My cousin recently decided to take a much deserved and much needed vacation.
After retiring from her job as a first-grade teacher, one that she deeply loved and was totally committed to for over thirty years, she decided it was time to start keeping an eye on Aunt Bea — who just turned 100.
The past year of being retired has kept her running around like a chicken with her head cut off, dropping her right squarely into the world of “everyday life.”
Doctors visits with her mom, constant errand running, keeping up with house and home and entertaining guests who frequently visit — including me and my little crew.
After working for months on getting her mom’s centennial party planned and executed, she was ready to drop. Or rather, fly.
I didn’t have to guess where she would go on this particular pleasure trip. I knew that she’d probably kept a packed suitcase under her bed for months just to be ready to jet off when the opportunity presented itself.
When at last it did, she had passport in hand and was off to India.
This particular trip, her third visit to the land of elephants, incense and nan bread, also included a leg to Nepal.
Now, all of this information was under lock and key. She didn’t tell a soul, but I know how much she loved her first two trips there so it was no big mystery to me that that is where she would go to chillax.
The secret of her journey, “I’ll tell you all about it when I get back,” was mainly to keep her boyfriend of eons from dropping the bomb on her mom.
“I don’t want anyone to know where I’m going, so I just told my mom I was going to Wisconsin to visit a friend. If she knows I’m going overseas, she will worry the whole time I am gone.”
Boyfriend cannot keep a secret. He would have blabbed it the first chance that came along.
“Bea, would you like some honey in your tea? You know Girlfriend went to India, right?”
Seriously. That is pretty much how it would have gone down.
OK, so Cousin takes off, vowing to send postcards from her destinations. Adios, hasta la vista, au revoir and bye bye.
Within hours of taxiing down the runway, my phone rings.
On the other end is her frantic middle-aged beau.
He is from the Middle East and sometimes I don’t catch all his words quite clearly. This was not one of those times.
“How could she leave and not tell me where she is going?”
“Well, where do you think she has gone?”
“Oh,” he exclaimed, “I know where she is … I looked at her computer and saw her travel tickets on line. But why didn’t she tell me?”
“’Cause she knew you would tell her mom and she didn’t want her mom to worry, that’s why.”
Not good enough.
He wanted the answer he wanted to hear.
He wanted me to say, “She is off on a nefarious illicit love affair with a turbaned Sherpa that she plans to replace you with. She will be returning with him, so that his sheepskin clad body can replace yours in the connubial bed.”
Now, I know that is what he was thinking.
For the next couple of weeks, he was calling me several times daily, out of his mind that she was having it on with a stranger named “Johnny.”
Johnny Dollar, Johnny Angel, Johnny Be Good … some dude named Johnny.
It got to the point where he couldn’t concentrate enough at work so he had to quit. Probably not a good idea for a middle-aged Middle Easterner with ADD.
I tried to encourage him to take up knitting so that he could get over his anxiety.
“What is this anxiety?” he asked, “I don’t know anxiety, all I know is mad!”
Mad because he wasn’t coddled and fussed over before she left. Mad because Sherpa Johnny was coming home with a herd of yak and he would be left to clean up the poop.
Mad because he didn’t have control over the situation or himself.
I mean, really. How could a responsible, intelligent woman go on vacation and want to keep her destination on the downlow? What nerve. And to not tell the human mynah bird where she was going?
“Bawwk! Girlfriend’s gone to India … bawwwk!”
So. Did Girlfriend return from her east Asian journey with Sherpa Johnny’s cell phone number scratched out on a dried yak pattie? Did Girlfriend have a kama sutra experience with the one legged taxi driver in Katmandu? Did Girlfriend come home from her journey with the tattooed image of her lover on her forehead?
Of course not.
She came home to crazy Boyfriend.
But Sherpa Johnny is sounding better all the time.