Santa Maria Sun / Humor
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 28
Traveling can be the devilHow I survived fiendish flights, traffic terrors and Hotel Hell
BY ARIEL WATERMAN
I am a very good traveler. However, unlike the poet Geoffrey Chaucer, who shared amusing anecdotes with “nine and twentye in a companye of sondrye folke” on his way to Canterbury in the 1300s, I travel best alone. I’m more of a Clint Eastwood journeyer, cantering along at my own pace, enjoying in the sites at my leisure. As soon as I take on fellow travelers, my path becomes strewn with cow patties of aggravation that I must step gingerly around, hop over, or unavoidably fall into face first.
This trend started when, at the tender age of 5, I had visited upon me what can only be described as a double punishment from God. To everyone else in my family, this was known as The Twins. Two younger siblings of any gender are bad enough, but Mom had to have one of each. This got dicey when it came to changing diapers.
While they were still small, bald, and toothless, it was hard to tell Thing 1 and Thing 2 apart until the diapers came off. We all felt certain that Thing 1 (Mikey) was destined to become a fireman because his unlucky nappy changer usually ended up getting hosed, if you catch my drift. I caught plenty of Mikey’s, right in the kisser!
Being the oldest, I had to endure years as a referee for these two so that Mom could focus on the task at hand. This was especially true in the car where I had to sit between Torque-Mikey and Savonar-Ella because “Mikey is touching me!” I spent years straddling the hump in the back seat while Mikey pointed his finger as close to our faces as possible taunting, “I’m not touching you!”
High school was not much better when it came to traveling in packs. I remember our sophomore winter trip to the Snowbowl in northern Arizona. The bus broke down and our driver Gunnar Dropyabutoff coasted to a gas station at the bottom of a steep, twisting, snow-covered, icy road while Father Erasmus B. Grass held on for dear life and Sister Mary Cardia Infarct prayed frantically that the squeaky brakes wouldn’t fail.
Years later I headed to Los Angeles to check out a graduate school. My nephew, just turned 21, came along for company. As soon as I saw our plane, I knew we were screwed. It looked like a giant killer whale. That’s right, it was painted to look like Shamu in a shameless bit of combined corporate marketing. Nephew whispered ominously, “This does not bode well.”
The last person to travel in the belly of a whale was a guy named Jonah, and things did not go well for him, so I was inclined to agree with Nephew. Sure enough, the Curse of Shamu followed us everywhere. We were visually assaulted by orca-adorned billboards while sitting for endless hours in L.A. traffic. A Shamu-covered tour bus nearly took us out at the intersection of Hollywood and Vine.
I was greeted in our hotel early the next morning by a screaming teeny-bopper trying to prank her friends. “Oops!” she squealed. “Wrong room!” The fact that she wore a Shamu tee-shirt was no coincidence. Neither was our flight home on yet another orca-plane, which was subjected to no end of turbulence. As my knuckles grew whiter, Nephew and I heard an elderly man seated in front of us reassuring his wife: “Don’t worry Sweetheart,” he spoke soothingly. “I’m not afraid because I know I’m sitting in the palm of God’s hand.”
“Hear that?” asked Nephew. “We’re in the palm of God’s hand!”
“No we’re not!” I groaned. “They’re in the palm of God’s hand. We’re sitting behind them so where does that leave us? On God’s wrist? His little finger?” It didn’t matter because I know that with my luck, even if I was sitting in the Almighty’s palm, God would stand up, rub his hands together, look around and say “So, any special requests?”
My mother is a real blast to travel with. Road trips are one big pause for the cause because this woman has a bladder the size of a pea, with a capital Pee! The Highway Patrol puts out warnings when she travels, because this little lady washes away entire sections of roads.
Plus, she’s worse than a boot camp drill sergeant. My youngest brother endured a trip to Italy with TurboMom keeping pace. She’s up and ready at the crack of dark. “Let’s go see the Spanish Steps! Wow, those are great! Now let’s go to the Vatican! How wonderful! Let’s go inside and see St. Peter’s Basilica! Wow, that’s huge! Time to see the Sistine Chapel! What a pretty ceiling! Keep moving—we might miss something!” And so on. Little Brother likened the experience to the march to Bataan and back.
I also learned to never let Mom pick the hotel, especially on the Internet where everything looks good. Two years ago we met up with her and hubby Joe, plus brother Mikey and family in a small coastal town in Washington state. The hotel Mom chose, located at 1313 Weerallgonnadie St., had no end of ambiance. Brother with clan and we arrived before Mom and checked in—ours was room 666.
“Where are the towels?” asked my husband, the Brit. “Call the desk,” I suggested. He did and then left, returning with a towel and bar of soap. “I think this place rents by the hour!” he gasped. “You have to get towels and soap at the desk, only one per person!”
“That’s not all,” I worried, after having Lysoled the entire room and removed the comforters from the beds—not a comforting thought. “There’s no closet or anyplace to hang up our clothes!” Our grandson pointed to the wall and reassured us as only a child can, “Sure there is, Grandma, look!” And there it was: a hook in the guise of a 10-penny nail hammered right into the doorframe. Best of all was the television—a Zenith! Oooh! That rated a Michelin star!
Poor Mikey’s crowd didn’t have a nail or a Zenith. “What shall we do when Mom get’s here?” I fretted. He smiled and said, “Just sit back and enjoy the moment. Her room is next to the ice machine!”
That night, as I snuggled up to the Brit, I felt something firm and purred, “What have we here?” He answered, “It’s the tire iron. I brought it in just in case.” What surprised me is that he even knew what a tire iron was. What a hunk of a man! ∆
Ariel Waterman is planning yet another trip to Disneyland with her grandson and her hunk of a man. Send hotel recommendations via her editor, Ryan Miller, at .