We were welcomed into Brian’s home at Lancaster Gate and were shown around the flat. There was a lovely sitting room, furnished with rather lavish furniture that was a bit past its prime. A formal dining room was located off the sitting room, dark and unused—yet well-stocked with tall bottles of unopened liquor. A small kitchen offered a bright contrast to the rest of the living quarters; its tiny appliances proved to be equal parts utility and novelty. Brian’s room was in the corner. Gordon and I would be staying in the spare bedroom at the end of the hall, conveniently located next to a large bathroom.
There were still two rooms left unexplored. “Oh, that’s Dieter’s bathroom and his bedroom. Please don’t go in there.” I was perplexed and a bit miffed. Here I was, being the best friend I knew how by intruding on his Canadian hospitality, and he had the audacity to refuse me entry into the rest of his home! He went on to explain. “This is actually Dieter’s flat and I act as a sort of roommate/caretaker. Dieter has schizophrenia. Don’t worry; he’s not a danger to anyone. I’m just here to keep tabs on him.” As we took our bags back to our room, we passed the semi-closed door to the forbidden bathroom. My curiosity got the best of me and I looked in through the crack. I saw shower curtain withdrawn to expose the bathtub, but instead of seeing towels drying on the rung I saw a large, foldable drying rack full of black dress socks. There must have been two dozen pairs hanging there, the air drying them to the crisp stiffness of cold English toast. Intriguing… Read more
I was due for a vacation. It had been weeks since my last one, and I noticed that fatigue was setting in. I couldn’t eat my own body weight anymore, and I was having trouble sleeping more than 12 hours a day. I needed to get away, but wasn’t sure just where or how. It was a terrible dilemma.
I already knew who would join me. My friend Gordon would join me—that was a given. We’d been on many trips together over the years: Vermont, Delaware, Maryland, all over Pennsylvania, Vermont again, Virginia, Massachusetts, Vermont again, New Hampshire, and Vermont. In fact, we’d been to Vermont so often that I considered becoming a Phish fan just to make the locals hate me even more for intruding on their state. (It is also strange, considering that I like New Hampshire more.) A couple of years prior we had flown out to visit a friend of mine in Seattle, where we proceeded to drink our body weight in espresso-based drinks every day. I always preferred to drive to our destination–not for the convenience of it, but for the enjoyment of hitting the road and listening to Gordon’s astute observations of the world. Since we had flown once, we could fly again, so it opened up our options. Read more