“Things may happen and often do to people as brainy and footsy as you”
― Dr. Seuss,
Yes, friends! Writers may be brainy, but as Dr. Seuss so aptly put it, we’re also footsy! Talk about mishaps! Our fun guest today, Lee Carver, is very open about her own mishaps–literally writing the book on it! Read on, and laugh out loud as we did!
Who Wrote the Book on Mishaps??
by Lee Carver
Thank you, dear blondes, for inviting me to share my biggest goof-ups with your audience. Who wouldn’t want to do that? If we can’t laugh at ourselves, life becomes much more tedious.
I don’t mean to be a story-topper—the person in the conversation who peals out “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet”—but I wrote the book on mishaps. Literally. I collected stories during our years living in six foreign countries and tons of travel and recorded them in The Most Excellent Adventure, which is still available as print and e-book on Amazon. http://bitly.com/1vBOagn It’s so much easier to have a sensational goof-up while settling into a foreign social structure and language.
Here’s the first story in that book, re-edited for Modern Day Mishaps:
Life was very predictable in the small town where I grew up. A birth certificate from Atmore, Alabama, defined expectations of what was socially acceptable. Excitement came hard. I wanted to leave home and See The World. I wanted to marry someone I hadn’t gone to kindergarten with; someone who wasn’t in my elementary school class the day I wet my pants laughing at the story about the runaway monkey.
Whatever the reason, I hungered to see Paris before I forgot my college French. (I did, and discovered I didn’t know half as much French as I thought.)
When my husband’s job with Citibank transferred our family to Saudi Arabia in 1976, we accepted with high spirits. We studied the religion, language, and culture, and flew—from my perspective—to the back side of the world.
That sense of adventure and a healthy dose of humor were essential for this kind of life. After arriving, we learned that a family had just cut and run, having fulfilled only a few months of the agreed two years. When asked the reasons, they wrote six. The list ended, “The wall-to-wall carpet has wrinkles.” They were definitely in the wrong country.
Our family arrived in Riyadh informed that a new house awaited us. That house wasn’t finished for over a year. After a week, the company located one apartment in a not-quite-finished building in a block under construction. As the only residents in the whole area, we had no telephone and almost no electrical power until nighttime. Not even enough to run a television, and certainly not enough to power the window air conditioners. It was June, 115º F and getting hotter every day.
My husband, Darrel, had bought a one-year-old Volvo from the dealership owner. He assumed it would be well maintained. Wrong! A wealthy Bedouin, the dealer owned a huge house but sometimes preferred to live in a desert tent. A goat ate half of my armrest, and the well water in the radiator turned to chewing gum in the engine. The dealer sold his car because it needed to be sold.
So Darrel went to his air conditioned office every day in his choking vehicle. For a while, I had the two little children, no driver, no telephone or television, no air conditioning, and no outside play area. The school term had just ended as we arrived, so most of the company’s wives and children flew away for two or three months. The sense of adventure wore thin.
On one of these days, Darrel dashed in after work and asked if I had supper plans. I quickly offered to put away the ground beef surprise over chopped corn cobs if he had a better idea. He did. One of the families had invited all of us to their home for dinner. Yes!
I shook something out of the suitcase and threw it over my head while he put clean tee-shirts on both kids. We looked like homemade sin but got ready in five minutes. Air conditioning! Civilization!
I slipped on some nice wedge sandals, noticing the dry, cracked skin of my feet. They looked like I had been walking the desert behind a camel caravan. Removing the shoes, I quickly brushed polish on the two toenails that showed of each foot. After putting the shoes back on, I grabbed the kids and left…
…and Darrel drove us to the home of the Yamamoto family, where the guests removed their shoes at the door before entering. Horribly embarrassed, feeling that the whole world
snickered at my toes, I zoned in on the sofa with a thick, shaggy flokati carpet in front. I kept my toes dug into the sheep hair all evening.
The Yamamotos became our good friends, and we later lived in the same compound and shared a driver, as was company policy. They never mentioned my unusual pedicure the night we met.
The book winds on from there, picking up stories about that shared driver, an Eritrian named Abdul. The important thing is that we learned to laugh early in our international life, which made those thirty years so much more bearable.
Lee Carver is once again failing at retirement, a hybrid author in every sense: fiction and nonfiction, traditionally and independently published. She also does freelance editing, formatting, and print book and e-book uploads as well as being a Stephen Minister, alto in the choir, crocheting with Prayer Shawl Ministry, and volunteer pianist, among other activities. Married forty-eight years to a very supportive man, they have two children and five grandchildren.