"South America on $320" story # 3

St. Pete Beach, Florida, USA           April 25, 2002

Hello again, everyone.
     Good news! For those of you who don't like over-romanticized girl stories, here's another one of those exactly!
     This one's more fun, though ...

Fun was exactly what I needed following my Brazil trip. I returned to St. Petersburg, Florida to hang out for four months with old college friends who all share the same name and my old college nemesis. There were some highlights.
     I was challenged by that hated nemesis of mine, the still-miserable Pansyckas, to a game of mini-golf. The world must've been seriously tilted that day, because Pansyckas and his crooked grin beat me by seven strokes. In agreement with our bet on the game, I later had to ride The Phoenix, at Busch Gardens amusement park, seven times. The Phoenix being a big pirate ship on a pendulum that rocks back and forth until eventually turning full, upside-down circles. One go on The Phoenix was nauseating. Seven would cross-stitch your stomach into a wearable sweater. Pansyckas delighted in watching me turn greener and greener. After my sixth ride, the amusement park-goers got to watch me spew a half-digested, chocolatey ice cream fountain onto the sidewalk, as Pansyckas split his sides, enjoying his finest moment. Rrrgh, Pansyckas is rotten!
     For my first two months in Florida, I decided not to get a job and just play my once-again roommate, Ewan "Johnny" Smith, in Scrabble all day long. One time, we were walking in our bathing suits to the beach, carrying lawn chairs, Scrabble, and a massive Scrabble trophy, when a young guy in a passing car heckled Johnny out his window: "Nice gut, hairy chest!"
     Johnny's and my other roommate, an energetic little fellow named Jeff "Johnny" Cox, also provided entertainment. One drunken night, he declared, "I am going to jump out the kitchen window!" looked both ways, ran into the kitchen, sprung off the floor, used my bed as a vault, and soared like a flying squirrel head-first through the window screen. His black-and-white sneakers were the last we saw of him. He invincibly walked through the front door seconds later, to a standing ovation.
     The excitement levels would rise from even that, one memorable sunny day in late March.
     My friends, Cory "Johnny" Anderson and Lucas "Johnny" Seipp-Williams, and I were throwing around the football in front of the ritzy Don CeSar hotel on St. Pete Beach. Johnny Anderson's little sister (who has no Gold Medals) told us she saw Tara Lipinski (1998 Gold Medal Figure Skater in Nagano) by the hotel pool.
     This meant I had to be on the lookout for a friend of Tara's. It meant the subject of my longest and most exciting crush - my dream girl - could be around. I took a stroll by the pool. Sure enough; my fantasy relaxed by the hot tub with a strawberry daiquiri. Seconds later, my adrenaline rush began leaking from my teeth.
     My crush had begun about twelve years ago, when I was, I'll admit it, watching figure skating. My eye spotted, and I fancied, a beeeeeauuuuutiful German lass with eyes that were at the same time both as soothing and sweet as the kiss a mother bee gives her baby bumblebee and as strong and focused as a Marxist freedom-fighter.
     The precise amount of sass she wanted to give away danced on her darling smile, amidst glacier-smooth skin that stole its glow from the North Star and beneath a long ponytail as shimmering of a brown as one would find on a sunning seal pup. This smile elevated her cheekbones high enough that her eyes gave a twinkle that tickled your soul. This incessant smile was more fun than a sleigh ride on christmas. And when her long limbs floated to the choreography of her skate, I heard Beethoven's 9th.
     I was touched and enamored by her beauty, as pure as the waters that rushed from the ancient Volga into the Rhine. Her name was Katarina Witt. My choice girl.
     My fantasy crush sunk in deeper.
     At the 1992 Olympics, she donned pine-green short shorts and a light collared shirt for her Peter Pan program. A forest pixie smile shone mischievously from beneath her green, red-feathered cap. She began the routine by shooting an imaginary bow-and-arrow that nailed the hearts of everyone watching. If cuteness was a business, she had the market cornered. Following the routine, the rich gave to the poor in record numbers.
     She then did a re-creation of the touching number that had won her her first Gold Medal in 1984 in Sarajevo. Wearing a red leotard and holding a rose in her teeth, she slowly skated, creating images with her hands and telling a sad story with the theme of ending war and hatred. When her expressive face showed sorrow, you couldn't help but feel the teariness in her eyes.
     But, now, she was in the flesh. All my inherent charms and acquired skills stood at attention, like a well-trained squadron sent in for battle. I had to hit on her. It was what I'd been put on earth to do, like the moment Prince Arthur pulled out Excalibur, or when Pee Wee Herman filmed the first twenty minutes of "Pee Wee's Big Adventure," or that day Pansyckas (possessor of 0 Gold Medals) made all those darned putts. I forgot my friends' names (which is a tough thing to do) and sat down by Katarina Witt, in the hot tub.
     My friends didn't forget that we were supposed to be leaving. They started calling to me, calling me "Johnny" as usual, and, to be funny, they played on the fact that only little kids were bathing in the pool.
     "C'mon, little Johnny," Johnny A. said. "You've had enough fun in the pool for one day. It's time to go."
     "C'mon, little Johnny! Come on!" said Johnny S. "Does Johnny want some ice cream?"
     "Little Johnny, do you need some sunscreen on your nose?"
     "Does little Johnny want a potty break?"
     Wow, were they ruining my game. I ran and explained my mission to them - that the beauty in the purple-outline, turquoise bikini was a two-time Gold Medal-winning legend - and returned to the hot tub. But, what do you say to impress a girl like that?
     I said, "Uh, Miss, uh, Witt, I just wanted to say, or, rather, uh, to tell you, you're a big fan of mine, I mean - oh boy, I do need that potty break. Could you just, uh, autograph my ... swimsuit, yeah! Here, rip off my arm; you can use my blood ..."
     No, just kidding. The first thing I said was:
     "Say ... are you who I think you are?"
     "Yes." She had the cutest German accent possible in that it was only slight. Here english voice sounded suprisingly a bit unsure.
     "Well, I loved what you did back in '84 in Sarajevo."
     Coconut butter made her tan skin look young and tasty. Her body was strong and nice. She sat up on her reclined chair to face me and lifted her sunglasses. Her light eyes showed the peace of a person who'd never harmed. Her sleek face struck poses as she spoke; it just begged to be touched.
     Meanwhile, I had on a tight red swimsuit that showed my gangliness, and I hadn't had my hair cut in five months. I had to be interesting.
     I said I was a travel writer and told her The Dalwood Falls story about me losing my swimsuit at a swimming hole and having to ride a broken bike with no pants. It got Katarina Witt laughing a bit and brought a wonderful smile to her face, but I think she suspected me of making the whole thing up to play her.
     We continued chatting. Katarina Witt had had a nice childhood, she said, growing up in communist East Germany. She ran a production company now in Berlin, saying she'd gotten to expereince the good sides of both political systems.
     Speaking to Katarina Witt, I saw the world sparkling before my eyes. I asked the obvious question: "So, what do you do with all your Gold Medals? Wear them around the house all the time?"
     She said she'd given one to a museum, while hanging on to the other.
     She suddenly eyed me as if she'd caught my feeble effort to pull one over on her. She said, "Wait a minute. How old are you?"
     "So, how did you know about '84?"
     I was busted. "Well, I guess I watched some tape ..."
     Speaking to Katarina Witt, my eyes shone a bit more. My smile was crisper and more natural. I was enjoying myself and more relaxed. My survival instincts had lifted me to the occasion. I probably almost had her.
     After twenty minutes, I got up to leave. I told her it'd been a pleasure. Katarina Witt would be leaving town the next day at noon, but I asked, "Say, do you think I could give you a call here? Maybe we could go for breakfast."
     It was an exciting moment.
     "Sure," she said and gave me her room number.
     Wow. My dreams followed almost to script.
     It was a special day. In preparation for the hopeful date, I went all out. I even ironed my clothes and shaved with a non-electric razor - actually, Johnny Seipp had to shave me, because we couldn't risk any cuts. I borrowed a car and bought a rose.
     After I worked that night, I called the Don CeSar hotel, asked for Ms. Witt, and gave the room number.
     "Hello." An adorable German voice.
     "Hey, Katarina." I'd always wanted to say that.
     She told me about the Nelly Furtado concert she'd just been to, even sang a few lines for me. She told me to call the next morning at ten.
     I never got a hold of her the next morning, unfortunately.
     The last I heard from her was relayed to me from by Johnny Anderson's sister. She'd been in the Don CeSar pool as I'd asked Katarina out. Apparently, once I'd walked away, she'd proclaimed to her friends, "Boys, they come and they go!" and laughed.
     So, our date never happened, and I'm not the new Mr. Witt.
     Anyway, it was fun while it lasted. As Johnny Smith would say:
     "NGHC!" (Nice gut, hairy chest!)
     Wait, that's not a good-bye quote. That quote is for when you see a beer-belly in line at the supermarket.
     What I mean is, as Johnny Cox (who has no Gold Medals, not even a Silver) would say:
     "Good Morning, Good Afternoon, and ... Good Night!"

- Modern Oddyseus (no Gold Medals ... but I was in possession of the Scrabble trophy half the time!)

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