I forgot my download cable and the battery re-charger for my camera when I packed to go to Poland this year . . I expected to forget something on our trip over the ocean . Maybe my toothbrush . Once , on a trip to Arizona , I forgot my underwear . I hadn’t expected to forget my camera stuff , of course . Now I’m stuck . Toothbrushes and underwear can be easy replaced .
I’m disappointed with myself for forgetting the camera stuff , Usually I’m better at packing the necessary things . At least , I think that I am . In fact , I’m obsessive about it , if the truth be known . I’ll bring along two or three toothbrushes , for example . I’ll have underwear from here ’til Christmas . I’ll bring along enough allergy pills to choke a horse , just in case .Things like that . But , the bad-penny universal rule seems , still , to always apply : You always forget something . [ bad penny reference : a bad penny always turns up —– if I’m remembering that expression correctly ].
When I was twenty I’d pack a toothbrush and a T-shirt , and take off for two weeks — no problem . But those days are long gone . Now I overpack . When I got to Poland this time I had way too much stuff already here . But I brought along extra this and some extra that , just in case . I could open a store with my inventory and make my beer money . As long as they don’t raise the price of a Polish pint . I wouldn’t make it long in Sweden , though , or Norway , or Denmark . In those Scandinavian countries you have to put down your life savings for a couple of beers . Why live in a place like that , I say ? Maybe it’s just me .
Anyway , now I have to borrow Ada’s camera . I can take pictures with mine as long as the battery holds out ; but it will give out one of these days . Then , I won’t be able to re-charge the battery . I also can’t download the photos without the cable . I’m lost . A charger ! A charger ! My kingdom for a charger ! [ Shakespeare reference ; charger = horse . Deeply literary , eh ? ]
I was glad to find a small bottle of single malt Swedish Scotch [ You may ask : Swedish Scotch ? and I’d say you were paying attention . I don’t get it either ] when I arrived . There it was waiting for me . Scott , who lives now in Sweden , gave it to me last year and I left it in Poland when I went back home . Airport security forces frown upon guys bringing bottles with any liquid aboard in carry-on . Besides , it’s too heavy to cart home to California . And , to be honest , I can buy good stuff in CA cheaper than I could here in Poland , anyway . Why bring it home ?
I also have here a good bottle of classy vodka that was a parting gift to me last year . And , I have a bottle of Buffalo vodka that I bought for myself , too . All waiting for me patiently the whole year right there on the kitchen shelf next to the shot glasses .
I could hole up in the apartment here near the river across the road from the park and go on one hell of a bender ! But that’s not my style . I like a sip of scotch in the evening sometimes . More rarely , a vodka ; maybe at Christmas and Easter [ C and E vodka drinker ] . But I’m a beer guy , really . I’m on the beer standard . I compare everything to the relative price of beer .I might as well have a reference point , I figure . Ever since the USA went off the gold standard the economy has been a mess , anyway . That’s what I’m told by people who
pretend to know about that kind of stuff . So why not have a standard , I say !
I was in Paris once with Ada , staying at her sister’s place near Montmarte . Her sister had a flat about the size of a San Quentin cell , or what I imagine to be the size of a San Quentin cell . There were four of us staying there for several days and I was getting serious cabin fever . A friend of theirs , a Polish artist , had a British guy visiting and Ada suggested I go visit them . The problem was that these two guys ” were drinking “. That phrase was a huge flashing neon warning not to go . ” Were drinking ” meant a several day drinking spree and I wanted no part of it nohow .
But , plans change and life is unpredictable . . The apartment wasn’t getting any larger day by day and tensions were rising just enough to tip the balance . Life is a balance , after all . How much of whatever will a person take ? What tips the balance ? Decisions ! Decisions ! So , after the tide turned and my tipping point came , I said that I’d go try to find these two guys .
Oh , man ! I found the place alright . The living room floor was completely covered with empty bottles — vodka , beer , whiskey . The Polish artist’s eyes were at half-mast and he was slurring his English into his French and Polish . I know some English , but the Polish -French interjections completely threw me . Something about going out to find ” the Polish bar “. The Englishman confirmed the plan . We were all going out to find the Polish bar in the middle of Paris .
” On one condition , ” I said . ” No driving . No cars . ” No , no , no . It was agreed —we wouldn’t be takin’ no car nowhere . Absolute ! And , so , we went . They could still walk . Just barely and using heavily lumbering unsteady gaits ; but they could walk .
The first bar we entered wasn’t the Polish bar . Had it been the Polish bar and recently changed hands ? The Polish artist mid-bender was interrogating the waiter . It was all a sort of slurred French and I wasn’t catching the drift of any of it . I don’t even know any sober French .
Oh , we were off to another place . ” The Polish bar ? ” , I asked .
” Na tak , oui , yes , of course !” — from the artist . Nothing much from the Brit . He was concentrating on getting one of his feet in front of the other , again and again . It was a struggle . We had all had a drink , of course , at the first bar ; and so again at the second , and then again in the third and the fourth . Probably a fifth , too. Well , actually , I’m quite sure that I was the only one of the three of us who hadn’t already polished off a fifth , or two , or three , that day already . But , hey ! , a guy needs a drink once in awhile on a long journey .
And then , suddenly , I knew I was drunk . I say this with no wavering because I got into the back seat of a small car somewhere along the way .The Polish artist who could hardly keep his eyelids up was driving . The Englishman was telling me about how he hates American suburbs and that they make him feel crazy . I’m not sure even now if we were still on our way to the elusive Polish bar in Paris or not .
When we were passing near the Sorbonne in the middle of a busy Paris street , suddenly a tiny police car rolled up against us from an angle with it’s siren blaring and a strobe light flashing . Five guys in leather gloves and crash helmets holding sub-machine guns jumped out . They ran around our vehicle two or three times .
I was suddenly wondering about conditions inside French jails . I didn’t have the phone number of Ada’s sister . My life was flashing before my eyes and i was reviewing everything . I was wondering how long I’d be moldering in jail before I might make bail or at least be allowed to make contact with the outside world . I was ignorant of the whole French legal system , I instantly realized , and I saw that the day’s lesson is that ignorance isn’t always bliss .
The Englishman told me to wave my passport in the air and shout that I was an American citizen . I’m not a guy who naturally would do such a thing , but the Englishman had his passport in the air and was shouting at the top of his lungs . Well , when in Rome , do as the Romans do , I thought . One last tiny display of freedom , I thought , before the curtain falls for good . The Polish artist , our drunken driver , was trying his best to use his faulty French to explain his way out of this predicament . His eyes were by now nearly completely shut .
And then this anxious squad of cops got back into their tiny car and sped off . We were left in the middle of a busy Paris street , two of us with our passports still in the air , and our fearless driver almost unable to stand or speak . ” I think we should park the car , ” I think I said . I hope I said . I hope somebody said . The rest of the night , by now , is kind of a blur . Somehow I survived .I can only figure that those cops were looking for terrorists . We weren’t . We were just a bunch of drunks in Paris . No big deal !
I hope to heaven , anyway , that I told Ada what a great idea it had been of hers for me to go visit the Polish guy . We never did find the Polish bar , by the way . Maybe next time .