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A bit of ‘Beyond the Sea’…

This is not a drill!!!

Firefighters evacuated our building today because Mrs. Banfree reported a gas leak. All tenants were ordered out and we stood far across the street (a safe perimeter was established) waiting for our building to blow up. We were grateful to Mrs. Banfree for not hesitating to report the foul smell thus instigating a chain reaction involving firefighters, the police, medics on standby, and Mandy offering bread at half price in case someone got hungry while watching the building inferno. I wanted to ask her why not offer lesbian popcorn, too – but I didn’t want to have to explain to accidental witnesses of that question that I am not a bigot and that my beloved sister is a lesbian like Mandy who cheats on good Klaus, and that I support the LGBT community so much that I often order BLT sandwiches just because of the similar abbreviation. So I just gave Mandy a hormonally charged resentful stare and said nothing.

On the bright side, I am very impressed with our firefighters as once they reached Mrs. Banfree’s place, it took them only three minutes (which in gas leak time is a blink of an eye) to assess that there was no explosion danger because the gas threat came from the sulfuric smell of Brussels sprouts that Mrs. Banfree herself cooked earlier in the afternoon. Mrs. Banfree was swiftly demoted from hero to loser and Mandy immediately revoked her half price bread offer. I told Mrs. Banfree not to worry about the sudden fall from grace (which she only became aware of after I said it) and that the miniature cabbage does indeed have an offensive smell.

***

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BookCoverPreview beyond the sea cropped

 

 

From ‘Beyond the Sea’

There is a very handsome teller at my local bank. I was analyzing his good looks while I was waiting in line this morning and then I thought about a sperm bank that had premises nearby. Maybe I should open a checking account there.

Today was Vincent’s birthday and we gathered in the conference room to sing him Happy Birthday and have a slice of cake. The cake was good and we had just started savoring it when Sabrina announced that her water broke and that Marie-Antoinette was coming. So much for letting us eat cake.

Sabrina’s baby girl is gorgeous. I passed by the sperm bank again on my way back home. It was not on purpose but to avoid heavy traffic. Still, it was the third time today. Is this a sign? Do all roads lead to the sperm bank?

Vincent’s birthday cake gave me heartburn. I felt better after I threw up. I pledge never to eat cheap cakes again. I was about to doze off when Dahlia called to say that Penny was in labor. Labor Day is on Monday. Is everybody ahead of schedule?! On my way to the hospital I drove by the sperm bank for the fourth time today. I think I saw a little spermatozoid in the window waving at me.

Penny yelled like possessed. This is her third child. Shouldn’t her lady tunnel be wide enough by now not to instigate verbal abuse and screams of bloodcurdling frequencies? My rhetorical question was overheard by a passing by doctor who gave me a disgusted look. I told him that this was my second delivery today and I was I bit tired from all the audio commotion. He thought I was a gyno. I said I was merely a vagina owner and was flattered that he took me for a doctor. He said ‘Oh’ and left. Some weird folks around here. Penny’s son is a little cutie. Mother suggested his name be Oak but Penny rejected the idea and said that her son is going to have a normal name like Elvis or Hendrix or Otto. I guess ‘normal’ has a very wide scope.

* * *

Penny’s yelling made me rethink my baby longings and I decided not to drive by the sperm bank anymore but take the road by the shopping district. The road more taken. The heartburn is almost gone but I can still taste the cheap supermarket cake.

‘Beyond the Sea’ book excerpt

As I had promised to myself, I pushed Klaus in the water. It took him by surprise, maybe because he still had his clothes on or maybe because he did not anticipate such an act at all. I remember my father telling me I was unpredictable. Now Klaus knows. I watched him splash around and wave his pale, slender, Russian arms. I took a few shots with my phone, thinking about how much fun he was having. Then I realized that he was flapping around struggling to stay afloat. Klaus was drowning! I dropped my phone and jumped in the water to save him. I thought how I must have put on a pound or two because I went in really deep. It took me a few seconds to resurface and catch a breath. I came face to face with Klaus who then put his palm on top my head and pushed me back in the water. Klaus was lying. He could swim. He pretended to be drowning to get back at me for pushing him in the water. That little weasel! We got out and sat on the pier. I watched my Garbo hat float away in the distance. I told Klaus that he should never cry wolf. He said he was not afraid of wolves.                                                                                  We caught a fish! It was small and silvery and because we did not recognize the kind we agreed that it was a toddler silver perch. We admired its slippery beauty for a little while and then returned it to the water. We then admired our fishing skills. I never caught a fish before and when it first pulled the line I was so surprised I almost let go of the rod. Klaus jumped in and helped me pull it out. We wrestled with it for about ten, maybe twenty seconds. There are some tricks about how you hold the rod so that the fish does not escape. It was very intense – almost like in Jaws except with a harmless baby fish.

framed pier

Book excerpt

* * *

It’s Friday and everybody at work has some amazing weekend plans. I bet that most of them just sits at home, folds laundry and watches TV. Klaus came by to ask me who is he going out with? He wanted some insider info on Mandy. I told him that she was as tall as him but probably stronger and that he can only hope that she does not have some dangerous mental issues. I meant it as a joke but after seeing a glimpse of worry in his naive bluish-greenish eyes I decided to explore the subject. I told him that Mandy has been very sensitive ever since she had pubic crabs and everybody in her college class laughed at her. And she has hard time getting rid of them. It was a stupid and totally implausible lie but it was all I could come up with at that very moment. Klaus didn’t think twice about believing me – he bit that hook like the baby silver perch that day on the beach.

‘She has pediculosis pubis and she can’t get rid of it?!’ he said.

‘You know how to say crabs in Latin?!’

‘Yes, pubic crabs, not regular crabs. She can use shampoo to kill them. I’ll buy her one.’

‘No, you won’t. Who does that? Besides, she thinks…she thinks that the scratch comes from some skin disorder.’

‘She can’t see the crabs?’

‘She also has very poor vision.’ I was out of control.

‘Why nobody tell her?’ insisted Klaus. I noticed that his grammar would always drop down a level if he was in any way confused or excited. I guess he’d lose the linguistic focus.

‘Because she is very sensitive. You don’t just walk up to somebody and tell them they have crabs. This is not Russia.’

‘We don’t do that in Russia. Only when you know the person well.’

‘Well, don’t say it to Mandy. She is too sensitive. It could send her over the edge.’

‘What does that mean?’

‘It means that…well, she is also…she is a little mentally unstable so it means that we don’t want to disturb her. You promise you won’t say anything.’ Whoever said that lying is like quicksand was right. I could feel that mud around my throat.

‘It is very difficult for me to withhold the truth,’ said Klaus.

‘Even when truth is none of your business?’

‘Truth is everybody’s business.’

‘I will tell her, okay. You don’t say a word. You are a man, and a foreign one for that matter.’

‘I am almost American.’

‘I am almost five five.’

‘What does that mean?’

‘My height. I am almost five foot and five inches tall. Keyword almost. You are almost American but you are still a foreigner so zip it when you talk to Mandy.’

‘Zip my pants?’

‘No, zip it means don’t speak.’

‘You mean I should not speak when I talk to Mandy?’

‘Exactly.’

‘That’s impossible. If I talk to somebody then I have to speak.’

‘No, you don’t. Let her do the talking. You just listen and smile politely and mind your own business.’

‘Dating in America is very complicated…five five…you are not very tall.’

‘You are not very muscular.’

‘Don’t be mad, I think your height is very feminine. It’s the perfect height for wearing high heels. I love high heels. For a woman, not for me, I prefer desert boots. I am not cross-dresser. ‘

‘I don’t wear high heels.’

‘I know, you also wear desert boots, but if you did wear high heels your height is perfect.’

‘Just don’t say anything to Mandy.’

* * *

Excerpt from book

    ***

I spent my lunch-break shopping. My ex-husband Richard (calling him Dick now) never liked anything about my looks. When I say never, I mean after we got married. My high heels were inappropriate, my eyes the wrong color, my feet too big, my boobs too small, my legs too thin, my makeup too strong, my taste in fashion frivolous – the list could go on and on. Sadly for me, I really wanted him to like me. I mean, he was my husband, and I loved him – and the thing is – if the one who actually married you (for whatever reason) sees you as a complete visual failure – what are other people seeing? I remember that my self-esteem at the height of my now broken marriage was at an all-time low (ironically) and no fake smile could hide the fact that I was unhappy. Those smiles, they show up on photographs. Sort of like age. You smile and you think you look fabulous and plump like a cherubic 18 year old, and then the picture comes out and you think ‘Who is this old hag with a creepy grimace?! Oh, it’s me!’ I thought of that while smudging different colors of eye shadows on my eyes and wrist at a beauty counter of a local department store. I tried different eye shadows, lipsticks, lip-glosses, blushes, BB creams and whatever the rather amused saleslady offered. By the time I left the store, I looked like a clown. But not the creepy, scary clown that makes people shudder. I was a thirty something divorcée (what an ugly word!), well dressed, smelling of Coco Mademoiselle (because there is no Coco Divorcée), stylish, and most importantly – happy clown. I crossed a little girl and her mom on the way out, and the girl looked up at me, smiled and said to her mom ‘I want to look like this’. Her mother glanced at me a bit uncomfortable and not quite sure how to respond.

Clinique counter’, I said, ‘straight down and to the right.’

***

 

Excerpt from ‘Beyond the Sea’

Everybody in the office did the Myers-Briggs test today. First the test, then the discussion about the results received. Everybody kept saying how they finally feel understood. My type turned out to be ISFJ-T which means that I have good practical skills, I am supportive, reliable and patient, observant (I disagree on grounds of husband and friend’s affair), enthusiastic, loyal and hard-working. I sound like such a bore. No wonder Richard turned to Hope – my lameness is hopeless and I did not need a test to tell me that. The irony is that this is supposed to be a good personality, helpful and altruistic – and yet, I feel resentful towards it. Klaus is ENFP-T which makes him curious, energetic and popular. Joann is ESFP which she summed up as Excellent Slut For Parties and made sure that everybody heard it. I decided to take my weaknesses into consideration and work on them. It does not sound like a fun project but then again, my personality is not about fun so it should not be a problem!’