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  Texas : Features : Columns : "The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything"

Happy Trails

by Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
By the time you read this I will be a long gone baby! Our vacation, the first in two years (two really awful years, if you want to know), will be well underway and I will be alternately bathing in aloe vera, trying to master the fine art of sucking in my thighs (although one of the advantages of going to a resort frequented by middle aged Italians is that my thighs are about average there), and swimming with the fishies. In a good way. I hope.

In fact, by the time you read this it will be almost time for us to come home. Hereís where you all come in. I wonder, if it wouldnít be too much trouble, if you could just send me a little jolt of positive energy, wing a little prayer up for me maybe, or just think of me fondly for a second. I will need all the help that I can get.

Michael and I are a fine match. Other than a high regard for Frank Zappa and Bob Dylan (on his part) and the Lifetime Movie Channel (on my part), we are compatible in all the important ways. After the first half decade of getting used to each other, we rarely disagree and when we do, it is generally in an amiable and humorous way. We think too much of one another to hurt each otherís feelings. Except when we have been on vacation and had a lovely time and are on our way home.

One of us is like the fabled paw-paw fruit. Do you know it? Surely you remember the childrenís song, the only line of which I can remember is, "Where is sweet little Suzie? Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch." Paw-paws are purportedly the most delicious fruit native to the United States. They have a custard-like consistency and are supposed to taste like a mixture of bananas and angel smiles. Or something. I donít know. I have never tasted one, and the odds are that you havenít either. Because, while paw-paws are supposed to be very wonderful, they do not travel well. More than that, I guess they donít travel at all. Try to ship a paw-paw and all you will end up with is a shoe box full of unappealing organic sludge. To return to my postulation, the one of us who is like a paw-paw is not only sweet and fine and rare, not only does not travel well, but can also have a pretty sharp tongue.

There are some reasons for this. One reason is that the one of us who travels like a paw-paw has a wife who thinks she is funny. Sometimes he thinks she is funny too, in small doses, but never in airports. Another reason also has to do with the airports themselves. Airports in 2008 are smoke-free and paw-paw is decidedly not. He is the opposite of smoke-free. When paw-paw is forced to be smoke free he gets edgy. At which point he becomes less like a paw-paw and more like a prickly pear Ė which is also sweet and delicious but is covered with thorns, tiny little hair-like thorns which burrow under your skin and itch and hurt and end up festering. The trick with prickly pears is to just leave them alone.

This year I am absolutely determined that paw-paw and I will get home on speaking terms. It is no use going on a fabulous, romantic vacation to a tropical paradise if you come home giving each other the silent treatment. I am going to be infinitely agreeable. I am going to remember that, "Least said, soonest mended," a homily which, if I always remembered it, would have kept me out of loads and loads of trouble over the years. And I plan to take lots and lots of nicorette in my purse, and while I will not offer it to him, because that might be taken as a criticism, I will make sure somehow that he knows it is there and available. And maybe I will learn a Frank Zappa song to hum in a non-irritating way so that he will think I am still his kind of girl, even without a smokescreen.

And maybe my friends, you can help me the way you may have helped Tinkerbell when you were a child. Maybe if you take just one or two seconds to wish me a safe and pleasant trip home, maybe it will be pleasant, and maybe we wonít fuss with each other. And maybe Tink will get well and feel like visiting Santa in Narnia with the Tooth Fairy. But it couldnít hurt to try, could it?


© Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
"The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything" May 9, 2008 Column
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