Tuesday, August 16, 2005

3 Quests

Heidi (my best mate from my Peace Corps days) and her son Matĕj came to my parents’ house to get me this morning.

Heidi does not live in the mountains nor does she herd goats. Matĕj is 8 ½ years old. Most people call him Mat; I have called him Buttface since he was a baby (big cheeks), and Heidi often calls him Monkey(!!).

We went to Venice Beach and walked around before going to the Sidewalk Café for lunch. We watched the one-armed waiter serving food, which inspired Heidi to tell the story of the deaf-mute sales assistant at Target. He gave her a piece of paper so she could write down the question, “Are the mops downstairs?”

I asked Heidi questions DD had asked me that I had not been able to answer definitively: How far is Palm Desert from LA? Do we have to drive through mountains to get there? We looked to Mat because he started 4th grade last month and apparently they teach California geography in 4th grade. Mat was able to tell us, amongst other things, that the California state fish is the golden trout. “Why the golden trout?” Heidi and I wondered aloud. Mat answered very confidently, “Because it’s the Golden State, duh.”

Heidi talked about their recent visit to the San Diego Wild Animal Park: “We got to see rhinos mating. It takes hours, apparently.” They had been told that the male rhino’s schlong is so long that he can touch his own chin with it.

We walked on the beach after lunch, dipped our feet in the ocean and watched Mat playing in the wet sand. Heidi and I wondered how someone can get so much pleasure from flinging handfuls of mud into the sea. Kids are weird.

We spotted a very large ship to the south, decided it was a battleship and thus began our first quest of the afternoon.

Heidi: “Come on, Mat, we’re going to find a battleship.”

Mat: “Why?”

Heidi: “Why? There is no why. Whose kid are you?”

We drove down Ocean Avenue to the dead end at the water in Marina del Rey. We got out of the car, spotted a second ship, and tried to figure out how far south we might need to go. Our next stop was Manhattan Beach: mysteriously we could only see one of the ships there. Our third stop was Hermosa. There we saw five ships: 2 big, 2 small and 1 even smaller. We could not positively identify what any of them were. We played on the beach for a little while and then went back to the car.

Heidi had remembered that there was a Czech pub nearby so we decided to go in search of that. “Funny how our quest has changed from a battleship to a beer,” she remarked.

We found the pub, Czech Point (cringe), at 4.34 p.m. The sign on the door said that it opened at 5, so we popped into the Mexican place next door for some non-alcoholic refreshment. We waited for 5 o’clock.

Heidi to Mat: “You can get some fried cheese if you can remember how to say it in Czech.

A suddenly excited Mat said straight away, “Smažený sýr.” Well done, Buttface.

We walked over to Czech Point at 5, but the door was still locked. I took a closer look at the sign and saw that it was closed on Tuesdays. We laughed at ourselves and our second failed quest. We decided to drive back to mine.

En route, we spotted a licence plate frame that said “*** Jesus ***” and “He died *** Opportunity” (*** indicating small print that we could not make out). We wondered if the licence plate frame was accusing Jesus of being an opportunist. We had a new quest: to get close enough to the car to read the small print and discover the real message. The Jesus car changed lanes so we changed lanes – several times, and it seemed that the driver of the Jesus car was getting worried that we were tailing him/her. Heidi was awesome and finally we caught the Jesus car at a red light and read the message: “Give Jesus a Chance, He died for the Opportunity.” We didn’t know what that meant, so we talked about Jesus giving me and Monkey beer money instead.

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