Waiting for an airplane at Vancouver, British Columbia, the other day:
The flight is delayed by 45 minutes. I'm sitting in this big barn of a waiting room and speculating about what my wife is doing. I've phoned twice to tell her I'll be late for dinner but have been rewarded for my trouble by listening to our home phone ring 1,000 miles away.
Once through U.S. Customs at the airport, there is only a single drink dispensing machine to relieve the tedium of waiting while people-watching. Fortunately, a lean little blond girl (she couldn't be more than 10) is putting on a good show by turning cartwheels across the great polished floor.
My wife has to be up to no good, I tell myself. Let's see, she's out straining her back by lifting cartons of books and marking prices in preparation for the Friends of the Newport Beach Library sale in the fall.
The little acrobat is now tap dancing vigorously. Her parents don't seem impressed with her performance. They've probably seen her act a hundred times. Surely they don't live in an upstairs apartment.
Maybe my wife is out grocery shopping, loading up for the holiday weekend so we won't have to leave Balboa Island and lose our parking places to the flood of inlanders who walk up and down Marine Avenue eating something.
The little acrobat is back to cartwheels, this time rotating dizzily from one end of the waiting room to other. The girl is good! Funny how nobody applauds. There seems to be an unspoken agreement to respect everybody's privacy by largely ignoring them in large, public, unfriendly waiting rooms like this one. I wonder if an old lady doing cartwheels in spangled tights would stir them up?
Maybe my wife is out haunting old book shops for more cookbooks to add to her burgeoning collection. All the bookshelves are filled, so she can't sneak in any new cookbooks undetected. She has to pile them on the dining room table. Not that I really mind. I sneak in my new magic books and she sneaks in her cookbooks. And we pretend we don't notice. It's a practical arrangement.
I figure my granddaughter Anahita is just about the same age as that little acrobat. Anahita has grown into a fine young girl, and I really don't mind her speaking English with a German accent. Her younger sister Mithra does, too. Mithra is going through her aggressive phase. One day this week she scooped up a handful of coins from the wishing fountain in the Park Royal shopping center in West Vancouver. I made her put them back and wouldn't let her wish either.
Good gracious! The little acrobat is doing the splits now.
It was good seeing daughter Wendy and grandchildren. They had flown in from Munich, Germany, where they live, and we gathered for a partial family reunion at a relative's home in West Vancouver.
Wendy is into knitting. She had knitted me a wonderful wool cap to wear on the boat. It was too small, so she told me to take it home for my wife. Maybe my wife has just gone to the post office and now she's outside talking to the Skalls.
At It Again
The little acrobat is tap dancing again. She's doing one of those steps they used to do in vaudeville. She rotates her out-flung arms while doing something complicated with her feet. It always used to stimulate applause. No applause here so far.
At last! They're calling my flight. The little acrobat has cartwheeled herself to the ladies' restroom door and gone inside. Her mother has gone after her.
Well, my wife will just have to wait dinner for me. I hope she doesn't worry.
Postscript: My wife was out shopping for a microwave oven. I've always objected to having one. Who wants electrons in his food? She bought a microwave oven. If there's a lesson to this, I suppose it's don't leave your wife at home when you fly to Vancouver and bring her back a hand - knit wool cap that doesn't fit her either.