Friday, July 11, 2008


Dear Friends,
Now, before you decide that you are not going to read any more of my entries based upon the title of this post, let me just share a few words with you. Not everything is as it first appears – not what we read, and certainly not what we hear. If you will read this post in its entirety, I am sure that when you reach the end of this entry, you will agree with me.
Since my arrival on Crete the first week in May, I have had the very distinct pleasure of meeting some of the most wonderful and interesting people of my life. I have met and made friends with people from England, Ireland, Wales, France, Germany, Greece, and the USA. One of those whom I met was a young Frenchman named Pierre. Pierre was a twenty year old native of France who was on Crete working on a co-operative project in the field of engineering with the university here. He was one of the most pleasant young men that I have ever met...intelligent, polite, neat looking, short-cropped blonde hair that was prematurely disappearing, soft-spoken, and a warm smile that he was eager to share with everyone. He spoke English well, but had a rather distinct French accent, which, at times, made it a little difficult to understand. Never-the-less, Pierre had a wide English vocabulary, and always expressed a strong desire to learn even more English words.
I first met Pierre at the bus stop in Amoudara while I was waiting to go into Iraklion. He was there with two American girls who were here on Crete also doing a college co-operative. When I heard them speaking English, I couldn’t resist asking them where they were from. The girls, Sabryna and Roxy, told me they were from the USA - attending college in Philadelphia, and Pierre told me he was from France. We talked from then until the bus arrived to pick us up, and then continued our conversation until we all got off the bus in downtown Iraklion. We became good friends, and soon afterwards would often have dinner together at one of the local restaurants, or at the apartment of Sabryna and Roxy.
One afternoon, just after I had left my apartment building and was walking across the street to the Marirena Hotel to get online, I heard Pierre’s familiar voice calling to me from the direction of the LaStella Apartments where he lived, just a short distance from the beach. “Bob-eeee,” he called, “Bob-eeee.” I turned to see Pierre with a few of his friends. I began walking toward them. “Bob-eeee, weee are all going down to lay on the bitch. Would you like to lay on the bitch with us?” he asked. At first I thought that I still had water in my ears from that morning’s shower. “Say what, Pierre?” I asked. “We are all going to lay on the bitch together. Would you like to lay on the bitch, too?” he asked. “Uhhh, all of you are gonna lay on the same bitch at the same time?” I stammered. “Yes, it is a very large bitch, Bob-eeee,” Pierre responded. “Well, I don’t think that I want to join in...but do you suppose I could just watch?” I asked with a smile. Pierre looked a little puzzled, and then said, “Of course you can watch...but that is strange, Bob-eeee.” “I’m strange?” I thought to myself. “Tell me this, Pierre. Just where is this bitch?” I asked. “Oh, Bob-eeee, you know where the bitch is. The bitch is at the end of this road. You know...where the water meets the sand, Bob-eeee,...the bitch,” Pierre replied. Have you ever had an epiphany - a moment in your life when you had a sudden awakening...when all of the pieces of the puzzle just seemed to drop into place? That is what I had at that instant. I suddenly realized that Pierre was talking about the “beach” and not the “bitch”. I tried not to laugh, but I just couldn’t help myself. I began to laugh out loud...the harder I tried not to laugh, the harder I did laugh. Pierre looked at me, somewhat confused. “Bob-eeee, do you always laugh when you lay on the bitch?” Pierre asked. At that point I stopped laughing, looked at Pierre and said, “No, Pierre. I don’t ever laugh when I lay on the bitch...never!”
I told you, not all things are as they appear...nor as they sound. And, just remember: “Life’s a...beach”!!! Take care, stay well, and let me hear from you.
Your Friend and Fellow “Silent Warrior”,
Bob (Midget) Armistead


William said...

Bob, it’s not limited to French. Here in South Korea they have the same problem with beach and bitch, but probably their worst is the word “sit”. Because of their alphabet, the “s” sound in sit changes to an “sh” sound. It created a couple of problems when my Korean wife met my American family for the first time. But back to the bitch problem. Did ever you stop to think it just might be a garble? The sound patterns are VERY close. Beach is “Dah-ditty-dit, Dit, Di-dah, Dah-di-dah-dit, Ditty-di-dit”, and Bitch is “Dah-ditty-dit, Di-dit, Dah, Dah-di-dah-dit, Ditty-di-dit …Keep the flicks coming. The blog is great. Take care, and thanks. Bill Simmons

Tom said...

Hi Mr Bob!
You will certainly not know me! I enjoyed your writings and your pictures of Iraklion Air Station. I knew IAS well as I was living in Crete from 1977-1985. My father was working at that time at NAMFI (Nato Missile Firing Installations) in Akrotiri near Chania.
And what is now the connection with IAS? Well all NATO personal working at NAMFI had access to IAS for shopping in the AAFES shops ((BX-Shopette (then called Foodland) - The Stars and Stripes (bookshop) - Glass V- Four Seasons- Commissary)).
I first heard of the closure of the base in 2004 and during my next visit to Crete I rented a car and visited the Air Station. Since then I yearly visit the ruins of the station. It is sad how every year more and more is being destructed.
Your blog is great. Take care and enjoy your stay on the beautiful island. I will return in september!

Tom Vermeulen from Belgium