Tag Archives: luka

Near death experience in a Parisian airport

13 May

A peanut-butter m&m tried to kill me in the Charles de Gualle airport.

I refer to it as one of my near-death experiences, though the only human witness to the event claims I am ridiculously over-dramatic.  Easy for him to say, the m&m never clawed its white gloved-hands into his esophagus while performing variations of River Dance with its tiny bright shoes.

But before I get ahead of myself-allow me to set the stage for you.

Picture this guy.

Picture me.

I think we can agree-someone was gonna go down.

As I sat innocently waiting to board my flight to the Dominican Republic, then-fiance at my side, I decided to enjoy a few m&m’s, not realizing of course-that the yellow assassin huddled eagerly in the package.  Plotting his demise of my throat he patiently planned his attack as I eagerly thrust my hand into the bag, and attempted to chat with my companion.

For his part, Luka was reading a newspaper and clearly wanted me to leave him alone after I had insisted on twirling the wheels of our check-in luggage whilst he explained his visa status to the Air France woman.  They had rapidly debated in French and I had taken the opportunity to sing the theme song of a French cartoon from the seventies about a love-able seal while spinning the wheels on the upturned suitcase.

Not loudly-mind you, more like humming to pass the time while the visa situation was under control.

So, for his part, the companion was eager to read the newspaper and ignore the antics of one very excited-about-vacation-menace.

I munched away on a few sleeper candies while he read the sports page.  I asked him a few questions, receiving mumbles and deep sighs in return.

His evident desire for peace and quiet resolved in my determination to entertain myself and eat my candy.  Silently.

But it was not to be.

For just at that moment, the stealth-choco-covered-peanut and my fingers were to meet for the first time.  I gotta give it to the little devil, he remained motionless and peaceful when I grabbed him (I suppose it’s part of his melt-in-your-mouth-not-in-your-hand contract), but then cleverly launched himself past my mouth, directly into my throat, and began performing the aforementioned jig.

Quickly losing oxygen, I attempted to get Luka’s attention.  At first with a tap on the shoulder, followed by a punch to the knee.

When neither of these tactics were successful, I thrashed around on the floor as if being attacked by Jaws.  Fearful that my soul might too eagerly jump into the light that was sure to appear at any moment, I frantically mimed out that an m&m was kicking his poofy white Reeboks up and down the interior of my throat-sure to bring death swiftly.

My hands went from the bag, to my legs as I tried to jig-to my throat.  Eyes bulging out of my head, cheeks turning bright red I chose interpretive dance to communicate my distress.  Hoping against all odds that Luka would understand, which thankfully-he did.

He softly patted my back, listened to me cough for a moment-made sure I was actually breathing, handed me a bottle of water, and said:

‘you ok?’.

Right.  As if anyone who has just won an epic battle against a candy-coated monster can be simply, ‘ok’.

The next ten minutes before boarding passed along in silence as I pictured my conquered nemesis slowly dying in my belly-surely devastated at his own failure to take down his Zilla target.

I haven’t encountered any undercover agents in my candy-bags since then, but I’m sure there’s at least one more.  Next time, I’ll be ready.


Ryan Mikel………

19 Mar

The day I announced my engagement to a Serbian, my mother started quoting lines from Not Without My Daughter.  In case you don’t watch Lifetime-that would be the flick with Sally Fields about a woman who marries a Middle Eastern guy and then can’t leave his country.  Well, can’t leave it without her daughter.

Insert my mother’s irrational fear.
Don’t ask me how she made the connection.  I distinctly remember her referring to the ‘tribal’ nature of Serbs, despite the fact that mine was about as Parisian as they come.

Regardless, during the course of my six-month engagement (no-we will not be diving into further details on that subject), she took to randomly calling me with questions about our future.

I should mention here that when it comes to pronunciation, my mom is handicapped.  So the day she called me to ask how to pronounce my would-be last name, I knew we were going to have problems.  It had taken her three months to stop calling him Lukas (his real name being Luka), so I just figured the surname was going to be a lost cause.

Nevertheless, this is the conversation that transpired between us when she unleashed the Spanish Inquisition on me:

Mom:  ‘Hi honey, just calling to see how things are going.  Say, how do you pronounce Luka’s last name again?  You are going to take it, aren’t you?  Or are you going to hyphenate?  Just want to make sure I can pronounce it.

Me:  (Deep breath) ‘Ok Mom, its Markovic.  Mar-Ko-Vich.

Mom: “Mykarvo?’

Me: “No, Mar-ko-vic’

Mom: ‘Mer-kar-ma?’

Me: ‘Nope, not Merkarma Mom, MAR-KO-VICH’

Mom: (deep sigh on her end) ‘Mary-Kug-vok?’

Me: ‘I have an idea, why don’t we talk about something else for twenty minutes, and come back to this.  Approach it with a new start a little later.

Mom: ‘k, yes, great idea.’

(We continue chatting about God-only knows what for the next fifteen minutes)

Me: ‘Ok Mom, are you ready to try the name again?’

Mom: ‘yes’

Me: Ok, grab a pen.

Mom: “Graaaaaaa-Baaaaaaa-Puuuuuuunnn’

Me: (pinching nose between eyes with one hand, deep sigh of concentration with the other)  “No Mom, Grab. A. Pen.”

Mom: ‘Gruuuubbbb-Aaaaaaaa-Piiiiinnnn’


(thirty second silence)

Mom: (laughing)  ‘Oh Whoops, did I really just do that?’

Me: (shaking head in disbelief) ‘Yes mom, yes you did’

She never did learn to pronounce his name.  God help me if I ever marry a Middle Eastern man.  Scratch that, God help that man.

Bob, Robert, and the truth

16 Mar

Last July a tiny snail crawled it’s way out onto the wall of my living room from some lilies in the corner.  He didn’t make it very far in the heat, and proceeded to either a) die on the wall, or b) take a nine month snooze.

Yes, that is how long he has been on the wall, or had been until this morning-but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

I said he was tiny but I should have said nearly microscopic.  This is important because I don’t want you thinking I would let giant snails continue to live on the wall of my apartment.  He was quite cute, and since I wasn’t sure at first if he was dead or alive, I figured he could just hang out and avoid mingling with Parisian restaurants.  I had no intention of initiating long-term scarring on the little guy.

So instead I named him Bob, but called him Robert (pronounced Ro-bear in French) on Thursdays and Sundays -for no real reason except that I have always liked those days and figured he’d appreciate a little formality now and again.  Sometimes I would pass the wall and see him, raise a mock high-five, and yell out:

“salut Robert’, or ‘hey Bob’ (depending on the day)

Sometimes I would forget he was there.

About three days after I initially spotted him, I figured he was dead.  Still, I  decided he could stay.  It’s Paris, he’s a snail.  Seemed to fit somehow.

Until today.

Today my friend got close to Bob and prepared his standard greeting to my seemingly-shelled roommate, when suddenly, said friend uttered:

‘Ry, are you serious?  Have you ever actually looked closely at this so-called snail?’

So I responded, quite rationally:

‘Well not really, I mean he’s not much to look at, is he?  Too small to really see much of anything’

I continued talking but quickly realized that my friend was gazing at me with a look generally reserved for the long pause before explaining reproduction to children.  He was preparing a biology lecture, just not one involving snails.  Mucus yes, snails-no.

‘Ryan, Bob is a booger.  You’ve been greeting a booger-FORMALLY greeting a booger for the past nine months.  This is disgusting.’

At first I didn’t believe him.  How could Bob be a booger?  My little Parisian friend?  Robert?  Not the mucus I had imagined, but a variety of that only far, far worse?

And then I looked closer.

My cartoonish picture of Bob will never again include a small happy snail with wiggly eyes and a round shell.  Now it will forever conjure images of whichever idiot stood in my living room and chose to pick their nose, then flick the findings onto my wall.

You’ll remember that I utilized the adjective cute in the description of a booger.  A booger.

This dear readers, is truly the life of the unemployed.

Next time I think there’s a snail, I’m grabbing a sponge and re-evaluating the company I keep.

Parisian apartments

14 Mar

A friend of mine was searching for apartments in Paris when I first met him.  We were in the same grad-school program, and we instantly bonded over the horrors of trying to find an affordable Parisian apartment.  In fact, one of the first things I remember his smiling face proclaiming was:

‘Sure, the centerpiece of the room is the toilet, without barriers or anything, but I figure I can put a chess-set on the bowl when it’s not in use.  Not going to be a great selling point if I have girls over though.  I imagine whoever isn’t using the toilet will have to stand in the corner covering their eyes and plugging their ears-you know, out of respect’

Yes, some of the places that Parisians deem habitable are certainly questionable.  I had one friend whose toilet was in the shower.  When she washed her hair, she had to straddle the bowl.

Another shared a turkish toilet with four other people, each of whom had their own tiny bedroom big enough for just a twin bed.

I myself once lived in a place with a door so low I had to duck to enter, which didn’t do my ex any favors, as he was considerably taller than myself.  We called it the hobbit hole.  In total there were four places within the 22 square meters (thats 236 square feet-yes, you read that correctly) where he would routinely bash his head into a beam.  It was above a Lebanese restaurant so in addition to the permanent smell of roasting lamb and cigarette smoke on the walls, there were lots of mice.


We once caught eight in two days.

Anyway, as it goes, finding a Parisian apartment is no easy task.  My friend didn’t end up taking the room with the toilet bowl centerpiece, but I’m sure someone did.

eurostar humiliation

26 Feb

My mother says she won’t pick up my wedding dress from the shop until I get the gigantic horse costume out of her apartment.  I bought it for my brother to wear one Halloween in London.  He didn’t.  So now neither the dress nor the horse have been worn, and both are residing in the UK.

The question is-which is more practical?  The wedding dress only gets used the one time-but a giant horse costume, that is likely to provide decades of entertainment.  It’s just one of those never-go-out-of-style items.  When one isn’t having a wedding, owning a wedding dress is little more than a prescription for depression.

Besides, the horse costume makes it appear as though you are a cowboy riding the animal.  Complete with fake human legs on either side of the saddle, its one of those giant stuffed contraptions where the pants are really the back legs of a HASBRO inspired Mr. Ed.  There’s really only one problem with retrieving it from London.


Well, Indy and the idea of wearing a horse costume on the Eurostar as that is most certainly the only way to get it on the train.  Not sure how well I’d be able to mingle with the other passengers with a massive horse erecting from my crotch.  Not well would be my best guess.

That problem aside though-there’s still Fatbreath to worry about.

She once spent hours attacking the foot of a giant stuffed Ninja Turtle masquerading about as a drunken Englishman.  Complete with growls, raised fur, and ferocious grunts she hung off the poor guys foot as he mingled with the rest of his painter-inspired posse.  Makes me wonder how she’d handle the horse.

Though to be fair, its probably better than me handling the dress.  Honestly, I’d have to wear that monstrosity on the train to get it home as well.  Which is worse? Horse-crotch or unexplained solo-bride on the Eurostar?  Sitting there by myself in a dress that could not possibly described as anything but  wedding attire on a bad hair day with little make-up?

Horse crotch wins.  Next stop-train station.

One for the bartenders

21 Feb

At one point in my not so long ago past I was a regular in the Parisian Latin Quarter bar scene.  Wandering throughout the cobblestone streets after one too many cocktails, getting in ultimately deep late night discussions, and laughing until the sun came up was all part of a normal weekend.  I’ve worked in bars, been engaged to a bar owner, and picked up many a partner in crime along the way.  In honor of all those friends who spend their time serving the public, I hereby state the five greatest ways to keep your bartender happy.

1.  I realize this sounds obvious-but say please and thank you.  You’d be shocked at the amount of people who throw simple manners out the window when talking to someone serving them.

2.  Read the menu beforehand and know what you want to order.  It’s beyond irritating to be incredibly busy at work and have a client impatiently wave their hand over and over to get your attention-only to discover that the idiot doesn’t know exactly what he/she is ordering yet.

3.  Don’t accuse your bartender of being stingy on the alcohol.  I realize that for some reason people think that bartenders are out to be stingy with booze out of spite or to save money-but let me assure you, this is not the case.  A bartender has no incentive to give you less alcohol than what you have ordered.  Accusing them of such behavior only results in making yourself look like some kind of macho ass out to impress people with your so-called massive tolerance.  It’s pathetic.  Your bartender will remember that you did this the next time you order, and are unlikely to be concerned about whether or not you have been served quickly.

4.  Take a minute to ask how their night is going.  Especially if you see someone else being incredibly rude to them (pay attention-its happening all over the place).  Make them smile a bit, roll your eyes at whoever has irritated them-you’ll be instantly liked in comparison.  I had many clients offer to buy me drinks when they would see someone being rude to me-and I always appreciated it.  It usually resulted in them getting free shots from me later.

5.  Tip.  Dear God, tip.  Even in Paris.  Even if you think its not part of the local custom.  If you want better treatment with a bartender, tip them.  You’d be amazed at the difference it can make.

Remember-If you keep them happy, they’ll keep you happy.  The occasional free beverage, discounts, special treatment-all of these are at your disposal if you use a little common sense when talking to the people standing between you and the drinks at a bar.