Tuesday, June 16, 2009

a talking car

When I was at a Canadian writers's festival it was my job to pick up a young German poet at the airport who was being flown into read at the festival. I was given the wrong flight information by the poet's publisher and the poor fellow had been wandering around the airport for hours. I finally found him in one of the huge multileveled parking lots aimlessly searching for a woman his publisher had described as "tall with pale blond hair who would be holding a sign that said VOLKERT". He was looking for Uma Thurman, but found me instead-- a woman old enough to be his mother whose 'pale blond hair' was really white. He was disgruntled thinking that not only was I not Uma Thurman, but I had been hours late. I introduced myself by saying "Well, I guess I am the first Canadian to greet you." He immediately snapped in a thick German accent, "No you are not. A car has already spoken to me. In fact it spoke in English and German to me." He said this in a tone that indicated that he was thrilled to find a bilingual car since I spoke no German at all. Figuring the guy had the equivalent of airport rage that had now gone into psychosis in an unfamiliar land, I humoured him by saying, "Well how hospitable of that bilingual car." Since he didn't smile I said, "I guess with all that is happening at General Motors even the cars have had to learn how to be more accommodating."

He looked at me with a superior smirk and said, "I realize that you think I am unhinged. I believe that is the English word." I didn't answer that it really doesn't take that much to 'unhinge' a poet in any country, but said instead that I simply hadn't been chosen by any car, let alone a bilingual one, to converse with.

At this point the man dragged me up two flights in the dead of winter to the top of the parking lot and stood very close to the front of a black Mercedes. Suddenly the car said in a unitone "You-are-perilously-close-to-my car". Then the voice went up an octive and said the same sentence again in English and in German and then the unitone said "Back-off".I smiled and said that I was pleased that he could have been greeted first by a countryman.

1 comment:

  1. Caherine, I think that your German friend is lucky he was not tasered by the RCMP!!!!!!