In May of 1982, my daughter and I planned a trip to England. This was so exciting for me as I had never been to that country.
When it came time to pack, I was eagerly laying out all I would need for our seven day trip, when my husband popped his head into the room, saying, “Is that your suitcase?”
“Of course,” I replied.
“Oh no,” he said, “that suitcase will never do.” He proceeded to bring in this huge, red plaid garment bag, which was his. He insisted I must use it. “You never know what the weather is like in London, it rains for five minutes, then turns cold, and besides, I want you to have enough room to bring me home a lot of those Dundee cakes. The ones the Brits are famous for.”
So I didn’t argue, I just gave in.
The following day, my sister came over inspecting my packing and insisting I must use her make-up case! She said mine will never hold all my cosmetic stuff. So, once again, I gave in.
My daughter and I had a plan to meet at the Boston Airport terminal for our flight on to London. When my daughter found me wandering around the terminal, lugging that huge, red plaid garment bag, and the make-up case, I saw a look of horror on her face.
“Whats wrong?” I asked her.
“What the heck are you doing with Dad’s gigantic garment bag? And, good god, Aunt Lottie’s pink Barbie Doll case!”
I had never connected the case with Barbie. I stood there frozen a moment, sure she would complain about what I was wearing, but I somehow got lucky on that one — I passed the test. My stomach began making gurgling sounds.
We had to take the connection bus to get to the International terminal. I had the huge plaid garment bag, and my daughter was carrying the rest. It was a hot afternoon at Logan Airport and the connection bus wasn’t air conditioned. The driver kept calling out terminal stops, but no one could hear him. What was that stop??? people kept saying.
After some time, we heard the bus driver call out our terminal. We got off the bus, me dragging that garment bag again over many feet to the sounds of complaining. Once off the bus, when we looked around, there wasn’t any terminal, just a large field and a dark tunnel. We stood there looking at each other, then we doubled over laughing.
“We can’t go back on that bus,” said my daughter. “It’s too embarrassing.”
“We have to,” I said.
She yelled up at the driver, “Where is Delta?”
He growled back, “I didn’t say Delta. I said Hilton.” We looked at each other and burst out laughing again.
So we climbed back on that bus. We could hear people groaning, Oh no, they’re coming back.
At last we made it to London. We spent days doing all the touristy things, like seeing the Queen’s guards, having tea at Harrods. After a lot of shopping, we decided to go to the theatre one night.
As we entered the theatre lobby, we were stopped by the police, detained, and all our packages searched. How did we know they were having their Falkland Islands War with Argentina?
“Do we look Argentine?” my daughter whispered.
They finally decided we were safe Americans, and let us in. We saw a great play, Evita. Strange choice with their war going on, I thought.
Back at our hotel, daughter went right to sleep. I’m too wound up to sleep so I wrote cards to all our friends. Then I had to go down to the lobby for postage and mailing.
Returning to our floor, leaving the elevator, I’m walking the long hallway when suddenly these glass hall doors have shut me out. Right in my face! Doors across the hallway! Bells going off. I’m terrified the hotel is being bombed or on fire — I’m screaming for my daughter, people are opening their room doors, one woman with cream all over her face. A man with a towel around his waist. Then those hall doors opened as quickly as they had closed.
I ran down the hall to our room, banged on the door, my daughter opening it. Quite hysterically I asked her, “Didn't you hear me calling to you? I thought the hotel was bombed or on fire!”
Her reply was a sleepy, sarcastic: “The whole hotel heard you.”
I’d had enough! My mind had but one thought in it: burn baby, burn.
published 15 February 2014