Monday, November 10, 2008

How to humiliate yourself in multiple time zones - or how a cheese spreader kicked my ass

You pack your clothes, toliteries, gadgets, - but the biggest piece of baggage? Your own personality and culture. Get me on another continent - I'm still wound tighter than a drum and a complete nervous Nelly. David on foreign soil still ignores my helpful 'suggestions' and definitely marches to his own drummer. Since you can't leave you behind while on vacation, 'hilarity' often ensues.

You've Got Mail
Many times, it isn't the personality, but the differences in culture that can really take you off guard. My friend Nancy always sends post cards while on vacation. One afternoon while in the little town of Greve, Tuscany, Nancy announced she needed stamps. She remembered seeing a stamp machine earlier in the day while walking around town. (Only Tim and I remained with Nancy as the others in our group returned to the villa.) The three of us retraced our steps and we found the machine built into a shop wall on a fairly busy corner. As Tim and I waited, Nancy put her Euros in the machine. Out came a box with a couple writhing around on it. I am sure it must have said 'Ribbed for her pleasure' somewhere on the box in Italian. Italians must take the Boyscout credo 'Be prepared' very seriously. Talk about your bulk mail.

More Wine Please

Sometimes making a fool of oneself, involves not listening to one's wife. Every time we go on vacation David buys local wine. Even before the FAA rule prohibiting liquids over 3 ounces in carry ons, I've been packing the wine in our checked bags. We have two bottle neoprene wine carry bags I slide each bottle into. Then I wrap each bag in dirty clothes. Finally I place the entire package in the direct center of the suitcase and box it in with shoes and tolitries. 10 - years and 20 bottles later we've only had one casualty, a bottle of Greek white wine. It was our last night in Athens last year, I was frantically running around checking on our flights, organizing our travel documents, in short being my usual pre-flight nut-job. The flight was for 6:00am and it was 11:40pm. David offered to step in and finish packing. (Looking back on it, I am pretty sure no 'nest' was involved in the wine packing.) We checked our bags in Athens and headed on to Venice. As the sun came up over the Adriatic, we arrived in Venice, but our bags did not. The hotel concierage was great, he continued to check with the airlines to locate our bags and when they arrived he delivered them to our rooms while we enjoyed a Venetian dinner. The wine scented odor that hit us as we opened the door should have been the first clue. The large wet wine colored stain should have been the second. But, it was the glass that so happily tinkled all over the silk coverlet that made David say, "Wow, I probably didn't pack that wine as well as I should have". Have you ever tried to get the smell out and to dry overnight wine soaked underwear?

More Cheese Please

In an effort to return home with unique and fashionable gifts, Pam decided to include a Venetian glass handled cheese knife and spreader in her carry on from Venice. Who knew this would spotlight her distinctive anxiety levels. The hilarity bagan in the Venice airport when security searched the bag containing the knife and spreader that I carried for Pam and the panic set in motion. The security official stated that the blade on the knife was much too small to be bothered. However, on the ensueing connection flight to Amsterdam Pam was sure she would end up in an Dutch jail or some such other calamity. I, of course, was steady and drumming along as a calming influence in the face of the anxiety storm.

We ended up in the Amsterdam security line and the official asked if we had any last items we wished to declare. Pam blurted out that she had a blade and spreader . The official took a look at the blade on the cheese knife and lowered his glasses to the peak of his Dutch nose looking at Pam with the epitomy of European cool and stated "how nice for you madam". I thought Pam wet her self and we all had another storyand memory for years to come.