Curiosa

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008 @ %I:%M %p | Life

curiosa1.jpgThe first time I was in the US and rented a car (this was in 1986 I think) some of the traffic signs were bewildering. I saw “Xing Ped” written on the street. It clearly meant something and it was important. But what it was that it attempted to communicate to me? Some time later I saw a “Xing School”. Equally bewildering. I could indeed see a school building along the road but what is a Xing School and why write it on the road?

Outside the US traffic instructions or warnings are seldom written on the road. It took a while before I figured that the words needed to be read in the direction of travel (not in the normal reading direction of a page: from top down) and so a Xing Ped was actually a Ped Xing. From there I decrypted that I was being informed that pedestrians might be crossing the road ahead and could I please be cautious.

In March 2002 Rachel moved in with me, a marvellous happening! Then, when she came home from work or shopping she would call out “Marco!”. Weird. My name is Onno, I don’t have a middle name and our cats’ names are Squeak and TickTock. Who is Marco and why is my loving girlfriend, in a few months to be my wife, calling for a Marco!?

In October 2004 we moved to Rochester and some time later we’re watching television. There was a commercial for Holiday Inn. A scene in a swimming pool and a blindfolded girl saying “Marco!” and others in the pool answering “Polo!”. I had seen it a few times; the entire commercial a mystery to me. I said to Rachel: “I don’t get that commercial at all. Why is she saying Marco?” Rachel looked at me and started to smile: “That’s why you never respond when I come home and say Marco.” And Rachel goes on to explain that this is a little question and answer tradition: when looking for each other one will call out “Marco!”, the other answers “Polo!” and you repeat while navigating to each other by the sound of voice.

As Obelix would have proclaimed: “Strange Romans they have here…”

Since 9/11 the cutlery at restaurants at airports is made of plastic. During flights sometimes you get a metal fork and a plastic knife, sometimes both are plastic. Except for United First Class. Clearly customers who can afford first or business class tickets, either by price or I believe nowadays in most cases via upgrades (me), are honest, trustworthy, upstanding citizens and are served their meals with real, metal-made, forks and knives.

 

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