I took a rare, long vacation overseas and decided to unplug. And by unplug, I don’t mean that I waited until I got over there to realize that the Italians and the French don’t have normal electrical sockets. (They don’t, by the way, but I arrived prepared with six adapters and two converters, yet still couldn’t get my daughter’s hair straightener to work, so I had to buy a French hair straightener. The French charge way too much for straight hair.)
No, by unplug I mean I decided to go without TV, phone, texting, Facebooking, Tweeting and other modern means of communication. I occasionally looked at a newspaper on a newsstand but it said things like:
Pau : Il percute un poid lourd sur l'A64 et s'enfuit à pied
and I remained as clueless as a cavewoman before the invention of the town crier.
We were super busy. It was my first time in Paris and Rome, so we were on the go all day, seeing and eating as many French and Italian things as we possibly could. At the end of the day, between scraping the raw skin from the bottoms of my feet (an exaggeration. You’re welcome.) I read books and scratched stick figures into the cave wall.
In the room next door, however, my children and mother-in-law were unwinding by watching the BBC. So I had to rely on them to keep me up to speed on what was happening in the world. I got a morning news report, over breakfast, about the following world events that were occurring while I was walking through art galleries and drinking cappuccinos:
LeBron James Kicks Cleveland in the Crotch After Saying, “Close Your Eyes and Hold Out Your Hands! I’ve Got a Surprise for You!”
Yeah, this wasn’t good news for this native Ohio family. Because of the ridiculously inconvenient world time zone set-up, Lebron’s announcement that he was leaving Cleveland for Miami came at 3 o’clock in the morning. By the time we woke up and realized what had happened, the brouhaha had died down and you could barely smell the burned jerseys all the way across the Atlantic. I may write a blog about how I feel about The Decision, but it won’t be full of anger and disappointment and I-knew-he-was-a-bum-all-along-I-just-never-said-anything. As a faithful cheerleader for the underdog, a Lebron-less Cavs team makes me love them even more and will make victory even sweeter. If we ever can manage to win another game.
The BP Oil Gush Finally Gets Capped and I Don’t Mean Murdered in the Mafia Way - Or Do I? . . .
My husband and I walked across the street from our hotel in Rome to a little restaurant where the teensy tables and chairs are on the street - not the sidewalk, but on the actual road - and those Italian cars - everything from Maseratis to three-wheeled Tonka trucks and glorified golf carts with doors - go whizzing past you at breakneck speed, threatening to sideswipe your wine glasses. My husband and I aren’t the most adventurous couple you ever met, so sitting at this restaurant was really living on the edge for us. One evening, our waiter came out and started to talk to us and my Italian-accented English is not the greatest, but I could have sworn he said, “The BP Oil Spill Got-a-Capped.”
“What? Really?” I said, shouting over the honking horn of a clown car.
The waiter looked puzzled. “You didn’t know?”
We shook our heads.
“Don’t you have a TV over there? What hotel are you in?”
That was a little bit embarrassing. The waiter is probably still telling people how Americans are imbeciles who are more interested in the wine list than their own national news. The oil cap had happened at least a couple days earlier. That’s when I insisted that the kids start giving us news briefings at breakfast. Which is how I learned about the next thing:
Mel Gibson Manages to Break Bad PR Record Long Held by Gary Busey
Mel, Mel, Mel. Buddy. Get a grip on yourself. What did you think was going to happen? You seemed so shocked that your new baby-mama wasn’t the girl you thought she was. Unless you thought she was in her late 50s and was from Nebraska, how could you not expect this to happen? Why am I even talking to you? You never listen to me.
When I finally did read the recap of Mel’s latest installment of Men Behaving Badly, I was most struck by - what do you think? No, not him calling her a gold-digger or any other colorful term you heard. No, not that he punched her in the face, knocking out her two front teeth. And no, not that he said he broke up with his first wife and mother of his multitudinous children after 28 years because they were different “spiritually.” Not even Part Two of racist crazy talk. What really went to my heart was that he said, “I don’t have any friends.” Well, hells bells, Mel, I would have been your friend. But you’re not the best listener.
Some Scientist From Iran Claims the CIA Kidnapped Him and Mentally Tortured Him in an Attempt to Get Iranian Nuclear Arms Secrets, But He Escaped
“Something sounds fishy about this,” someone at our table said. I’ll say. Escaped? Have you seen the traffic in McLean these days?
Labels: electrical sockets, French and Italian media, not watching TV, unplugging, watching TV