Summertime is often time for memorable vacations. The following may not have been one of my best vacations…but it was memorable, nonetheless.
Right up front, I must say that my relationship with my companion was less Jack and Jackie and more Ricky and Lucy, which often relegated me to second string. And I must admit, as I operated my own business as my “day job,” that I often acquiesced to this position. So, when I noticed that the representative at the airport check-in counter may have taken the tickets for our connecting flight to
light to Montpelier as well as for our f Paris, I gently nudged my companion and whispered, “Honey…”
I tried again. “But, honey…”
So I took the hint and fished through my carry-on for a magazine.
When we got to
Orly and went to check in for our flight to , it was no surprise to me, then, that we had no tickets. Luckily, we did have the receipts. My companion’s irate call to American Express managed to get us on the flight. We arrived, safe and sound, to the warm greetings of his daughter and three grandchildren. Montpelier
I wish I could say the same for our luggage. Apparently, our bags were detained in
, the result of a baggage-handlers’ strike. This we discovered through my darling’s daughter, the only one of us who spoke French, interpreting for an excruciatingly gracious and very apologetic customer service representative. Hats off, too, to this same daughter, who commandeered her apoplectic father to the car rental counter without international incident. Paris
So there we were in
, on a late Saturday afternoon, with nothing more than the toiletries in our carry-ons. Again, kudos to the capable daughter who, with an incendiary father, three restless children, and a veritable stranger, created a mini convoy with her minivan and our rented sedan. She led us to a French version of our big box discount store and the only store open, as the French have a quaint custom of closing shops for the weekend. Montpelier, France
Of course, this presented itself as yet another affront to Papa. Having learned from our ticket incident not to get into his path, I turned him over to his daughter. As I scavenged the aisles, I could hear said daughter’s petulant pleading: “Dad, don’t you think you should try those on?”
The French sizes were a little confusing. I was dismayed to learn that my pants size was a 42, but somewhat amused that my less-than-buxom figure required a Size-99 bra! With my companion assuaged by the knowledge that, if our luggage did not arrive in 24 hours, our purchases were compliments of American Express, we bundled up our packages and drove off to the hotel.
What a lovely place: a converted manor with sloping gardens, a delightful pond, and a glass-walled dining room in a town called Cassoulet! Our room was cozy, our bathroom quaint, and our accommodations required formal attire to dine. No problem: I had bought a dress and my companion, some slacks and a blazer. One glitch: only I had tried on mine.
So, when my companion emerged from the bathroom in the hastily-selected white slacks he had not tried on, I could only comment, with barely-restrained amusement, “Honey, you can’t wear those to dinner. You look like Elvis.”
Glare. Glare. Glare. Glare.
But dine we did. To my relief, no one requested a rendition of “Viva,
.” Las Vegas
And then there was the trip to
, which, I was supposed to be pleased to know, was “for Mary.” While I am a practicing Catholic (and I was practicing very hard on this trip), the trip to Lourdes was news to me. Lourdes
Now, my vision of a pilgrimage never included a minivan, three grumpy children, and a pre-dawn expedition along hairpin turns. Nor did it include, just as we arrived in the venerable city, an explosive “I’m s-i-i-c-c-k…I mean it!” from the ten-year-old seated directly behind me. Thank goodness for my quick reflexes, a gas station with an automatic car wash, and my companion’s resourceful daughter (again). To this day, however, whenever I hear the name “
,” I recall the distinct odor of Pine Sol. Lourdes
So forgive me if I don’t tell you that, by the time we got to
, all the restaurants were no longer serving lunch, so we could only order pommes frites, salad, and wine. Very much wine. Or that the children, adorable heathens that they were, nearly bathed in the miraculous waters ( I still expect to hear that they have all entered the religious life). Or that I only spent fifteen minutes at the actual shrine. Nor will I go into detail about how all of that wine consumption at lunch somehow convinced my companions (I, sadly, did not drink, although, in hindsight, I should have) to cross the Pyrenees into Lourdes . Along even more hairpin turns. With fog. And RVs. And cows. Spain
Forget about the gorgeous, brand-new hotel in
which had just opened the day we checked in and was so new, in fact, that my companion was inspired to instruct the management on how to operate the water heaters. I won’t even mention the glare of all glares which graced me when I exclaimed that a seaside resort, La Grande Motte, was ‘the Wildwood of France” (which I still believe is a compliment). Montpelier
I can only say that, when our airport “limo” failed to morph back into its true identity for our return trip from the airport, I knew this “vacation” and the relationship were beyond redemption.