The Vesta Virgin

In Silver Spring, there’s a great mental health facility that offers both therapy and psychiatric services called Vesta. I thought that today was open enrollment, because they do it every Tuesday and Wednesday from 10:00 to 4:30. The part I missed was that Tuesdays are in Germantown and Wednesdays are in Silver Spring. So, basically I Ubered over for nothing… well, perhaps not NOTHING. I did get my paperwork for tomorrow so that I don’t have to fill it out right before my appointment. That’s always nice. It wasn’t a total loss. I just felt dumb because I didn’t read the web site closely enough. So, I get to be a Vesta virgin all over again tomorrow.

The Uber driver that picked me up told me that he was an angel from heaven when I asked where he was from. I said, “we’re all that, but where are you from on earth?” He said that he was from Haiti. I said, “what a coincidence… my dad went to Haiti on a mission trip when I was young. What year did Baby Doc take over from Papa Doc?” He said 1986. I said that was around the time he would have gone. He said, “praise the Lord for your father.” I grinned. I do that every day. Anyway, he said that I was the first person he’d driven that knew ANYTHING about Haiti. I have that effect on people. That’s ALL I know about Haiti’s history, but it’s surprising how little it takes to make people think you know things. This has been used to both miraculous and disastrous effect.

Most of the time it’s a disaster, it’s asking people for directions in Spanish. I am not fluent, to say the least, so when people start speaking at least 400 wpm, I am lost in the first three. I just nod at derecha, derecho, and izquierda. Most of the time, I pick up at least half of what is being said, so that the next time I have to ask for directions because I’ve forgotten the Spanish ones, I am at least a little closer than I once was. In Spanish, my favorite phrase in the entire world is “habla despacio, por favor.” Please speak slower. It at least gets them down to 300 wpm. Occasionally.

Being a gringo in Maryland is interesting, while we’re on the topic of Spanish. In Texas, there’s at least some recognition that if you live in a Hispanic neighborhood, you’re going to at least pick up a few phrases. In Maryland, I have had SEVERAL people look at me like I have three heads when they say “no habla ingles” and I switch over. The funniest time was at the mall, when I asked for directions to the bathroom. The woman just held up her hands as if to say, “I have no idea what you are saying.” I said, “donde esta el bano por las damas?” I was wearing my Rice baseball cap, my surfer t-shirt, and my Converse All-Stars, complete with navy hoodie because it’s cold in the mall. She was all like, “por las DAMAS?” But she gave me directions anyway.

And then there was the time I went to SuperCuts and every single hairdresser in the place spoke Spanish. I flipped into Spanish as well, so they continued in Spanish the entire time I was there. I only picked up about half of what was said, but there was this one woman that came in earlier that they ridiculed and I started dying laughing because my first job was at SuperCuts when I was 16 and I have now proven that regardless of language spoken, the conversation is the same. And, because they thought I was fluent, every time there was a laugh line, they would point at me as if I was in on the joke. I was. Sort of. In a manner of speaking. The woman did not like her haircut and threw a fit and called the hairdresser some very bad names…. and if that’s all I got, that’s all I needed. It’s all we EVER talked about at SuperCuts.

So anyway, after I finished my time at Vesta, I decided to walk to Starbucks and try to get some work done. On the way I stopped at Smoothie King (orange/vanilla Slim and Trim, add banana) and CVS (notebook, toothbrush, cards). By the time I actually got to Starbucks, I ended up writing most of the time (by hand!). It was close to dinner when I was actually packing up, so I had a burger and fries at Mickey D’s and then walked the two miles home. That is my bargain with myself when I want a McDouble with Hot Mustard.

I also wanted to make myself tired enough that I go to bed early. The woman at Vesta said that she never knows how the crowds are going to run, whether there are going to be more people in the morning or in the afternoon. I’m going to try and shoot for 9:45. She said to get there any earlier probably isn’t advisable, because I’d just be waiting. I can’t decide how long I’m going to “wait,” because really that just means reading my Kindle. Right now I’m in the middle of Obama’s Wars by Bob Woodward. Here’s something that’ll cook your noodle I’ve learned so far. Lindsay Graham is smart. I didn’t believe it at first, but read the book. Through back channels, he’s actually a friend of the Obama administration and advises on military matters. I had no idea. I thought he was just a sack of shit in a cheap suit. If Obama can give him a chance, so will I. I suppose.

Begrudgingly.

Especially as I’m waiting to become a Vesta virgin.

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