I’m not a swimmer. I love water in any form, be it brook, lagoon, hot tub, or sea, and I enjoy wading and splashing, but it takes a herculean effort to plunge in and immerse my head—I’m overcome with primal fear, every time, unless some primal pleasure is stronger. Jo and Fra got me to snorkel, joyously, when we traveled together to Sardinia a few years ago. It only took a couple of undignified clown-snorts before I got the hang of breathing through the tube, and I’d probably do it again without hesitation, but I’m not gonna snork without the equipment.
Just down the street from our room in Chora is a gorgeous white-sand beach, and I’d packed my Greek bikini (from 1984), so it put it on, added a shirt for the three-block walk, took off the shirt, then walked right into the clear warm bright turquoise water. Only ass-deep, yeah, but it felt great. Calm, sweet, Greek. There were many tanned, slim, toned bodies, and an equal number of other shapes, and mine — all of us wet and shiny as seals. I’m certainly rounder than I was in 1984, but I do go to the gym, so at least my belly has muscles. I felt OK, better than OK. I’ll go in again, all but the head. Mama understands.
On the island of Naxos, the third of our stops through the Aegean, I hiked up this morning to the Venetian fortress in the center of the port city of Chora. Centuries ago, they put fortresses high up so they could piss down on the lowly folks, and they haven’t moved them any lower for the tourists.
In one section, there’s a small archeological museum, with artifacts from the 3rd Millennium BCE up into the early Christian era. I paid my two Euro entry fee, and because the woman at the counter sounded as if she had basic English—
(My Greek consisting of “Good morning,” “Good afternoon,” and “Yes,” though I’m hesitant to wish someone good morning, a standard greeting, because a slight vowel shift would have me greeting them with “Squid!”).
—So I asked, in clear enunciation, “Is the collection here entirely from Naxos or from the other Cyclades?”
The woman answered, in clear enunciation, “Downstairs.”
So I went downstairs.
Over the course of our 56 years of marriage, certain phrases have stuck. They mean something to us, though to no one else. They have a private utility. One of these is “Pork roast.” You can read our memoir, CO-CREATION, to decipher the meaning.
A new one, born today, is “Downstairs.” The ultimate answer to the impossible question. Bless the Greeks.