Brotherly Love

Now that the summer has come I have switched from maintenance to camp programs. Holly and I moved out to Camp War Eagle two weeks ago to teach an intensive, four day lifeguarding class. Each year the class starts with an endurance swim of 600 yards. I re-certified this year and swam it miserably and alone before the class officially started. Hours later, as the lifeguard hopefuls slipped into the water, I found out that it was only 300.

My brother Harlin is out at War Eagle this summer; he certified to be a lifeguard as well. Though he wasn’t in my teaching group, I could see him stride jump into the pool because his legs are the biggest pair of scissors on the planet. When the class moved towards the final skill, backboarding potential spinal injuries, I made it a point to watch Harlin perform. He dove nine feet in order to secure and resurface with his victim. When he came up treading water, he yelled, “I can’t see anymore!”

I never knew how bad my brother’s eyesight is. I assumed that we had similar prescriptions – not in the least. He could hit the broadside of the barn but he wouldn’t know it was a barn. And the rush of resurfacing washed his contacts out of his eyes and onto his cheeks.

Before he could make a further decision, his victim, another future lifeguard, recognized the problem. “Don’t worry,” she said as she took his contacts and put them in her mouth. Then Harlin finished the backboard procedure with a lot of helpful commands from the sidelines.

He wore the same contacts the next day.

Harlin won’t work the first half of the summer – he’s enrolled in summer school. Classes actually began four days before orientation ended. As a part of camp policy, Harlin had to leave camp early in the morning to attend his classes and return in the afternoon. The night before his first class, we talked about when he should leave camp and agreed on 6:30.

The next morning at 7:15, Holly and I stepped onto the office porch where Harlin was sitting in a porch swing. “Have you seen my keys?” he asked. No, and not usually, I said. “I think I may have given them to Katie,” he said, citing his girlfriend. “I’m waiting for her to wake up.” To speed up the process, Holly gave him the keys to her car, warning him that it was low on fuel. After he thanked her and turned to go, he said, “Oh yeah – my wallet’s in my car. Can I borrow money for gas?”

That night when he returned, showed me his spare car key and paid me back. He was a half hour late to class, but Harlin described his history professor as “an odd duck.” The first hour of the four hour block was the professor’s lifestory. Since Harlin  missed it, he summed it up during the first break. The man has been in three movies.

While we were talking, Holly arrived and asked about her car. “It’s fine,” he said. “And thanks for gas. Oh yeah – you got a parking ticket because you don’t have an NWACC pass. You need to be more careful next time. But your court date isn’t for another month.”

I assured Holly that he was joking. However, that night when we got back to our room there was a yellow parking slip on her pillow. It was only a first-offense warning.

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Make New Friends and Keep the Old

Today was my last day on the maintenance crew of Camp War Eagle. I’m taking a mid-week weekend before reporting for a summer stint on Saturday. There’s already a small group of counselors at camp spreading mulch and 409-ing gymnastics mats. The chow hall is open. Lunch is free.

This morning there was a new face in the breakroom. My boss Rob introduced me to Ted, who would be running cabin checks during the summer. This job is done completely during the twenty-one hours between old campers leaving and new campers arriving. It’s difficult because most staff are power napping during this time. Ted, however, lives just up the road and oh no it’s no inconvenience at all.

Ted is probably in his sixties with skin like used sandpaper and big thick glasses that will survive most bar fights. He’s as tall as me, which is abnormal. After introducing us, Rob pulled me aside. “You’ll be walking Ted through our cabin check procedure this morning,” Rob said. “So stick with him through the repairs. Also,” he added, “I think that you’re a good judge of character. I want you to get a read on Ted and tell me what you think.”

The second part, while flattering, I ate with some thick cut sea salt. The only people I judge correctly are fictional villains. They telegraph badly. However, I soon realized that Rob truly did want to see Ted’s character. Rob’s solution was to pair Ted up with the most incompetent member of the maintenance crew and watch Ted squirm.

It seemed like every question Ted asked me about the cabins – how deep are these screws? what kind of current is this? is this bolted from the outside? – conjured a rambling explanation of my incredibly specialized skill set, which includes backing up trailers and watercolors. What’s worse is that when Ted began to fix things, I wasn’t able to either correctly identify the tools he requested or, in one case, actually made his job much harder by applying pressure to a hanging metal shelf in the opposite direction that he needed.

As we worked, we talked. Ted was a policeman and a parole officer for 36 years. Before that he served in the Navy as a flight technician. His last job was to oversee the close of a base in Georgia. “Everything that didn’t have a concrete foundation was loaded onto a flatbed truck,” he said. It took him six months working with only a handful of men.

Thirty years ago he came to northwest Arkansas with his wife. They liked the area and bought a tract of land. Then they went back home to Missouri. The land laid fallow for thirty years until he built the house himself last fall. Barzel Point, the area next to camp and where Ted lives, is an expatriate community of Poles and Germans. I’m not sure why they chose to settle there, but it was a caravan when it stopped. Driving back to the maintenance shop for supplies, we saw Ted’s wife of forty years. The German woman that she was walking with playfully yelled, “Git back to vurk!”

At lunch Rob asked me for a report on Ted. “I don’t know,” I stalled. “He explains what he’s doing like he’s teaching me. I think he knows that I don’t know, so he says, ‘We have to splint this hole’ or something like that. I like that.” I thought some more. “Also, he let me drive his truck -” Ted had a very nice diesel dually that he would turn on in increments, saying You have to let it warm.  “I thought he would be one of those guys who never let anyone drive their trucks. But he asked me to get him a wrench set and he gave me his keys. He’s a nice man.”

Ted only works half days. After lunch I followed him up to maintenance and showed him where we keep the time cards. We shook hands again. “I enjoyed working with you,” he said. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Me too,” I said. And I don’t know why, but I lied. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Scary Terry Faulkenberry

Summers ago as a counselor at Camp War Eagle, the scariest person on staff was Terry Faulkenberry. Mid-fifties with misaligned teeth, he always wore sunglasses and was hardly ever around to hear counselors sing-song his name. However, the lake crew were all afraid of him, and that was enough for me.

Now on maintenance, Terry has become my favorite coworker. He’s usually the only person who doesn’t make fun of me when I sharpen a chainsaw backwards. In fact, he’s the person who teaches chainsaw safety.

Terry lives near camp, out in the isolated woods, and has never married but I can tell from his lunchtime stories that he has a lot of people in his life. Teenagers, mostly – he teaches them to hunt or drive. He has one who is working off a Grand Torino type debt by painting his house or hauling off brush. However, Terry can’t sit on his porch and watch with a beer in hand because of his stomach. Chicken noodle soup only.

Yesterday Terry and I planted trees. He ordered about thirty for camp to replace the dead or dying trees we’ve been knocking down. He started the morning the cab of the Bobcat, using the forks to dig a 32 inch deep hole.

“I think I caught a tree branch,” he said on his second scoop. As he pulled the forks up, a two-inch watermain snapped and water started fireworking out like a Roman candle. I’ve never seen such urgency in my three months as a groundskeeper. Within minutes there were three valve keys running across the boys cabin area, turning off any switch we could reach.

Like I said, Terry works a lot with neighborhood or family kids. Whenever we work together it makes me feel like I’m a mentee. A few weeks ago he taught me how to mix and trowel concrete. I think he redid the whole project on my off day.

Terry used to pilot Huey helicopters in the army. He quit right as the Blackbirds came out because “they were falling out of the sky.” He’s had a lot of jobs but my favorite was attack job trainer. Assistant to, really – he used to be the guy in the padded suit that wobbled away from the teeth and jaws of a doberman.

“I got paid to put on masks and slap the dogs around. It’s probably not legal now.” He offered this over lunch as he ate his chicken soup. “People think dobermans are the best attack dogs, but let me tell you: German shepherds hit the hardest.”

Long Story Short: New Gym Membership!

Most people I work with on the Camp War Eagle maintenance crew have a specialty. Rob does heating and cooling, Daniel does engines, even the other new guy Justin does AutoCad. I had to be shown how to use WD-40 yesterday. It took me three tries to lubricate the gate hinges. But the upside to being inefficient is that I get the sponge jobs – the ones that soak up time without demanding skill. That may be digging out a drainage ditch (that’s not the upside part) or driving into town to pick up a camp van from the autobody. An hourly wage to listen to talk radio? And it’s tax-deductible! Maybe.

Last week when I was digging out the drainage ditch and having so much fun Pete, the camp director, came up and said, “You need to shave and put on some dress pants. We’re sending you to a business expo.” Cha-ching! They can’t send Joe the Polish carpenter to a business expo – they need his skills every day, plus no one can understand him. But me – they can spare me, because all I do is scrub bath tubs (Scrubbing Bubbles smells like mangoes – it makes me hungry, so I only do it before lunch).

I loaded up a van with recruiting materials and took it home. The next day I pulled up to the John Q. Hammons Convention Center which, to my surprise, is not named for the guy who resurrected dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.

A business expo is a lot like Comic-Con, but for dorks. While it’s my life ambition to attend Comic-Con, once as a child I got lost in a business expo at the Northwest Arkansas Mall. I’ve been plagued with nightmares since. Furthermore, instead of dressing up like a Stormtrooper I had to dress like my dad.

The expo covered the entire floorplan, including hallways, of the convention center. In all this wonderful space, War Eagle was given a booth in the very back, facing a beige wall. People would turn the corner and say, “Oh! You scared me. I didn’t know anyone was back here.”

Old people would turn the corner and say, “Where’s the restroom?”

Megan, one of the front office ladies, came with me. We were promoting group and corporate retreats at the camp facilities. We didn’t do so well. We did make friends with our booth neighbor, Jamie, who was promoting retirement home massage therapy.

There were two competing gyms walking the floor in similar tight black polos. They handed out literature and spoke badly of their competition. The third time World’s Gym passed our booth, the man who looked like Steven Lang from Avatar stopped to play the Plinko game we were attracting grandmothers with. He won a free frisbee and told us to keep it.

“You,” he said to me, offering free month at his gym in one hand, “You need to work out.” When I took the card he added, “Just kidding.”

I looked at the logo on the card and said, “Actually, I gave up working out for New Year’s. It’s been going pretty well so far.”

“What?” he said, partially stunned. Looking at his confused face I realized I had made a mistake in joking with one of the Expendables.

“I mean, I’d love to come. This is where the World works out, right? I’ll see you there. Maybe you can bench press me sometime.”

It Does Feel Good to be a Gangster

There are a few people in Van outside of the university that I hang out with. Rojda works at a slaughterhouse and wants to be a veterinarian. The old man with the dried apple mustache and perfect circle reading glasses frequents my tea house – we play backgammon together a couple times a month. Farhad’s family is in the Turkish mafia.

That was just a supposition until recently. When we’d get together, Farhad would say things like, “People do not mess with my family,” or “That man owes his life to my father.” He also has an aggressive demeanor during backgammon where he insults me when I lose and gets angry and silent when I win. Sometimes I let him win and endure the abuse. Droids don’t pull people’s arms out of their sockets when they lose. That’s what I learned from the Bible.

Farhad called me last week and wanted to hang; I put it off until yesterday. When he came into the tea house, his head was shaved – he had been called up to military service. He was not happy.

After I lost graciously, we went walking in the streets of Van, arm in arm. Every couple of streets Farhad would stop and talk to a passerby. Often he would pull me into shops. “This is my cousin,” he would start. “If you ever need cellphones/vegetables/ammunition/construction work, you come to him.” These guys would always greet Farhad with a couple of fake punches that looked like they really hurt. Okay, I’d say standing near the entrance. It’s nice to meet you. Memnum oldum.

As we walked Farhad told me that his family has over one million members worldwide – why, just last week a journalist from England was in Van interviewing Farhad on the reasons his family is so fertile. It all leads back to the family head, he said; Farhad’s great grandfather, who lives in a palace (“Like Topkapi,” Farhad said – Topkapi is where the sultans lived); along with him in the palace lives his four wives and several bodyguards. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has been known to travel there to ask for favors.

Like Disneyland with guns

(Later that night, playing cards with some friends, I asked them about Farhad’s family and if there was actually a palace and a million Farhads. They said yes – more of a tribe than a family, but yes.)

As we finished our walk, Farhad took me by the shoulders and said, “Do you remember the shops I brought you to?” Yes, of course. Where else am I going to buy ammunition. “I brought you to those so you’ll know where to go if you’re in trouble. Those people will protect you.” Protect me? From what? “You know, sometimes it’s dangerous here. Well, my cousins can be dangerous too. And you’re on our side now.”

Boo yeah. Part of the mafia.

Cass: 1, Intelligence and Cultural Sensitivity: 0

I have a driver, Niza, who chauffeurs me on the twenty minute trip to and from my medical faculty classes everyday. He’s my Chewbacca – though he speaks no English, and I no Turkish, we have come to understand each other’s sensibilities. He loves to talk about the weather and thinks fat people are funny. We’ve been friends for about seven months now.

Every Thursday we’re joined by Hateje, a twenty-something art student. She sits in the back, and I’ve yet to find out why she has to go to the medical faculty. My best guess is she has some sort of chronic painter’s cramp or her uncle is the dean. She doesn’t speak much English, so usually our interaction is:

HATEJE: Merhaba, Cass!
ME: HOLY COW, you scared me, Hateje. Don’t hide next time.

Every Wednesday I teach a class in the dean’s office directly. It’s usually attended by higher-ups with less English skill. The topics usually revolve around simple nouns and ‘Where did Cass goes this weekend’. However, since the dean is a busy man, I usually spend the first fifteen to twenty minutes of class in his waiting room with a book.

He has a pretty secretary whose name I don’t know, but I feel like we’ve bonded over the months that I’ve been sitting in her office space waiting to teach English. She will usually ask me questions in Turkish and I will respond with, “I don’t speak Turkish.” I’d tack her name on the end if I knew it, but she knows my name and that’s half the battle. The other half is air support.

Yesterday, Hateje got into Niza’s car with a big red canvas and a smile. After we greeted each other, I rode in silence while Hateje and Niza talked about me. I know this because they said my name many times, and once Niza picked up my hand and motioned to it, as if he was making a point about my hairy fingers. Turks don’t prize body hair.

After my class was over, I walked to the spot where Niza usually waits to take me home. However, he wasn’t there; I walked into the dean’s office to ask the secretary where he was. Above the secretary’s desk hung Hateje’s big red canvas. At that point I realized that, though I’ve known them/her for half a year, Hateje and the secretary are the same person.

As she described in unintelligible Turkish Niza’s current whereabouts, I whispered in surprised, “Hateje?” She looked at me puzzled and said, “Cass?”

I’d love to say this is the pinnacle of my American misunderstandings in Van, but I’m certain I’ll do something else completely idiotic. I’m still embarrassed that I’ve ridden in the same car and sat in the same waiting room with this single person for seven months whilst thinking she was actually two, one being much prettier than the other. When Niza eventually found me, I think he sensed my uneasiness. Again, we’re very close. So to make things less awkward, he started motioning between Hateje and I and saying, “Evlilik,” Turkish for marriage. I can’t marry her, Niza. Apparently I don’t know her at all.

Fortune Telling and Get to Know You Games

On Sunday, Mark (the only other American at my university and thus the guy I’m confused for all the time – we all look the same) and I were invited to dinner by a trio of giggly girls. This is one of two groups in my conversation class who behave like thirteen year old teeny boppers. Besides being in their thirties, I guess this isn’t out of the ordinary.

Sevda invited us to her house for dinner with her and her husband, and sisters Selma and Gushen helped prepare the meal. I know these names for a specific reason.

The week before, Sevda had invited me to lunch with her and the two sisters. While in the car, I discovered that all three girls loved LOST, and we compared favorite characters (Jack – don’t make me BARF) before Sevda said, “The ending, it was not – suitable.” When I tried to share how I felt about it, she cut me off with. “It was bad.”

Anyway, while I was chewing my kebab at lunch, Sevda leaned across the table and said, “What is my name?” I heard her but acted like I didn’t understand. I was stalling, because I had no idea. She knew my game immediately, and tried a different question. “What’s her name?” she said, pointing at Gushen. I had to shrug. At that point I knew she was going to ask about Selma, too, whose name at the time I had no idea about, and there was nothing I could do to stop her. It was excruciating, until one of them accidentally called me Mark.

After dinner on Sunday (where Sevda dumped, no lie, half a pan of fried anchovies on my plate and told me not to worry about the bones), we sat in the most ordinary Turkish living room I’ve seen yet and had Turkish coffee. This stuff is thick, like one of those disgusting health smoothies, and leaves dredges that you’re supposed to be able to read fortunes from. Like tea leaves, if tea leaves looked like the throw up of a dog that ate a black rubber bone.

Sevda took my cup and sat across from me. Eventually she started telling my fortune, with the sisters helping at certain points. It started out tame (you miss your family, you will have visitors soon, you will know fear – that last one was in a demon voice), but as it went on – and it went on for a good fifteen minutes – she started to get bolder and bolder. It became a Turkish version of MASH, that childhood game that told you where you would live and who you would marry. It turns out I’ll get married in Greece in five years, before studying French in Paris. I don’t want to bore you with the details, but I will say that I am psyched about retirement – ON THE MOON! I tipped her two lira to predict that last one.

I’ll Be There In Two Months

To celebrate Thanksgiving, a good majority of the fifty Fulbrighters in Turkey are gathering in a couple of cities and having dinner. They even have actual turkey birds, which took quite an effort to track down. I was excited about attending one of these dinners until I learned that Van is at the end of the universe and in order to get from the end of the universe to the Black Sea or western Anatolia you must pay hundreds of lira. That’s why there are so many people in Van. They can’t afford to leave.

However, one of my students, Ahmed, invited me over for dinner. He had no idea it was Thanksgiving, and I had no idea what his name was (I actually don’t know many of my students names, but people here always call me Mark, after the other American in Van. Some people call me Cats).

Ahmed is in his late sixties, and so is his wife. The first thirty minutes of my visit were set aside for photo albums. Ahmed showed me his three daughters, as well as his three grandchildren (triplets of his eldest daughter and her Spanish husband). It was odd to see him in that context. In class, I only knew him as the older opinionated guy who would not shut up, who when I tried to cut him off would speak louder to finish a point. But I found out that he was not only a grandfather, but a cuddly old man. From pictures. I found that out through pictures.

Ahmed is Kurdish, like 90% of the people in Van, and his wife served us a traditional Kurdish meal until the third time I said I was full. She didn’t eat – she hovered, until one of the two plates were empty, and then laid down more meat.

You can’t just have dinner here. They won’t let you leave before you have tea, and tea usually takes an hour or two. Two, with Ahmed. He did most of the talking, and it was actually quite fascinating – he talked about his family, which has 1000 people in it. No lie, unless that’s a translation error on his part, and I don’t think it is. I wrote out the number ‘1000’ and he said, “Yes, one thousand.” He talked about Turkey’s problems. At one point his neighbor Hamdi, an Iranian, came over, and we talked together. Hamdi had the cutest little girl with him, who everyone kept referring to as a boy. Turkish people have a lot of trouble with third person singular pronouns – in English we have he/she/it, but in Turkish there is only one article for all three – so I didn’t think anything of it. I told Hamdi how cute his little girl was. It turned out it actually was a boy.

After two hours of tea, I was ready to go. Actually, after one hour; it’s a pleasant strain to communicate with someone with the level of English Ahmed has. However, as I got my coat on, he went into his room and came back with a traditional Kurdish scarf, which he gave to me, and he said, “If you ever need anything, call me, and I’ll be there in two months.”

It was quite sweet, if confusing.

Then, as I was finally leaving, Ahmed opened the door and there was Hamdi, with a plate of anchovies for me. Ahmed clapped his hands and helped me take off my jacket. He told me I couldn’t possibly leave now.

“I’ll See You Tomorrow”

This week marked my third week to teach professors at Yuzuncu Yil University, but it was also my first week to teach the medical faculty. I now have two separate classes on two separate campuses – the regular professors (education, theology, veterinarians) and the doctors.

The doctors are much cooler.

Campus is about 20 minutes outside of the city of Van; the medical faculty is located in the heart of the city. Everyday after lunch, the medical faculty sends a car to pick me up and bring me to the city. Everyday the car is driven by the same Turk, Niza Matin.

Niza is probably sixty, and looks like all other sixty year old Turkish men: a little pudgy, five year old mustache, wears a suit everyday. Each time I get in the car, Niza is sweating. Like beads, running down the side of his face.

He also speaks no English, but he talks the entire ride. I try to look at him while he talks, and nod, saying, “Tamam” during the pauses (basically, “Okay”). I have to listen hard for the change in pitch, if he’s asking a question – when he asks a question, he usually looks at me. I used to say, “I don’t understand,” but that never stopped him, so I don’t anymore. Now I say things like, “You know, Tom Cruise said the exact same thing to me yesterday at the club.” Then Niza will say, “Tamam.”

The difference between the medical faculty and my regular students, besides the doctors being a little bit more advanced, is imagination. They talk all the time, and they just run with questions that I ask them. For instance, when I ask my regular class to pretend that they are meeting one another for the first time, they ask me to restate the question a few times, then say “Hello,” to one another. In Turkish.

I gave this task to the doctors. The first pair, a surly old man named Bulent and the only woman, Sahran, began innocently enough until Bulent asked Sahran how her operation went. She got confused, and Bulent clarified. “I heard they took out your kidney.” Sahran turned to me and said this wasn’t true, but Bulent interrupted. “I am pretending.

The absolute scariest part of my day is when Niza drives me home. My first day, the outbound traffic, towards the university, was clogged. We were stuck. Niza muttered a few Turkish curses then jumped the median between our lane and incoming traffic. Then we drove for three minutes in the incoming traffic lane. And it was just as full as our lane.

As I got out of the car later and tried to hide the pee stains on my pants, I was shutting the door, with my hand in the small crack between the frame and the window (I rolled it down to throw up in fear), Niza rolled the window up on my fingers, trapping them. Then he pulled out of the parking lot. I ripped my fingers out of the door and waved limply. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Taste of Breakfast Rivaled Only By Terror of Host

Many Turkish cities are known for something in particular. Gaziantep is known for baklava; Bursa is known for kebab. Van is known for it’s lake monster – I’m serious, I have a picture. But I’m not publishing until I have more proof. I don’t want to have another Phantom Menace on my hands. They should have never released that monster.

Also, Van is known for it’s breakfast. Turkish breakfast is lavish, but Van is supposed to have the best breakfast in the country. Last Saturday, some friends from the English department invited me to breakfast at Bak Hele Bak, a very nice restaurant which, while we were waiting for the food, they admitted they had never been to. I’m glad we got to experience it together, because I’m sure I couldn’ve known from their faces what was coming.

I’m not talking about the food. Which, by the way, was glorious in a way that the sun is when you get really close, like a hundred thousand miles (at which point it will turn you into neutrons). Turkish breakfast comes all at once, on a hundred tiny plates, each displaying a certain type of olive, or a special cheese, or homemade honey. You just pick and choose; almost everything ends up spread onto bread, including the sausage and undercooked egg mixture (sounds gross, tastes like pure protein). I still can’t identify the best part of the meal – it looked like a tortilla, had the consistency of a scrambled egg, and tasted like cream cheese. If you can tell me what it was, I will FedEx you a high five. Overnight. That will cost me more than the breakfast.

Afterwards, I didn’t eat lunch, and I had some cookies for dinner and even had to push those away. “No more cookies,” I said. “I am STUFFED. It must’ve been the cream cheese scrambled pancake.”

But if my companions had been there before, I think what I would have seen on their faces would’ve been sheer terror when the owner walked in. The name of the restaurant is Bak Hele Bak, but the owner’s name, Yusuf Konak, and his face appear everywhere the restaurant name does. Everywhere. Think napkins. He was on my mouth – oh no. I’m going to throw up. GET AWAY FROM ME KEYBOARD.

Yusuf is an older man who always wears a dark suit with a pink silk tie. I’ve seen the photos. He speaks no English, which I learned when he was yelling at me. Don’t be alarmed – he wasn’t angry. That’s how he communicates. He came in the restaurant about halfway through our meal and began yelling like Samuel L. Jackson. Like an angry cop on the wrong side of the law. My friends told me he was actually asking trivia questions about Turkey – get it right and he would reach into his pocket and pull out ear rings or an actual ring, some tidbit. Then he would throw it at you. I was lucky. He threw a scarf at me. The others…some didn’t make it.

He shook every single person’s hand in that restaurant. And it hurt (you can see him here holding the shoe he later slapped everyone with). Later, when all had been quiet, I asked one of my Turkish friends where Yusuf went. Murat, my friends, pointed to a table where Yusuf was being interviewed by a camera crew. Local news, I asked. No, Murat said. It was a very famous program, actually, the equivalent of the Food Channel. Interviewing Yusuf. I said a little prayer for the show’s host. If he was lucky, it would all be over quickly.