Learn the Travel Lingo
“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” Mark Twain
“I love being married. It’s so great to find one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.” Rita Rudner
“A good wife always forgives her husband when she’s wrong.” Rodney Dangerfield
My husband and I have been traveling together for 42 years, more if you count our fairly regular trysts at the Donna Court Motor Lodge in Evansville, Indiana, in my freshman and sophomore years of college. He loves to travel; I like it. As I’m pulling the last load of our vacation clothes out of the dryer, he’s pounding the Expedia website looking for our next destination.
This past November he whined, “We’re not going anywhere in December.”
Me: “And your point is?”
Him: “It’s cold. I want to go someplace warm.”
Me: “Go to Hell . . . it’s warm.”
Him: “Seriously, why can’t we go?”
Me: “We can’t leave. We’re having an out-of-town guest: Santa.”
We have traveled to all the continents together. I have to say, there was a time on every trip that I wanted to kill him: lock him out of our cabin without his clothes in Antarctica; throw him over the Great Wall of China, hold his head down in the Great Barrier Reef.
Yesterday, as we drove home from Gatlinburg in such companionable silence, I realized we had reached travel détente. I’d been with him four days and not once did I want to feed him to a bear. Now that I understand his travel language, I know when to alter my expectations.
When he asks, “What time do you want to leave for the airport,” I now understand that this is just an opening bid. He already knows what time we’re leaving. Here’s how it goes:
Me: Oh, I don’t know. Maybe 8:00.
Him: I was thinking 7:00 or 7:30.
Me: Okay, then, 7:30.
Him: I’ll set the alarm for 6:00 so we can pull out at 7:00.
He has a way of making it sound as if decisions have been made for my benefit. Here’s an example from just three days ago.
Me: Okay. Whatever. I’m not really all that hungry.
Him: I’m trying to be nice to you. I know how much you like their soup and salad.
Then, when the waiter comes to the table and offers us menus, he says, “I don’t need one. I’ve been dreaming about your Tour of Italy entrée for a week.
Him: You look so tired. Why don’t we go back to the room so you can take a nap.
Me: No, I’m okay.
Him: I know you had trouble sleeping last night. You should get your rest. Come on, take a nap.
And by “take a nap” (see #2 above) he doesn’t mean “go to sleep.”
He suggests that I go throw the bags in the car. I understand now that I should literally just throw them in, because he’s going to come out and rearrange them. “It’s all about spatial relations,” he says, as he arranges them by employing a variety of geometric theorems. When he finishes, the suitcases look like Danish cookies in a tin.
It all started with the aforementioned Donna Court in Evansville, Indiana. I was in love then, you see, so I didn’t complain about the low-wattage lightbulbs, the stained carpet, the wire hangers, the mildew on the shower curtain.
By the time we took our first road trip out west with the kids, I was so over economy lodgings. When we pulled up to the Pinecrest Inn in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with its algae-slicked pool and quarter-for-a-massage bed, I put my foot down.
“I don’t think I can stay here.” He chuckled. “No, I mean it. I won’t stay here.”
My kids became accustomed to me saying, as we pulled up to various versions of the Bates Motel, “I don’t think I can stay here.” Finally, I instigated ground rules:
- I would not stay any place that was not at least as clean as our house (which was setting the bar mighty low).
- I would not stay in any motel with a number or color in its name.
It is only now, with the insight that a long marriage gives you, that I had missed the teachable moment when we pulled up in his Mustang to the Donna Court back in 1971 the first time. But I was distracted, and I was sitting on his lap at the time.
Now he primes me, as we approach our hotel, by telling me that it was the highest rated place in the area, and then he mumbles, “at this price.”
Translation: “I’ve set the alarm for 4:30 AM and put my tripod in the car. You might want to get out your long underwear.”
When we get home to the apartment, he unlocks the door and enters, leaving the suitcases in the hall. He immediately rips off all his clothes and he encourages me to do the same. We run to the shower together. Lust? No, fear of bringing home bedbugs, as we did when we returned from China.
He says, as we lug our suitcases down to the car, “Did you forget anything?”
Translation: “Did you forget anything again?”
He knows he better not say “again,” that I will go ballistic and accuse him of patronizing me.
I mean, everyone will forget something, sometime, right?
Like “her” ID when they drive to Dayton to catch a plane to San Francisco, for instance.
Or maybe one of “her” shoes or “her” anti-anxiety medication.
Or perhaps her coat, scarf, and mittens at a Courtyard in Detroit on the way to Canada.
He says, “I think we’re ready to go.”
Translation: “Basically, you just have to show up, because I have bought the plane tickets; gone to the bank to check exchange rates and buy Euros and Norwegian Kroners; booked the hotels and printed out the confirmations; alerted the credit card companies that we’re traveling; watered the plants; canceled the newspaper; sent typed itineraries to the kids and our parents; carried the luggage to the car; turned down the thermostat; gotten the passports out of the safe deposit box; made copies of the passports in case they’re lost or stolen; watered the plants; written a post-dated check for the rent; consulted Trip Advisor to find the best restaurants and tours; entered the addresses we’ll need into the GPS; emptied the trash and recyclables; and scheduled a few surprises to make you happy, like a trip to Tom Jones’s birthplace in Pontypridde, Wales, Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House in Massachussetts, or the Seattle Library. Yes, we’re ready. All you have to do is get in the car.”
Yes, it’s a pain to travel with my husband, but now that I know the lingo, I won’t kill him. We’re “ready to go.”
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