Posts Tagged ‘toe skin’

Unyoked Ruminations

This journey abroad has entailed far less expeditions than my previous ventures to the Old World. Bearing that in mind, you may decide for yourself whether these are legitimate contemplations, or simply the ramblings of a man who has run out of material and over-thinks the commonplace:

Yesterday I awoke to the incessant creaking of floorboards under the feet of my wife, who insists she is attempting to remain as quiet as possible. If I ask her why the tap shoes are necessary, she simply replies, “They’re my morning shoes.” Having thus been roused from sleep, I sit up on the side of the bed in time to see wife set her curling iron on the floor in the path that I must take to get around the bed and accomplish anything in the way of morning preparations. I think, “Surely this is purposeful. She wakes me from my sleep, certain that my lack of early-morning motor-skills and pirate face will inhibit my capacity to recognize a trap so simply laid before me.” I imagine the pain of actually stepping on the barrel of this contraption- my prehensile toes wrapping around, the singe of toe-flesh, and the shrill girlish screams that would erupt from my lower facial orifice. Wife would laugh to herself in the bathroom, eyeliner in hand, and mumble something about payback for stealing her giant pangolin and riding off into the jungle for battle with King Louie… then she would realize that she had scalded her husband over a dream. Fortunately for her, I recognized the setup and cartwheeled over the bed and out of the room.

When the iron had cooled, I returned to the room for clothing, as the British authorities typically frown on public nudity much like in the States. When I went for socks, however, I was shocked to find a pair that not only did not match, but one of the socks did not belong to me at all. Nearly a year ago, wife found a stray sock in the laundry room of our apartment complex and was certain that it belonged to me. Therefore, she mated it with a non-matching sock and stuffed it into my sock drawer with relish. Days later I discovered the sock, rebuked it, stomped on it, and informed wife that it must belong to one of the other 108 male residents (most likely Korean) in our complex. She nodded and used words as though she understood, but after the next load of laundry I found it crammed in the same drawer yet again! This continued for months until, after one particularly explosive scenario, I was quite certain I had banished it from this dimension. Months passed without a visit from this stalking foot-holder. So, you can imagine my shock to find it resting lazily in my sock drawer amongst its brethren as though it had always belonged there, thousands of miles away from where I had last seen it. Fortunately, fire is the cure-all for witch-socks, or so we shall see…

All of this sock-talk has reminded me of a brief account conveyed by wife the other day. In a hurry to leave for work (she rides a bike into town), Bethany was searching desperately for her gloves to keep her hands warm during the ride. Unable to find the gloves, but perfectly able to find her clogs, she stomped through the bedroom for several minutes. Then she became eerily quiet. She slowly turned her gaze toward her sock drawer and then looked down at her hands. After a few seconds of contemplation, she whispered to herself, “I’ll do it!” Covering her hands in a pair of warm socks, she peeked at her sleeping husband and slowly crept out the door. As she began her twenty-minute ride, she realized how difficult it was to hold on to the handlebars, let alone squeeze the break when one’s gloves haven’t any compartments for fingers. So, she rode into town relatively out of control, never waving when she recognized someone, and occasionally forgetting which appendages were her feet (though she would recall once she reminded herself that her head was “up”).

Socks and curling irons dealt with, I managed to get dressed and fully functional by mid-morning. My supervisor had left his dog, a cavalier named Amy, in our ward as he and his wife went to London for a preaching engagement. Regardless of whether she looks like a bug-eyed capybara with a perm, she needed a walk. A relatively old cavalier, her pace was easy until we passed a gate and I felt a slight tug backward from the leash. I turned to witness my canine companion voiding her bowels right in front of a doorway. In horror I realized I had forgotten a bag for such situations. The only acceptable, entryway- adjacent poo is that which is left by the foxes. My eyes darted around for some relief, but only found a small tissue within our proximity (I wish I had kept the sock). With reluctance and curtailing my gag-reflex, I picked up the majority of the mess and began walking quickly toward our house, which was still three blocks away. Uncertain of the proper feces-in-tissue holding posture, I just held my arm out with my hand up, the tissue perched atop my fingers as though I were offering someone a truffle, and my face angled as far away as possible. Unable to find a trashcan along the way and realizing how precariously the “event” rested upon my fingers, I finally abandoned it in a hedge of a newly sold home. Consider it a housewarming gift.

I would like to close with two further general observations I have made about British culture. The first of these is their signage in general. In the US, we have the tendency to shorten messages for the sake of concision. The UK prefers clearer communication and loquaciousness, so as to avoid confusion over meaning. For example, a traffic sign in the UK says “Give way,” whereas the US uses signs that say “yield.” On an overpass that cannot support much weight, the UK uses signs that say “Weak  Bridge,” indicate the weight limit, and make an exception for “empty vehicles,”  but the USDOT simply installs a sign with the image of a crossed-out truck and a number beneath the picture. The UK would post a sign that says “The owner of a vehicle shall not place said vehicle in this allotment, regardless of whether it be a car, truck, motorbike, or any other motor-powered means of conveyance. Any who do otherwise face a potential fine, boot, or towing unless we do not catch you in time.” In the US a “No Parking” sign would be sufficient. One finds a further example of this phenomenon in the smoking industry. It has been some time since I have seen a cigarette pack in the States, but in the UK and Europe, more generally, cigarette companies must post messages on their packs that cover half of the packet. The US will have tiny messages that suggest smoking may cause cancer in some individuals- but not necessarily, but European cigarette packages go into great detail about the certain effects of smoking, from lung and heart disease to miscarriages to gonads or ovaries shriveling up like Craisins and evacuating the body via the nearest exit. Truly the best message I have seen was in German, which referenced the failure and disappearance of “Spermatazoa” in men (obviously). At very least, cigarette companies must post exclamatory “Smoking Kills” on their boxes in 30-point font in Europe.

The pronunciation of town, city, and county names (or toponyms, for my Greek friends) is the second item of note and has caused wife and I a certain degree of confusion. The Brits seem to have little regard for the letters that appear in their own words. Allow me to demonstrate: a city near to Beeston, where we live, is titled Leicester (note “titled” instead of “called). For weeks, we pronounced it as “Lie-kest-er,” which seemed logical enough. We discovered, however, that UK residents know this city as “Lester.” Another nearby town is named Derby, but pronounced “Darby,” anything ending in “-shire” is pronounced “shur” or “sheer,” and “Nottingham” is known as “Nottingum.” It turns out that “London” was once riddled with silent j’s, three x’s, an ellipsis, and every letter had an umlaut until the mid-1950s when they simplified the city name in an attempt to decrease the number of aneurisms experienced by visiting foreigners. The basic rule to pronunciation is this: if you see any designation about which you are uncertain, remove the middle syllable altogether, exchange any vowels you like, and mutter the last syllable so that it sounds like a French “u” in a fashion that causes your lower lip to protrude. It’s better if you sound disgusted at the end of the word that you are uttering. Bethany and I have been calling our town “Buuh” and everyone seems to know what we’re talking about.