Vacation Now:

This year's trip reminded me of that long-ago Michigan trip, mostly because we again had to buy a new car—following last year's vacation where the Hub's beloved Classic vomited its engine across the Boulevard Périphérique in the middle of Paris. Good times.

This year’s trip reminded me of our long-ago Michigan trip, mostly because we also had to first buy a car—following last year’s vacation where the Hub’s beloved Classic vomited its engine across the Boulevard Périphérique in the middle of Paris.
Good times.

The weefee (translation: wifi) here in the 300+ year old mill in the middle of Spain where we stay in the summers is… well, usually it isn’t. It will, they say, be fixed mañana (translation: as Annie sings, “I love you mañana, you’re always mañana away!”)

Of course, I can still go to the Free Weefee & Tapas Bar at the Plaza and use their weefee. But the problem with that is that I feel an obligation to order something, and I have to say that starting in on the cervezas at ten AM is probably not the most liver-friendly option.

You would think that since I’m actually here in Spain to get some writing done, I’d welcome the weefee-free moments. But writing isn’t just a matter of putting your characters through hell. You have to be able to look up how much blood they can lose from that arrow wound without actually dying, or how they can fake an aneurysm to get the attention of that dangerous but curiously attractive brain surgeon, infiltrate the Republican National Convention, or make a credible weapon from a stick of chewing gum and a condom.

Still, if I avoid the Free Weefee & Tapas Bar until at least the afternoon, I should be okay. That means, of course, that I’ll be cutting back on social media, tweetless and FB-free most of the time. I’ll miss you all, but I’ve got characters to torture. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it.

 Comedy Book Week Vacations


[click on image for previews, reviews, and buy links from Amazon]

This is the story of three women eating our way across India in search of adventure, elephants, temples, palaces, western toilets, monkeys, the perfect paratha…and the kindness of Indian strangers.[click on image for previews, reviews, and buy links from Amazon]

The other thing I’ll be missing is Comedy Book Week, which starts today. So in honor of my weefee-less former and current vacations, and in honest and sincere support of all the comedy book writers we’ll be featuring this week, here’s one of my columns from the early 90s to show how we did vacations then. Plus a link to my own vacation humor book, Do Not Wash Hands in Plates.

(See how I tied all that together? I’m a professional writer boys and girls. Do not try this at home…)






Vacation Then:

Some friends invited us to stay at their cottage in Michigan. But our hosts have known us long enough to be familiar with both our vacation record (divorce rate among previous vacation companions: 100%) and our dog. So we got their cottage, and they got the hell out of the country.

We’re always optimistic at the beginning of a trip. Last year, this lasted almost until we were out of town. At that point, we realized that if we offered odds on our chances of making a cross-country round trip in a 15-year-old car with 150,000 miles on it and three children in it, most gamblers would prefer to bet that the Cubs would sweep the World Series, or Willie Nelson would be elected president.

[Editorial note: Mr. Nelson is conducting feasibility studies regarding his third-party candidacy, while reportedly searching for a running mate with greater credibility than Dan Quayle. The current odds-on favorite is Elvis. There are many advantages to having a vice president who is, technically, dead. Like any good VP, The King still makes regular public appearances —mostly in slices of toast or Las Vegas reviews—but unlike Mr. Quayle, he has yet to refer to the residents of developing countries as “happy campers”. A dark horse candidate is former London Mayor and current UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson. BoJo, who was actually born in New York, has a British accent which is a plus for American women, and has appealed to Bernie-Bros by comparing Hillary Clinton to “…a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital”.]

For this vacation, we have acquired a new vehicle. Like all thrifty consumers, we prepared carefully before making this purchase by making a list of desirable features that our old car lacked:

  1. It has a seat from which the four-year-old cannot reach any other member of the family including the dog.
  2. It runs.

The next step was to make an informed vehicle choice. We bought several books which ranked new cars by price and by what it will cost to repair the car should one strap large white robots into it and crash it into a wall. As one is wont to do.

Armed with this data, we made an informed vehicle choice of one that was 1) a pretty color and 2) available. With our book’s coaching, we offered the salesman a price which you could call “fair” (if you were us) or “not enough to keep his kids off foodstamps and his wife from a career on the streets” (if you were our salesman).

He was, however a professional. “I have to check with my sales manager,” is how they teach them to handle this situation in car salesperson school. [translation: “I’m actually going to go into the back room with all the other car salespersons and point at you through the one way glass while laughing hysterically as you get more and more nervous.”] When he could finally keep a straight face, our car salesman came back in and offered to let us pay the sticker price on the car window.

Did he think we were naive fools who bought new cars once a century? (Actually, that would be very close to correct.) But he didn’t know we had the Book. As informed, book-toting consumers we knew just what to do in this situation. We got up, marched out of the showroom, drove home, thought about the vacation cottage in Michigan, drove back, agreed to his price and signed.

We watch a lot of car commercials, so we knew just what to do next. We jumped up in the air to give the salesman the high-five. The salesman, secure in the knowledge that he had just gotten a huge and 99.9% completely unearned commission, met us in mid-air and said, “Congratulations! Rust-proofing and undercoating is $300 extra!”