And so this is Christmas

Commentary

The word’s out that: It’s too hot for Xmas. What tree, what presents, what festive spirit in short-sleeves and a mini skirt? This is not Australia! This is Cyprus, everyone mutters fatalistically. It’s the end of the world as we know it. Ho, ho, ho.

If I hear it one more time, I’m pretty sure I’m going to act out as the panda in the Panda cheese commercial. Can we puh-lease move on to other things we can whine about? I get wrinkles just listening to this pathetic patter!

Let’s focus on the good things, like the Christmas tree competitions around supermarkets and municipalities. This year carols have been replaced by frenzied supermarket ads on TV and radio. My mailbox has no Christmas cards, but dizzyingly colorful leaflets with the best offers on meat and decorations and toilet paper. Everyone’s priorities du saison are quite apparent here, it seems. If I hadn’t done my DIY Chrismas cards with fabric, it would have been tempting to cut them out and reincarnate them on thick cardboard as multi-colored Christmas trees and funky Santas.

And as for the street decorations, why yes, this year we not only have our classic giant condoms-by-day, upside-down Christmas trees by night, but we have some glitter glam too. Just in case you missed them, that is. As you cruise downtown, look up and you’ll see the Christmas sparkle bright enough to give pink eye. I would love to be in the municipality’s Christmas committee, if such thing exists, to discuss more ways of making Larnaca look its most ridiculous and phallic in December.

As I make my way through the end of December, broke and utterly tired, at least I have one thing to be thankful for: Santa. Rumour has it, he’s bringing me an Xbox. You can’t say no to a panda, after all…

The WRITE picture

The WRITE picture

The idea is simple: One picture, approximately 1000 words telling its story. Or at least the story in my head. Get inspired by clicking on the photo and discovering more through the photographer’s lens.

Photo by Zitaaa

Harry knew he’d be late. He knew it the moment he got up at 6.53, a fat 12 minutes later than his usual time. As he waited over the toaster, armed with bread knife and butter, he pondered over what to wear. He was a black-and-white type of man, but today was a different occasion. The day called for a tone of grey.

On his way out the door, he checked himself in the mirror. There was a moment of deliberation as he stared blankly, confused. He produced a practiced smile, the corners of his lips extending sideways, his tired lips reduced to faint lines.

Who am I kidding? he mumbled. But there was no time to change into his comfortable persona before he walked out the door. He was already 12 minutes behind his usual schedule. Keys in hand, he walked out the door and into his black Fiat Punto. He made a mental note to get it washed before his date later in the evening as he brushed his arm against the door accidentally. Good thing I’m wearing grey, he thought as he geared the car into the lane and the uncertain threat of oncoming traffic.

Harry enjoyed taking shortcuts on normal occasions, but today felt like a day for the main streets. The result of this decision nearly had disastrous effects because without realizing, his heart started racing. And then, like diamonds, the first drops of sweat started forming on his crown. It was only a matter of minutes before the wet stickiness spread like a tsunami across his entire body. Afraid that he would arrive to work smelling like leftovers from last night, he rolled down his window and took in a deep breath of carbon dioxide.

Of course everything’s bloody wrong today, he complained childishly. He loosened his tie and switched to the lane with moving cars. In a matter of seconds, however, everyone was immobilized.

He glanced in the rearview mirror and for the second time that day, looked at himself. His eyes were angry, yet helpless. They asked, Who do you think you are, you sorry sod? And Harry knew the meaning of that glare; he had asked himself that question a little less than a week ago as he took a pen out of his briefcase to circle something in the newspaper. It was Sunday morning and quite unlike him, he took his coffee in bed and read the newspaper under the covers, though fully dressed. Harry had suddenly felt overwhelmed by a feeling of idleness and had done nothing to fight it. It was with considerable effort that he rose later, already decided upon finding a writing utensil. By that time, he had lost complete control of his self-composure so that the Harry circling the Sunday personal ad with ferocious resolve in no way resembled the diminutive sweaty man trapped in a caterpillar of cars this morning.

Normally, Harry would have looked over his shoulder as soon as he even turned to that disgraceful page in the paper. He thought it embarrassing for a man his age to even read a word of that laconic nonsense of people coding loneliness. But he heard what his colleagues said behind his back.

He’s got no life.

Who would want to even sleep with that uptight son of a bitch?

I bet you he’s forgot what his dick is for.

He often paid no mind to such petty talk. But below his austere black suit lay a flaccid sexual organ, nothing obscene, really. And it was not often that he felt that there was a void in his life he could not fill with post-its of to-do lists and early nights in. But on Sunday, he felt like a barren field stretching out for acres and acres and in that feeling of misery, he mustered the courage to call the number on the ad he liked the most:  woman, 39, looks for adventure. Loves color and looks to balance her life’s vibrancy.

The conversation didn’t last more than 5 minutes. A courteous introduction and then a question that may have been impossible to utter, given different circumstances: Want to go out to dinner on Wednesday? And then Harry heard a yes thunder down the line and as he hang up the phone he got up, made the bed and threw up.

By the time the cars in front of him started moving, Harry was feeling dizzy. In a moment of panic and impulse he swerved into the next right without indicating and accelerated the car as he went down the narrow side road. Once he realized he was no longer close to the main street he slowed down and gradually came to a halt. He looked around and tried to figure out his geographical location. He got out of the car and stared into the open. His eyes focused on a bouquet of color that had mushroomed on the side of the road. Harry watched the yellow flowers dance in the breeze and thought, Flowers. I must remember to take her colorful flowers.

He fixed his tie, got in the car and drove off.

The Great Escape

Commentary

At the suggestion of a getaway, I’ll be the first to say an eager “yes” before I’ve had time to think of your average set of obstructions: time, money, availability. It was, therefore, not surprising that I said yes to a camping offer out in the wild, middle-of-nowhere (read: no amenities) unknown, last week. To begin with, in a suspicious twist of fate, it seemed to appease my usual concerns; I had plenty of time, was fully available and this was as low budget as you get. A dirt cheap getaway, with the emphasis on dirt, mind you.

I am what you might call an outdoor queen. Confused? Let me clarify. I belong to that (large, if you ask me) group of girls who truly enjoys the idea of being out in nature and rediscovering the simpler things in life. I love all of that side of camping. I don’t even mind sleeping on the floor, in a sleeping bag and personally consider inflatable mattresses for softies. But let’s face it, the term is an oxymoron if I ever heard one.

And I explain.

Just the thought of venturing out in the open whenever nature calls makes me shudder. I break into a sweat of paranoia which is enough to make me seriously reduce my liquid intake to avoid nature confrontations of the sort. And the dirt? Armed with my little bottle of antibacterial gel that I dab on my hands every few minutes, I feel like David trying to battle Goliath with nothing more than the power of positive thinking. But when positive thinking is all you’ve got, you keep thinking of the half-full glass that can’t become half empty because that’s serious trouble that requires a flashlight and a good sense of direction.

Fellow outdoor queens, come out and celebrate your innate desire to be a civilized version of Jane. Rejoice in the power of soap and washbasins and remember, on your next exploration outing to take appropriate footwear. I arrived at the site only to discover that my sneakers were nowhere to be found (I had of course arrived wearing sandals). By night-time, I looked like a misplaced tourist in green socks and leather sandals. It was funny, for some. It seemed funny to me too, until I discovered that my sought-after shoes were safely stowed in a neighboring tent and made a guest appearance as discarded objects the next morning. Sure, it wasn’t this outdoor queen’s most glorious moment, but it kept those bugs away.

And that’s what I call survival.