Guest post by Laverne H. Bardy whose humorous, often irreverent, slant on life in general, and aging in particular, draws a large readership. She has been syndicated with Senior Wire News Service since 2004. Her book, How The (Bleep) Did I Get This Old? was released in January, 2012, and is a compilation of the best of her columns.
I studied the travel brochures, saved my money, planned my itinerary, made all the necessary reservations and put together a fabulous wardrobe. I was psyched.
I would be taking a well deserved vacation with that special someone; not just anyone, but someone whose habits I knew, and whose likes and dislikes I shared.
The fact that we didn’t have much in common never seemed to matter. For instance I was 58, nearly ten years older than he; something he gloated about regularly. And while he found small talk difficult, I could easily give a spontaneous full scale lecture on something as unremarkable as nose hairs. Our one common interest was flea markets – hardly something on which to build a relationship, but apparently we had.
In our day to day living we barely noticed our differences because of the many hours we spend apart at our respective jobs. At the end of each day we’d share animated discussions and display interest and caring during diner, driving, and visits with friends. These things caused me to assume that we would travel well together. But, seven days and nights in confined quarters served to heighten and amplify our dissimilarities.
Suddenly my age was a factor because when I expressed interest in parasailing and horseback riding he saw fit to remind me that I was too old to venture into activities usually reserved for agile young bodies. That left me profoundly hostile.
And I, already feeling frumpy in my one piece black bathing suit with industrial strength bra and demure pleated skirt designed to conceal rather than reveal, prayed that his head would unscrew and smash to the ground the next time it rotated to ogle some bikini clad bimbo.
He decided that vacation was the perfect time for deep breathing, chest-pounding jogs on the beach. My idea of fun on the beach included a blanket, shallow breathing on my back, and examining the insides of my eyelids.
I wanted to drive through the countryside taking shots of local sites. He preferred walking through town, in pursuit of shot glasses for his collection. I looked forward to peaceful sunsets on a quiet pier, fishing for cute little fluke and flounder. But he dragged me onto a four hour party boat populated with big sweaty men, all focused on capturing gigantic Blues and combative Marlin, while I hung limply over the railing and prayed for death.
Somehow we managed to survive both the week and the long flight home. In fact, within five days we even started speaking again.
I’ve learned you can’t presume that just because you know someone they’ll be a great traveling companion. I look a cruise with my cousin – a sweet, soft-spoken woman I’d known most of my life – and didn’t sleep for six nights because the sound of her snoring was much like what you’d hear from a front row seat at a NASCAR race. Not to be outmatched, she pointed out that my teeth grinding was no picnic for her, either.
So, before I take steps toward booking any trips, I make sure my prospective traveling buddy and I agree on what’s fun and what’s not, or my dream vacation just might turn into another nightmare.