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
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
May 9, 2008 Column
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