Far be it from me to make fun of anyone’s name—I was born with the lovely, lilting surname of Kiewitsky—but I was watching a golf tournament on TV & saw a young golfer by the name of John Huh. He is Asian, I believe of Korean descent. I thought of how his life must be frighteningly like the Abbott & Costello routine, “Who’s On First?”. How many times could someone go through this without exploding? “What’s your name?” “Huh.” “I said, WHAT’S YOUR NAME?” “Huh.” “I SAID, WHAT’S--YOUR--NAME???????????” Maybe Kiewitsky wasn’t so bad.
Well before the age of computers, I used to write a monthly newsletter that went to a dozen or so members of our family. It was Xeroxed (remember that?) & sent by snail mail. I tried to keep the family up to date on each other & also included jokes, cartoons & weird articles from the National Enquirer such as, “Male 4 legged space alien mates with human female. She gives birth to brilliant talking dog!” Someone had given us a little (8”) teddy bear, made of mink. We (Bud & I) ran a contest in my letters to name her. I said the prize would be $100,000.00 or a cookie, depending on the discretion of the judges. Our daughter & her cousin, who were roommates in Italy, won with the name, THEDA BEARA. (Theda Bara was a sexy silent movie star—before even MY time.) I don’t know if there are any still around, but some bakeries used to make cookies that were the size of a pizza (10”?) & decorated them like cakes. We were going to visit the girls & bring them their prize—which certainly WASN’T the $100,000.00! The cookie went into a pizza type box & we brought it to Italy. Customs officials & everyone else who saw the box wanted to know why we were bringing pizza INTO Italy!
At another time, our “prizewinning” niece was living in Bordeaux, France. She asked us to visit her, which we did, on our way back to the US. She booked us into some Godforsaken rattrap a very nice hotel. The room clerk spoke English & was quite pleasant. I took a bath in preparation to meeting our niece for dinner. I tried to drain the tub when I was through, but it wouldn’t drain. I pushed—or pulled—something & created our own private Vesuvius. Water was everywhere & we couldn’t stop it. I called the desk downstairs for help. Mr. English Speaker had left & no one else there spoke English. My French is passable under quiet, normal, non-emergency conditions--which these were NOT! I identified myself & gave him our room number, we were talking—that is to say he was talking, I was panicking--& he asked me to hold for a moment. He came back on & informed me that he was sorry, but WE WERE NOT THERE! I finally managed to get him to come to our room, where he saw the bathroom floor covered by an inch of water. I had built a dam out of towels & managed to keep the lake in the bathroom. He turned off the water, brought in more towels & blotted it up as best he could. He informed us that since it was Sunday he wouldn’t be able to get a plumber until the next day, so would we be so kind as to not bathe again that evening? Because of the inconvenience he kindly offered to take $10.00 off the cost of our room. But the story doesn’t end there—oh, no! After we got back from dinner I was exhausted. We had flown from Italy to France, gone through all this at the hotel, then got cleaned up (or at least tried to), dressed & went out to a fancy restaurant for dinner! It was very hot & humid (Bordeaux is on the coast) & I felt sticky, but obviously I couldn’t bathe. I climbed into bed & immediately rolled into the middle, where I felt velcroed to my equally sticky husband. The thin-to-start-with mattress had, over the years, morphed into the shape of a “V”. We could not stay separated. I ended up taking the bedspread, putting it on the floor & sleeping on it. I guess it wasn’t too bad of a deal—we DID get $10.00 off!
Good thing fishducky’s can swim!