Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hey! J.J., is That You?

I have a rudimentary GPS rattling around somewhere in my skull. Ever since I was a kid, it has been almost impossible to get me lost. You put me down in a strange city and I almost immediately become aware of landmarks and directions. When flying cross country, I always seem to know what cities we are over long before the captain comes on to point out what it is we are looking at on the right or left side of the plane.

Mark, on the other hand, wouldn’t know if he was on the right street much less in the right city. One night in Chicago, while borrowing a friends car, he tried to find an address on Halsted Street near Addison Street. Somehow he found himself in the middle of 'Cabrini Green' and panicked when he recognized the opening shot of ‘Good Times’.

On our travels to Europe, Mark always manages to get thoroughly lost. In Paris, he wandered for a few hours, lost and scared, looking for our hotel. In Cologne, even with a huge gothic cathedral looming over the city as a landmark, he couldn't see that our hotel was to the left of it. One night in Florence, Italy, Mark wanted to go out and I didn't. It was almost five o'clock in the morning before he found his way back, scared because he said strange men were following him, and they were speaking a strange language. Like maybe Italian?
The only thing that saved Mark in all these instances was finding an English speaking cab driver who knew our hotel. It's a good, if costly way to find your way back to your hotel. Unfortunately that doesn't work if you get lost in Venice Italy, because they don't have taxis, or any autos for that matter, in Venice.

During our time in Venice, Mark decided to go out exploring on his own. After waiting hours for him to return, I decided to go get lunch without him. While standing in a little cafe eating a sandwich and sipping on wine, I noticed Mark crossing the little plaza, walking by with his arms full of packages and wearing his 'cranky Mark' face. I assumed that he was going back to the hotel and I figured I'd join him when I was done. A minute later, I noticed Mark going the other direction with his 'crankier Mark' face on. Three minutes later, crossing the plaza again, was Mark, this time with that unmistakable sour 'puss' I've seen time and time again. He was completely lost, and because I still had a full glass of wine and half a sandwich left, I let him go on. By the time Mark passed the fourth time, I had finished my lunch so I went out and led him to the hotel, one block away. He couldn't believe how lucky it was that we had found each other in the maze of tiny narrow streets that make up Venice. Yes, I assured him, very lucky.


  1. Alan: You are so cruel. Why did you let Mark pass you three times while you were at the cafe in Venice? You could have "flagged" him down any one of those times. You just loved to see him in that state of mind. May I say EVIL.

  2. Oh Alan just wanted some entertainment while he had lunch.