07 October 2008

Blue Monday: Sniffles and My First Faux Pas

Have come to the end of a very blue Monday. I’m battling what is either a bad case of hay fever/allergies, or a cold. Whichever, it has brought with it a quite annoying ringing in my left ear.  All of this has me longing for the comfortable familiarity of my former home. Drugstore giants Duane Reade and CVS were never far away. In my little corner of the Greenwich Village, there were in fact three (3) large Duane Reade stores less than 7 minutes walk from my apartment. Out here, in the rural Warwickshire countryside, Boots – a wonderfully elegant alternative to Duane Reade or CVS, more akin to Target -- is a half hour bus ride to Stratford-upon-Avon, or a 20 minute bus ride to Warwick. Ugh. Thank God, then, for Sainsbury’s, and of course, the D.E.B.

But, access to a drugstore (chemist’s) is only part of the problem. On days like today, and I think whenever one is under the weather, or “poorly,” one hankers for the familiar. I need/want remedies and cures that I know, love and trust. Heaven knows there is probably no difference whatsoever between Benadryl and Benalyn, or Nurofen and Advil. As Shakespeare wrote, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name, would smell just as sweet.” Now, I love the Bard more than most, so I have always taken his words to heart, but sometimes, when a girl needs Tylenol, just she needs Tylenol!

All this has made me think I should have done a better job of greasing the wheels in New York City, and convinced someone, anyone, to send me routine care packages full of American necessities: any and every variety of Tylenol; Popcorn, Indiana - Gourmet Popcorn (Sea Salt flavor, mmm…); TIDE laundry detergent; Lysol spray, (“Crisp Linen” scent); real Diet Coke, Nutter Butters, and a manicurist.

But, a part of acclimatizing, is, well, … acclimatizing. So, I’m sure the British remedies will do their best.  

Committed my first faux pas this weekend. At the St. Peter’s-C of E  “Harvest Supper,” no less. Thankfully, I did not, as I was wont in the ‘90’s, get drunk and start performing a karaoke rendition of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”. No, this infringement was far worse. Suffice it to say, the lesson I learned, the hard, but utterly polite way, was that most Britons over the age of 60 have not yet “forgiven” Wallis Simpson, and still view her as a “selfish, American, two-time divorcee from Baltimore.” Yikes.  And, I made the mistake of feeling the need to “stand up for my fellow countrywoman.”  Double Yikes.

Don’t you just hate that awkward silence that happens after you’ve said something truly asinine?  You can just see and feel that metaphoric tumbleweed drifting slowly across the room. Realizing I had rushed in, where a more angelic—or at least more sensible—woman would have feared to tread, I attempted to dig myself out of the hole I was in, by musing, “Well, for whatever else, she (Wallis Simpson) certainly had incredible style.” The women around the table had to agree with me.  The tumbleweed cleared, and we were all friends again. Phew!

In the end, it was a truly incredible evening. The D.E.B. and I actually had a super time, and even led our table to victory in the “Search Your Pockets & Your Handbag” relay. A miracle, really, given that Mavis on table 3, had us stumped when she was able to produce the requisite “unworn pair of tights.” (Don’t ask.) Ah, the English and their “party games.” (As if I don’t already carry enough useless items in my last season’s Kate Spade!)

We, the victors on the “top table,” celebrated our win with an extra bottle of red wine and a huge tin of choccies (chocolates).  In the midst of this afterglow, the very dear gentleman, with whom I had had my Wallis Simpson impasse, smiled broadly across the table from me, and reminded me that Winston Churchill’s mother was American. He then leaned forward, as if to indicate a shift to a more serious tone, looked me straight me the eye, and said with great earnestness, “We are all pulling for Obama, you know.”

The American presidential election, so remote and distant as it sometimes feels and seems (I must say, I’m pleased to have avoided the “party games” that seem to be running amok in the States right now), this moment reminded me that there is no remoteness, no distance in our world.  Whatever our differences of time, place, age or opinion, our collective destinies are, and have always been linked. America has had, and continues to have, a significant impact on British history, culture and life. More than we Americans are even aware of sometimes. 

p.s. Spent the evening unpacking countless boxes that just arrived from New York. After wading through mountains upon mountains of bubble wrap, and those dreadful, dreadful “plastic peanuts,” I am painfully aware that, true to my Southern belle upbringing, I have accumulated an unreasonable amount of china, silver and stemware -- the way some people collect stamps, or rocks. 

p.s.s. D.E.B. sits across the room from me as I type. He is strumming away softly on his guitar. He is so talented and creative. [Between us we have amassed five (5) violins, two (2) mandolins (both his), two (2) guitars (both his), and one (1) cello (mine). We are more musically stockpiled than the Von Trapp family in The Sound of Music! ] Sitting here, watching and listening to him, my thoughts drift… how magic it would be to create life with this man. This man, so like me—same birthday—and yet so different.


Asale said...

I hear you! When you are ill, as I am now, all an expat needs is a warm blanket and familiar cold products. And since I live in China, familiar cold products made anywhere but China could save your life.

Joanne Rendell said...

I know, i had a hard time adjusting to tylenol from paracetamol! also, for Benny, i insisted on having calpol shipped from the UK!!

spare tights in your purse? an absolute must, i'd say