Wednesday, April 29, 2009

à la carte

Alice’s sister, Not Alice, had taken a vow of silence. At least until her sore throat and laryngitis pack their bags and move away from her.

Since she couldn’t spend some time gossiping with her sister, Alice decided to take an hour and study her French language tapes. She had reached a really good point in the lessons. It seems that a man had knocked on a woman’s hotel room door and after she told him to entrez, he did. He looked around, smiled, and asked her that very important question.

Where is your husband?

Of course this was in French, but Alice knew enough to know what was up!

: I don’t know. Where is your wife? By the way, who are you?

FRENCH MAN: I don’t know. About my wife, I mean. I am Mr. Jones.

Now Alice was a bit bored by the exchange. Would she really ever need to know how to ask a stranger in France where his. . . well, maybe.

: Do you want to go to a restaurant with me?

FRENCH MAN: Nah. I want to stay here

No, that’s not he said.

At the restaurant, the waiter came over and asked for their drink order.

WAITER: Would you like to drink some beer, or some wine?

FRENCH MAN: Well, my dear, would you like to drink some wine? White or red?

FRENCH WOMAN: I will have tea.

Alice thought that was an odd thing to want to drink in a posh restaurant, especially at 11:00 p.m. But she realized that the tapes were teaching her how to ask for things, and not meant to be a torrid story about illicit trysts.

Though she was sure that she would go for the wine. That is, if she ever found herself in a restaurant in France with a man who had misplaced his wife. And if she had no idea where…nevermind.

: Tea? Mais non. You must have some wine!

: No! I do not want wine! I want tea!

: Tea for madame, oui. And you, monsieur?

: I will have, attendez! Is that not your husband? Coming into the restaurant?

: Why yes, and he is with a woman?

: That is my wife!

Ooh la la, Alice thought. Things are getting good! These tapes were worth the money. There’ll be bitch slapping!

: This is the end of lesson 18.

: Nooooo!

She immediately checked ahead to lesson 19 to find out if the police had to get involved but, no, it was all about travel, shopping, and finding out train schedules.

Oh well. If Alice ever found herself in France, and she had studied really diligently, she could look at a handsome stranger and ask him in her most sultry voice, quelle est la bonne route à Paris?


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tra La La

Alice and the Mad Hatter spent several days visiting a family friend who can only be called Madder Hatter. She is 81 years old and very slim, very feisty . . . alright, difficult would be more correct . . . and when her light green gaze is aimed at another – as Alice learned quickly – one must accept that, yes, Madder Hatter is the boss of you.

One very warm and golden afternoon, Mad Hatter told Alice that they were all going into town to eat lunch in a diner. A diner? How could that be? Madder Hatter was accustomed to having maids cook and clean; she would go into her kitchen for three reasons only: to get ice, to insist that dinner not be served until after sunset, and to warn that any red meat served should be as rare as one can get away with before being labeled a cannibal. Why, she had never been to town, it being the place where her driver would go to buy her newspapers. So Mad Hatter was proposing that the very first time she was taken to town, it would be to a diner?

More relevant: Madder Hatter never ate lunch.

However, the three of them rode to this new little place that the gardener had recommended because Mad and Madder Hatters wanted a hot dog.

WAITER: Something to drink?
MADDER HATTER: Bring me a tall glass of ice.
WAITER: Yes, but what’s the drink?
MADDER HATTER: That’s all I need. Now just go away . . . I mean . . . carry on and do what you do.

She flapped her right hand at him and Alice wasn't sure but it did seem to her that the waiter did not love being shooed away by a customer. Perhaps it was the way he pointed a finger at Madder Hatter when she looked away that gave Alice this insight. It wasn't the ring, pinky, or index finger. Nor was it the thumb.

When the waiter returned with a large tray in his hands, and irritation in his eyes, Madder Hatter rummaged in her large bag and brought out a cup. Once, it had belonged to her oldest son.

She filled the cup with ice and then put her hand back into her bag and brought out a small bottle of vodka. After pouring out the proper, well her proper amount, she took the lemon from Alice’s water glass and twisted the peel, took a drink, sighed contentedly, and proceeded to eat.

Alice had a bad feeling. After all, it was only two o’clock in the afternoon. A quick look to her right confirmed her worriment that the staff had been watching. They were whispering and pointing to the table, probably saying something like, “What! That crazy old bitch is getting sloshed at our little diner! And not even paying for it!”

Madder Hatter drank about four cups of her vodka throughout the lunch. Well, to be fair, it was a little cup. Though to be unfair, it had been full strength, even with the ice. No tonic or dry vermouth for her! To be fair again, she did share with Mad Hatter.

While they waited for the bill, Madder Hatter began to talk to Mad Hatter about her newest little grandson who loved to sing.

: Ah, what does the little angel like to sing?
MADDER HATTER: He loves the old songs.
ALICE: What old songs?
MADDER HATTER: You know, like Irving Berlin songs.
MAD HATTER: Splendid!
ALICE: Irving Berlin? How old is your grandson?
MADDER HATTER: He is four and his most favorite song is This is the Army, Mr. Jones.
ALICE: Uh. What?
MADDER HATTER *leaning toward Mad Hatter*: We all have been selected from city and from farm.
MAD HATTER: They asked us lots of questions, they jabbed us in the arm.

Alice became very alarmed because their singing had stopped conversation in the diner, and the irritated waiter was bringing the check.

IRRITATED WAITER: Will there be anything else?
MADDER HATTER: We stood there at attention, our faces turning red.
IRRITATED WAITER: O.K. nothing else. Pay in front. Thank you for leaving. Now and quickly.
MAD HATTER: The sergeant looked us over and this is what he said:
ALICE: Alrighty. Shall I take this over and pay the bill and we can just go back to the house and you both can take a nice little nap and . . . .
MAD AND MADDER HATTERS: This is the Army, Mister Jones. No private rooms or telephones. You had your breakfast in bed before, BUT YOU WON'T HAVE IT THERE ANY MORE!

So there it is. Lunch in town. Lyrics courtesy of Irving Berlin (1943). Singing courtesy of vodka and a baby silver cup.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Now if you're ready, Oysters, dear

Alice’s sister, who is named Not Alice, came to visit for a few days and wanted to spend everyday walking and seeing the tourist sights in the rabbit hole. Alice doesn’t really like to say no to Not Alice. Maybe because Not Alice considers Alice’s no to mean oh yes, absolutely, please let’s!

NOT ALICE: Oh, look! Paddleboats! Let’s rent a paddleboat!

ALICE: Oh, look! Paddleboats! Let’s not rent a paddleboat!

NOT ALICE: Come on! It’ll be fun. We can just drift around and see everything and get exercise and it will be a new thing to do.

ALICE: Well, I don’t really swim so it wouldn't be fun for me. I’d be worried that something would happen. Like drowning.

NOT ALICE: You can’t swim?

ALICE: No. Not really.

NOT ALICE: Let’s rent a paddleboat!

O.K. So it's not too hard to guess where Alice found herself in a few moments.

At first, Alice was apprehensive, especially when once they were well away from the dock, Not Alice wondered how one “steers” the boat. Alice begged Not Alice to make sure not to crash against anything including bridges, seawalls, other paddleboats, fish, birds, the Loch Ness monster, etc.

NOT ALICE: Well, you certainly take the fun out of everything.

It did turn out to be a peaceful experience and lovely views. Later on in the evening, Alice was telling the others about how brave she had been to sail the high seas.

MAD HATTER: High seas? The water there is at most two feet deep!

NOT ALICE: Two feet? You could have walked around if you had fallen out of the boat.

ALICE: Laugh if you must, but I’ve heard that people can drown in a wading pool or a bathtub.

NOT ALICE: You were wearing a life vest.

MAD HATTER: A life vest? And only two feet of water? I really think you have to stop putting yourself in such danger when you go out.

NOT ALICE: Do you want to go climbing on that really steep trail that only a billy goat would love? We could do it tomorrow.

ALICE: It’s supposed to be stormy and windy and rainy and very cold tomorrow.

NOT ALICE: Yeah? So do you want to go?

Alice doesn’t really like to say no to Not Alice.