I wrote this after my first trip overseas with James.  As I prepare for my next trip with him, I had to dig it out and fondly remember what is in store for me.


I’ve never spent more than 10 days alone, I mean really alone, 24x7, in the company of my husband. Now that wouldn’t be so significant if we were newly married, but we’re talking several decades as husband and wife, not to mention the fact that we knew each other since grade school days. Well, it wasn’t until 2004, after spending 37 days traveling through parts of Europe with him on The Big Trip and wondered exactly who is this man I married?

I guess I’m naïve, though I shouldn’t be surprised. There have been hints it before when we’ve gone on trips. It starts with the countdown. I can attest to that since the original countdown to our wedding and subsequent honeymoon. See, according to him you can’t count the current day and you don’t count the day you leave. So, depending on what time of the day you actually leave, you can shave off two days from the countdown right from the get-go. We’ve even had instances where we’ve been able to lop off almost a whole week. Vacations never got here so fast. I’ve tried to convince him to count how many more “wake-ups” we have before we leave. But apparently that is a flawed calculation technique. Of course this counting method is nowhere to be seen once you’re on vacation. There’s no fun in that. But now that I’m thinking of it, I’m going to try that next time we go somewhere. I can just hear it now:

“Hey Hon! Guess What? We only have 3 days left. You better start packing to go home.”

“What!! We just got here. What are you talking about?”

“Well, you can’t count today, and you can't count (insert miscellaneous and ludicrous logic here) whatever you do, don’t relax!”

Anyway, he’s one of Those people. You know the ones I’m talking about. It’s Those people who set their clock 15 minutes fast so when the alarm clock rings they can sleep in. They drive the rest of Us people - nuts. We know they’re fooling no one, but they blissfully ignore your attempts at logic, happy in their private deceptions. Well, God Bless ‘em.

So my master prevaricator begins his countdown usually weeks, if not months before the actual D-Day. The closer we get the more excited and talkative he becomes. He can’t sleep and he recounts the days just to make sure he hasn’t miscalculated. I’ve gotten emails at work from him with a cryptic “38 more days!!” when, in fact, we won’t leave for another 40. Silly man. He also begins packing days before I’ve even thought to pull out the luggage. Thankfully, prior to “The Big Trip,” he was working so hard to finish a construction project that he had no time to get too imaginative.

I noticed the first sign of distressingly aberrant behavior only a few days into our trip. We had left Frankfurt and were headed towards a small town on the Rhein River, Bacharach. James got downright randy; first a playful bump, then a grab or two, a pinch, and by noon – outright groping. Now I’m great with affection, but when there’s a surprise bout of forced tonsil hockey while in line for a train ticket, I decided I had to take action and headed for a miniscule gift stand some 50 feet away.

But wait, that's not all!  Not only was he being frisky, he started up the incessant talking; mostly questions actually.

“I wonder how many boats go up and down the river each day?”

“What do you think would happen if that guy there with the bad rug stuck his head out of the window? We could call him The Rooster! Remember the movie where John Wayne was called Rooster Cogburn?”

And my personal favorite: “I’ll bet this hill is 2000 years old” to which, interestingly enough, someone nearby argued was probably actually 4000 years old and the one next to it was at least 6000.

The whip cream on this particular sundae is his habit of reading aloud all the signs he sees. That is somewhat annoying driving around parts of the city we live in day in, day out, but when you’re in a foreign country, it sounds downright ridiculous. Oh, and did I mention that he has a loud voice? Think about the foreign pronounciations too.  It was quite funny - at first.

I thanked my Heavenly Father I had remembered to bring my MP3 player. I left our train compartment to escape for a few moments and dug around in my backpack for it. I stuffed those little ear-bud-headphone-type-things into my offended canals so tight that I was worried I’d have to find an apothecary store and buy tweezers in order to extract them later. Forward thinking that I am, I dug out my German phrase book and began to look for words to help me with that purchase. Hmmm, no tweezers listed. I picked the best alternative I could find and committed it to memory: “haben sie eine zahnstocher?” Or, “do you have a toothpick?” I figured I could stab the spongy part and simply pull them out. Though, I would have to be careful since I had always been told by my parents not to ever put anything smaller than football in my ear; like I’ve listened to that piece of advice given I’d been using ear buds, cotton swabs and shoved various and sundry other things in my ears for years (the eraser end of pencils work well if you’re trying to think). Anyway, if the clerk still couldn’t fathom my request, I decided to resort to mime by pinching my fingers and pantomime a painful eyebrow plucking session. Yeah, that should work. With that dilemma solved, I rejoined the ongoing monologue in our train compartment, activated my player and settled down, ever hopeful of a peaceful journey at last.

Unfortunately, the batteries were dead. I bobbed and weaved with the beat anyway. How was he to know the only tune I was hearing was the thump thump of my own pulse pounding in my ears? I could hear him chattering away to God knows whom.

1 comment:

The Smith Family said...

You are hilarious. We are both laughing out loud! Great blog.