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One of the endearing (let’s face it — it’s not really endearing at all) things about getting older is the inexorable decline in… let’s call it focus. Gone are the days when I could (for example) sit down and write a program to solve the Schrödinger Wave Equation in under an hour.  (I may only have done it once, but I did do it.)


My struggles with focus extend to this drivel — I’m supposed to be writing about a schoolteacher locked in a bathroom in Kalambaka, but, well, there are distractions. There’s a bag of chips in the pantry that I can hear calling my name. There are Star Trek reruns on TV. Heck, there are icons for GAMES two inches to the left of the window I’m typing this in.

It’s hell I tell you.

So while my notes say “teacher in the bathroom” (not) they also say “I know where I live” (on the very next line, in fact) and I can’t get that out of my head. Even the earworm I just accidentally created can’t displace it. Oh well, whichever way the wind blows. (Oo! Another distraction! Like I needed another one…))

I recently (ish) participated in the democratic process by casting a ballot for a candidate that lost. Go me. (To be fair, I’ve voted for losers with near-unerring consistency for over forty years. Call it a gift. I guess. But on the plus side I’ve learned that naked MPPs are indistinguishable from naked non-MPPs.)


In the process a nice lady (I was tempted to say ‘girl’ because she was clearly well under half my age, probably under a third. But that would be wrong.) examined the little card I got in the mail and asked me a Pointed Question.

“What’s your address?”

Ah. I can answer that. But hey, I don’t need to.

“It’s on that card I just gave you.”

“But what is it?”

Wait, what? It’s a security question? And the answer is written on the card I brought with me? It’s the address of the house where I stole found ‘acquired’ the card? Ummmmm, okay.

But heck, I got it right. And I didn’t even have to ask for the card back. I was taken rather aback at how proud I felt at getting the Worst Security Question In The History Of Everywhere correct.

Geez, I’m setting the bar low these days.

But I was supposed to be talking about bathrooms in Europe.

About six months ago Ms. Rose and I started our Grand Tour Of Old World Plumbing (which isn’t exactly what a Grand Tour used to be about but things are a little different than they were in the 17th century). We started in Greece, well, because. Also on the tour was

  • a nice lady named after a doughnut
  • another nice lady who was once tragically devoured by fish
  • yet another nice lady who has never been, to my knowledge, devoured by wildlife
  • a nice gentleman who was kinda sorta a project manager (He did tell me but I confess I forget. Go me.)
  • a nice turkey farmer
  • a nice non-turkey farmer
  • a nice nurse who apparently left her hat at home
  • a nice actress with a tree on her head
  • two nice accountants (only one of whom tried to get me drunk)
  • and three nice schoolteachers.

To the best of my knowledge, nobody else

Not the bathroom in question.

was as obsessed with plumbing as we I was. Or were they? Because a week before we arrived at the site of the world’s first flush toilets, one of the schoolteachers went to the bathroom in a restaurant (in Kalambaka, but you knew that already) and Didn’t Come Back.

“Has anyone seen our schoolteacher?”

“Which one? I thought we had three.”

“The Canadian one.”

“Oh. Right. Umm, she was here a few minutes ago.”

Confused looks were exchanged while the band played on, drowning out frantic pounding from the direction of the bathroom.

“Did anyone hear that?”

“Hear what?”

“That’s what I thought.”

Several songs later our schoolteacher reappeared. Apparently someone had, in fact, heard something (not pounding as far as I could tell;  possibly a talking chair — my guess is that she had been rehearsing a pointed critique of Greek plumbing and furniture for a famous website.)

Anyway. We got our schoolteacher back.

Apparently ‘boat dock’ means something slightly
different on Crete.

A few days later we boarded a ferry to take us to the island where a guy not really named Minos revolutionized plumbing. It was an overnight ferry — with such a momentous destination people acted with appropriate gravitas. I slept, for example. So did Ms. Rose. At least one farmer and a health care professional did too. Of course, not everyone did — down the hall, the actress with the tree on her head, the lady devoured by fish and the lady not devoured by fish braided each other’s hair and had pillow fights all night long. Or so the not-really-a-project-manager-from-New-Zealand assured me.

After breakfast (where there was ample raki), the nice lady who had been eaten by fish announced that she was going to walk to the south coast. Of course, being old, pathetic and lazy I announced that

I may have lost the test of wills but I managed to
retain my hat. The fence helped.

I wasn’t. So after a van ride with exploding luggage, a ferry boat and an epic hike

modest walk to the iron gates (which are neither iron nor gates, but never mind) I/we met her and then stopped for a refreshing beverage. (Sitting on a ferry boat is, after all, hard work. And walking on

cobblestones? Losing a test of wills to a goat?  It’s practically mandatory.)

The not-really-iron not-
really-gates. Photo courtesy
of the nice lady named
after a doughnut

After an exhausting day of not walking the seventh best hiking trail in Europe, I looked up what it is I didn’t do. On Google (TM) I found something more than two screens of websites that said variations of

There also exists a “lazy way” — from Agia Roumeli to the Gates, and back.

So. I expected to learn about flush toilets. Instead, I found that Wikipedia thinks I’m a wimp. I guess you do learn something every day (although to be fair, I’ve kinda suspected that one for a long time).



The Author

Rose Glace is the pseudonym of nobody important.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Economizing – Rose Glace's Blog

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