Chivalry Is Not Dead - It's On Fi-yah

Timing is everything. Lives depend on it.

I hate knowing that an unpreventable act is about to occur. Like when my drink is on the counter. I just refilled it. It's hot in this kitchen. As I stir the risotto, I glance down at my glass. I'm looking forward to taking a nice long sip between adding ladles full of stock to the skillet. I'm not blasé about cooking risotto. I don't just throw rice in a pan, add liquid and stir all loosey-goosey, hoping and praying it comes out all creamy and delicious. I learned from a real live chef in Venice to use boiling-hot stock and to serve it immediately after it's finished. The real trick, he said, is having your other dishes and your family ready at the same time. My risotto is so micro-managed that it wants to see HR immediately after dinner.

I lay my deep-bowled wooden stirring spoon on the rest next to the stove. It's that one second when my mind is focused on that spoon rest and that I know that the risotto residue on there is going to dry quickly and be really hard to scrub off when someone does the dishes later. It's then that I forget about the location of my drink and as I reach back for the Parmesan cheese. I feel my hand brush against my glass when I'm awakened by the cold condensation. I try to stop its fall with my mind. The world switches to slo-mo as it falls and crashes to the floor.

It's lemonade, and in one of the glasses I brought back from Puerto Vallarta ten years ago. Glass and liquid spread like wildfire over my floor and ice scoots under the fridge. I won't go after it; but I'll always know it's there. Not only is this going to be hard to clean up, but also I'll find something still sticky tomorrow. I'll miss that glass until the remaining eleven are broken.

Mexico produces more than great glass They're currently featuring cheaper avocados and gang killings -- one is satisfying hunger and the other is keeping tourists from going back to Mexico. Some  brave souls are creeping back down south, like farmers easing their tornado shelter doors open after a twister to see if the cow is still tied to the post and it's safe.

Mexico's crime has been bad before. Once my Uncle Jim was on a Southwest Airlines flight from Dallas to Brownsville, Texas He was off to visit my cousin Sean at boarding school. This was back in the day when not only was smoking allowed on planes, but also the cabin had a row of bulkhead seats that faced another row of seats, creating this special area for a cozy party-in-the-air. Once the plane reached a safe altitude, the flight attendants busted out the cocktails and you were free to smoke about the cabin. Southwest is a casual carrier -- I once heard the flight attendant sing the safety instructions to the tune of the theme to The Beverly Hillbillies.

Jim was seated in this very special bulkhead area and struck up a conversation with the couple facing him. Jim was a very handsome man, a true gentleman, well-dressed, with classic manners. He settled in his seat, lit a cigarette and bought the couple each a drink. They thanked him for his kindness by telling him a tragic tale of victimization. The woman looked kind of pitiful, and quiet; but ended up a fabulous storyteller once her Scotch kicked in.

They were on their way to Brownsville to be presented with a plaque and an apology from the Mexican government for being shown a less-than-hospitable time while driving through the scenic Mexican desert in their Winnebago.

Some banditos stopped commandeered the van. The bad men held the husband and wife hostage. They took the wheel and careened down the deserted highway. Meanwhile, bound and gagged in the living room portion of the mobile home, our couple feared for their lives. They knew they had to make a bold move. Perhaps their captors were some of your shorter Mexican outlaws, and it was taking both of them to operate the huge pleasure cruiser. Maybe one steered and the other worked the pedals. Our couple managed to untie themselves and thanks to whatever amusing distraction the bad guys were involved with, they opened the side (or living room) door to the speeding Winnebago. They jumped out onto the hot, black highway at 35 mph. As they rolled and rolled and tumbled and bumped they broke limbs, were horribly scraped and had to limp for miles before finding help. They healed in a hospital and returned home to Dallas, vowing never to set foot in Mexico again.

They eventually agreed to return only to accept this apology and maybe stay for some complimentary chips and salsa.

"That is quite a horrible story," Jim said. "I'm so sorry you went through this horror."

"Thank you," said the woman as she pulled out a cigarette. It was her go-to move when finishing a story, a meal, or sex. It was automatic as was Jim's chivalrous whipping-out of a lighter to flick the Bic and render aid to this poor lady.

Altitude and pressure produce unpredictable results on inexperienced drinkers and cheap lighters. As Jim leaned over and flicked the lighter's switch, a flame over a foot high shot up and caught her hair on fire. The woman screamed and Jim quickly switched to fireman mode, patting her hair down -- hard. The flames were extinguished.

Her husband was frozen in shock.  "How much more can we possibly take?" he wondered aloud.

The flight attendant rushed over to make sure that this rowdy group wasn't endangering the other passengers. She lectured them as she removed their tiny, empty liquor bottles and shushed them as she walked away to apply more lipstick before landing.

The woman very calmly placed her hand on top of her burned hair and asked her husband to retrieve her carry-on from the overhead storage compartment. He did. She removed a scarf from it, and then she removed her wig.

She wrapped the scarf over her head. Now Jim know why her hair melted. Turns out she was mostly bald and wore a wig to improve her looks. I bet after that trip she packed a spare wig.

Thankfully the story took up most of the flight time. After Jim's profuse apologies they felt no need to speak. He was left to nurse his cocktail and let his mind wander to thoughts of this poor woman, so bravely throwing herself out of a moving Winnebago to avoid her own murder or the extra cruelty of a gang-rape in a foreign language, now reduced to accepting her award for bravery from a high-ranking government official, wearing a new dress and an old scarf.

The roads aren't safe, nor the skies; she might not ever travel again.

Yes, chivalry is not dead, and timing is everything. Hesitation usually results in regret; but so can fast action. Sometimes, rarely, it turns out to be the right thing. Dom Perignon prematurely popped the cork and invented champagne.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love your comments (except from you, you crazy)! Just submit them and I'll publish as soon as I finish my snack.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...