Never

Daily Prompt: Never Again

Have you ever gone to a new place or tried a new experience and thought to yourself, “I’m never doing that again!” Tell us about it.

~*~

“So, what was it like, Aunt Sal?” Manda begs to know what it was like to dine in the dark.

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean you don’t know?”

“Just that. I never did eat in the dark.”

“But you went, didn’t you?” She sits up abruptly, knocking popcorn from her large bowl onto the floor beside her. Now she’s getting frosty.

“Yes.”

“So?”

I sigh and lean back in my nice, comfy, floral arm chair. The fire’s roaring in the hearth, barely beating the chill of this brutally cold February day. Manda’s sprawled again on the sofa opposite, munching on her popcorn and waiting for me to begin. So, I guess I better get on with it.

“Well, let me begin from the beginning.”

“Sounds good,” she munches and slides her bare feet under the sleeping collie curled up at the other end of the couch.

“We had planned a trip to Paris several months in advance and I’d heard about this interesting dining experience where you eat in the dark.”

“Yeah …” She already knows this. Twelve-year-olds know everything.

“I checked with your uncle Bill and he agreed that it would be a novel way to spend an evening, so I made a reservation … for three as his daughter was going to join us.”

“You mean Mary?”

“Yes, Mary.

“Okay … then what?”

“You know, if you’d stop interrupting I could get on with my story.”

“Sorry,” Manda crunches contrition.

“Well, the much anticipated evening arrived. It was pouring rain as only it can in Paris, so we were pretty soaked when we arrived at the restaurant.” I take a sip of Malbec, a favoured wine I picked up on during a drip to Argentina, and then continue. “When we entered it looked like any other fine dining restaurant you might frequent. It was warm; inviting; had a bar, and ambient music … you know, that sort of thing. However, when we were greeted by the Maitre D, well, that’s when things began to look a little different.”

Manda finishes a mouthful of popcorn and sips from her glass of homemade lemonade. She’s all ears, and I’m grateful for a break from the crackling of corn. Then she grabs another handful.

“Do you think you could stop eating that stuff long enough for me to tell the story … please? It’s most distracting.”

Manda puts the bowl to the side and hunkers into the couch. She’s a smart, obliging kid, this one, not prone to arguing even if she can be a bit petulant at times. “So, what changed?” she asks.

“The Maitre D showed us to a wall of small lockers and assigned us one. Then he asked us to leave our bags, and anything we had that might emit any kind of light, inside it … you know, watches, cellphones, that sort of thing. Of course, it made complete sense that we would do that. It’s not in the dark if there are watches and cellphones lighting up all over the room.”

Manda giggles, as do I.

“So we did that, and then they gave us each a flute of champagne, reviewed the format of the dining experience and showed us the menu offerings. We weren’t going to be able to see our food, but we did have a say in the kind of food we would eat. For instance, as you know I’m not a fish eater, so they needed to know that. The point of dining in the dark is to get an amplified sense of taste for the food. If I don’t like fish by the light of day, then eating it in the dark would be … well, it doesn’t even bear thinking about.” I sip my wine.

By the quizzical look on Manda’s face I can see she’s chewing on this new bit of information.

“You mean you had no idea what you were going to eat?” she asks, amazed.

“Nope.”

“I don’t know if I could do that.”

“Well, maybe we ought to do an experiment of our own at home, some time.”

“Maybe …” Manda responds with caution.

“Anyway,” I return to focus, “next thing I know a blind waitress …”

“You mean vision-impaired,” admonishes my politically-correct niece.

“Okay, vision-impaired waitress has us forming a congo line, one hand on the shoulder in front of us, the other holding the flute of champagne, and is guiding us through three sets of heavy curtains into a pitch black room. I mean, there’s not a stitch of light anywhere even though my eyes are searching for it. In fact, it’s so dark in there I can’t see my hand in front of my face.”

Manda gasps. “You mean you couldn’t see at all?”

“That’s right.”

I let her sit with this notion for a moment while I grabbed another sip of Malbec and reached for a handful of popcorn.

“So, how were you going to see your food?”

“Huh?”

“How were you going to see your food?” The look of abject horror on Manda’s face is priceless.

“Well, that’s the whole point, we weren’t supposed to see our food.” It’s then I realize that, like me at the time, she hadn’t thought the experience all the way through.

“Oh no, so what did you do?”

“Claustrophobia kicked in. I had a panic attack and was gently escorted out of the room to the bar downstairs. I ate there … alone … and wrote about my experience on a napkin. My notebook was in my purse which was in the locker, and Bill had the key. I felt like a colossal fool, to be honest, forgetting about my fear of enclosed spaces. Maybe somewhere in the back of my mind I thought I’d managed to let it go. Maybe.” I sigh and stare at the fire. There are lots of things I don’t do because of claustrophobia.

Manda moves to the other end of the couch and wraps her arms around Maggie’s voluminous, silky haired body. Comfort in an uncomfortable moment. I know her to be claustrophobic, too. She moves the moment along. “Did Uncle Bill and Mary eat in the dark?”

“Yes, and I understand it was quite the clumsy adventure. And noisy because, remember, all the other senses are heightened. So it’s not just about the food, the whole ambiance is altered as well. But they seemed to enjoy the challenge.”

“Would you ever give it another go, Aunt Sal?” Manda wonders aloud while giving the dog another squeeze.”

I drain the last of the Malbec from my glass.

“Never.”

~*~

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2016

The Language Broker

 Daily Prompt: Take that, Rosetta!

If you could wake up tomorrow and be fluent in any language you don’t currently speak, which would it be? Why? What’s the first thing you do with your new linguistic skills?

~*~

“You mean I have to choose … just one?” Sadie sat with her arms folded, a pout kissing her rouged lips. “But I’m travelling all over Europe, and I need to have every language if I’m going to do it properly. I want to buy the complete package of languages, please.”

Jorge, the language broker, understood her frustration. He’d seen it all before. Intrepid travellers strutting into his little language shop wanting the complete language package but not understanding how it worked.

“Look,” he responded with all charm tinged in Spanish melody, “The complete package comes one language at a time. You cannot buy them all at once. It is too overwhelming. You will need to pick a country … a language.”

Sadie sighed. Perhaps she was biting off more than she could chew. She looked in her purse and pulled out a treasured, tattered map of Europe. How long had she wished to travel to its many richly textured countries and savour its culinary delights with the advantage of knowing each of its many languages.  The language broker’s magical powers would make it possible, yet not as she’d imagined.

“If I buy a language from you, you can guarantee overnight delivery ~ however it is you do it ~ and it’s mine for life?”

“Yes, this is so,” Jorge, a master of languages, confirmed.

“And I will be fluent?”

“Si.”

“And then I can come back at a future time and buy another language exactly the same way, and it would be mine for life as well?”

“Again, this is so.” Jorge smiled. “You can have as many languages as you wish, but I cannot give them to you all at once. Information overload, you understand.”

Sadie was, indeed, beginning to understand. She really wanted to soak in all there was to experience in the many countries on her bucket list, but perhaps she had been thinking of going about it the wrong way. Her life was about travel now. She had all the time in the world. Why shouldn’t she take one country, and language, at a time and truly savour all it had to offer.

“Señor Jorge, you have helped me to see the light,” Sadie smiled in return. “I will, in fact, only invest in one language at this time, since it is mine to keep forever and I can add others in the future.” She reached into her wallet for a credit card. “You say your language impression code takes only a couple of hours during sleep to implant and is completely harmless?”

“Completely,” he assured.

“Any other people around when it happens?”

“You may have as many people in the room as you wish,” Jorge detected a hint of vulnerability. “You need not worry. My methods are non-invasive and restorative. You will feel better when you awaken then you did before you slept. A whole new world will open up to you. Now … what is your language of choice?”

Sadie felt a conflict of nations roaring inside her, but knew in her heart what she wanted.

“Italy, please. I want to speak Italian.”

“Italia ! Buona scelta. Posso andare avanti subito. Amerai l’Italia ei suoi tesori di storia e molti e bei luoghi.”*

“Huh?”

Jorge smiled. “Tomorrow you will understand.”

He reached for her credit card.

~*~

Yes, Italian would be my language of choice. I would love to listen to Italian opera and understand what’s being sung without English subtitles. Not to mention I love the country, its food and its history. How many more reasons do I need?

Grazie per la visita …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2015

*Italy! Good choice. I can get on that right away. You will love Italy and its history and many treasures and beautiful sites.

Getaway

Daily Prompt: Tourist Trap

What’s your dream tourist destination — either a place you’ve been and loved, or a place you’d love to visit? What about it speaks to you?

~*~

Hmmm … just when I’m day dreaming about getting away.

I have many dream vacations, and all involve places I’ve been or things I’ve done before.

Cariage trade in Vienna
Carriage trade in Vienna

I dream of returning to Prague and Vienna, and adding to that Budapest to complete that classic cultural triangle. My husband and I have discussed doing a river cruise and somehow integrating these three cities into such a trip. That would be awesome.

London and Paris are on my re-bucket list ~ I grew up in London so would like another chance to see it through adult eyes, and Paris needs more time. The week we spent there in 2008 simply wasn’t enough. I would also explore more of the English and French countryside.

The Villa
The villa we rented in Tuscany

Italy, of course, is high on my list. Last year we lived the dream of renting a villa in Tuscany for a week. I would do that again in a heart beat, but for a month this time. And I would return to Florence, Venice, Rome and Milan. I would love to see Lake Como.

View of Barcelona from the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya
View of Barcelona from the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya

Barcelona, of course, I would love to see again. Last time I was there I was under the weather with adrenal fatigue which made it really difficult to take it all in. I would love to experience it through clearer eyes. And explore the Spanish countryside as well, Perhaps find some Andalusian horses to photograph somewhere.

Ireland! Oh my goodness, I would love to return to the Emerald Isle. We were there three weeks in 2011 and it was amazing. Next time I want a month and to include Northern Ireland (we missed that last time) and more time on the Atlantic coast. And to stay in manor houses and castles again. That was fun.

Irish Pastoral
Emerald Isle

Scotland, too. Yes, that’s high on my list of vacation priorities. Inverness where much of my Scottish ancestry is to be found, in particular.

Warmer climates? Certainly. I’ve never been to Arizona or New Mexico. I think that would be fun. So many warm colours, and art; so much turquoise and cowboy culture. Wyoming, though not necessarily warmer has mountains. I’d like to see Jackson Hole.

Hawaii’s on the list, in spite of the fact there was a tsunami warning the last time we visited. That was special. But it’s so beautiful there so worth another go.

Beautiful America Bay in New South Wales, Australia
Beautiful America Bay in New South Wales, Australia

I’d return to Australia. Do more exploring than the last time when my experience was akin to that of Barcelona.

Mostly right now I just need to get away.

I think I hear an Ontario spa calling …

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

The Never of Travel

Daily Prompt: No, Thanks

Is there a place in the world you never want to visit? Where, and why not?

~*~

Never is a long time.

People change. Places change.

In the mid 1990s, with the Siege of Sarajevo raging, I might have said I “never” want to go to Sarajevo.

Rush hour from our hotel window at the Radon PlazaAnd yet, in 2009 I unexpectedly joined my husband on a business trip to this battle-scarred city and my experience of it, and Bosnia-Herzagovina in general, changed my life profoundly. I found a piece of myself there I’d no idea even existed. As a result, I have a fondness for that beautiful city that goes deeper than for many other places I’ve visited.

So, to say there are places I’d never want to visit is, to my mind at least, somewhat shortsighted. You just never know when fate or circumstance will take you somewhere you never thought you’d want to visit, and how marvellous the experience will be.

Having said all that, I might add that living with adrenal fatigue the past few years has made me acutely aware of my limitations when it comes to travel.

No adventure travel. Nowhere too exotic. Nowhere I can’t eat the food. Nowhere I can’t get a good night’s sleep.

My recovering nervous system can only handle so much.

So, instead of focusing on the “never” of travel I turn my attention to what’s possible.

Never is a long time. I prefer to think that at some point in the not too distant future my health will support travelling somewhere I might never have considered because of it.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

Do you fear the dark place?

It’s Free Write Friday (okay, I’m a couple of days late).

Time, once again, to let loose the imagination.

Here’s the prompt …

i-fear-the-night-tso-1

Here’s my response …

The Dark Place

What fun

To step into the dark

For just a

Moment.

To sense with open

Mind and heart

Another world unfamiliar.

Through the veil of my

Fear into the dark place

I am led.

Black as black can

Be, My hand before my

Face I cannot see.

My breath I

Cannot find as

Oppressive air a

Smothering cloak

Arrests me.

Disoriented eyes beg for

Light; for escape.

Fun becomes overwhelm

Becomes fear becomes

Panic becomes

“Let me out of here!”

I do not belong

In this dark place.

“Let me out … please!

Let me out!”

*

A voice. A guiding

Hand.

“Come, follow me.”

Trust I must.

And to the light

Once more am led.

Beyond the heavy

Shadow of my doubt …

And breathe.

~*~

Comment

What fun, I thought, to dine in the pitch dark.

The concept was intriguing.

Dans Le Noir is a novelty restaurant with locations in several major cities worldwide. When we were in Paris a few years ago we thought it would be fun to have a culinary experience where the enjoyment of the food is enhanced by the fact you cannot see it.

Check your phones and digital watches, cameras, etc. at the door, enjoy a glass of champagne, select your menu option and form a human chain to be lead through several layers of heavy drapes to absolute dark by a visually-impaired, i.e. blind, waiter.

Not a speck of light, anywhere.

I lasted less than a minute. Didn’t even make it to my seat. Claustrophobia swarmed me almost immediately and I had to be led out again.

I recovered my dignity, and ate alone, in a fully lit bar while my husband and his daughter enjoyed (endured) the experience without me.

Like all writers worth their salt I immediately wrote my experience and feelings down on a bar napkin, filling every scrap of space with imprints of my terror, panic, relief and a, yes, food review.

Do I fear the night? The dark?

Hmmm … I believe it would be more appropriate to say I embrace the light. 😉

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

~*~

free-write-friday-kellie-elmore

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013