Monday, March 10, 2014

Stage Fright in the Old Country

Try as I may, I just could never pee without sufficient walls around me. On a day hike through the severe Greek scrubland  with so many of my cousins, midsummer sun blaring and sporting my ever present Expos baseball cap, I found out the hard way what happens to boys that can't pee in front of others.
    Visiting relations is grueling work at any age. Marching through the hard hillside of the Peloponnese with a troop of them is harder still. We would leave the comforts of town life with its stacks of stick souvlakis and its close-by beaches to visit some half abandoned compound surrounded by haunted olive groves and ancient aqueducts overgrown with reeds and crabs. One boisterous well fed cousin once stuck his hand in the water of these long stone troughs to pull out a crab to show us. He unceremoniously wrenched it's top shell off to show us the innards. Oh, it was full of eggs. No matter, toss it away. I wretched at his barbarity.
    We took turns stomping on grapes, bunches of little purple ones stuffed into sacks and piled in a large circular bin. The children played unaware of the labour they were saving the adults. Juice trickled out and was caught by another receptacle. Our feet purple and otherworldly.
    We were taken for a walk in the hot beating sun, away from the orchards. Arid stoney soil peppered with hardy shrubs. Not a tree to speak of. It was in such terrain that we were invited to pee if we had to. I had to. Off we went together. For some reason I didn't venture out further than I did, seeking some semblance of privacy in this hostile land. Cousins surrounded me, talking, at ease with their bathroom habits. I tried to pee. I couldn't. And here is my error. I pretended I did, zipping up and joining the group. It was in no time at all that my ruse failed me. I let go in my cut off jean shorts and did my prideful best to hide the obvious slip. I proceeded, cap in hand, to continue our walk as if nothing at all was the matter.
    Of course they knew. But no one said anything, bless them. When I mentioned this tale to my partner a few weeks ago, she said she knows, my father told her.