Trail of Crumbs

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I know this is a WTF Wedsnesday post, and today is Friday. What can I say, folks? Laziness is a hell of a drug.

 

Stand-off with the geese.

 

I feel like most normal people are irrationally scared of at least one harmless animal.

I speak not of rational fears, mind you. I think it’s totally reasonable to fear certain animals, like baboons or moths, both of which are fucking terrifying. My fear of them makes total sense; they are obviously trying to kill me and suck out my delicious eyeball juices.

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I love these goobers.

 

“I can’t figure out what this is.”

“It’s … slimy.”

“I can’t cut anything.”

“Cut? I’ve just been using my hands.”

“Speaking of hands, Geraldine, keep yours to yourself.”

“GOD DAMN IT, JON. Lisa, I swear, I’m not touching him.”

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I have heard that if you take one sense away, the others rush in to cover for it, like dutiful coworkers. When Molly Birnbaum lost her sense of smell after an accident, she talked about how she focused on the texture of food (as the subtleties of taste were now lost to her – she could only detect sweet, salty, bitter, and sour). When my own grandmother was near the end of her life, and nearly blind, I found she focused a great deal on touch, and she’d express alarm when she reached for me on the couch and felt a sockless foot or a too-chilled hand (“Sei scalza? Fa freddo!” You’re barefoot? It’s cold!).

And I’ve heard that eating in pure darkness makes you enjoy a meal more. You appreciate flavors and smells and texture in a way you couldn’t otherwise.

This is, in part, true. You also spill on yourself and accidentally end up eating zebra.

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I would like to take a moment to talk about durian.

I have to. I have spent the larger part of the morning working on a post about the Khmer Rouge, and I very much need a mental break, and talking about stinky fruit will allow for that to happen.

So. Durian.

The stuff is notorious, and you’ve probably heard of it. Miraculously, I somehow failed to take a photo of the inside of the fruit (I think I was hypnotized by the smell) but here is its exterior:

 

I like to think of the spikes as being Mother Nature’s subtle way of saying, “Get back. Seriously.”

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My presumption with any warning sign, or really any sign at all, is that it exists for a reason. Like, you wouldn’t put a warning sign that says “Watch Your Step!” unless a dozen or so people had tripped on that particular spot. No sign, I figure, is unsolicited or unprovoked.

Which is why the two that I saw in Sorrento, near the docks for the ferries to Capri, were so darn delightful. Because they do not feel unsolicited. They feel like a specific response to the crazy actions of southern Italians.

This was the sign in the bathroom. When I first saw it, I thought I was hallucinating, because NOTHING could be so magical. Notice, also, that it isn’t translated. Do you know why? Because NO ONE BUT ITALIANS WOULD THINK TO DO THIS THING IN THE FIRST PLACE.

 

The sign says (and I shit you not): “IT IS ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN TO WASH YOUR FEET IN THE SINK. THANK YOU”

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Sometimes I think I have the maturity level of an 11-year-old.

Other times, I am absolutely convinced of it.

We’ll be walking around someplace beautiful, and instead of taking in the amazing architecture or historical significance of the place, I’ll be doubled over, laughing hysterically because there are two stray cats getting it on in the distance.

And then I’ll take, like, two photos of the UNESCO site that we’ve trekked to, and like, THREE DOZEN of the mating cats.

I also took a photo of this pregnant cat, in case I needed a cautionary tale for any horny adolescent felines that I came across.

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“Is … is that a peacock?” Rand asked me as we walked through the village.

“Where?”

“Over there, by the church.”

“I highly doubt it,” I said, squinting in the direction he was pointing. “I don’t think that-”

And then I saw it.

“Yup,” I said. “That’s definitely a peacock.”

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Rand and I stopped in Garmisch for a quick snack at a bakery (because if I say I need a snack, 90% of the time what I mean is “I need a pastry). Upon leaving, I noticed the sign on the restaurant across the way, and went in for a closer look.

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I’ve learned that certain things which may be considered totally acceptable in one country aren’t okay in another. That customs and cultures don’t necessarily translate. Even the things that we find to be horrifically offensive aren’t universal.

Recently, I visited my family in Italy. I got to talking with my cousin, and she explained to me that the term “finocchio” (literally: fennel) is an offensive term to describe someone who is homosexual.

“You would never, ever use it,” she said, her green eyes wide.

It’s a reminder that words have power, that even something innocuous can be offensive if you are crossing cultural lines.

That being said, I do not consider this to be innocuous. I consider this to be seriously effed up:

This. Just. NO.

 

That is a poster for a recent production of a play (“Othello darf nicht platzen” – literally, “Othello may not burst”) featuring two white guys in blackface. When I saw it in the Munich subway, I found myself just staring blankly, my mouth hanging limply open.

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