Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Drunken Duck

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Within one block of where we live are all sorts of business establishments, including but not limited to: two car repair shops and the antikleptika shop (anti-theft devices for car or motorcycle), a butcher, a baker, a pharmacy, a taverna, George the carpenter, a general store with wine cellar, a greengrocer, a paint and hardware shop – and a bar, whose patrons seem to arrive mostly by motorcycle, with a sign above the door in English: “The Drunken Duck”, which seems very appropriate.

Demetrios used to pray that the place would close, as it is one factor that keeps us awake nights. But gradually we have become reconciled to the noise and it seems, most of the time, like just part of life here. I wear ear-plugs at night and Demetrios moves to the other room if he can’t sleep.

But last night, for the first time we’ve known, a full-fledged barroom brawl broke out, and it appears absolutely everybody in the bar became involved. The shouting and cursing were formidable. Then it spilled out into the streets, as two men (bouncers? friends?) forced a third man out and tried to keep him away from some others who followed, all wanting to fight. Some woman got into the fracas, too, begging the men to cease and desist, but her loud bleating was drowned out.

Don’t bars keep their patrons in order around here? Aren’t policemen supposed to arrive at some point, when the mêlée has gone on so long? I don’t know.

The weather was miserable, as much for the humidity as for the heat, even past midnight. Maybe that contributed to the fight.

I had been standing on the balcony watching all this and was turning the corner of the balcony (which wraps around two sides of our apartment) when I nearly collided with someone: Demetrios, coming from the other direction. I’m not sure who scared whom the more; we both startled. Then we laughed and stood there together for a minute or two, watching the fray below.

A large, red motorcycle was parked directly under us and it was already well past midnight. Who knew when that engine would rev up and the drunken owner roar off home?

“I had a fantasy of dropping my glass on it,” I said, raising my water glass.

“I had a better thought,” said Demetrios. “A bottle of olive oil!”

We stood in silence for a few delicious moments.

I said, “Can you imagine both of us having to confess that, about a month or two from now, when we began to think maybe we were sorry? And the priest would say, ‘My child, what were you thinking?’”

“And I know what you’d say. You’d say you obviously weren’t thinking.”

“And you’d say, ‘It seemed the thing to do at the time.’”

That’s a line from our favorite short story by our favorite humorist (P.G. Wodehouse, “The Bishop’s Move”), so we had a good laugh and went inside.

We closed up the house and turned on both air conditioners. The new one, in the bedroom, is nearly noiseless unless you turn up the fan’s speed, so we did. With the windows closed, the temperature lowered, the humidity removed, air conditioner’s motor humming, the ear-plugs, and the sleeping pill, I heard nothing, and managed to get a very fine and badly needed sleep. Demetrios says he did, too.

That new air conditioner is worth its weight in gold


elizabeth said...

Wow. What an adventure. Air conditiors can help for sure. As alway I enjoy the narrations of things you are seeing and of conversations.

Have a great reat of today!