Mr. Stupidhead woke up this morning mindful of the need to return the magic red hire car — the one he’d imagined himself to have hired on line for Price A, but for which he wound up paying Price B, two and a half times that of Price A — to the airport. He did so without a hitch, and then, also without a hitch, caught the Titsa (Tenerife’s public transport system) bus that would take him to the huge roundabout from which he would walk back down to the Arenas del Mar Gran Hotel.
Having enjoyed The Undateables on TV before flying down here, and on it seen multiple Tourette’s syndrome sufferers trying to find love in spite of their affliction, the missus and I (for who else did you imagine Mr. Stupidhead to be?) have amused each other by yelping, “Titsa!” whenever we espy a public bus stop, but that’s not really the focus of the present paragraph, which is in fact about the missus’s having been unable to persuade me to take a taxi home from the airport. There are those who have called me cheap, but I will own up only to very frugal. I’d already spent 15€ getting to the airport to pick up the car, which, as noted, had wound up costing nearly triple what I’d expected, and haven’t been getting nearly as much exercise as usual the past few days, so I figured I’d save myself some money by getting home on the Titsa 111 from the airport and then on foot, there being no direct bus service ‘twixt airport and El Medano.
I got out at the big roundabout as planned and began the long descent along the edge of the road (no sidewalks, you see) wondering if I should go through with my plan to assassinate “MacArthur Park” at tomorrow’s karaokefest, or perhaps brutalize a standard like “Ebb Tide,” which would require me to have to stand around less while the orchestra huffed and puffed. Maybe halfway down, I began sweating, and removed the tartan button-up hoodie I’d worn in deference to the morning chill. About a mile later, I remembered that I’d put my little orange plastic Freedom Card (for Brits of a certain age, and their expat spouses) holder, in which I carried my credit card, both my California and UK driving licenses, and a 20€ note for emergencies, in the hoodie’s left breast pocket. I untied my hoodie, patted the left breast pocket, felt nothing, and died a little bit. Maybe I’d moved it to one of the front pockets of my jeans? Nope. Maybe I’d put it in the Musicians Friend (chicks love it!) shoulder bag in which I carry my passport? Nope.
I walked maybe half a mile back up the hill. Nope. I growled many of the words most beloved of Tourette’s sufferers, but not compulsively. I’m not the sort who loses 20€ notes. (I like to imagine that if I were really cheap, I wouldn’t be as careful with others’ money as I am with my own, would I? Take me out to dinner and you can count on my ordering with great circumspection, for instance. And if I were genuinely cheap, would I have been using Macintosh computers the past 23 years, rather than saving myself bucks galore buying little Toshiba pieces-o’-crap running Windows?) I thought of standing in an endless line at the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Hollywood to replace my driver’s license, and of not being able to ride the London public transport system free. I observed, “Fuck!” again, at a much greater volume, and then again.
Mr. Stupidhead trudged down to the hotel thinking that the missus would point out that I’d been penny-wise and pound-foolish yet again. “Fuck!” I declared anew. I asked the nice woman behind the desk at the hotel if lost items were commonly returned to the police. She said they were, and got on the phone on my behalf. There is no police station in El Médano — naturally! I would have to re-ascend the hill and report my loss at the police station in San Ysidro. Which closed for the day in not very long. It occurred to me I would of course have to call my bank in New York and get them to deactivate my credit card. “Fuck!” I mused again, rather more spiritedly.
I persuaded the missus, who’d administered no scolding after all, to get some money out of the cash machine in front of the hotel, and hurried to the semi-nearby waterfront bus stop, where an English-speaking lunatic had just bought a can of Coke for a Spanish-speaking lunatic with whom he apparently felt he had something in common. ESL related in detail how he intended to get the Spanish to deport him so he wouldn’t have to buy a plane ticket, and SSL paused in his own babbling into the wind to remark, “Yeah,” uncomprehendingly whenever his new friend paused. The bus of course took forever to materialize.
I had the bright idea of sitting behind the driver. (The Spanish have the common decency to drive on the right, as nature obviously intended.) About a quarter of the way up the hill, I saw my little orange plastic wallet in the gutter, but didn’t implore the driver to stop, as I was almost sure he wouldn’t, and I am a frightful wuss. Months later, we finally reached the big roundabout. Should I, assuming that someone would discover my wallet and run off with it in the meantime, remain on the bus until it reached the police station, or should I scamper the three miles down the hill, hoping that my wallet would remain where I thought I’d glmpsed it? I decided on the latter, fairly leapt off the bus, and began jogging down the hill, pausing every couple of hundred yards to try to hitch a ride. The knee that was ruined when that girl motorist hit me while I was crossing the street in Beacon, New York, in 2008, wondered, “What the fuck are you doing?” I jogged on.
And then had a lovely long sip of the milk of human kindness as, unbidden, a middleaged Spanish couple in a white Seat (say Ott), stopped for me. The señora, the most beautiful woman on earth, spoke some English. They drove me down to just above where I thought I thought I’d seen my wallet.
And there it was.
Chuckle, “OCD!” as much as you wish. I’m going to be checking every 45 seconds for the balance of the holiday to ensure that everything’s where it’s supposed to be.