So, you ask how Paul and I decided to go to Paris with less than a month to plan. You can thank my friend, Linda. It’s all her fault.
At my job I have to apply to take vacation leave, and when I submitted a leave request to go to Mexico for Thanksgiving, my supervisor wrote a little note at the bottom: “I hope you know this is not Thanksgiving week.”
“Linda,” I called from the bowels of my office. “When’s Thanksgiving?”
“The 22nd,” she replied.
“No, it’s not. It’s the 29th, right? The last week of November.” I was right. I knew I was right.
“Except if there are five weeks in November. Thanksgiving is always the 4th Thursday of November.”
“I thought it was always the last Thursday in November.” My voice quavered.
In seconds, I was at her desk. “Are you kidding me?”
She pulled the little calendar off the wall next to her computer. She flipped past October and showed me November. In tiny little script, Thanksgiving was printed on the 22nd.
At home I pulled up our travel documents for Mexico. The week of Thanksgiving I had reserved a room in Zihuatanejo, but my airplane tickets were for the next week. I had a place to stay but no way to get there and a way to get there but no place to stay.
The woman on Alaska Airlines was sympathetic. “I really want to use those miles up. Are you sure I can’t change our tickets?”
“No, Ma’am. Since the time is so close, the tickets are prohibitively expensive.”
“Well,” I said aloud in our empty house, “Where else could we go?” Silence. Then the sound of clicking started. Her fingers went faster and faster. Then I heard the triumphant sound of the victory click.
“How about Paris?” She asked. “If you fly Icelandic Air I can even seat you in first class for part of it.”
“Paris?” It was getting dark outside and I didn’t know when Paul would be home. “Book it,” I said urgently. “Right now.”
We were going to Paris. Paul would be okay with it, wouldn’t he? It wasn’t Mexico, but, Paris. We’d been married almost 20 years (if you stretched it a tiny bit, like three years). He would be fine with it. I heard the garage door go up.
“Are we almost done?” I whispered.
“Yes, Mrs. Klenk, you are going to Paris.” She hit three more keys. “It’s on the way to your email account. Have a fabulous time.”
“Hi Honey, I am home.” Paul flipped the lights on and he saw the computer up and the phone on speaker mode. He leaned against the door and sighed. “Where are we going?”
“Paris,” I smiled. “I knew you’d be on board. We’re even going first class.” His face brightened. “For part of it,” I smiled again and slunk in my chair.
So, for the last three weeks I have been focused on making this trip happen. I booked three different apartments and canceled two. A lovely surprise came out of nowhere, and a dear friend’s daughter-in-law offered her flat for the first part of our trip. I ordered 12 Paris books and maps from Amazon (our postal guy kindly shoves them in our mailbox so they don’t appear on the porch), I purchased tickets to a cabaret show, I booked a Hemmingway and Fitzgerald Roaring Twenties Bar Tour, signed up for a photo shoot at the Eiffel Tower (only $100 bucks and well worth it if I don’t have to let Paul take selfies of my turkey-skin neck), a Normandy tour of the beaches of D-Day, train tickets to Caen, a rental car to go to Mont St. Michel, and I bought clothes—five different wraps, three pair of boots, four sweaters, two jackets with furry collars, and, I don’t know, a whole lot more, including a suitcase so large I can rest my elbow on it in a standing position.
Paul, on the other hand, was quiet. Too quiet. I decided to wait until he was watching TV and sneak out to the car to smuggle in my shopping bags. I bought him snappy shirts in peach, pink, and light green for “nights out.” He looked at them and didn’t say much. He stared at his phone and flicked a map on the screen whenever a commercial came on. I waited.
“Okay,” he announced. “I’m good to go.”
“What?” I was on Amazon deciding if I needed a green wrap to go with something I vaguely remembered I ordered that was green.
“I can get us around Paris now.”
“I’ve been studying the map, and I know where everything is.” He tapped his head. “It’s all here.”
Thank God, I thought. He probably hasn’t even noticed all of the clothes.
“Paul, there’s something we need to get you as soon as we get to Paris.”
“Hmm.” NCIS was on. Maybe I could squeak this one past him.
“Men wear scarves over there. They are not deer hunting scarves. They’re silk scarves. Remember Pete, your brother, wears one?”
“I’m not wearing a scarf.” He didn’t look at me.
“Well,” I protested.
“Nope. Not going to do it.”
For the time being I have given it up. I am so far in the win category with my “Paris Prep” I will be more strategic as far as the scarf goes. Maybe the City of Light will move him. It’s too bad he doesn’t have a turkey-skin neck like me; he’d have a scarf already.