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Oh my God! is what someone shouted to me when I was leaping over a calf-high pile of discarded lettuce leaves today at the Vega. Except due to the Chilean vowel range, it sounded more like oh my Gott! in some kind of approximation of German. This is a term most Chileans know, and they will occasionally shake it out and dust it off and yell it at you while you are pedaling a heavily-laden bike through the Vega (fresh market), procuring goods for what is popularly known as the great home catering experiment of 2009.

I was out buying metric quantities (though not tons) of cucumbers, carrots, mint, cilantro and basil, grinning and bearing as passersby hissed, get the big ones, the small ones are no good (quedate con los grandes, los chicos no te sirven), this about the cucumbers, because why did I think I would buy vegetables without invoking a higher power and lewd commentary in the same day?

Speaking of the leaping (remember, the leaping?), that may or may not have been when my jumble of house and other keys slipped gracefully from my pocket into a sad little heap on the ground. It’s hard to say exactly when they made their escape, but after having searched every pocket, cranny and nook of everything I was carrying while standing outside my apartment building, I can definitively tell you that they were not on my person.

So I did what any half-hysterical vegetable purchaser would do. I went to my corner store, the one where the old man touches the meat and the money all with his bare hands (but I don’t care, because I don’t buy meat, and I always wash my hands if he touches anything of mine), and where I occasionally buy overpriced bubbly water because I don’t feel like walking to the supermarket. I asked them if they knew a cerrajero de confianza (trustworthy locksmith). I’m sure it’s not just me, but I certainly don’t want strangers in my house and seeing all my crap of dubious worth. So I ran off to see Mingo, who has a stand at the Santa Isabel on (oh! and this no one makes jokes about! periods inserted to muck up freakish comments). But Mingo was not to be found, nor was his sister, Fla. Okay, bad joke. Deal with it! I’m under pressure here, got a lot of work to do.

Mingo was nowhere to be found, so I asked the guy with the newspaper kiosk on the other corner if he knew a locksmith. I ride past him several times a day, so I figured we’re like old friends. He directed me to the Santa Isabel (do you see a pattern here? need a locksmith? go to the supermarket!), and the locksmith across the street from there was closed as well.

In between, I called the future bride (for whom we are conducting the great home catering experiment of 2009), to see if she could call L, a dear friend and the mother of my goddaughter, who has my keys. I would have ridden up there, but I had left my phone at home (see: bonehead), and didn’t know her number, and felt it unlikely she would be at the house when I arrived. So the bride called my friend, and then I rode around to see Mingo again (see: absent) and then the other locksmith (also not there), popped in on the corner store people again (I had left my heavy motherlode of veggies there) to use the phone and buy some water, contemplated what my life would be like if I never returned to my apartment again, and wondered how long it would take for my clothes to fall off from overwear, and if the people who live in the encampment in Parque de Los Reyes would take me in, especially since I have the makings for a hell of a salad. And oh! I could give the horses some carrots. I knew they would like that.

But I called the bride again, and her sister answered, and said, L is driving the keys down to you right now.

Which just goes to show you that it takes a village to raise me. Thanks to everyone who stepped up with phone calls and reassurances and leaping into the car and only making fun of me a little, and to Jorge, the guy who parks the cars outside my house. We had a very nice talk, and he didn’t say oh my God (or Gott), or ask me about the cucumbers.


Back to work. But I think I’m staying inside for the rest of the day. That’s enough blog fodder for today, and you never know what might happen to you if you go outside.