This is the moment I’ve been dreading for weeks: We are running out of drinking water and eggs at the exact same time.
What’s the big deal? Go to the store, buy some water, buy some eggs, bring them home.
Easy for you to say.
I can do water. I can do eggs.
Doing them at the same time, my track record here in San Pedro, Belize, is not so good.
Actually, running out of eggs and water simultaneously is a once in a Belize lifetime occurrence. So, that’s … calculating … once in three months that I’ve attempted this feat.
It wasn’t a complete disaster and I did learn a lot. For example: Never put a five gallon container of water on top of a dozen eggs in your bicycle basket. You see, even if they aren’t touching when you head for home, forces of nature intervene.
Like potholes. And gravity.
I can do this, recent successes tell me.
Not long ago, I brought a dozen eggs home in a plastic grocery stack because the local market had run out of Styrofoam egg cartons. We now recycle our egg cartons, even though I have used the sack-method at least twice – successfully!
Also, I recently bicycled from the south end of San Pedro to home with a large glass fish bowl filled with sand and carefully wrapped pieces of 18th century bottles – successfully!
That last feat was especially harrowing because my recent history with glass globes has not been stellar.
We were visiting a very nice boutique in town called “12 Belize” – I don’t know why it is called “12” but it is very nice. Filled with Belize-made art, crafts, clothing, artisan foods, thingies, whatdahs and jimbabs.
Among the most fragile was a low stack of glass fish bowls. On the floor. Tucked safely under a low shelf at the far end of the room.
I wasn’t even aware they were there.
That’s because I was eyeing an intriguing display of local jams, compotes, sauces and whatevers on an entirely different wall.
I reached for a jar of jam. I don’t know what kind of jam. Let’s call it Mango Papaya Banana Supreme Jam.
My eye was on the prize, my reach was steady and my grip was sure. Eye-hand coordination was once my thing, if you know what I mean. (If you do, e-mail me privately and tell me. Eye-hand thing, yes. Memory, not so much anymore.)
My eye wasn’t on the stacked row of jams right next to the MPB Supreme jar.
Probably from sheer fright, one of the other jars jumped right off the shelf and skittered across the floor like a ballistic rabbit, right into one of the fish bowl. Which shattered like a bowling alley strike.
Are you familiar with the sound that follows the shattering of a high-priced glass object?
There is no sound.
There is only an embarrassing, awkward, oh-my-god, damn it silence. It can go on for days, or what feels like days but is only minutes.
I finally broke the silence with something really inane, a comment so stupid that I can no longer recall what it was. That was followed by the reflexive all-American gesture of reaching for my wallet because, as we all know, money solves everything in America.
Philip is the young man who was proudly and enthusiastically showing us some of the more interesting and unique finds on the store shelves. Now he was standing with a slightly uncomfortable look — a mixture of confusion and horror — on his face. He clearly had not yet read the “Bull in China Shop” section of the store handbook.
My effusive apologies and offers to pay notwithstanding, I think Patrick was conflicted with whether I should pay or not. It was an accident, after all.
Or maybe he was just thinking, “God, when does the tourist season end?”
I don’t know but he was as gracious as I was … um … ridiculous.
Patrick figured out a price. I gladly paid. And have been too embarrassed to return since.
So now you see why this task before me looms so large. I have something to prove.
This morning I listened to the 2014 Merimack University commencement address of Charlie Day, creator of the high-minded tour de comedy “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and it blew me away (And I say “high-minded” in only the most facetious of ways. Wink. Wink.)
I am motivated. I am psyched. I am pumped. I. Am. Ready.
I am going to bicycle the 300 yards over to that store and buy a 5-gallon jug of Crystal pure drinking water (11 different filtration/purification processes – and you still end up with water!) and a dozen fresh brown eggs and I will bring them back intact.
I hope. Because Charlie Day said to be willing to fail, and to fail again, and to fail again until you succeed!
And I will!
Rose is adding up how many damaged eggs that might amount to.
She still thinks I should just go for the water.
But she knows that steely look of resolve that sets into my eyes like lids on a lizard. And she understands that a man’s gotta do what a man sorta thinks he’s gotta do, given that home grocery delivery is not a personal option.
Moments ago, she tenderly and silently put the empty Styrofoam egg carton next to the empty water bottle and walked away.
My god, I love that woman.
I can do this!
Postscript: Yes this was written and posted before I faced the challenge head-on. Some of you want to know what happened. Well, let me start by saying that, I’d no sooner parked my bicycle in the bike rack than the rain came pouring down, turning roads and stairways into slippery buggers.
But, how did I do? Find the answer right here.
And thank you for playing along.