Jamaal Charles

Oh Crap!

the wi-fi went sour, i had less than one half hour

time trialed to The Cafecito, ordered the veggie burrito

mopped up all the sweat, logged onto the internet

with 45 seconds to spare, i leaned back in my chair

a ghost town was around, spanish was the sound

60 seconds on the clock, I should have done a mock

but then i heard His voice, the Mighty Allahs choice:

Do Not Go White, Do Not Be Dumb,

Be Sure To Draft The Speedy Muslim!

You Talkin’ To Me?

Back For More Back For More Back For More Back For More

Even The Score Even The Score Even The Score Even The Score

Hot Sunny Days Hot Sunny Days Hot Sunny Days Hot Sunny Days

Ride Some Waves Ride Some Waves Ride Some Waves Ride Some Waves

Make Some Art Make Some Art Make Some Art Make Some Art

Follow The Heart Follow The Heart Follow The Heart Follow The Heart

Slow It Down Slow It Down Slow It Down Slow It Down

Wear A Crown Wear A Crown Wear A Crown Wear A Crown

Walk On Land Walk On Land Walk On Land Walk On Land

Feet To Sand Feet To Sand Feet To Sand Feet To Sand

Join The Team Join The Team Join The Team Join The Team

Live The Dream Live The Dream Live The Dream Live The Dream

IMG_6152     IMG_6150     IMG_6161

What the Critics are Saying

That’s the dumbest story I ever read. It makes very little sense, and if any of it is actually true, it makes even less sense. Incoherent ramblings of a middle aged man pretending to be a kid. Your style is amusing at times, but as RZ once told JL, you’re not saying anything!

Rick from Canada

Aa to Z Puerto

Anonymous

Barefoot

Collectivos

Dogs

El Balon

Fifteen 2

Gooaaalllllllllllllllll

Hola

Iguanas

Jugos

Kilometers

Listo

Manana

Ninos

Olas

Palapas

Queso

Rips

Sunsets

Tablas

Umbrellas

Vegetables

Whales

XX

Yo Tambien

Zicatela

Goodnight, Irene (Ch. 19)

I showed up at ArcoIris fashionably on fire.  I had bet Southern Fried Frank that the Niners would beat Atlanta, and advance to their first Big Dance in quite some time.  That chance made me 200 pesos happier.  I walked into the restaurant, and two things three things immediately caught my attention.  First, there was a huge table set up over to the left with a beautiful looking vegetable spread, pizza slices, waters and sodas, and a couple dessert cakes.  I also noticed that there were super colorful, exotic paintings all set up on individual easels throughout the dining area.  The other thing that stood out was that there was some person in a full-sized, green iguana costume that was pogo dancing on the wooden dance floor.  I went up to the bar and ordered a patron margarita on the rocks no salt.  I drank it pretty fast because it was gooooood.  I looked around to see if there was anybody that I recognized. 

The place was packed.  Damn near wall to wall.  It seemed like there were two converging parties.  There was obviously some kind of art show, and I guess there were a lot of people there for Irene’s Bon Voyage.  I was amazed that Irene had met as many people in three weeks, as I had met in seven years.  I saw Toothless Jerry.  Hogan was there.  Israel the Mechanic.  The Swiss Baker’s Wife.  All the Girlie Girls from the Yoga Studio.  I recognized Crab, Dingo, Singapore Sharon, Toyota Tommy, The Hula Hoop Girl, and Gringo Gary.  I also noticed that all the paintings had an Iguana Theme.  That explained The Dancing Lizard.    

I ordered another margarita, and went over to the Scoobie Snack section and put a bunch of jicama, beet strips, and carrots on a small plate.  I piled about six slices of pizza on top of that.  I grabbed a water.  I walked around the room pretending I was interested in the art.   I remember standing in front of one of them with my legs spread far apart, nodding my head up and down as though I was being affected.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed The Iguana Guy coming towards me.  

“Hey Man.”

“Scratchy?”

“In the Felt!”

“What the Fuck Guy?  When does it end around here?”

“Killer Grub.  Have you tried the Chorizo Pizza?”

“I was about to.  Is somebody paying you to be in that iguana suit?”

“Vera the Artist asked if I would do it.  She is giving me one of her early Originals as compensation.  Not a bad gig.  Have you talked with Irene? 

“No.  And Scratch…I know it was you.  I figured it all out.  You organized the intervention.  Tino sent out the orders, and you made it happen.”

“Pretty slick, eh?  Close call in the mountains Bro.  I had your Girl all set up at Prospero’s Cabañas.  When i got word that you missed the stop at San Mateo, I had to pull a rabbit out of my butt to re-situate her up at Don Memo’s. 

“We can talk about all that shit later Scratch.  What’s important is that it worked out.  Thanks for all your hard work Buddy.  That Girl really earned her stripes.  You know I owe you.”

“No, thank YOU man!”

“Thank me for what?”

“Irene didn’t tell you?

“Tell me what?”

“Oops.  She was supposed to tell you.”

“Tell me what Dog?” 

“She’s pregnant.”

“Who’s pregnant?”

“Irene.”

“Come again?”

“Yeah we just found out today.  Irene skipped her period.  She then started feeling funny.  Her hand went numb.  Her eye kept twitching.  Yada, Yada, we both went into the lab together, and Bob’s our Uncle.  

“What is she like four days pregnant?

“Almost.”

“Holy Crap Scratch.  Congrats.  She’s a real score.”

“Thanks Man.  Hey you haven’t told Irene anything about my…..”

“Not a thing.”

“Good.  And Hey Man, with your blessing, we want to name the baby after you.”

“Seriously?  What if it comes out looking more Chinese than White?  You can’t name a Chinese looking baby Aaron, or Erin.”

Love Shack by the B52’s began pumping out of the speakers.  Scratchy excused himself and jumped out into the crowded dance floor and began pogo dancing in his green iguana suit.  I found a small table in the corner and sat down and began eating my free food.  I finally spotted Irene on the other side of the room.  She looked great.  She was surrounded by all sorts of people that I had never seen.  They were laughing and carrying on about this that and the other.  She was probably breaking the news to everyone about her being three days pregnant.  Nutty place this Puerto Escondido.

It was now 11pm.  The crowd was thinning out and I was just about to do the same.  I thought about quietly slipping out the back door like I am known to do, saying goodbye, nice to meet you, and thank you, to only the people that come between me and my direct path to the exit door.  That’s exactly the moment that Irene and Perfect Ass Paula came over to me.  I got nervous.  I’ve been seeing Perfect Ass Paula for years, but have never had the courage to say anything to her.  Leave it to Girl Friday I thought. 

“Hello Aaron, this is my good friend Paula.  Paula, Aaron.  Aaron, Paula.”

Paula was wearing a bathing suit top, and a skimpy little yoga bottom of some sort.  She was barefoot.  Her black hair was in braids.  She wore a skull and crossbones necklace.  She had a small stud in her right nostril.  She wore a Livestrong bracelet, and had a tattoo of Wilma Flintstone on the inside of her left bicep.  I put my hand out and kissed her on the right cheek.  I told her that I have seen her around for years, and that it was really nice to finally meet her.  She smiled.  I could tell that she had consumed her share of alcohol because she just kept giggling at nothing in particular. 

Irene vanished before I could congratulate her on becoming pregnant.  Paula put her arm around me and whispered something in my ear that sounded like, “Do you want to go skinny dipping in the ocean?”  I guess because her ass is so damn perfect, she figured that my answer was going to be yes, and so she just turned her back and started walking down the stairs towards the beach without me.  I didn’t know what to do.  Part of me began thinking about Jaws.  The other part was thinking about her Perfect Ass.  Part of me was wondering whether this was a good time to perform ‘The Takeaway’.  The other part was thinking about that Ass.

I pulled a 10 peso coin out of the pocket of my bathing suit.  Heads I go skinny dipping with Perfect Ass Paula, and tails I don’t.  It was tails.

THE END

Art Imitating Life (Ch. 18)

The last time I flew out of the Puerto Escondido Airport was March 2, 2012.  I burro(ed) home some baby clothes that The Maestro’s son had bought his new baby niece,(they live in Watsonville) a rare brake pad for a 1981 Volkswagon Bus, and a letter that Scratchy wanted me to drop in a mailbox once I got home.  Two times per year, I am reminded that I will always be a burro until I move to Puerto Escondido for good.  Puerto Tax.  Burro duties to The United States are typically much less taxing than the ones coming back.

A few days after I got back in the Cruz, I finally remembered to mail the letter.  I vaguely recall noticing that it was addressed to some Asset Firm. Somewhere in Cohasset, CA.  The reason I still remembered the name Cohasset was because I had never heard of that town before.  Struck me as odd.  Like maybe Scratchy had meant Cotati or Coalinga.  I’ve logged a ton of bicycle miles in and around this great state, and evidently the city of Cohasset had slipped through the maps.  So it went noted for sure.

Point of the story, and I forget exactly which site it was, maybe MyLife, or LinkedIn, or ClassMates, or some other governmental tracking device, (drum role please) but I saw that this Jasper pimp lives in Cohasset, CA. 

Case Solved.  Scratchy done did it.  Period!  No two ways about it.  For shits & giggles, I continued my investigating to see what else I could learn about the guy.  Like the fact that he was a heavyweight with AOL before cashing out everything in 2004.  Owns 3% of Clifbar.  Married without Children.  Loves Almond Butter.  I found no reference to his “Hey Man” nickname.  

So here’s what’s up.  And don’t tell anyone that I told you this.  Over the past four years, Scratchy has confided some very personal information with me that I swore I would never reveal.  And for the great most part, I have kept my promise.  Backup.  The reason he told me these secrets, or this secret, is because he wasn’t having an ounce of fun living a complete lie.  A partial lie he reasoned, was a different story.  He figured that if he told at least one person the truth, then the truth would at least be out there.  Once he put the truth out there, and again, even if it rests with only me, then this Big Fib takes on a whole new creative life of its own. As twisted as this probably sounds about now, I am just going to come right out with it:

Scratchy is fucking loaded.  Gobs of Green.  The guy made a cool mint.  He was like fifth dude on board at Mapquest.  Chief Map Guy, or Vice President of Mapping.  He never said.  I do know that in 2001, AOL purchased MapQuest, and Scratchy was relocated to AOL’s corporate headquarters in Denver Colorado.  He lasted exactly 71 days after the merger before throwing in the towel.  He told me once that he was too cold to care about plotting maps or making money.  So he cashed out and moved to the tropics.  And the secret?  I’m almost embarrassed to say.  Bless his heart. He personifies, or carries himself around Puerto Escondido as though he ain’t got a peso to his name.  Always broke.  Always complaining about costs going up.  Always looking for the best deals on flights when he has to go back to The States.  Always pointing fingers at greed & wealth.  Always fumbling for his change.

He has everyone in town fooled.  He looks the part, dresses the part, acts the part.  It’s amazing what he does.  The things he comes up with, and the roles that he plays out to the end, are Oscar worthy.  You can’t even dream this shit up what he does.  You’d have to see it, AND know his secret to believe it.  And I have, And I do.  Will Hunting and Burgess Meredith don’t have a thing on Scratchy.  He doesn’t owe anybody money. He doesn’t beg for handouts or run out on dinner bills. Nothing like that. He basically just keeps to himself and lives his lie life.  Draws maps when he has to.  Surfs from time to time.  Reads a lot.  Rents himself a humble little cement room.  Eats simple.  Doesn’t drink or do drugs.  I am almost certain that I am the only one in Puerto that knows his real story.  

Before I forget.  I should tie in The Hand Guy and his relationship with Scratchy.  This is a more formidable story to explain.  For starters, The Hand Guy is a Trust Funder, and everybody in town knows it.  The reason they know it is because he has told everyone.  It was his way of making friends.  You know, buy a round of drinks every night sort of guy.

Scratchy told me that The Hand Guy came to him about five months ago and asked for his help.  He asked Scratchy for any ideas how he(Hand Guy) might go about reversing his “Rich Kid” reputation.  He(Hand Guy) followed that up by saying that he wanted to determine who his real friends were.  Scratchy told me that he told The Hand Guy to fake a sickness of some sort.  Start getting ill, and be sure to act the part at all times.  Don’t let your guard down.  Don’t blow your cover. Not even once. If anybody asks you for anything, just tell them you’re sick.  And be sure to tell them that it’s costing you all your money to figure it out.  Become yourself a victim.  Should work.

So The Hand Guy decided that his sickness was going to be his hand and wrist injury that he suffered during that one basketball game last spring.  Hasn’t been healing well..gone on to see numerous specialists..had numerous operations..costing a fortune, blah blah blah.  Most days, The Hand Guy wears a sling.  Other days he has it wrapped in like 10 meters worth of gauze so that it’s the size of a women’s purse.  Some days he has branches of Arnica hanging out of the gauze.  Other days he has it wrapped in a banana leaf.  On Sundays, he usually has his whole arm and wrist exposed, but he tints his wrist purple with Microdyn to make it look all gnarly.  Last week I saw him with the wrong hand wrapped up.  Swear to God!  His good hand!   That my friend is a tough act to follow right there.

Plot for Hire (Ch. 17)

I sent Irene an email suggesting we spend the afternoon together at Carizalillo.  Outside of spotting her a few times with Scratchy, I really hadn’t seen her too much in the three weeks she had been here.  She never disturbed me during nap time.  She never popped over to my place with any questions.  I never spotted her in my Secret Comedor.  Make no mistake about it, This Girl was taking care of business, I just never really saw her in action.  I sure did feel her presence though.  Boy did I feel it. 

So yeah, her time in Puerto Escondido was winding down, and I really just wanted to spend an afternoon with her to let her know how much I appreciated her work.  I also owed her some money.  Two days prior, tucked nicely away in an envelope in the basket where she has the guys deliver my fruits and nuts, she had left a stack of receipts that I needed to pay back.  So there was that bit of business.  And while we were at it, and now that I had some flip-side information of my own, I figured it would be a fine time to link together this chain of command that put she and I together in San Jose Del Pacifico on Christmas Day.  

We agreed to meet at 2pm at the top of the steps that lead down to La Playa Carizalillo.  Carizalillo is a small little cove like setting just on the other side of The Marinero.  To get to this beach, you have to endure like 500 steps that zig zag their way down the cliff.  You’d have to see it to believe it.  Pretty blue lagoon-esque.  Great for swimming and snorkeling.  When you finally get to the hot sand, all ya gotta do is choose a palapa and pretend you are completely somewhere else.  A place where time shares are not sold.  A place where people don’t showboat their money.  A place where you are free to be, so long as you patronize the beholders of your precious shade. 

Irene really appeared to be in a good mood.  Maybe it was because she was leaving for home in a couple of days.  More than likely it was because Puerto Escondido had made its way into her heart.  As I’ve said before, this place can be infectious for the soul.  Within minutes of finding ourselves a shady home, she was out in the ocean.  She spent a good hour out there at least.  I sat in the shade and got to page 22 in Cannery Row.  I ordered up some fresh fish which came with a salad and french fries.  A Cold Beer as well.

By 6pm I would say that I got to know my Girl Friday pretty well.  At least better than I had.  I learned that she was born in Oroville, CA, but that her family moved to the Bay Area when she was young.  I learned that she was brought up in a home with a single mother, and an older sister.  I learned that she somehow made it onto The Price is Right when she was 18 and won herself a car.  I learned that she also won a full ride to SF State on a swimming scholarship, but chose instead to attend Stanford and pursue her academics.   

After the sun had set, we walked back up all the stairs and decided to have a coffee at Cafecito – A popular restaurant and bakery along The Rinconada.  That is when I asked her the questions I had been stewing on since my private little meeting with Tino the Great.  

“Irene, you’ve been a blessing.  Really & Truly.  Heaven sent.  Strike that.  Actually not heaven sent, because if you were heaven sent, then I wouldn’t feel I owe it to myself to find out Who Done It.  But Irene…Seriously…I’m sort of dying to know what you might know?”

“About?”

“About who set you up to be my personal assistant?”

“It’s a long story.  Do you really need to know?”

“Not really, other than there is a void in my short story that needs a little plotting.”

“You’re writing a short story?”

“…long story.”

“Well is it a short one, or is it a long one?”

“That’s what she said,” I said.

“Ha Ha”

“Look…Irene…Isn’t there anything you can tell me?  Like how did you hear about me?  Was it actually Tino that personally called you?  I’m just dying to know what I’m sure you know.  Tell me something!  Anything!”

“No, nobody called me.  I came home from studying for my winter exams one evening, and my mom said that my services became urgently needed in Mexico, and that it would meet all the criteria needed to fulfill my Masters Curriculum.  Four days later there was a flight itinerary in my mailbox.  Round trip tickets.  Per Diem Allowance.  It all unfolded pretty magically.  I was stoked!  On December 23rd I flew from San Francisco to Oaxaca.  The next day I hopped a morning van to the mountains.  That’s where I met you.”  

“Slow down, slow down.  So at some point, you must have told your mother to keep her eyes and ears open for a unique opportunity that met whatever necessary requirements were required. 

“Something like that,” she said.

“What’s your Mother’s name?”   

“Daisy.”

“Tell me about her.”

She then went on to tell me that her mother Daisy is a jazz musician, and that back in the budding days of her music career, she was in a duo with Kevin Bacon’s brother Michael, and that..(Insert Massive InterruptionAH HAH!!!!!  I KNEW IT!!!  It’s that stupid fucking Degrees of Kevin Bacon Separation Game that I always hated and never understood!! “Anyway,” I said.

“Anywayyyy, because my mom and Michael have both made careers out of their music, they have sort of remained in contact over the years.  You know, with Facebook and all.  I know for sure that my mom mentioned something to Michael about my schooling requirements, thinking that he knows people who know people.  He’s pretty well connected.  He’s like one degree to Kevin Bacon you know.”

“Good One”

“Thanks”

“Is that all you know?” I asked.

“Pretty much.  Well the only other thing I know is that I heard my mom mention the name Jasper “Hey Man” Wilkens one evening while I think she was Skyping Michael.  I’m not 100%, but I think maybe Jasper is Kevin Bacon’s asset manager or money middler.  “That’s all I know Mr. Bossman,” she teased. 

Girl Friday went away to use the restroom.  It was Deja Vu all over again.  I started to break it down in my head.  I just learned that Irene’s Mom Daisy got in touch with Michael Bacon, who, regardless of whether or not he talked to his more famous brother, Michael was successfully able to pass the baton to some fellow named Jasper “Hey Man” Wilkens.  

(Still doing the math and thinking quietly to myself) I had Yukon Sue, Big Wave Don, Hand Guy, Daisy Burgstrom, Michael Bacon, and Jasper “Hey Man” Wilkens.  Including Tino and Irene, that made eight people.  Nine if you include me.  Where could I possibly be going with this.  I was confused.  I wondered if the game was called eight degrees to Kevin Bacon, or seven degrees to separation.  I wondered why it even mattered what it was called.  One thing I do know…I was figuratively in this God Damned game, and that can never be taken away from me!  You can not deny that I was a real life player in some sort of real life Kevin Bacon game.  Whoa!  What are the odds of that?   

So here’s what I did. (Still doing the math and thinking quietly to myself) I discarded the names Tino and Irene which left me w/ six.  Three people were on one side of the middle, and three were on the other.  My intuition suggested that there had to be a catalyst that connected and enabled the two sides.  It couldn’t work any other way.  Make sense?  Well it does to me, and I’m the one trying to wrap this bitch up so I can get on with my life.  Still with me?  So simple math suggested that there was little to no chance that this Jasper character can connect directly to The Hand Guy without a catalyst or an enabler.  And….Not only A catalyst, but THE catalyst.

Irene returned from using the bathroom.  It was now dark.  We split a cab back towards both our places.  On the way home, that’s when Irene told me about her Bon Voyage Party she was having for herself on Saturday Night.  A big group of us are getting together at ArcoIris Restaurant after the 49er game. Perfect Ass Paula said she was going to be there, wink. Don’t blow it boss,” she said.  The driver pulled off at The Vaca Loca.  I kissed Irene on the right cheek and got out of the cab.  She continued on towards La Punta.  When I got back to my concrete hideout, I took a cold shower, cut open a medium sized papaya, and turned on my computer.  I was on a mission.  In the long & skinny, rectangular box, I typed in the words Jasper “Hey Man” Wilkens, and hit Enter.

Secret Comedor (Ch. 16)

It’s rare that I hangout or hideout in The Comedor during the afternoons.  I should try and do it more often because there is a lot more good action going on in the afternoon compared to when I am normally there.  Many of the women from across the street are fueling up before a long night ahead.  Many of “The Fellas”, after a long, hot day in the work saddle, are in there as well.  Tino’s lovely wife keeps a spotless kitchen and all the food is made by hand.  Tino keeps his refrigerators one degree Celsius colder than anywhere in town, and only charges 10 pesos for a Cold Corona.    

So it was 3:30pm on a Monday, and I’m in there.  I was packing my pocket dictionary which is customary.  After my third Ice Cold Corona, I decided that I wanted to talk to Tino about his role in putting me together with a particular Irene Burgstrom.  Normally I would never engage in conversation with Tino because I can’t understand one fucking word the guy says.  I take that back.  When he sees me, which is just about everyday, he always smiles and says Arrrrroooooooooooon.  That I understand.  But seriously, I’ve tried and tried to understand his dialect, and it’s of no use.  All the Mexicans seem to understand the guy just fine, which is why I know he is talking Spanish.  But still..

In Spanish, I told Tino that I met a girl named Irene Burgstrom that said that it was you(I pointed at Tino) that sent her to help me.  “Es Verdad?”  Tino nodded up and down and rattled off like an eighty word sentence.  Or just one extra long word.  The nodding up and down I understood.  Most everything else was a wash, although I did hear him say Yukon Sue, and Big Wave Don early on in his answer.  And towards the end, he mentioned The Hand Guy.  I most definitely picked up on the words Yukon Sue and Big Wave Bob.  That I do know.  Final Answer.  And am pretty sure I detected the word ManoGuey at the same time he grabbed one of his hands.  Yukon Sue I know pretty well.  Big Wave Don and I are familiar strangers to one another.  The Hand Guy I just know of.(Hand Guy wouldn’t know me from Adam)  All three characters linger in and around Puerto.

Tino put his arm around me.  I didn’t know what to make of that.  It would have been easier to make something of it if I knew what he was telling me.  For all I know he could have been telling me that he wanted to put his finger up my butt.  Or telling me that I need to find myself a new private hangout.  Though I am pretty sure he was just telling me how much he loves having his personal Gringo Toy around and that he was(is) just looking after my best interests.  It was a moment I will never forget.  I shook Tino’s hand and said, “Gracias Amigo.”  He smiled and said, “graciandalepuesalevaleteveodiosuhhuhuhhuh”  I took that to mean, “See You Later Alligator.”  

I left The Comedor thinking I was well on my way to uncovering this meaningless mystery.  So apparently Tino was feeling my pain, and wanted to do something about it.  He must have mentioned something to his longtime Gringo Friend from Canada named Yukon Sue.  And I will assume that Yukon Sue must have told her on again off again squeeze named Don, who must have mentioned something to The Hand Guy.  

It didn’t make complete sense that Big Wave Don would pass this baton to The Hand Guy, because, although at one point in their lives the very best of friends, it was Don that clotheslined The Hand Guy during a drunk game of One-on-One basketball at The Rockaway last April.  Evidently, The Hand Guy fell hard on his hand and wrist, and supposedly has seen like ten doctors, and nobody can seem to fix it.  He still walks around town with a sling.(more on that later)  So it’s sort of a stretch that Don and Hand Guy are talking again, but much stranger things have happened in Puerto Escondido, so I was going to run with that.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (Ch. 15)

Iburg had done it again.  She somehow arranged a Yamaha Scooter for me to use at my disposal between 10a and 12:45p everyday.  And only then.  She knew I needed it apres surf, solely for the use of darting over to play chess with The Legend.  The Legend had moved south east of town, and because of the 1.5 mile distance between us, our chess time had suffered a huge hit.  His nickname for me is Columbo.  He calls me Colombo because I like to mumble and murmur his thoughts and my false strategies during our matches.  Peter Falk style.  He’s constantly telling me to Cool it Columbo!  

Having the scooter has been really nice.  The Warden uncovered this pretty decent bike that needed some minor work; New battery or maybe a starter.  Maybe both.  Who knows?  New rear view mirrors.  Stuff like that.  I think she convinced the owner to lend it to her and she would make all the repairs, get the thing tuned up real nice, etc..  She told me it would only cost me 1000 pesos, and that I could use it until I went back to The States. 

I guess she had to promise the owner of the scooter that she would also visit him a couple times a week and have Spaghetti dinners with him??   That seemed weird to me, but Friday insisted that Todo was Bien, and that I stay out of it.  Truth is, the spaghetti dinner promise wasn’t a cause for alarm or query.  You haven’t been in a deal, until you’ve been in a Puerto deal.  I apologized for meddling.  And she was right.  I just wanted the scooter to align myself again with some A-Level chess.  And that’s precisely what I got.  And that’s precisely what I did.