peugeot

Ram attack

Every year at this time the sheepmen, ok, rams, have their days.

Photo: MM

The Aries cycle started with our first dog and continued yesterday with K., brother of a friend. G., the brother from another mother in the photo on the left, celebrates today, and the one on the right, V., tomorrow. The ram days as we know it will conclude on Saturday with R., our reigning Tournament street champion.

I’m not big on the horror-scope but as I like to say, some things figure. What connects these specimens is a certain kind of gentleness, and optimism, and quick wit, and love to love.

Let’s see what G. has taught me over the years. And these are just a few examples:

1. Time is relative. The fact that his surname could be roughly translated as Speedy, is one particularly hilarious fact. (Unless he’s driving.) Whenever we think we know when he should be arriving, he proves us wrong every time and comes just when he knows is right.

2. There will ALWAYS be a parking space where you are headed.

Why worry in advance whether you will be able to park your car? Just drive over there and you’ll see, a car will just drive off, letting you have the space, as if it was waiting especially for you.

3. There is a band called Osibisa.

They are from Africa. And then, at least twice, they came to play in Austria and we went to listen to them. Both times without you for some reason, regretfully.

4. The island of Cres is very beautiful. There are hidden and not so hidden spots worth seeing. And there is a beach to where a terrible road leads and those two impossible turns CAN be managed with a car. Even if the car is one big mean Peugeot. (This is old info, most likely everything has crumbled into the sea by now, or a hotel has been built.)

5. Peugeot is the car. Peugeot is more than just a car. If I get one, it will take me to Greece and I will spend the best month of my life there (before making my move over here). Peugeot will be my home and transport and the only roof above my head for the entire month. And you will be missed there again, G.

This is from Lefkada, Greece, and it is not mine, merely found by the side of the road, but seeing one of these old brothers will always make me smile like that. (Photo: MP)

Here is what I wrote about my month on the Crete.

And here is what I wrote on this day last year about you and me and yellow headlights. Please have a look if you haven’t yet.

Happy birthday and keep it coming, at your own sweet pace.

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈

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Poem from the board

There once was a board on my wall:

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It included many things, memories, places, each item deserving a special entry. Look, there is Trpanj and a little English town in the middle of nowhere, and postcards from A. and R. and one of a huge rock made of shells in Karpathos, which we first bought and then located the rock in nature and it was nowhere as huge as it appears, and the Kiss, and the little pin calling for 40 days without alcohol, which N. gave me for my 40th birthday and I didn’t see the zero and said: “Oh, four days, I can do that!”, and Jeanette, and Slavoj’s hand, and Mickey, and my tarok cards, and a very old cartoon from Mladina magazine saying “Sad ću ja turbo da uključim” (I’ll switch to turbo now), and poems: e.e., Kosovel, a short one on tango, and this one by Austrian poet, here in the original:

Ernst Jandl 

zweierlei handzeichen

ich bekreuzige mich

vor jeder kirche

ich bezwetschkige mich

vor jedem obstgarten

 

wie ich ersteres

tue weiss jeder katholik

wie ich letzteres tue

ich allein

I just found this poem translated into English by Peter Lach – Newinsky in his Word and image lab:

Two Kinds of Hand Signals

 

Before every church

I cross myself.

Before every orchard

I plum myself.

 

How I do the first:

every catholic knows.

How I do the second:

I alone.

But sometimes it happens that a poem really comes to life in a completely obscure little language, such as ours (close-up from the board, the postcard with the poem used to be distributed freely in a Ljubljana bookshop).

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The Peugeots

(This story has 1000 words. I said to myself before starting it that I want a millennium and ended, without looking, at 999. I think I might have found my natural format of expression.)
((None of the photos or cars in the links are mine, just the colour and type are the same: forest green for 404, light yellow for 504. The only thing mine are the remains on the wall.))

________________________________________________________________________________________

First there was this one, 404.

I travelled to the coast with my ex-ex-boyfriend to buy it. It was his idea. When we got there, the whole family greeted us, the kids were sad to see it go. It was so cheap. I was thinking how big the need must have been that they were selling something they loved so much, so cheap.

The car was a blast from the past, I felt like in a movie. The rockets and all. I placed some pillows on the back leather seats, it was that kind of car. Yet, i only remember one kiss in it. From a friend. A peck on the cheek that got me all flustered and thinking what-if thoughts.

I went to do the annual check-up an hour before closing time for Christmas. I needed merry mechanics. When I drove the car over the garage pit to be checked, I almost dropped it right into the pit, on purpose. I needed a certain degree of lenience. Indeed, my car passed the test, even though after the rain some rainwater splashed over my feet on every turn, and as I was leaving the mechanic smiled at me and said: “Just be sure you don’t use the hand brake too often”.

And then a friend spotted it. He and his cousin do Peugeots, it’s their sport. They know them. They travel all over Europe to bring one or two home. Or better, they used to. Nothing is old-car friendly anymore, unless you have veterans and do shows. But they were just driving them. And now they found my car to fix, which meant drink and smoke and get all dirty and blast out some Osibisa and drink some more. I liked it.

When my first Peugeot was not likely to pass any more tests,

2011 19ka 007.jpg

Photo: MM

one of the cousins told me about my potential new car. 504, an upgrade.

The boyfriend was not there to witness it any more. I was alone and I was about to buy my first car on my own. The freedom which I was feeling as I was driving it home was all-inclusive. I can still smell it. And that interior too.

This was the car I was driving around the island of Crete for a month. The cousin was driving the other Peugeot, a newer one, 505, with an inflatable boat on the roof.

One time I was attempting to climb a terrain a bit too steep and the car slid back and got hooked on its hook. This was the only thing resembling an accident.

Sometimes it wouldn’t start and I had to open the hood and slam a beer bottle down on a particular spot.

Sometimes when it rained, all the electricity died and I had to drive it… quietly. But not a cloud was seen over the Crete for that entire August. It was hot, and I had to drive it with the heating on, or it would overheat. But nobody noticed that, the windows were always open anyway.

One time, parked for the night next to a precipice, the cousin tied his and my open doors together, to make a nice shelter from the wind which never stops in the south of Crete, so that we could boil some potatoes. I was cutting the cabbage for a salad. It was one of those moments when the happiness descends slowly and you can almost grab it. Even though during the night the wind won and a couple of armaflex beds were swept down into the abyss.

I remember the present my friend got me for a birthday. Original Peugeot yellow headlight bulbs. Not strictly within the local regulations, but still.

Here let me explore my perception of me as GF (which I used to think meant gender-fucked). I mean, show me a girl who would cherish such a gift and remember it better than all the cutie-girlie-sparkly-kitty stuff. Show me a girl who would wilfully walk a couple of miles to the basketball arena, alone, buy herself a beer, root for the home team and go back home, alone.

I remember the time when I owned more vests than skirts, most often used ones that dad discarded or was just about to when I pounced. To apply lipstick and eye-shadow was hard. To balance the heels was harder. But to slip on my father’s white scarf and hat was effortless. And the coat, oh, a long dark blue one. First I only wore it to concerts.

I remember the time in the 2nd year of high-school, vividly. Before, I wore mom’s red silky shirts to school, struggled with earrings, make-up, whorish result. And then I bought myself some boots, my first. Not the elegant style. These were light brown genderless efficient kind. They changed everything. Wearing them, I slipped into jeans, coats, vests next, instead. My style was born. I was so happy.

Gender comes late when I assess a person. I can immerse myself in a writing not knowing what gender the author is, and I couldn’t care less.

When battling my fellowmen in card tournaments, I often said that there was no sex in cards (because, of course, everything was fucking). Sometimes I would rave against giving out the best female awards at tournaments (admittedly, not rejecting them, shaaaaame on me). One time I came first, another female came second, and we joked that we would give out the award to the best male after careful consideration and possibly a lapdance.

It can be hard to go through life looking beyond gender, beyond sex, but it is the only way for me.

And as for the Peugeots, it’s my friend’s birthday one of these days. Nourishing, woman-loving, slightly reckless Aries. He has taught me a lot about maintenance, not just cars. He has taught me about relativity. He was dating my sister for many years but fathered a child elsewhere. Possibly, a shame, this. I’d love you in my family.

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈

August

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A peugeot 504 off the net, but this is how it was, just light yellow.

There was an August, years and years ago, that I spent on the island of Crete. In my Peugeot 504 (with yellow headlights!) and with another car-full of friends, in my heavenly blue one-piece swimsuit which I practically only took off to sleep, sleeping on beaches all together on a big black spread, not a roof above my head for the whole month if you don’t count brief visits to shops for food and the car roof and a tree when we found one.

The most peaceful month of my life. As it was coming to a close, my friends were getting jittery, missing this and that, anxious to return home. Not me, I could have had it forever: figs, blackberries, lamb, fish (= psarì, psomì = bread, krasì = wine, most useful Greek words), the sea!, the hot wind from Africa in the south of the island that dries up your mouth, the sensation of a return to civilization after spending a few days in a bay without a soul in sight, and as you near a city you realise your swimsuit will not quite suffice, and you hop in the car to change into your long blue-on-blue dress which you bought in a hippie shop in the previous town (NO SIZE) and leather sandals and your sea-wild hair turn you into an instant goddess.

There is a little island, to the left of Crete, Elefonisi. A little ferry took our cars there. We made it to the top of the tiny island and laid out our spread next to some sleeping turkeys. I made pasta with beans and some dried meat which may have been the reason for my upset stomach and troubled sleep. I remember taking a bit of every medicine I had with me: a black carbon pill, a pill against heartburn, one for sore throat and one aspirin. I never take pills so as I was popping them I discussed it with my body, imploring it to take them seriously and calm the fuck down as I’m on holidays.

As I stirred from sleep the next morning, I heard voices whispering as if trying hard not to wake us. I peeked towards the group of villagers standing by the turkeys, looking at us, chirping among themselves. I thought: Oh, well, let’s do this. I stood up in my Kelly’s family night dress (as a friend considerately nicknamed it) and slowly moved towards the group.

When they saw me approaching, their expressions lit up. A woman extended her hands and said in broken, efficient, Greek English which I came to love so much and use it now with the Italians: “Thank you for choosing our village to sleep in.”

Another August is approaching. Cicadas are the same. The wind is less strong and less hot, neither is heat as fierce, but it’s breezy and scorching all the same. The greenery is more but the produce is similar and tastes so good. The Italians are not the same as Greeks, but their pride is similar. Olive oil too. The calm is here (until it’s not and ferragosto starts).

The pack is different, and this time it’s mine. I have the roof, and the car too (not a thirsty old peugeot but a sensible diesel one). I’ve yet to sleep on the beach but I sleep every night in the arms of the man I love.

And I have it, eternal holidays, eternal August. It could have never happened, easily. Thank you for giving it to me.

(Written in July 2013.)

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈