News From Home 16, Part II
8/23/2004 (updated 8/23/2004)

I ran into Georgio at the Barracuda club, and after discussing various topics, I told him about the latest chapter in the disappearing Japanese statue saga. To my amazement, he winked, and said, “Georgio fix. All taken care of.” Before I could ask him to elaborate, he spotted a chum from the old country, and disappeared for twenty minutes. When I finally got him back, he told me that he had been rummaging around in the summerhouse, looking for the spare hose, and had stumbled upon the lantern. Thinking that I had hidden it there, with a view to disposing of it later, without Mrs. RT spotting it, he had decided to undertake the job himself. “You are best friend to Georgio” he said, “I repay tiny tiny bit, all kindness from you. Georgio throw off bridge, this time very deep. Nobody find. In Slovakia we say, sometime bull cover cow fifty time before sperm reach egg.” I was temporarily thrown by his colourful analogy, but it made more sense than most of his earthy sayings. What could I do but thank him, and I was left to ponder whether I wanted the thing back or not, and if I wanted it, was there hope of recovery?

Over a pleasant evening game of Canasta, Mr. Alphonso shocked me by declaring that he was taking Viagra, and that it was proving to be a great success, “A success with whom?” I ventured. Who was the fellow beneficiary of the wonder drug, beloved of ageing magazine entrepreneurs? I should have guessed the answer would be Anita, his housekeeper. I had suspected them of some amorous past, but had assumed all physical expressions of this would have ended with Mr., A’s last riding accident. Although he had sustained partial damage to spine and hip, some lower parts were obviously still capable of functioning, and he delighted in telling me of his great success in the male inferior position. I tried to put the mental pictures out of my head – after all, how old was Mr. A? Certainly in his seventies, possibly eighties, an age when one could be expected to hang up one’s condoms and move on to more spiritual contemplations. As for Anita, she positively bounced in with the tea tray, and gave a girlish giggle when Mr. A slapped her appreciatively on the rump. The old shouting matches seem to have subsided, for a while anyway…

Restaurant aficionados will remember that that fascinating eatery, ‘Gridlock’, formally located in the mall; they will recall the décor, basically a clever rendering of a freeway with bumper-to-bumper traffic. Customers sat in the vehicle of their choice (many classics to choose from), and ate reasonable food at more than reasonable prices. Fans were disappointed when it closed its doors, but will be excited to learn that it has reopened, thanks to new legislation, and a few well-spotted loopholes in the hygiene laws, on the freeway itself! So predictable is the rush hour congestion at the intersection of the 10 and 405 freeways, that there is time to attach a tray with tablecloth, flowers and condiments, serve a three course meal chosen from a narrow but exemplary French bistro menu, and have the bill paid all within 120 feet. The food is cooked in a long, low art deco building at the top of the embankment, and a system of belts ferries the food and retrieves the dirty plates. The owners are ecstatic at the success of the scheme; especially gratifying is the high profit margin; normally a restaurant loses about 5% through dishonesty – customers doing a runner – squeezing out through the toilet window, popping outside to take a cell phone call, racing around the block to settle a bet and disappearing, etc. The chances of evading payment at “Gridlock” are, of course, nil. They will come and find you fifty yards up the road if there is a question over that dodgy cheque, or even a few foreign coins in the waiter’s tip. In extreme circumstances, they just radio ahead to the Highway Patrol, which has now opened a similar roadside ‘Crime Boutique’ a few hundred yards further along, where they leisurely write tickets, arrest long-sought criminals, and recruit new officers.