austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

The few francs we saved bought some cheap souvenirs

I always forget something in an expedition-report entry like last night's. In this case, it was something which came partway through the Hawk Walk. My batteries ran out, and of course, with the change in my bookbags I hadn't moved the fresh backup batteries into the new bag. So I had to stop at the store -- where they still had a chart up showing the discounts given to people with Wildlife Unlimited Gold memberships, as well as the older Friend of the Zoo and Friend of the Birds cards, a program I think they stopped three years ago -- and bought fresh batteries.

Benches, unfortunately, are in short supply, so I went to a drink stand to sit and change batteries, and to get something to drink. When he saw me, the clerk -- Roem, if his name badge is to be believed (the woman at admissions had a name badge reading ``Ernie'', so I don't know if they are to be believed) -- said, ``Ah, hungry again?'' This threw me, since I hadn't been there before during that day, and if I ever have stopped there before (I don't know if I ever did) it was at least a third of a year ago. I'm easily remembered, but usually not that easy.

I thanked him (I thank people reflexively), and just asked for a large 7-Up, and he asked, ``Where are you from originally?'' which is something Singaporeans like asking the white guys in their midst. While I was deciding whether ``The United States'' or pinning it down to a particular state was better, he guessed, ``Belgium?'' And that's peculiar, since Roem isn't the first person to guess that I might be Belgian, nor even in the first half-dozen of people to guess that. I don't know what traits are quintessentially Belgian, but it would appear that somewhere in life I've acquired them. Roem seemed to accept my claim that I wasn't Belgian, but I couldn't help suspecting he was watching me for signs of breaking my cover story. He believed me that I said I liked it in Singapore, though, so I don't think I'm in trouble yet.

Trivia: The Roman Senate offered Emperor Tiberius, successor to Augustus, the chance to name a month for himself, but Tiberius declined, noting the problem of what the 13th honored Emperor would do. Source: Mapping Time: The Calendar and Its History, E G Richards.

Currently Reading: The Pixilated Peeress, L Sprague de Camp, Catherine Crook de Camp.

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