the “work” to ensure others have “fun”. In the Summer, work triples.

Someone asked if I resented staying put and not traveling. After all, I only live 22 miles from where I was born. Hubby’s family was Air Force and the man was born in Japan. He teases me about having only seen 8 of the 50 states…and most of them while driving through, not stopping. Oh, I’ve escaped the U.S. border. Once. Hubby and I went to Canada. For 3 hours. It was a tour to see both sides of Niagara Falls. He’d laughed and said, “Congratulations! You’ve done it.” When I looked perplexed, he’d added, “You’re in a foreign country.”

Looking back across the Falls, where I’d stood only hours before, it didn’t feel like traveling.

Truth is, I’ve never had wanderlust. I know, odd for someone with my sense of curiosity. Maybe that’s why I enjoy reading so much. Vicarious thrills aren’t that bad. And in this economy, that’s safer and more economical. But before you mourn my sheltered existence, I have met people from other cultures. Yet there is an irony in the meeting.

Quite simply, they landed on my doorstep. Literally.

Hubby has an Archery Shop. It was once housed in our old fashion country store near a popular lake. When the lake dried up, so did everything but the archery, which we moved closer to home. But while we had the store, I met the most curious assortment of people. That’s only odd when you realize we were literally located at a crossroads in the middle of the country. I still don’t know what’s funnier: the cowboy who rode up to our gas pump on a horse looking like a page from a Louis L’Amour novel or the French Mexican.

Okay, I’ll explain.

The cowboy looked every inch like those I’d grown up watching on T.V. westerns, right down to tipping his hat at me with a soft spoken, “Ma’am.” Once I got past the visual of the Marlboro Man on horseback with a gas can, I could focus on the explanation. His horse trailer had run out of gas just over the hill, which rendered it invisible from the store. He said it was just easier to saddle up a horse than walk and we concluded the transaction with him never leaving the saddle. As he turned to ride into the sunset, almost literally, I asked where he was from, imagining somewhere in Big Sky country. Touching a finger to the brim of his hat he replied softly, New Jersey.”

Sigh. So much for childhood stereotypes.

The French Mexican was a Pro Fisherman who’d stopped by to get a license for a tournament. A resident of Mexico City, he was surprised I could read his driver’s license, which was in Spanish. Turns out he wasn’t complimenting my skills as much as confessing his lack thereof. His mother was Mexican, but he’d grown up speaking French, like his father. With a laugh he said between the two of us, I probably knew more Spanish. Dios mio!

The prize for Most Unusual however, goes to The Moroccan Johnny Mathis. I kid you not.

Hubby had told me about an unusual man who’d come in to purchase a bow; a Moroccan named Myunde. As dark as the brothers in the neighborhood, his hairstyle was like, well...Johnny Mathis. He was well dressed, dripping in gold and very sure of himself. It was interesting to watch the brothers in the hood greet him, then scurry away when Myunde returned their greeting with a crisp British accent and immaculate grammar.

He came in one weekend when I was working with hubby. I skeptical of this stranger who claimed to be a past Olympic fencer, an expert golfer, fluent in four languages and a Moroccan prince with three wives… who was still accepting applications. He’d stopped in the area to visit someone he knew before heading to Vegas to headline as “The Moroccan Johnny Mathis”. No, I didn’t ask him to sing. He volunteered.

I hate to be in the spotlight or the center of attention. As hubby worked on Myunde’s bow, the singer asked if I had a request. My mind went blank. Then I heard my lips offer, “Well ever since I heard about the Johnny Mathis gig, I can’t get ‘Chances Are’ out of my head.” He nodded sagely, closed his eyes, then opened them to focus on me with such intensity it was all I could do to keep from taking a step backward. And then he sang, acappella, the most beautiful version I’ve ever heard of that song. It would’ve made Mathis cry.

In the middle of this unique concert aimed at me, one of hubby’s buddies wandered in. He politely slipped past me and asked hubby in a hushed voice what was going on. To which my hubby deadpanned, “A private performance for the wife. He’s very famous. What? You’ve never heard of the Moroccan Johnny Mathis?” The buddy stood there, eyes wide, mouth agape, shaking his head. In a conspiratorial whisper I heard him beg hubby not to tell his wife because he couldn’t afford to have someone famous serenade her.

I hear last month a Native American and a Little Person were here for an Archery tournament. I missed them, but they’ll be back. Or so they told hubby. I can’t wait.

In the meantime, my Guardian Angel is giggling and trying to find the next entertaining person to send my way.

No comments: