Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lingerie in the Limbs

I know, I know. For my male readers, the title of this article conjures up images of that 60’s movie with Natalie Wood (Splendor in the Grass). I hate to disappoint you, but the back story is not all that sensual. Interesting, yes, but sensual – not so much! It’s just a small snippet of our soon-to-be-ending sojourn in Athens, Greece.

Even as I write this post, the movers are headed our way. After 9 years in Athens and 2 more in Tirana, Albania, Janice and I are preparing to return home to the US and to take up residence again in the great state of Texas. While we received much help in getting ready for the language and cultural acquisition upon departing the States and heading overseas, precious little attention is offered to help us to be ready to re-enter the country in which we lived most of our days. But, I digress.

The lingerie in the limbs adventure happened because, although we have a clothes dryer, given the warm, July days, Janice often hangs some of her nice semi-frilly things on the clothesline that came with our apartment, on the back balcony. Those of you who have visited us will recall that we live on the 3rd floor, by European measure, but it is actually the 4th floor from the ground. Some of you will also remember that beneath our back balcony the ground slopes even more with a descending driveway, leading into our underground garage. With that additional decline, our balcony ends up being 5 floors above the ground beneath it. Get the picture?
To complicate things further, on the property immediately adjacent to our building, a large tree grows, whose branches reach out above the driveway below. Now, if you have a mental visual on this, you will appreciate my dilemma when one of Janice’s nice things fell from its clothesline perch and landed on a tree limb. Of course, Lord knows it’s the man’s responsibility to retrieve all sorts of fallen objects from the mid-air clothesline, including his wife’s underwear.

So, now our Greek neighbors are talking even more about the crazy old American guy who was recently seen climbing a rickety ladder, with a long broom in his trembling hands. As the ladder rocked back and forth on the sloping driveway below, while standing on its top step, like Karl Wallenda walking the tightrope over Niagra Falls, this senior citizen kept thrusting the long broom into the air. Many observers, unable to see the tiny article of lingerie in the limbs, must have thought that the American guy had finally gone “around the bend,” “over the cliff” or whatever phrase Greeks use to describe the radical precipitous onslaught of dementia or senility.
After several tries, retrieving both the broom and my balance on every unsuccessful stab into the open air, my physical education teacher in the 7th grade (who gave me a C in “maintains balance at all times”) would have been proud. I didn’t fall off the ladder! More importantly, in “the fullness of time” I speared those pesky undies, dodged the now-falling broom handle and head and proudly watched as down they came! And great was the fall of it!

Now, I don’t know about you, but achieving even modest success in challenging physical feats is becoming a source of great pride for me, these days. Since I soon will celebrate having lived and remained mostly upright on this wobbling, spinning planet for “3 score and 10” years, I am usually privately proud when I don’t fall down or when I don’t spill soup on my shirt front. So the next time you see me, if I walk with a slightly exaggerated swagger, or if you hear me saying uncomplimentary things about my 7th grade PE teacher, you can just know that I have conquered the extreme challenges of lingerie in the limbs in Athens, Greece. Can I get an Amen?

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