Thursday, October 09, 2003

Left Over Camino Story

A one point, during a windy/rainy day in the Pyrenees, I was walking up a steep slope to where J an B were waiting for me. J was watching me with the kind of a smile on his face that a parent gives to his child when she is doing something that is sweet in its stupidity. As I walked up the slope the wind whipped my rain poncho around and in between my legs, making it difficult to walk. When I finally stumbled to the top of the slope J reached down and tied together the two ends of the poncho hanging down on the left side of my body. Then he walked around to the other side of me and reached down to tie those two ends together, too. When he finished I just stood there staring at him.

When I was four my father took a job down in South America. He flew down first and then a little later my mother flew down with my brother, sisters, and I. At that time flying was still a special way to travel and I remember wearing one of my best dresses, white dress socks, and a shiny pair of Mary Janes. I also remember how the horsehair stuffing in the seat poked through the fabric causing the back of my stretched out legs to itch. Each row of the aircraft was made up of four seats, two on each side of the aisle. I was in an aisle seat next to a very large man wearing a suit and tie. Who knows how big he really was since all grown-ups looked like giants to me at that age.

This was when airlines still served their meals on real china and gave everyone silverware and cloth napkins. My tray included a drinking glass of milk and the man sitting next to me got a cup of coffee. I started eating my food as he was pouring cream into his coffee from a small pitcher. He then picked up two sugar packs from his tray, looked down at me, and asked if I wanted to try something delicious. I nodded yes and he tore open the sugar packets, poured them into my glass, picked up his spoon and stirred the sugar into my milk. Then he picked up my glass and handed it to me. I took a sip.

My taste buds reacted like a pinball machine that had just rung up enough points for an extra game, “Ding!, Ding!, Ding!, Ding!.” This was the most wonderful thing I had ever tasted. It was better that soda pop. It was better than ice cream. How did he think to put sugar in milk? He must be the smartest man in the world. I stared up at him in awe, grateful he had shared this secret with me. I felt the same thing as I stood there looking at J after he tied the ends of my poncho together.

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