Thursday, December 13, 2007


“Don’t fuss!”

That was the only request that I made of The Big Finns before flying to spend the weekend with them in Basel. My request was completely ignored.

There’s no point in providing a blow-by-blow description of everything we did that weekend. Why? Because TBF and Canadian-Swiss did such thorough recaps on their own blogs that there is nothing more that I can add. Factually, at least.

I can, however, state a few thoughts and observations about the weekend.


This brings me back to the “Don’t fuss” comment. The Finns bent over backwards to keep me well-fed—both in terms of quantity and quality—and happy from the moment I arrived in their spacious, candle-lit, tastefully decorated apartment.

Gastronomically-speaking, the Finns each have their own core-competency.

Mrs. TBF is a drop-dead great cook. She swung from Swiss cooking (an addictive cheese fondue spiked with white wine and cherry schnapps) to peasant Italian (focaccia with browned onions, garbanzo soup, ricotta-stuffed shells and meatballs) to a breakfast of champions (omelets as big as my head, stuffed with several cheeses and spicy Hungarian sausage; wheat toast with butter and sprinkled with coarse salt).

Mr. TBF’s talents, on the other hand, lean toward the liquid side of the spectrum. His Martinis are a thing of beauty. But more impressive than that…he can smell a rogue enzyme in a bottle of wine—even in quantities of less than .000001 ppm. And God help that unlucky bottle. It goes straight to the kitchen sink.

I can hear the outcry from bartenders throughout Spain: “NOOOOOOOO!!! That wine will make a perfectly good Sangria!”


Hi, Jo Mama.


Some things require no further comment.


It was 11:55am on Saturday and TBF was rushing through the apartment with a bag of empty bottles. He was speaking in tongues.

“Gotta recycle! Gotta recycle! Only five more minutes to recycle! Woo, woo, woo, woo…nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.”

When he returned—looking exhausted yet relieved—he explained.

“In Switzerland , you’re not allowed to recycle between noon and 2pm.”


“Yeah, really. You’re also not allowed to vacuum. Many buildings forbid you from using the washer, dryer or dishwasher. You sure as hell can’t mow the lawn.”

“B-b-b-b-b-but, why?!”

“It’s quiet time in Switzerland . There must be silence so nobody’s lunch is disturbed. The Swiss like silence.”

“You’re f’ing kidding, right?!”

“No. And there’s more. You can’t do any of these things after midnight, or at all on Sunday.”

“WHAT?!!! You can’t mow the lawn, vacuum or do laundry at all on Sunday?”

At this point, TBF handed me a Valium, laid me on the sofa and put a cold compress on my forehead.

Surely, this must have been a hangover-induced hallucination. I mean…no country outside of, perhaps, North Korea could have such draconian (and, dare I say, knuckleheaded) laws.

My head was spinning. I simply couldn't process what I was hearing. Cold sweat burst from my brow. My breathing became labored. And then, precisely at noon, the TBFs disappeared and all of Switzerland fell into an eerie silence.

I was scared. I sat-up from the sofa, enveloped in a crushing isolation. Even the birds seemed frozen like statues on the tree branches.

Searching for my hosts or any other sign of life, I staggered across the living room and peered around the corner. And there, from the corner of my eye, I spied a door at the end of TBF’s hallway. It was just barely cracked open, and seemed to be emitting an odd green light from within. An odd green light shrouded in swirling fog.

I tiptoed down the hallway. As I inched my way closer to the door, I could hear a droning hum from within. One reminiscent of a those fluorescent lamps in 1970’s era Junior High Schools—but this hum was different. It had an other-worldly tone.

I was at the door.

I know I shouldn’t have done it, but it couldn’t be helped. I gently laid my hand on the door and nudged it open.

Here’s what I saw:



When I returned home, I did a little investigating.

It seems that the Swiss birthrate is 9.66 per 1,000 persons.

If this seems a bit low, could be that Swiss law forbids…?

Oh, never mind. I don’t even want to know.


King the cat is nineteen years old. That’s 187 in people years. It seems preposterous that any creature should live so long, yet—much like his human equivalent, Abe Vigoda—King refuses to die.

Now, I’ve never believed that cats are anti-social critters. I have, after all, lived with The Love Machine for over ten years. But I also understood that the personality of any given cat is like the spin of a roulette wheel. And being as old as dirt, I was fairly certain that King would be pleased to avoid this intruder to his domain until such time as I returned to my EasyJet seat on Sunday afternoon.

So when TBF and I entered the apartment on Friday night, I was in for a surprise. One of the first things that Mrs. TBF said to me was, “And here is King.”

He was sitting on the sofa. And he gave me a look that said one thing: “Fat Sal…make love to me.”

I placed my hand on this head and ran it over his boney shoulders. Oh my God! Cats CAN have osteoporosis!

Then I slipped my palm under his chin and caressed. Within seconds, my hand was soaking wet.

It seems that King only has four teeth. To you they’re “teeth”; to King they’re “drool blockers.”

We were inseparable for the rest of the weekend.

You may be wondering what is the secret to King’s amazing longevity? The answer may surprise you.

It’s jasemine tea.


Nobody could tell me who was Thomas Platter and why he is famous.

I’m sorry, but that’s just plain wrong.


At 1:35 PM, Blogger The Big Finn said...

Thanks for disclosing to the entire blogging world that we use our hyperbaric chambers between noon and 2 p.m. - a time when they are not allowed to be used in Switzerland. I'm expecting the Polizei to begin pounding on our door any minute now.

At 1:37 PM, Anonymous King da Cat said...

T'anks for postin' a pick-cher of my a-hole!

At 3:39 PM, Blogger Michael said...

That was a HOOT!!!!!

At 7:25 PM, Blogger CanadianSwiss said...

Yup. That's TBFs all right! You'll never leave there hungry or unsatisfied, and you'll probably walk out there with a doggy-bag, too.

BTW, I found out that Thomas Platter was a writer and humanist. So much for my thinking he was a mathematician!

Pee ess: I loved the Elf dance below!

At 9:38 PM, Blogger Mike B said...

The Germans still have some of the same regulations, but compared to the Swiss they seem to have really let their hair down.

I used to see Abe Vigoda from time to time in New York City, and whenever any of us saw him and mentioned it to the others, the others would invariably ask "Is he still alive?"

At 1:57 PM, Blogger christina said...

The Abe Vigoda of cats! I love it. :-)

If y'all do ever happen to come visit us here in Germany (I'm penciling you in for, oh, let's say 2012, OK?) you can make all the noise you want at noon, 'cause QUIET TIME is from 1-3 p.m. in this crazy place! You can run, but you can't hide. Ze Rules must be obeyed.

Great post!


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