In 1976 I was walking, alone, in the mountains of Crete. Short shorts, halter top, running shoes. A hot spring day. I had stopped to light a cigarette. I don't recall I was carrying anything else. I encountered one person, a woman about my age, cutting fast growing brush with a hand scythe in the field adjoining the road. She was wearing a dress, loose fitting, no undergarments, heavy shoes, hair falling around her face. My hair was up in a pony tail. I stopped and said good morning American style. Cheerfully. She looked at me without smiling. I didn't have to look down at myself to see myself. We both knew the same things.
The scythe dropped beside her in the field, and she slowly walked across the clearing she had made beside the road I was walking. She pointed to the cigarette I was smoking and then to the pocket of my shorts where the matches and the rest of the pack was. I smiled and gestured the same way I would have smiled and gestured under any circumstances breathing out "Yes, Yes. Of course. Cigarettes. Yes, Yes!" My body bending forward in a slight bow of deference.
She was having none of it. Her eyes never left mine; they were black and direct in the Greek light. She wiped the sweat from her face with the back of her hand in the same motion it took to light the cigarette. I gestured, and told her in American English, that she could keep the pack. A hidden look of humiliation passed over her face. She took the cigarettes and left me with her humiliation. I had walked too far out. I never walked that far again. She was a smart woman. I still wonder how much she knew of her country's history that I purported such interest in.
I taught OEDIPUS REX as a critique of rationale. I was supposed to teach OEDIPUS AT COLONOUS. It was a good twenty years later before I developed a rational for teaching that one. On clock time, the encounter lasted perhaps two minutes. I have remembered for thirty-five years. And, I would bet anything she remembers me. I wonder if she laughs now.