On the Road Again
By Patricia White
With so many crazy things happening the last couple of months, trying to get my writing thoughts in order has been shoved to the back burner, once again. We really live a very simple life it seems, but many days are like a three-ring circus. How do old people get caught up in chaos when days mostly consist of doctor appointments, grocery shopping, home repairs, hair-cuts, arthritis and tending to a cat? I deal with the problems that I personally own but for the rest I chant, not my circus, not my monkeys! Damn monkeys are multiplying. Speaking of monkeys, I’m reading a book called, Don’t Feed the Monkey Mind. I’ll leave that there for now.
We recently traveled to Baton Rouge for the annual SAE/LSU Chapter reunion. Initially, we planned to take Cakes, our cat, as the hotel is pet friendly, but she told me in cat speak that she’d rather stay here if one of our girls was willing to stay here with her at night. One of our Aggies gladly agreed and so it was. Packing, which took me three days including shopping, was dicey with 95-degree temps in Houston, heading into a 50-60-degree weekend in Big BR. I had to be prepared for all wardrobe eventualities, including maybe changing my mind from being in the mood to wear something fashion forward to age appropriate. We haven’t taken a trip anywhere in over a year and my usually organized packing skills were lacking. I thought I covered myself for all scheduled events and any unexpected wardrobe malfunctions. Not to worry, there is a Chico’s in every city.
We enjoyed a great dinner the first night with the gang at Ruth’s Chris. My steak was still bellowing when I cut into it, but the waiter graciously took it back for another pass over the hot coals. Their wait staff was impeccable. Back at the hotel, we settled into our room to rest. We had been blessed with travel mercies, albeit it had been a long day. Thank goodness we brought our own pillows because all six on the bed were little balls of lumpiness. We both use CPAP machines and the outlets on the lamps were working half time and the wall outlets not accessible. Old people carry extension cords, of all things, so we hooked up in the bathroom with two 25’ cords. We would at least breathe through the night. The TV would not respond to anything we input with the remote. The not-so-central air-conditioning was loud and blowing humid air into the room. I woke up at 2am and the AC had stopped all together. My CPAP seemed to be sucking out my air instead of blowing it in. There was no ceiling fan, which I am addicted to. I sat up and for no good reason woke my hubby. He asked if I was OK and I said, NO. I began to weep. No time for a panic attack. He was too out of it to deal with anything electrical, much less me. If the bed wasn't on fire or I wasn't bleeding, he was going back to sleep. I laid back down and prayed, “Now I lay me down to sleep………,” and it worked. The air came back on at some point and my CPAP began to blow again. God is Good.
We woke up too late the next morning to catch the free breakfast buffet in the Lobby, unless I wanted to go in my robe looking like I was in hard labor. Mr. Leblanc shuffled to the lobby to snag us a bite of anything that might be left. Breakfast had been picked up and taken back to the kitchen. He talked some sweet little thing into rustling up a couple of day-old rolls and we made the best of it with the taste of Columbian coffee from the room coffee maker……and fake cream. After two cups of half-caf, I picked up the phone to call maintenance, but our phone did not work either. From my cell phone I put in a call to the front desk. Handy Dan arrived in five short minutes and he worked my list, including dismantling and resetting the compressor on the AC. No hill for a stepper.
Next on our personal agenda was meeting my sisters for lunch. When I began to remove the rest of my clothes from the hanging bags to get ready, I realized I hadn’t brought any extra tops for day time activities. I recycled my travel shirt from the day before by hanging it in the hot shower area for few minutes to steam out wrinkles. Good ole Rimmel eye-make up remover took away the travel-day coffee stains plus a bit of ketchup. I would rock lunch in day-old clothes, hopefully unnoticed. The Gumbo was wonderful, and the sister time was the best. We just don’t get to see each other often enough. It had been two years since I had seen my youngest sister. My middle sister came to Houston in March to play in a tennis tournament and spend time with me as I recovered from total knee replacement. I looked around the table and thought, we are no longer the giggly girls who shopped 'till we dropped but three old broads comparing chin hairs and wrinkles and enjoying each other’s company. We squeezed every drop we could out of our short visit.
After lunch, we girls headed to Chico’s so that I could fill in some of the missing pieces in my travel wardrobe. As I ran around the store in an adrenaline rush, I crashed into a beautifully dressed mannequin. I tried to catch her as she toppled but she was bigger than me. She hit the floor with her arms flying in one direction and her legs in another. Oh my. The salesgirl helping me was young and began laughing like a hyena. I joined her. Between snorts, I grabbed for my phone, so I could snap a picture, proof of what most would not believe. I was already on Chico’s person of interest list for returning $300 worth of stuff I purchased in Houston (and had already worn the night before) for a price adjustment at the Baton Rouge store. (I got a text from Chico’s that morning that EVERYTHING was 40% off.) I caused them a lot of grief, for which I apologized and thanked them profusely. Their last words were, no worries, now go buy something, not go break something. No worries, I made up for their losses. A win-win in my books.
Friday night at the Country Club was uneventful, except for my shoe falling into the commode when I flushed with my foot. I fished the shoe out with the rat tail comb in my purse and ran it under hot water and patted it dry with one of their fancy cloth towels. I straightened my tiara, and re-joined the soiree'. Everyone was raving that the food was excellent. I only nibbled on a couple of finger sandwiches as my tummy was feeling a little wacko after the shoe thing. But the wine was excellent and conversation unparalleled. Everyone had a tall tale to share. Nothing like an SAE Sista. The Ya Yas and then some. One big happy family who by 9 p.m. had all been over-served.
All the Brothers and Sisters who weren't going to the LSU game, regrouped on Saturday afternoon for a watch party in the hotel bar. We ordered our first glasses of wine and bartender announced that she had only a half- bottle of Cab for the entire afternoon and NO Pino Grigio. How could a bar be out of provisions before the game started knowing there were 40 people waiting to be served? A few of the Brothers were not happy. Not my circus, not my monkeys, right? We had enough wine in our room to stock the bar but bringing it into the bar was not an option. We, personally pouted for a few minutes, then switched to Scotch and Chardonnay. We are used to getting our way, but the day had been full of surprises. Go with the flow, that's how we roll. LSU beat the hell out of Georgia, everyone managed to find something to drink and no one got slugged or sloshed. A good time by any account. We were back in our room to watch the Astros kick some Boston booty by 7 p.m., eating chicken salad on crackers from Calvin’s Market.
Sunday morning came too quickly, and it was time to pack up and head out. We met old friends for brunch, reminisced and laughed then girded our loins and jumped onto I10 West with thousands of jubilant LSU fans headed home. Traffic was real. I have total faith in WAZE (the phone app) and she told us to detour in Orange from I10W to some country back road to avoid a total Big-Rig jam. We did, and emerged back onto I10W, 20 miles father West and way ahead of the crowd. First down and 90 miles to go. We were in the home stretch. The goal was in sight. Geaux Tigers!
Cakes was waiting at the door when we got home, only to quickly turn her back on us when we walked in. Her beloved staff had been gone all weekend and she was ripped. We threw the bags in the house, reconnoitered, grabbed a stemmed glass filled with an adult beverage and settled in to watch the Astros, round two with Boston. The game ended differently, which turned out to be the beginning of the end. But we were home again, home again and ain't no place like home. Cakes was snuggling us again in an hour. Life in Texas is good! See you next year, special friends. A good time was had by all.