Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Musing With My Stypen

In a box of worn out or junked pens on my desk is a cracked and well-used old Stypen I bought while traveling in Greece. It wasn’t an expensive item by any means, but something chosen with no other thought in mind than replacing a lost pen. I bought it in a smoke filled stationery store in Athens, and at the time had never heard of Stypen, but it turned out to be a workhorse of a pen which served me well for years. The snippet below is from the first words I wrote with that Stypen, some observations in a spot just across the street from the smoky stationers on Oktovrion-Patission Road.

8:30 p.m.…The cool part of the day has descended and I find a seat out under the trees in the museum garden, where the twittering of birds against the roar and screech of traffic on the road, offers up a pleasant cocktail of city sounds. I am surrounded by locals also relaxing at day’s end. I see a generous mix of people around me, families with children, young lovers, and in fact a few lovers not so young. Just across from me sit two grandmothers sipping and nodding over glasses of Coca Cola with slices of lemon. From what I can see, the popular drink is fresh orange juice and it looks inviting in the tall glasses rimmed with froth. I look at a menu, turning over page after page of lists detailing food and drinks. Coffees and teas, hot or cold, the ever present Nes Frappe, cocktails, wine, beer, fruit and vegetable juices… Waiters in white jackets relay orders to the kitchen via electronic pads.

From behind a tree appears an old fellow with a Polaroid camera, offering couples a chance to immortalize a moment on film. Looking over my shoulder at one particular couple, I caution them with my eyes. Sometimes a photograph is evidence enough to sink ships or break up happy families. I suspect these two are boss and secretary, he a bit older, enjoying the hush-hush joys of an illicit date. Morose one moment and dewy-eyed the next, they are deep in conversation punctuated with private gestures. Her lips move as if to say, “Have you told her?”

Back to my own affairs I begin to think about plans for the following day. I sit lost in my map and guidebook when I suddenly hear a voice in thickly accented English, “Foot massage, sir?” Remembering a few days prior in Istanbul, my heart leaps in anticipation. I raise my eyes to see from whom this offer has come and am surprised by an ancient crone all festooned in dirty black rags, reaching out with long blackened fingers and swollen knuckles. I pretend I speak none of the world’s known languages.

Cicadas in the trees overhead and gnats circling my bare knees hint that it is time to go. A little light remains in the evening sky and I give it and my table up to a waiting pair of lovers.

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America