Question: Is there anything worse than walking with a man who has a GPS device in his hand and the absolute certainty he is right while you’re in a foreign city?
Answer: Yes! It is definitely worse to walk with two such men and their crummy iPhones as they argue heatedly about who is right and whose blue dot is in the correct location. In this situation, violence toward both the men and their blue dots may understandably be contemplated.
The two men who are bickering are my husband (at right) and his brother (left). The strange city is Buenos Aires. We have come here to celebrate my husband’s 60th birthday. As far as I’m concerned, this is fine. I’ve always wanted to come to Buenos Aires — and l’m a little tired of being the only person in the family who’s 60. It’s about time I got a little company.
Maybe, my husband has said, since the water goes down the drain in reverse in the Southern Hemisphere, he won’t be 60 on his birthday. Instead, he will turn 58.
We’re both going down the drain, I point out. Does the direction really matter?
However, in the case of the iPhones and blue dots, the direction does seem to matter. We have gotten lost on the way back from Uruguay and the farther we walk, the more unfamiliar it looks. We plod along, through crowds, along dusty paths, inhaling exhaust fumes. “I’m sure we’re going in the right direction,” one of the men says. This is precisely the 85th time one of them has made a similar comment. (Oh, yeah! This time we’re definitely on the right track!) I’m not sure which guy it is who’s talking; by this point, we’ve been walking so long, I can hardly tell the two of them apart. I want to kill both of them equally.
I would ask somebody directions, but my Spanish is as shitty as the guys with the blue dots. I have further been demoralized by the fact my brother-in-law has informed me that the double-l is pronounced with a “ch”-sound in Argentina. This is exactly what I don’t need: To unlearn one of the few things I remember in Spanish. I already have to work so hard to say “hola,” that I get a migraine by noon. My Spanish, formerly bad, has become horrible.
“I think we’re getting close to the cemetery,” the man who may or may not be my husband says hopefully. (Both guys are long on optimism, short on a sense of direction. But I am listening to them! What does that say about me? Nothing good.)
But at least the cemetery would be good news. It’s close to our apartment and we’ve already been there to see Eva Peron’s grave. According to a shop-owner in New York’s Soho district, Evita was embalmed and looks quite natural — not at all like Madonna. I would have asked somebody at the cemetery about the whole embalming question, but that stretches my shriveled Spanish vocabulary too far; I can barely say “dead” in Spanish. This is of great interest to a woman who is seriously contemplating issuing an ultimatum to the two men she’s with.
Finally, one of the two guys, sensing he may not make it to age 60 no matter which way the water goes down the drain, waves his hand and hails a taxi. We clamber inside and the taxi roars off. The two guys chortle about what a great adventure this has been. Getting lost! What fun! I try to indicate my total lack of amusement by using the universal language of women: The silent treatment.
We pass by the cemetery, which, of course, was miles and miles away from where we were. Then we see our apartment.
Question: Is it a good thing — after all — not to get to the cemetery quickly?
Answer: Whichever way you’re going down the drain, in whatever continent, you might as well prolong the journey.
(Copyright 2010 by Ruth Pennebaker)
Read one of my favorite posts about who ever heard of a passport photo getting rejected?
You gave me a great laugh today, Ruth…..adventures on the road with men! Love the photograph. Shitty Spanish or not, it’s bound to be fun. Enjoy your time!
I get so excited whenever a new Geezersisters post appears in my Google Reader. No matter how demoralized I happen to be feeling by my own circuitous route through the day’s freelance assignments, your posts always make me laugh.
An apartment in Buenos Aires? Lucky you; it’s one of my favorite cities. And I loved “the universal language of women.”
Another wonderful post. I’m afraid too many males get the silence of disapproval confused with the silence of approbation – especially when deprived of facial cues due to their eyes being glued to some smart hand held device.
This post reminds me of that old joke “of COURSE Moses wandered for 40 years….” . Glad your wandering had a shorter, if not happier ending point, though I am guessing that apartment sure looked like the Promised Land when first sighted.
And Madonna hasn’t been embalmed? An oversight, I’m sure.
I may have to revise the title for your biography to–
Madame Ruth: Around the World and Down the Drain
The addition of a photo was shocking!
I had always pictured you a trifle chubby.
I may never be the same.
The best time I ever had was getting lost in Rome. We stopped at an art festival and found the tiniest and most superb restaurant where the owners doted on us, their only customers. The worst time — getting lost in Chicago where we dared not get out of the car because we’d just seen a man with a gun chase another man across the street.
Ah, a classic Geezersisters post, the sort that keeps us coming back — wherever Ruth happens to turn up.
Winston — chubby? You obviously have not seen the early(ish) post in which our heroine buries her head in a pillow because she might not have made the director’s cut in a documentary about breast cancer.
Our Ruth has legs that either Eva or Madonna could cry for.
Thank you, Duchess! I do believe Winston loves me for my mind and not my legs, though.
Yes, I love you for your mind– I never know where it’s taking me next!
Real men don’t need GPS to get lost. I bet I can get twice as lost as they ever were. I’d still be down there looking for the cemetary. Taxis be damned.
You are retaining an amazing amount of sense of humor amidst all the testosterone. With age(60 1/2) must comes tolerance
Let me get this straight: Winston hints I’m fat. Craig thinks I am 60 1/2 — when I am only 60-1/6. God, what I have to put up with! No wonder I end my sentences with prepositions.
…and begin them with suppositions.
You always leave me with a smile. Especially when you are simmering with anger in some exotic place. Thanks!
My husband thinks getting lost is an “adventure” while I look at it as nothing but a waste of time and quite upsetting. But then again, we always seem to find our way…
Ruth is fond of simmering with anger in exotic places. She is sure the locals will view her disposition as pouty, feisty and sensuous. Cherchez la femme!
I have a strained relationship with the GPS. It has taken us along too many dirt roads and too many times has claimed we aren’t actually on a road at all when in fact we were. Sometimes I just think a map would be easier!
Martha, maps ARE better. A map has no soul. Whereas the GPS has a soul– it’s made of silicon. Therefore, it is moody, high-strung, easily bruised and capable of the most vengeful lies. My Uncle Paul had hundreds of maps. He consulted them frequently in his armchair excursions. He taught me how to read maps, trust maps, value them. And most importantly, he taught me how to properly fold maps. Maps NEVER steer me wrong!
We had a GPS on our 6 week business trip in Australia. It handled travel by car well, but was completely flummoxed if we tried to use it on foot. Luckily, my man is a pilot and has a fabulous sense of direction. Oh, and he’s always right you know. Always…
How do you do it? You just keep getting funnier and mores astute. Your blog got me thinking in a whole new direction (even before reading the comments) Men who have been totally immune to asking for directions or looking at maps, now love to ask directions of a digital device?
Oh Ruth…the word that comes to mind: hijinx! Love this. I laughed out loud at the notion of two men, each with their own GPS device. Lovely!
Hilarious, Ruth! Thanks.
What a fun read, Ruth. My husband and I have recently graduated to smart phones that have GPS systems. While Alan totally disapproves of cell phone usage or texting in the car, that disapproval does not apply to the GPS system on his phone.
Ha! It does take time to get use to that silly, pulsing blue dot to find your way somewhere. More than once, I’ve passed my destination because it took time for the GPS to update my location.
This post made me giggle from start to finish (and the picture is precious. You are all so photogenic). I hate that my husband is always fiddling with his electronic gadgets but at least he’s not fighting with his brother (he’s an only child!)
There are lots of benefits in traveling. I didn’t start traveling till I was in my 20s. Perhaps it was the fear of the unknown and even fear of flying but since I went for my first holiday to Australia, I have never looked back.