"Thanks you. Muchos Gracias Madame!"
"Ohhh. Un baguette, por favor."
"Hey where's Trader Joes?"
"Why is everything closed on Sunday? I know you're not Jewish"
"The Notre Dame campus is more impressive than this French Notre Dame thing."
"Why is their no a/c?"
"Why does no one speak English?"
"Hi. No French. Pero, but, yo speak Español muy bien."
An older man sat at the Lexington Café , ruminating how big of a bite he should take of his baguette. Doors close, feet shuffle, and a red dress sits down across the table from the older man. The man looks up. His gaze is disrupted by a large glass of water slammed on the table. More feet shuffle, and the man grasps the glass and begins to pour. The water flows into the smaller glass at such a glorious speed, this moment everlasting. Everything around the water has stopped. Pure stagnation except for the flowing water. Unfiltered, an abundance of natural minerals whirl around in the glass. It's a whirlpool of pure beauty; it's something no one has seen before and no one will see again. The last droplets drop into the glass as the larger bottle is set back down on the table. It's wet and silky, but it's evident its sparks ignited the older man's soul. There had been no smile seen on the older man's face for twenty seven years until he had this water. But the past is just the past. For right now, all this man knew was water.
Should I take the risk? he thought to himself. The answer was yes. He knew in his heart the answer was yes, and yet he trembled like a child. The risk was to leave this precious moment to dive into the possibility of drinking this moment and fueling himself even more with wisdom and patience. When there is no smile for twenty seven years, there is not enough room for concerns of risks. He drank. He put his chapped lips around the clear glass and tilted his head back. He used his opposable thumb to steer the glass in the proper direction. Water flowed between his disgusting lips and into his mouth. It was a magical moment. It was not too different of a moment to the first time he kissed someone he truly cared about. He later told the BBC in an exclusive interview which never aired that, "Drinking water is like sharing a french kiss with a girl you love. It's like when your tongues touch and fireworks go off. The water is the pretty girl's tongue. The glass is her gorgeous hair flowing in the wind. And my lips are my lips." Throughout the interview he would make strange metaphors and similes and then explain them in great detail. Upon further research, we later learned that this man had been single his whole life. Also, his lips were the most grotesque thing I have ever seen. He passed away at a café in Paris three weeks after we talked to him.
But his journals about this encounter with water still give us meaning today all around the world. It removed all stigma around drinking water. It enhanced the overall drinking water experience for all. In 2015 when Barack Obama went on the record saying that "water is just a lil' bit overrated," his approval rating plummeted.
I didn't like this older man very much, but I think of his writings every time I have a sip of water. I taste the silk; I feel the yarn. I yearn for the world to share this experience. Of water hitting the back of my throat and then sliding down the esophagus with their hands in the hair, not a care in the world. I miss the days where you could drink freely out of a hose. Where Brita wasn't around to steal minerals and manipulate my water. Where the heavens would open up and rain down water that you would look up with an open mouth and taste it all. Feel it in your bones. Shiver up and down the spine. Step in a puddle and smile. And slurp up the Nile.
"Do you like to go to yoga?"
"Oh yeah." I've never been.
"We should go soon."
"Please." I am very busy these days.
"What's your favorite pose?"
"Dead dog." This sounded wrong. She made a face. "It's a joke...HAHAHA!"
"I'm not always a joker."
"No, but seriously, what's your favorite pose?"
"It's hard to pick." I started to sweat. "I'd say the one where you twist around and stuff...HAHAHA!"
"Shut up." She said this curtly. I was laughing and sweating like a maniac and she looked like she was prepared to murder me.
"Look, if I'm going to be honest, I do not have a perfect memory. When I was in Vietnam, I saved hundreds of lives. I risked my own life in order to do so. This one Tuesday morning, I remember I had biscuits for breakfast, I saw fear in John McCain's eyes for the first time ever. Without any hesitation, I began sprinting. I ran faster than I ran when I qualified for the World Championships in the 200m. As I dove into John McCain, a Viet Cong bullet protruded my skull. I made it out alive that day, and thanks to me, so did John McCain. But now. Now, I don't hear so good. I don't think properly sometimes. Occasionally, I loudly belch. And you know what, my memory may be a little bit damaged. I try to remember. I try to remember what my favorite yoga pose is, but sometimes I come up short. I come up gasping for air trying to hang on for anything I can. It can be embarrassing. It can be depressing, and it can be devastating. But I'll never give up."
The woman stared at me for a moment. I think she's into me.
"I hate John McCain," she said as she walked away.
As I sat alone in a French restaurant in Berlin, I sneezed for the fifth time that afternoon. A man next to me turned to face my silky blue eyes. An old boyfriend described my eyes as silky. I said, "What does that mean," and he said "you know babe." Four months later I broke up with him when he told my mother that he'd rather kill himself than get lunch with her.
The man locked eyes with mine and said, "never sneeze like that again." He then scoffed and turned back to his plate of quinoa and biscuits. I wasn't offended by the remark, but I didn't stop thinking about it for the rest of the night. I don't want to get into the semantics of sneezing, but a remark like that leaves me no choice. I'm a fine sneezer. I might go so far to say I am a phenomenal sneezer. No snot shoots out of my nose when I sneeze. No gunk flies out of my mouth. Saliva doesn't erupt into the air. And I always sneeze into my arm for safe measures. I'm also not one of those pathetic sneezers who sounds like a tiny mouse when I sneeze. I let it out. I let it known to the world. And I keep it civilized, say "excuse me," and move on with my life. So if you tell me to stop sneezing, you've got some nerve.
I threw my silky blue eyes back to the man. He had half a biscuit in his mouth and two spheres of quinoa on his chin. He definitely was not German, and he sure wasn't French. He wore a toupée that was not the right size for his head. He was thirty five years old and probably bought that toupée at age 12. Some astute bully probably pointed out his early balding on the playground. "Hey look, he's got a hairline like LeBron James, but he shoots like a T-Rex." I'd love to date that bully.
"What are you looking at?" the man says as he looks up from his chili. I hadn't even noticed the chili.
"You have two spheres of quinoa on your chin."
"I'll save them for a mid-afternoon snack." It was already mid-afternoon, which was infuriating. I wanted to be in bed to nap two hours ago because I told a friend I'd go see her band play tonight.
The man kept trying to look intimidating, but I could tell he was so embarrassed about the quinoa spheres. He got up and went to the bathroom or maybe he just left the restaurant. I wouldn't know because I left soon after. I wanted to sock this sucker in the face, but I also wanted to get some sleep for tonight.
I woke up the next morning to seventeen missed calls from my friend, and a text that said, "Wish you were here, biscuits galore." The text was from my old boyfriend. It was time to move to France.
Maxine McCormick and Jake Schick are no ordinary hikers. Not even Evel Knievel can match the sort of risks these hikers take. In a few months, Maxine and Jake plan to walk the entire length of Manhattan. That's right - the whole thing. It would be obvious to say that this trek will not be easy. But aside from the clear difficulties, there are personal difficulties that will have to be overcome as well.
Jake has asthma. And it's serious. In his final high school track meet, he passed out on the third lap of the mile because he took two puffs of his inhaler instead of three. Jake also has a serious addiction to NyQuil. Last autumn, when Maxine and Jake attempted to climb Mount Everest, Jake fell asleep 45 minutes into their expedition because he could not find the self-control he needed to not take NyQuil right before the trip. We'll see if he's gained any self-control once they tackle the toughest hike of their lives in September.
Maxine has her own problems. She cries a lot. More than how much you're thinking. In the 45 minutes of the Everest hike when Jake was awake, she cried on 7 separate occasions and would yell things like "I'm tired!" and "This is difficult!" We shall see if she has what it takes to keep it together in September. She is also a talented guitar player. This may not seem like a problem, but it's actually a big one. She brings the guitar on nearly every hike, and it weighs her down. When the duo hiked Muir Snowfield Trail in Washington last month, she threw her back out due to strapping the guitar to her back. Her physical therapist is on the record stating that Maxine should never go for another hike again.
Most people assume that Maxine and Jake have been lifelong hikers, but that is far from the truth. A few years ago, Jake got fired from his job making sandwiches at a Subway in Portland, Oregon. Maxine was an unemployed customer who witnessed Jake being fired as it was a public affair, and their friendship was created when Jake walked her home after he took off his Subway apron for the last time.
In September, Maxine and Jake will discover who they really are. Some say there's no chance they fail; they are the most legendary pioneers of the past century. Others are incredulous and believe Jake's NyQuil addiction, and Maxine's tears may tear them apart in the end. September is coming soon.
Tiger Woods is most commonly known for his talent in the sport of golf. After winning a few tournaments and hitting little balls far, he became pretty famous. It seemed like he was unstoppable. But then Woods met a girl he had a crush on, and talking became flirting and flirting became an extremely public affair that led to the ruin of Woods’ career. When asked about the reason for the affair Woods would say things like, “What affair?” or “Where’s my wife?” After about fourteen years of confusion, back pain, and brief meditations, Woods decided to make a comeback. He applied to enter the Master Tournament, and the committee accepted him because there had been some downtime since the affair, and the committee had also just been served savory homemade pretzels. Once he was accepted he booked a flight in August to the National Park where the tournament was being held. Woods counted his putters, his clubs, and his bayonets, and made sure they were all there. After four long days of walking he was announced the winner by the committee. With a smirk on his face, he put on a jacket and walked home.
As familiar as this story is, nobody talks about Tiger Woods in his past life. Woods was a professional football player, and although this seems like a drastic change, he was nearly the same.
As a young child, Woods’ father had Woods tackle the family dog every morning. Woods was three years old but was destined for the bright lights of the football field. When the mailman came, the dog stayed inside, while a young Woods sprinted out and tackled the poor man to the ground. “I’m gonna be the best!” Woods would say as the mailman tried to find his glasses.
Woods became the youngest player drafted into the NFL at age 9, and boy did he deserve it. He was the best tackler the game has ever seen, and when the offense came out, he would play quarterback and was pretty good there too. As a linebacker and quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, Woods was on top of the world. He led them to four consecutive Super Bowl titles. During this time, Woods was best friends with his middle school crush, Stacy Robinson. After the fourth Super Bowl title, Woods went out with the team to celebrate. He met a girl with the prettiest eyes he ever saw. Green, blue, yellow, he wasn’t sure because in this past life, Woods was color blind. But he liked her. Shiela Boomer was her name. He asked her to dance. It was a loud night club so it wasn’t much of a slow dance scene, but they did it anyways. Hands on each other’s shoulders, they swayed side to side then back to the side again. But the damn paparazzi was there, and they caught him in the act. Woods panicked, grabbed Shiela by the hand, and ran outside. They hopped on Woods’ tandem bike and went for it, racing to Woods’ home. But Woods had a large piece of cake at the club and wasn’t as focused as he should’ve been. He lost control, and he crashed straight into a tree.
People don’t talk about Woods in the past life because, when he crashed into the tree, he died. He never made a comeback and he never got the chance to because he was no longer alive. So if you ever find yourself with a child who looks like a protégé athlete, don’t make him tackle the mailman. Give him a set of clubs.
©2022 Jake Schick