Monday, July 11, 2011
"DO WE WHAT?"
ONE OF MY FOND MEMORIES from our travels is this pair who made a habit of traveling together. They lived in two different states and rarely did they see each other between trips. As different as their approaches to life were, it worked to be on the road together. The lady on the right was small, wiry, energetic, ready to pound the pavement early in the morning, whereas the woman on the left was a late riser, enjoying her mealtimes; she was utterly laid back.
On a different trip we experienced another sort of alternative travel arrangement. Three seniors had traveled the world together, sharing a room. One was an African-American gentleman and the other two, Caucasian women. They appeared to have the time of their lives, experiencing travel in an affordable manner, in that case, cruising the Mississippi River learning about the music of the area in an Elderhostel program.
I also knew a married couple, both people with successful careers, who lived in two totally separate households, but they enjoyed going to foreign countries together.
Many of you have heard this personal story and I promise I won't repeat it in print ever again. Back in the 1970s I made the largest purchase of my life when I bought two cruise tickets to go to Mexico as a surprise anniversary gift for Mr. Bob. I countered my buyer's remorse by determining to become a good conversationalist before we sailed. My practice area was in doctors' waiting rooms, for young Tim was needing medical attention several days a week. I polished the practice of drawing people out and became so proficient at it that it appeared to be with regret that people pulled themselves away to go in to see their doctor.
Mr. Bob knew nothing of this, not even realizing that he would be leaving the country in the near future. When the departure time arrived friends gathered in our stateroom for a bon voyage celebration (which security no longer allows, more's the pity), after which they disembarked and off we sailed into the sunset. The first night at sea was open seating at dinnertime and we found ourselves with a couple from Barstow, California. I could write a whole piece on my reaction to that town, but won't. Suffice it to say I hope God never puts me there for any length of time.....say, no more that ten minutes. At any rate, we entered into conversation with enthusiasm and I practiced my newly discovered art with gusto, showing honest interest and being just witty enough to keep the laughter and gaiety going. It was a lovely start to our journey or so I thought until the next day, when the Barstow wife approached me after a game of Bingo and in a low voice (surely she didn't really say it out of the side of her mouth, although that's how I remember her words) she whispered, "Do you and Bob trade?"
It was, after all, the Seventies, when something called open marriage was the rage in some sets, but not in our circle. My response was, "Do we what?" And we never saw them again the rest of the voyage. It proved that in conversation, it might be possible to be TOO scintillating. Moderation in all things, was the lesson.