In 1984 while living on the island of Curacao, the landline phone would ring.
"Whatcha doing?" would come Rivkah's familiar sing-song voice.
What did she think I was doing? Given this was Curacao, nothing in particular. But she had an idea, so like Lucy and Ethel off we'd go together on another hairbrained adventure.
Now to someone sitting in the land of plenty to do, the USA, hanging out at small Mom & Pop hardware stores may not sound like the adventure of a lifetime. It was all a matter of attitude, a sense of humor and our imaginations.
Then one day I hit a homerun.
Living in a company-owned house, I'd watched the top load washing machine empty its load of used water into a huge cement vault that was buried under the driveway. As the water filled the underground chamber, the asphalt of the driveway would roll, visibly moving up and down like a bouncy castle.
With one toddler in cloth diapers and the island's year-round summer weather, our family of five did a lot of wash. Beyond the fearful question of what if the driveway collapsed and toppled my kids to their deaths, the water dump seemed a dreadful waste of graywater on a desert island. With the island way off of the hurricane belt, tropical rains were scarce. The island's water was processed at a premium price from desalinated sea water, then run through the island's rusting, leaking pipes. Why not use graywater, on the few plants nestled in the rocky garden?
After various trips through various hardware stores, I came up with a solution. O-rings. Using O-rings to seal the connection from the washer to a re-purposed garden hose, I ran the hose about the plants to irrigate the plants. Using an ice-pick I stabbed the garden hose repeatedly near the plants to let the water ooze out. Crossing my fingers, the next time the washer ran through its cycle, I discovered I'd created a DIY drip irrigation long before I ever saw a mass produced version. Soapy residue didn't deter nature, the plants never looked so good.
Another day, another call from my playmate.
"Whatcha doing?" And off we went this time to an appointment she'd made with the manager of Campo Alegre (Happy Field), the only sanctioned--though technically not legal--house of prostitution on the island. It was enlightening, but having agreed to a verbal NDA I'll leave it at that.
As I said for years, only boring people get bored.
When Aruba broke away from the confederation of the 6 islands that constituted the Netherlands Antilles, Rivkah had another idea that she didn't enlist me in. Probably one of those late nights hit by lightning moments.
In the center of a major roundabout going to or from Punda, or downtown Willemstad, was a large sculpture of 6 birds symbolizing the 6 islands of the Netherlands Antilles. Late one night, she stepped over the low fence surrounding the sculpture and slipped a large garbage bag over one of the birds.
Whoosh--there went Aruba.
The next day's the front page of a tabloid showed a picture of the non-destructive bag covering the bird as the bag flapped in the omnipresent winds. Who had done it, asked the newspaper. Was it a political statement?
With a Cheshire cat smile that I only can imagine now, she dined on that question for weeks.
Leaving Rivkah behind when we moved to Guayaquil, Ecuador, I felt survivor guilt of leaving her behind. Then the audiotape came inviting me to go with her on a Sherlockian Tour, sharing a room would cut the price for both of us she noted.
Once in London, England, she had what she thought was a scathingly brilliant idea. We should go to the police station around the corner from the hotel and ask them to call her friend, the tour leader, to say we'd been arrested for breaking the peace.
I was appalled, but Rivkah assured me her friend would find it hysterical. Her friend, who I'd never met until then, did not find it amusing.
But the police found it quite amusing, after all, how often do American tourists come in their station to prank a friend? Not often, given she is gone from the table of life.
Who will be the Lucy to my Ethel now?