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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Maryna Tells It Like It Is, or My Car Ees Piece of Sheet


My friend Maryna is from Kiev, Ukraine, where apparently they speak a language other than English. It’s crazy, but there you have it. Her English, while heavily accented, is, for the most part, pretty darn good. She’s an intelligent woman, physically beautiful, and a good little drinker.

She also makes a mean chicken soup.

One of the truly charming things about Maryna, however, is that she is learning the majority of her English from her husband.

This could be a problem.

“You see Mike?” she says to me. “He ees broken man.”

I look at Mike, who grins at me. While it is true that he has back problems, he is not what I would term a “broken man”.

I laugh. “Did Mike tell you that?”

“Yes,” she says. Much of what she says has a downward inflection, as if the information she has to share carries great sorrow.

“Come. Come,” she says, patting the seat next to her. “You seet. You are hungry? I feex beet and potato salad. Maybe you like some herring.”

Mike winks at me.  “Maryna, baby, she doesn’t want the beet and potato salad.”

Maryna looks at me expectantly. She very much wants to feed me. “Why not? Ees cold salad. Ees new year salad. Very good.”

I’ve seen this salad. There are layers of beets, onions, fish, mayonnaise, potatoes, maybe olives.

This salad. It does not speak to me.

Mike, standing behind Maryna, grins at me, blue eyes sparkling. He shakes his head. “You do not want the beet and herring salad,” he mouths, silently. “Trust me.”

I trust him.

“Please,” Maryna says. “Keed ees at Grandma’s. We dreenk. We eat.”

“OK,” I say, “Let’s drink and eat.” And Maryna runs upstairs to empty the fridge, returning with trays of food and drink.

“Mike,” she says. “You see Pearl’s car? Ees piece of sheet.”

My mouth drops open, and I turn to Mike. He closes his eyes and shakes his head, smiling. Maryna continues to load food onto my plate, buttering a slice of pumpernickel bread for me, then laying a slab of cheese and some sort of Ukrainian bologna on it.

“Eet’s true,” she says, handing the bread to me. She shakes her head, the sight and sounds of my dreadful little car heavy on her head. “Ees piece of sheet.”

My car. A 1998 Honda Accord. While it runs and has heat – and is fully paid for, mind you – it is a terrible little car in all other respects. The front end is held on with shoelaces, wedged into place with balsa shims. The driver’s side window can only be rolled down one-quarter of the way. The passenger’s side door – a hitchhiker’s nightmare come true – only opens from the outside. The heat is on either full blast or not at all, and – perhaps my favorite aspect of The Little Car That Could – it makes little noises when you steer it, like R2D2 with indigestion...

Yikes.

Maryna’s right. The car is a piece of sheet.



32 comments:

esbboston said...

My wife just left to go to the store and had asked if I wanted anything special, and your story prompted me, Yes!, I must have Russian Rye Bread. Great as toast with either butter de peanut, or jeLLy de la grape.

My taste buds thank you.

Simply Suthern said...

Shoestrings are great, For shoes. Babe you need some good bailing wire. And for the Balsa wood you need some double sided foam tape. Stops the rattles and holds like the dickens.

ANd that windows that rolls only a qurater way down. COuld be worse. COuld only roll a quarter way up. But it would help with the heat when it is on wide open.

My car is a 98 as well.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Well, it's paid for. To my mind, that is the most important part of any car.

TexWisGirl said...

hitchhiker's nightmare made me spit my coffee!

R. Jacob said...

I was looking for my missing car, now I know where it ended up.

KarenG said...

great little story! I love how people with accents can say anything and get away with it.

mary i said...

Come on now you know duck-tape and razor wire can fix anything. Right???

terlee said...

Oh, the "piece of sheet" car stories we could share.

And you know how I feel about duct tape: if it can hold the Universe together, no problem for your car. You know duct tape comes in a bunch of cool designs and colors these days, right?

Ian Lidster said...

I like her and you captured her 'Ukraineness' wonderfully well. Lots of Ukies in Canada so they are a common cultural group. The salad does not speak to me, either. And I'm sorry your car is a 'piece of sheet.'

ThreeOldKeys said...

I wonder why the salad did not speak to you. Surely, if you listened close, you could hear the layers bickering.

Ms Sparrow said...

Do not disparage a 100% fully-owned, paid for car! That trumps an awful lot of faults.

Sioux said...

I have a POS too, but it empowers me. Nobody wants to play chicken with me in parking lot aisle, 'cause I don't care if I lose. Part of the car is already threatening to fall off--what is another dented or crumpled fender or side panel? I'll shake it off like Dick Cheney shakes off heart attacks...Another crack in the windshield? Not a problem--maybe the two cracks can meet and share a bottle of Bolthouse Farms Vanilla Chai tea...One more scrape along the whole length of the car? It just gives more "character" to Tipsy, my chariot.

Yes, no one messes with people who are driving a POS. We're too formidable (said in french accent). Or Ukranian: Pee-pull are too skaard of us.

Diane said...

Okay. That salad speaks to me. Mostly in a foreign language, but, as Maryna proves, that just makes things better. And my Scab-bers would like to be introduced to your little Honda POS. He has signed up on all sorts of dating sites, objective - companionship, but his age (19) and his painfully obvious, but non-infectious, skin disease (we're working on it) haven't led to any serious responders yet. Please send pic, etc. He will reciprocate. He is vapour-locked with anticipation.

Raymond Alexander Kukkee said...

Pearl, try using leather bootlaces instead of shoelaces for tying on the front end, or go whole hog, high tech and use nylon tie-wraps. They work great for endangered steering components. For a minute.
On second thought, better upgrade that "car" eh, we can't have our favourite blogger crashing into someone's white picket fence, squishing the watermelons, and running over the beets. ":))

Indigo Roth said...

Hey Pearl! My own passion wagon is edging itself towards the junkyard. An it's only done 110,000 miles! It's still a youngster! But damn you for mentioning R2D2, whose dialog was so filthy it had to be bleeped out; I now have to go watch STAR WARS again. Indigo x

jenny_o said...

I love this.

Little known factoid: If you give your car a good name, it runs better. I'm thinking Raoul, or perhaps Frederick, or even Henri.

Being called "piece of sheet" makes your car have a sad :)

Suzy said...

Mine's a 1998 Ford Contour. When I turn the steering wheel abruptly, it sounds like 76 gears crashing against each other. I'm assuming that's not good.

Hannah Denski said...

:D Piece of sheet or not - bet it means world to to you! The world of independence for sure! :)

Gigi said...

A POS that runs and is paid for is a good car!

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Its paid for status makes it an excellent car, Pearl! The noises and added support items give it character. It should also have a series of names -- like a cat! My mother drove an outrageously awful 1952 Cadillac for many years. Its official name was "The Gypsy Wagon" because of my mother's happy wanderings in it and because of its perpetually disheveled interior. After she accidentally ran over one of our pet ducks on a dark, rainy night, my Father dubbed it "The Duck Press." And so, through the years, it continued to garner names and family lore. May your paid for gem be at least as infamous!

NotesFromAbroad said...

Did my husband sell you that car ? I seem to remember that it was a Black Honda Piece of Sheet but it has been a while, I might have gotten confused. I was just glad he got rid of it .

Leenie said...

Friends who are honest but kind who could ask for more. Just don't eat her chocolate sheet cake.

Eva Gallant said...

Duct tape, baby, duct tape!

Jo-Anne Meadows said...

Oh Pearl you crack me up.........at least you own it which is something I do hope they are the long shoelaces and are tired tight...lol

Crack You Whip said...

Wow, you do the accent great!

NellieVaughn said...

Sounds like my old car. It was miserable in the winter. You'd think that having a heater that functions only when you turn it up completely would be heaven, but not so.

Symdaddy said...

Pearl,I am ashamed to have to admit that I have been a bad, bad boy!
It has been almost twenty four hours since I last looked at your blog.

Had I known that your "piece of sheet" was worse than my "piece of sheet", I would have been here sooner and said ....

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Linda O'Connell said...

I had a red piece of sheet. The paint had oxidized, so I used baby oil to wax it. Have a great week.

CarrieBoo said...

Hahaahhahahahahaaa! That's all I have to say. ;)

Mitchell is Moving said...

This is hilarious! We moved to Spain last year and were shocked to discover that they don't speak English either. (I wonder how many different ways I've said things similar to "Mike ees a broken man" and something "ees a piece of sheet" in Spanish.)

PattiKen said...

This just goes to show how smart Myrna really is. All except for the keeping the refrigerator upstairs part...

Pat said...

Out of the mouth of innocents often comes the unvarnished truth.
Once - during the war a young Polish airman gave up his seat on the train and said to the standing woman:
'Please - put your arse down there,' indicating his vacated seat.