Thursday, March 30, 2006

And the First Round of Road Rage Goes to ....

As I write this, I realize that I don't exactly have the moral high road when it comes to driving in a foreign country. Hitting a tram pretty much places me at the bottom of the driving food chain, right above those (God bless their souls) that drive their cars into canals. But, legal disclaimer aside, there's nothing quite like driving in Brussels. Nothing!

For those State-side, let me break down the Brussels' driving population for you in terms that you may understand:

  • 60% of the drivers are comprised of those people that refuse to wait in line at the exit, so they speed up in the adjacent lane and try to cut in at the last minute;
  • 15% are the people that drive on the shoulder and then try to cut back into the exit lane at the last minute;
  • 10% are "xtreme" drivers who consider sidewalks, medians and curbs as grinding rails;
  • and the other 15% are lost - incredibly and horribly lost.

Now, have all of these "drivers" lay on their horns at the same time, and there you have Brussels driving in a nutshell.

To compound the problem, many roads do not have lane lines. So, depending on the width of the roadway and/or the sidewalks, not to mention the aggressiveness of the drivers, you could just as easily be driving on a two-lane road as you could a six-lane road. The trick is being able to dodge the oncoming traffic, pedestrians, trams, the beggars, and the cars parked in the traffic lanes. Nothing to it!

When I ventured out the other day, I forgot the single most important rule for driving in Brussels - merging does not exist! I was caught in a traffic jam where 2 lanes were feeding into a third. Apparently, "me first" had kicked the shit out of "my turn, your turn," because the lane to the right was not letting anyone from the left lane in. Fortunately, I was in the "me first" right lane.

In the interest of fair play, when I got to the intersection, I let a little red car from the left lane merge in, not realizing that my random act of kindness would spark a huge bout of road rage. Apparently, the driver of the silver BMW behind me took great exception to being one more car away from his final destination. He jumped the curb on my right, which places him firmly within the 15% that abuse the shoulder lane, as well as the 10% that grind, and tried to drive his way in front of my car. Well, that simply was not going to happen.

I punched it so that my front bumper was right up against the red car's rear bumper. When the red car inched forward, Mr. BMW tried to intimidate me by driving as close as possible to the side of my car, which, frankly, I found extremely weak, and not just because of the width of the sidewalk. I've driven for the last ten years in Southern California -- where road rage was invented, thank you very much. It was going to take a lot more than dirty looks and sidewalk navigation to make me crumble. Besides, I've played chicken with a tram - and lost. BMW's don't scare me.

Mr. BMW realized that he was going to run out of available sidewalk before he could clear the front of my car, so he angled his front left bumper into the lane of traffic, thinking this would impede my forward progress. Silly homme. I have wrecked a Formula One race car. Did he think for a second I would not sacrifice a leased Opel station wagon?

When he put his car into reverse, to avoid the awkward moment where we exchange insurance information, I knew I had him. Like the good global citizen I am, I refrained from flashing the big "L" at him. No sense rubbing it in, especially considering that the me-firsts weren't going to let him off the sidewalk anytime soon.

© 2006 Cindy Lane. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Here's A Clue -- Run!

I've found that when you live in a country where you don't speak either of the two official languages, you often find yourself relying on context clues, such as facial expressions, inflection, intonation, hand movements, and the likes, to provide you with some clue as to what's being said. If I do say so myself, I've gotten quite adept at reading these non-verbal forms of communication. A recent example:

I was coming home from dinner the other night and stopped at the crosswalk to wait for the signal to change. (Ironic how much "action" takes place at crosswalks in my life.) A well-dressed older man, walking a dog on a leash, came and stood next to me. I looked down at the dog and immediately threw up a silent prayer that the dog not jump on me. The man, seeing me look at his dog, said something to me in French.

Now, as you all know by now, my French is quite limited at this point. But, I was fairly confident, bolstered by months of interpreting non-verbal communication, that he was asking me if I wanted to pet his dog. Rather than engage him in the whole "I don't speak French" conversation, I was tempted to just say "oui" and put out my hand, but, instead, I opted for silence.

The man, obviously one of those over-the-top pet-lovers, walked a little closer to me and repeated his question. Since it would be too rude to ignore him twice, I turned to him and said, in my best French, "Je ne parle pas francais." (Obviously, his ability to read body language was not as well-honed as mine, because if it were, he would have picked up on the fact that there was no way in hell that I was going to pet his dog. What can I say? I'm not that big of an animal lover.)

He then asked, "English?", to which my fine Southern upbringing obligated me to reply, "oui." And, as proof positive of how well I am doing at reading context clues, he leaned closer to me, and asked, in perfect English, "Do you want to pet my penis?"

© 2006 Cindy Lane. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Tequila for the Expat's Soul

I'm not a big fan of the whole Chicken Soup for the (insert disease, condition, malady, neurosis, maladjustment, hobby, etc. here) Soul series. Frankly, I don't see how a cup of broth and some noodles can stop a runny nose, let alone save my soul, but, hey, maybe I'm just eating at the wrong noodle house. Now, tequila, that's a whole 'nother story. If you don't think tequila can change your life, you obviously haven't experienced, first-hand, the effects that massive quantities of it can have on your digestive system.

Speaking of life-altering events, moving across country, jumping an ocean, landing in the frozen tundra where you know no one and don't speak the language(s), can be a little daunting as well. That's why I've decided to offer a little expat tip post - a been there, done that, don't say this, brake before you hit the tram, sort of public service announcement. Sure, I've only been at this expat thing a couple of months, less the seven weeks I took off for bad weather, but if I can prevent even one person from losing it at Galleria Inno, I'll have done my part for world peace.

I'm calling it "Tequila for the Expat's Soul," mainly because there's nothing tequila can't kill or cure (I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it works on foreignitis). Besides, they don't write country songs about going ten rounds with Campbell's Soup!

Any expats out there that have walked a mile in my shoes, or in more comfortable ones if you are so inclined, feel free to throw in your four cents.

TftES#1: American cookie sheets won't fit in the ovens. Save the packing space and bring something you will really use -- a large jar of Tylenol or a bottle of tequila, both of which are much more expensive on this side of the pond.

TftES#2: Typically, your new place won't have curtains or light fixtures. (Lots more on that later, I promise.) Bring a 3 step stool or a ladder and some metric tools. When you don't speak the language and know no one, finding a handyman that speaks English can be a little challenging.

© 2006 Cindy Lane. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Lost in Articulation

On my way home from the post office yesterday, where I was, coincidentally, mailing a care package to a US soldier in Iraq, I stumbled upon the "Koreans in Solidarity for Peace Fighting to End US War and Occupation in Iraq" (taken straight from the pamphlet that was shoved into my very American hands, thank you very much) protest. Not only was I the only blonde American in the crowd taking photos, I was among the very few people that were laughing. Apparently, none of the protesting Koreans realized that the familiar "no war, no Bush" chant was coming across as "No Whore, No Bushy." I'm thinking something was lost in the articulation!

© 2006 Cindy Lane. All rights reserved.

A Whole Lot of Happy

Who says happiness can't be bought?

Thank you, V-Grrrl, for the jalapenos. Nachos without jalapenos are basically just chips and dip ! Besides, they are the only "green" food I eat.

Thank you, Annabelle, for the Ding Dongs. They truly are the breakfast of champions.

Shoe Friends

To date, my experiences with Scotland have been fairly limited. My favorite aunt is first generation Scottish-American. At Christmas, I always buy the "Scotch" brand of tape. I've seen Braveheart. I owned a green plaid jumper in middle school. I admit it is a pretty lame "all things Scottish" list, but, come Friday night, all this will change! I have been invited by a Scottish expat to attend a Scottish dance with her and some of her expat friends.

Although tempted to Google, last night, I broke down and called my friend to ask her the single-most important question pertaining to Scottish dances: "What do I wear?" Her reply, "comfortable shoes." Houston, we have a problem! When I told my friend that I didn't own any comfortable shoes, she sort of laughed in disbelief, and then threw out that she only wears comfortable shoes. Houston, we have a bigger problem!

How can I possibly be friends with someone that doesn't understand the sweet pain of having your pinkie toe pinched so tightly by Italian hand-made baby calf leather pointed-toe shoes that it jumps two spots and rests between your second and third toes the whole time your are wearing them? Can you really bond with someone who hasn't experienced numbing pain to the balls of their feet from walking in heels that are way too high? Do you even want to? Is a friendship doomed to fail if you can't commiserate with each other about how your significant other cannot see the differences in, let along the necessity of, your fifteen pairs of black strappy sandals? Can you be a true friend if you can't help me justify why I should spend $300 plus dollars on a pair of shoes that I can only wear with one outfit? Can a self-proclaimed shoe-whore hang out with someone who has never went to her closet, opened a shoe bag, pulled out a shoe, and said "ahhh"? I have my doubts.

(Dedicated to my shoe-loving girlfriends in SoCal that refuse to "buy some f#cking Aerosoles", and, especially to Elana for being able to talk me into buying the matching bag as well!)

© 2006 Cindy Lane. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


One of the great things about having this blog is the ability for readers to leave comments on the various postings. Unfortunately, the Blogger has not figured out how to respond to them.

So, in the spirit of making things more difficult than they have to be, I am creating a post, solely to comment on a comment to "My First Belgian Court Appearance."

A Wandering Woman Who Writes left the following comment:
"Stunning ...I can only offer up the time a woman fell past my 5th floor balcony while I was living in Istanbul but really, that was over in a flash in comparison."
I'm calling blog-foul. Is it me, or did she leave us hanging? Setting gravity aside, anyone else want to know how the lady ended at least 5 floors below where she started? Jumper? Severe case of bird flu? C'mon give me something!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Can You Tell Me How To Get To Sesame Street?

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about that hot pink puppet with the blue eyelids and the long orange nose on Sesame Street that used to sing, "One of these things is not like the others, One of these things just doesn't belong. Can you tell which thing is not like the others, by the time I finish this song?" Since moving to Brussels, I can't get over the feeling that the song is over and all the fingers are pointing at me!

Here's two of my more recent Sesame Street moments:

SSM #1

Last weekend, Dan and I decided to go to Mickey D's for a cheeseburger. Not giving it any thought, I threw on an old sweatshirt and jeans. After our lunch, we decided to walk around the city center, where we stumbled upon (drumroll, please) ........ a Syrian political rally!

Shall we just tick off the ways I was "not like the others"?:

  1. one of only two Americans in crowd;
  2. only blonde;
  3. only blonde American taking photos;
  4. only blonde non-Arabic speaking American taking photos;
  5. only blonde non-Arabic speaking American taking photos wearing a "Don't Mess With Texas" sweatshirt!

There's probably a lot of places where you shouldn't wear a Don't Mess With Texas sweatshirt, but I'm thinking Syrian political rally has to be pretty close to the top of the list.


On Friday, I saw the sun! To celebrate, I did what anyone who has lived in Southern California for any amount of time would do. I pulled on my shades and went shopping!

As I was standing at the crosswalk, I noticed a young man and his girlfriend across the street, looking at me and laughing. When the signal changed, I walked across the street in their direction. As I got closer to the couple, the young guy took his hands and made a huge production of shielding his eyes from the sun. Yeah, I get it, jackass!

One of these things is not like the others ...

© 2006 Cindy Lane. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 13, 2006

29 Hours and 55 Minutes

Having spent 26 years in Texas and another 10 in San Diego, perhaps I'm a little jaded when it comes to weather. Natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes I can handle; natural disasters such as snow and hail, not so much.

For those of you thinking that the weather can't possibly be that bad in Brussels, you're wrong! No, make that, "officially wrong." According to a recent news article, February 2006 has entered the record books as Belgium's gloomiest February ever. How gloomy? The sun shone for just 29 hours and 55 minutes the entire month of February. Which, by my liberal arts calculations, means that there were 642 hours and 5 minutes of "un-sun." That, my friends, is a whole lot of gloom!

So, those of you in San Diego who are enduring a little rain and the occasional frigid (55 degree) weather, I feel your pain -- 642 times over!

© 2006 Cindy Lane. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Get Off of Me!!!

There's an outside chance that I may be jinxed when it comes to public transportation. At least, that's the only rational explanation for all the misadventures I seem to have whenever I use the transit system.

Take today for instance. I was in New de Wolf buying a bag full of votives and some wall decorations, when I got a hankering for a good old-fashioned American/Belgian cheeseburger. Well, anyone that has been in Brussels for any amount of time knows that the best way to cure a craving for a A/B cheeseburger is at Fat Boy's at Place Luxembourg. So, I decided to walk on over.

During lunch, the rains came. Of course, not only was I sans (see, I'm learning) umbrella, but I was carrying two large, heavy, paper shopping bags. I figured it would be best to take the Metro back home.

I got on the Metro at the Troon station and changed trains at Arts de Loi. When I got on at Arts de Loi, I sat down in one of those sections with four seats, two seats facing forward with two seats directly across from them facing rearward. There was an old lady, who I will call Grandma Shamu, sitting on the aisle seat, facing the rear of the train. I took the inside seat, facing forward, which meant no one was sitting next to me and no one was sitting in front of me. There was plenty of room for my bags on the floor in front of me, and plenty of room for her luggage cart.

For some unknown reason, Grandma Shamu decides to move to the seat directly across from me. There is no longer enough room for my bags on the floor, so I place them on my lap. Now, both seats on the aisle are empty, but there is a luggage cart between them.

I have no idea what possessed Grandma to stand up just as the train was taking off, but she did. For about 2 seconds. Then she fell forward. Well, to be more precise, she fell on me, smashing my bags, as she straddled my legs, with one hand on each of my shoulders and her face touching mine. Yes, her face touching mine!

I turned my face sideways and tried to push her off me, which, had I succeeded, certainly would have defied the laws of physics, given Grandma Shamu's size, gravity, and the momentum of the moving train. Unfortunately, because of the geometry of the situation -- me seated, her on top of me, my hands wrapped around my bags which were smashed under her -- when I pushed up with my hands, they made contact with her body at about her waist. Considering that Grandma was staring down 80, that would make me pushing on her breasts! This did nothing to calm Grandma.

Flailing around like a fish out of water and shouting God knows what in French, Grandma took her right hand off my shoulder and tried to steady herself by grabbing her luggage cart. By definition, luggage carts roll. And, that's just what hers did -- toward the aisle. This prompted Grandma's left hand to go into hyper-grab. She is grabbing at my head, my shoulders, my ears, basically anything even remotely attached to my body.

Since my hands were still buried under her body, I was rendered basically defenseless, unless I resorted to spitting and biting, two thoughts which, I admit, did cross my mind. But, I could just see the headlines: American Woman Molests Elderly Lady on Metro and Then Spits On Her. Wouldn't that be something for the ole scrapbook?

At this point, I'm pretty sure Grandma has broken all 24 of my votives, along with a couple of my ribs, and quite possibly her right hip if she fell to the aisle, because with the death grip she had on my neck, I was going to end up on top of her!

Finally, two young guys came to the rescue and helped right Grandma. Oh, how I wished I understood French. I would have given anything to know what Grandma was saying to me, at the top of her lungs, as she got off the Metro at the next stop.

© 2006 Cindy Lane. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Random Thoughts About Random Things

Just some random thoughts about some pretty insignificant things:

  • How come the hot vegetables at the Lunch Garden Restaurant are free, but you have to pay for ketchup and butter?
  • Remember the old-school snack pack pudding cans? Well, all the canned goods over here have those pop lids. You never have to use a can opener! Why hasn't the US picked up on this?
  • Why does the BBC (British Broadcasting Channel) have subtitles in English?
  • Why do the ATM machines at the ING Bank dispense 5 euro notes only to ING customers?
  • Why is road construction done at rush hour?
  • Doesn't anyone else think it is cruel to display the bathing suits right next to the gloves and scarves at Galleria Inno?
  • With bars that stay open until 6 and 7:00 am, why aren't there any breakfast places like Denny's or IHOP?
  • How come you can't buy jalepeno peppers at either of the Spanish grocery stores in the city center?

© 2006 Cindy Lane. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 03, 2006

They Throw What?? I Smell From Where??

Last Monday night, Dan and I were sitting in our noisy little downtown apartment, freezing our butts off, switching between French TV and the BBC, when I came upon an article in a magazine about this little town south of Brussels that throws a huge Carnaval celebration. Apparently, this town is Belgium's answer to New Orleans, only they have been doing it a lot longer - like since the Middle Ages! Binche's Carnaval has even made it to UNESCO's Protected List of World Heritage. (You'll have to Google it yourself!)

Like the good non-Catholic that I am, I suggested to Dan that he take the next day off so we could go check it out. (They had me at "huge"!) Since Dan positively hates crowds, not to mention that he is the least spontaneous person I know, I figured it would be an uphill battle. But, it just goes to show you that you can still be surprised after 16 years, because he said yes!

Fat Tuesday started like any typical Belgian day -- snow! In fact, it snowed the entire hour-long train ride. It was snowing when we got off at the station, and I couldn't help but think it was karma kicking me in the butt. Here we were in weather that I hate, about to be surrounded by crowds of people, which Dan hates. Yeah, what a happy couple we were! Laissez les bon temps roulet!

As we were making our way to the center of town, we stumbled upon our first Gille parade. Traditionally, the Gille (there are about 1000 of them - all male) start partying at 4:00 AM on Fat Tuesday, which, by my calculations, meant that they had a good six hours on us! They were dressed in these fancy costumes, which are stuffed with hay (still can't figure that one out), and paraded through town, stopping at the houses to pick up other members of the Gille as they made their way to the town square. Along the way, they beat huge drums and shook little bundles of sticks. (The history and pomp and circumstance surrounding this event is fascinating, but to fill you in would make a short story even longer, so you are on your own!)

Given the logistics - thousands of people and lots of snow -- Dan and I ditched the town square in favor of a pub, and that's when the party started. This young guy asked me something in French, to which I provided my standard response, "Je ne se parle pas Francais." He then says, in English, "Do you have a fire for me?". There are probably numerous ways to respond to this question, but, given the circumstances, I opted for the safe, "No." Turns out, he was looking for a light. We ended up talking to Etienne, which is supposedly "Steve" in French (see why this language is so hard for me to learn -- nothing about "Etienne" looks like "Steve"!), and a group of his friends.

Etienne and his friends were all pharmaceutical salespeople, which meant not only were they into some serious partying, but they had access to one of the doctor's offices on the town square. Like the hospitable bunch they were, they invited Dan and I to watch the parade with them at the office. Since the office was inside, i.e. not in the SNOW, and came with a bathroom without a line, we jumped at the opportunity, although I was a little disappointed to learn that the office window had chickenwire covering it, which meant I was not going to catch any beads!

Around 4:00 pm, the Gille paraded back into the town square, having taken time out for a nap, where they then greeted the massive crowds. To our surprise, instead of throwing the customary beads, they threw oranges -- yes, O-R-A-N-G-E-S! All of a sudden, the chickenwire on all the windows made sense. What happened to beads? How can you drive around the next day with oranges hanging from your rear-view mirror? Will women bare their breasts for a piece of fruit, especially in the freezing weather? Do you realize how hard a 14 year old Gille can throw an orange - at your head?

As Dan and I were pondering the pros and cons of oranges vs. beads, a young guy dressed in a bright yellow coat joined the party in the dr's office. I will call him Mr. Yellow Coat. He was coming into the office as I was excusing myself to go to the bathroom.

When I got to the bathroom, I opened the door to find the bathroom absolutely spotless. In fact, if it weren't for the overwhelming stench coming from the toilet, I would have used it. The smell was so bad, that the only thing that kept me from vomiting was the thought that I was going to have to throw up in the commode. Gagging, I left the bathroom and bought a diet coke from the machine across the hall, hoping that something would make me laugh while I was drinking it so that it could burn the rank smell from the inside lining of my nose. It was that bad!

I went back to the office, still recovering from the disgusting toilet smell. Mr. Yellow Coat had now joined the group at the windows. He saw me and said something to Etienne in French. Everyone, except Dan and I, started dying laughing. I asked Etienne what he said, and Etienne, barely able to get the words out because he was laughing so hard, said, "He says you smell from your ass." Thoroughly confused and thinking that there was a massive freaking flaw in the translation, I said, "I don't get it." I raised my voice over the laughter to ask Etienne, "What does that mean?" Etienne says, slower and louder, "he says you smell from your ass," all the while pointing at my ass. Now everyone, except me, is laughing. I'm horrified. I ask Etienne, "why would he say something like that?" At which point Mr. Yellow Coat tells Etienne that he went to the bathroom after me and that it "stunk like ass."

Of course, my insistence that I refused to use the bathroom because it smelled so bad, fell on deaf ears. I tried to point out that Mr. Yellow Coat had not left the room since I returned from the bathroom and that he came into the office when I left to go to the bathroom. Any sober person could see that it was clearly Mr. Yellow Coat that "stunk like ass" and not me. Unfortunately, I was not dealing with the sober.

I decided that it was a good time to catch the train back to Brussels. All the way to the station, I was praying that Dan would get hit upside the head with an orange, so he would quit laughing!

© 2006 Cindy Lane. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Whoa Grandpa!

It started innocently enough. I walked into this little bistro across the street from the post office for a petit dejuner (lunch). When I opened the door, this young guy, sitting with a group of his friends, said something to me in French. He received my typical French response, a smile, coupled with "Je ne parle pas Francais." He took this as an opening to speak even more French to me. I just smiled and continued to walk past the group.

I sat down by an older gentleman on the other side of the room from the young crowd, thinking I was safe. The young guy, not to be dissuaded, started yelling, in French, across the restaurant to me. I'm thinking to myself, what is it about, "I don't speak French", that he does not understand? Am I speaking Spench? Is my Texas accent more pronounced after having spent a week in Houston? I looked at the old man and said, in English, "I'm sorry. I don't understand what he is saying to me." To my surprise, the older man said, in English, "He wants your autograph." Well, I certainly did not see that coming!

Next thing I know, I’m talking to this older man. I learn that his name is Ari, he is 72 years old and that he immigrated from Germany forty years ago. Ari spoke five languages, four more than I have mastered.

As it turns out, it had been awhile since Ari had used his English. But, like the good global citizen that he was, he was not going to let a little thing like a language barrier stop him from communicating. Ari started telling me a story about a trip he went on with 2 doctors and a nurse and about a sunset (I think). I was having a hard time following him, partly because of his broken English and partly because I was distracted wondering who the young guy thought I may have been. The next thing I know, Ari grabs my arm and says, “I stick my thing in your thing and we make a life.” Talk about your attention grabbers! I’m frantically trying to remember the five languages Ari said he spoke, hoping that I knew how to say “no” in at least two of them! I threw out, “no, nein, nyet, ne” and for just for good measure, “Whoa there Grandpa!”

Just when I thought it could not get any more perverse, Ari starts shaking his head and says, “How do I say this in English? Yes, I know. I stick my thing in the camera and make a life.” At this point, I’m kicking myself for not sitting next to the autograph seeker.

Well, as it turns out, Ari is not the dirty old man that I had taken him for. As best as I can tell, he was trying to say that one of the doctors on the trip said he took pictures as if he made love to the camera. At least this is what I took away from the conversation.

Ari then opened his backpack, or murse - short for man-purse, took out a photo, turned it over, signed it and then gave it to me.

© 2006 Cindy Lane. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Are Americans Hoppier than Europeans?

I come from a long line of crazy people. Not the odd, slightly off-kilter, “she’s a little strange” crazy, but the full-on, white jacket, certifiable, “grandma’s around the bend, through the woods and into the next town” crazy. When the only name to be handed down from generation to generation is "Eli Lilly", you know you’ve got problems in the Tree.

I’ve learned from years and years of field research (Christmases, funerals, weddings and various other family get-togethers) that you never engage the crazies in conversation. Instead, you put them in the rocking chair in the corner of the room and, every once in awhile, you send the younger kids over to ask Great Aunt Toox if she wants more sweet tea. But you never, ever, under any circumstances, go one-on-one with a crazy person. That would be, well, just too crazy.

I was in downtown San Diego, waiting for the walk sign at the corner of Broadway and Front, when this man, who I quickly pegged for crazy, came up to me. While I would like to think that dealing with my family over the years has given me some sort of uncanny sixth-sense crazydar, the truth is, even if you were unfortunate enough to have grown up with a completely sane family, chances are you would have been able to tell that this guy was just not right.

It’s pretty safe to say when someone hops up to you, there is a lot of potential for crazy. If they hop on both feet with their hands cupped in front of them a la bunny style, it’s time to raise the red crazy flag. Because, if you stop to think about it - which I have - there is really not a lot of reasons for an able-bodied adult, who’s not wearing a bunny suit, to hop on two feet.

So I’m standing on the corner, when “Peter” says to me, “what’s wrong with your friend?” Like the non-crazy person I am, I looked around to see who he had mistaken as my “friend”. Since no one was even remotely near me, I said, “Excuse Me?”, and BAM, just like that, cardinal rule of saneness violated! I had now engaged Peter in conversation and, apparently, Peter had a lot to say.

Fortunately for me, I could walk faster than Peter could hop, so I wasn't worried. But, it did get me to thinking. I’ve had some really bizarre encounters with people in Europe, but not once has anyone ever hopped up to me. In fact, I’ve never see anyone hop in Europe at all, and this includes the guy I just saw at Carnavale dressed head to toe in a hot pink BUNNY suit. You'd think that if there was ever an occasion to see a European hopping, this would have been it. But, no, he stumbled along with the rest of us, without so much as a tiny hitch, let alone a full-on hop.
So, I am now on a mission to see if I can spot anyone hopping in Europe. Call it my own little contribution to the pursuit of hoppiness across socio-cultural boundaries. I'll keep you posted!

© 2006 Cindy Lane. All rights reserved.