Simpson Ant dismembered left-handed Fencing spectacles

It was a whirlwind trip to California, a trip surprisingly devoid of (airline) travel difficulty. It was also a fun (and event) filled weekend. I saw Mitra, Stefan, Melika, Tom, a bevy of friends and The Great Gatsby. I carefully examined the flowers in the window boxes to ascertain that Nazy hadn’t killed my handiwork. I slept comfortably and soundly. And, as expected, Nazy had plans..

Window box 2

“Shopping, Dan! We need to go shopping.”


“Your suitcase is broken.”

That’s true,” I thought. The handle wouldn’t extend, so either: (i) I had to carry it (which involved muscles and exertion), or (ii) I had to bend down to push it (which involved back aches and pains).

“I know where we can find a bargain on luggage. You need a haircut. Your glasses are scratched, you need new ones. And you said that the pillows in Geneva ‘sucked’. We can..”

“Yes dear.”

Working with the consummate shopper, I wasn’t surprised that we found everything (including purple
luggage). Almost almost everything. We had a problem at the spectacles store.

“He is leaving for Geneva tomorrow,” Nazy explained. “He needs his glasses

“It’s not possible,” the clerk, who was Dutch, replied. “We can have them on Wednesday..”

“He will be 6000 miles away on Wednesday.”

“We can mail them to Geneva. That will cost $77.00 for five day delivery.”

“Absurd and unacceptable!” Nazy exclaimed. “He will get lenses in Geneva, frames here.”

Nazy on Mother’s Day In California

naz on mother's day

Later, at Visilab in Geneva, the clerk was in sales mode: “These are the best progressive lenses: they are laser cut in Germany with anti-scratch and anti-glare. They come with a two year guarantee. The reading area is superb.”

“The price is high,” I replied. “
525 Francs!” I thought.

“Of course the price is high. These Zeiss lenses are of the highest quality.”

“They are certainly of the highest price,” I replied. “
It must be laser cut from diamond crystals. But... I don’t buy glasses often and the old ones are old.” “Let’s do it!” I declared.

The clerk printed out the bill.

525 Francs - per lens!” I thought. “Wow!” I said, “Did you include the Internet link and X-Ray vision options? Will these turn my brown eyes blue?” I asked. “I’m sure glad I didn’t waste $77 on shipping charges,” I thought.

Back in Santa Barbara, it was enlightening to see Mitra. Since it was (almost) her birthday, I gave her a birthday hug. She recoiled.
“I’m bruised, Dad,”  Mitra explained.
“Bruised? What happened?”
“A little twerp in my fencing class smacked me on the arm with his foil.”
“So, foiled again, eh?”
“It’s not funny, Dad. And it’s not fun. These ankle-biters love demolishing me.”
“They’re 10 years old, Dad. They’re killing me.”
“You can’t out-fence a ten year old kid? What’s wrong Mitra?”
“I’m using my left hand.”

“You are right-handed, Mitra,” I observed pedantically.

“But I want to develop my right brain, so I’m using my left hand. My instructor thinks..”

“ ... you’re crazy?”

“ .... it’s a bad idea.”

“No kidding.”

“I’m also writing with my left hand. And I think my right leg is stronger than the left. Maybe I’m not Tangoing symmetrically. And I’m against domination. Down with single-sided brain dominance!”

Melika, overhearing the conversation, asked Mitra to tell me about Simpson.

“Simpson?” I asked.

“That’s her pet ant, Dad.”

I looked askance - and Mitra explained: “After a hike in the mountains where we observed an ant colony, Stefan and I were driving home. I realized that an ant from the mountain had hitchhiked. Naturally, I was aghast.”

“Naturally,” I replied.

“We stopped at Whole Foods and Stefan agreed to drive back to the mountains so that we could release the ant into its natural habitat. We wanted it safely home.”

“Stefan agreed?” I replied - raising one eyebrow.

“We drove back, parked the car and hiked to the very tree where we had seen the ants. Luckily Simpson was still circling my arm.”

“You gave the ant a name?”

“Yes, we named the ant, Dad.”

“No. You named the ant Simpson.”

“Whatever. We reverently placed him on the ground so that he could rejoin the colony.”

“You’re a saint.”

“Then we waited to see what would happen.”

Risky move,” I thought.

“One ant saw Simpson and soon hundreds of ants began to show up. We thought that he was being welcomed home.”


“They dismembered him, Dad. They tore off his body parts.”



“He had been to Whole Foods, Mitra. And... aren’t ant colonies exclusively female?”


“That explains it.”


“Ant colonies are a super-organism, Mitra. Individuals don’t matter. It’s like the Borg.”

“?” Mitra responded succinctly.

“It’s a Star Trek reference: The Borg: Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.”

“That’s exactly what happened to Simpson!”

Uncharacteristically, I let Mitra have the last word.

The weather in California was beautiful:

San Ysidro inn

But so was the weather in Geneva, the day I returned:

snow capped mountains from Geneva

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