British Airways, Will You Marry Me?

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British Airways (“BA”) you are one of a kind. Not many people are fans of the airlines these days, but you are special. Your beautiful spirit has captured my heart  (to the extent possible when one is crammed into a tiny seat with no legroom for 10 hours).

And how do I love thee? To quote Elizabeth Barrett Browning, let me count the ways…

1. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height   

Your Airbus 380 double-deck, wide-body, four-engine jet airliner is the world’s largest passenger airliner, with a body so luxurious and perfectly sized that I can fit in the  bathroom without having to suck in my gut and grease the door frame.

2.My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight   

When I leave my seat to partake in your luxurious bathroom and suddenly in my absence both my kids start throwing up simultaneously, you are there with a kind smile, barf bags, warm towelettes and garment stain remover wipes. You even escorted my third-class kid to privately vomit in the exclusive first-class bathroom. Suck it, United Airlines. Barfing isn’t nearly as fun with you.

3. For the ends of Being and ideal Grace   

You gave me wine that I didn’t even ask for. On both the initial and return flights! Doesn’t get more ideal than that.

4. I love thee to the level of every day’s most quiet need, by sun and candle-light

As it turns out, every day’s most quiet need is an inflight entertainment system with which every seat, even those in the Economy (aka “poor person”) section, is equipped. This fabulous private entertainment system not only includes dozens of free movies and TV shows but also modern versions of Atari game favorites like Space Invaders and Asteroids…not to mention the ability to instant message other passengers you don’t know and are probably sleeping. (This IM thing is a key selling point to Millennials and anyone sitting across the aisle from a dude who took off his shoes and needs to be gently informed that his feet are stinking out the cabin.)

5. I love thee freely, as men strive for Right

If my literary analysis is correct, this line has to do with willing and intense love, which is exactly what I felt when I tasted your delectable gourmet entrees including savory chicken, mouth-watering polenta and dessert pudding which, as correctly described on the package, was an “indulgent blend of milk and dark chocolate infused with fresh orange zest.” Again, people, I was in ECONOMY CLASS.

6.I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

Pure British accents…need I say more?

7. I love thee with the passion put to use

I am so passionate that from now on I’ll plan my vacations around where BA flies. I may not even get off the airplane – I’ll just fly back and forth for a week.

So, BA, what do you say? Will you marry me?

 

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How Well are you Integrating on Your European Vacation? Take This Short Quiz to Find Out.

In the past two weeks, I’ve written a few blog posts about our recent vacation to Europe to visit my husband’s family and our friends. One thing which has become abundantly clear is that it’s tough being an American in Europe. Sure I lived there for several years, but that was in the 1990’s and I’m clearly out of practice, not to mention old.

To help Americans figure out how well they’re integrating while on their European vacation, I’ve put together this helpful quiz. If you’re American, or just want to play along, then place a check mark next to any of the below things you’ve experienced or done. Once completed, total the number of check marks and read the result which corresponds with your score.

1. Every conversation ends up with a discussion of American politics. You’re slightly embarrassed when you realize most Europeans know more than you do about what’s happening in your own country. You quickly check Facebook for some talking points; if something has at least 1,000 likes then it must be true.

2. Since these European people seem to really know their stuff, you pull out your voters’ guide to the next elections to get their take on your local upcoming propositions. You feel like you’re doing your civic duty now, since you were just going to flip a coin. Let’s be honest people, it’s too hard to actually understand what you’re voting on!

3. Your Swiss friends complain that Americans think Switzerland is the same country as Sweden. Wait, there’s a difference? You probably shouldn’t have copied off your friend’s test in 7th grade geography.

4. You’re impressed by the different coins worth several dollars. In fact, you proudly tip the helpful bartender the biggest coin in your wallet. You later discover it was worth two cents.

5. You spend most of your vacation in London trying not to get run over. Why do they drive on the wrong side of the street anyway? Those wacky foreigners!

6. You get excited at the prospect of eating at a “real English pub.” Soggy peas are exotic, you know.

7. You have to go to the bathroom after eating all those peas, but you can’t fit in the stall.

8. You search your purse for your cell phone to find out what time it is; you forget you’re standing in front of Big Ben.

9. When crossing London Bridge you cleverly lead the family in a rendition of “London Bridge is Falling Down.” An elderly local man passing by gently points out to you that you’re actually on Tower Bridge. You try to convince yourself that you’re really right, since every bridge in London is a London bridge.

10. Even British people insulting you sounds sexy. Who cares what they’re saying, as long as they keep talking!

11. After you get back to America, you try to impress your friends by using British expressions. “Those pub peas were absolutely brilliant. It’s a shame I couldn’t fit in the toilet.”

Score

1-3 Check Marks: You’re a little nutty, but so am I. Overall you’re doing a good job of representing your country. Continue keeping your mouth shut and your ears open.

4-8 Check Marks: You need some help here. Consult a few reputable news feeds and a map before going back to Europe. To really fit in on your next trip, buy a pair of red shorts and ankle socks. At least you’ll look like a native.

9 -11 Check Marks: Call the government and have your passport revoked. No one this crazy should be let out of the country.

10 Signs Your Vacation is NOT Normal

I recently wrote a blog post entitled “Rate Your European Vacation – A Short Quiz.” Unfortunately, I quickly noticed that publishing that post was premature, since we were still on vacation and overwhelmingly subjected to further torture by the Vacation Gods. In pursuit of my mission to provide cutting edge (albeit clearly uninspiring and unprofessional) journalism, I feel it is my duty to continue on with this topic. Thus I present to you, my loyal readers, 10 signs your vacation is not normal (and has probably landed you in the Twilight Zone.)

1. The side of the hotel room’s shower/tub combo is so high, you have to hoist yourself up on the edge and roll over the top. You wonder if pole vaulting in would be easier. Good thing the Olympics are on – you can watch the professionals to learn proper technique.

2. The bedsheets are starched like nothing you’ve experienced since the 1970’s. At least you wake up freshly exfoliated. Now you can cancel that expensive spa treatment you have planned when you get back.

3. The TV is set up so you can only see it by looking into the mirror above the bathroom sink.

4. After running around the ruins of the nearby ancient Roman amphitheater, your kids relax by watching YouTube on their iPads.

5. The hotel furniture your kids are relaxing on is so old you suspect it too may have belonged to the Romans. You entertain yourself by inspecting it for Latin inscriptions.

6. You find some.

7. The horse you take a selfie with while visiting your brother in-law’s farm keeps nudging you until you show it the picture. You wonder if it wants you to tag it on Facebook.

8. You watch in awe as a wasp lands on your dinner, bites off a piece of meat and flies away with it. You consider trying to sic that wasp and its relatives on the hotel’s manager, who turned off your Wifi without telling you and then went to bed.

9. After watching the Olympics every night from his bathroom sink mirror, your English-speaking dad has managed to pick up enough German to fill you in on all the highlights. By the end of the first week, he starts correcting your German grammatical errors. You fear what will happen now that he’s switched to the Italian channel.

10. You spend every morning at the hotel breakfast buffet trying to figure out how many packs of hot chocolate you have to steal to make up for the outrageous cost of the room. On second thought, you might recoup your losses more quickly by selling the Roman artifact furniture on eBay. Your plan is foiled when you realize the manager still hasn’t turned back on your Wifi.

Rate Your European Vacation – A Short Quiz

As much as I look forward to our family vacations, an analysis of our trips has revealed that there is at least a 50% chance that events of an inexplicable and downright bizarre nature will take place. In fact, these odds shoot up to 90% for our European travels. Now, don’t get me wrong – I love Europe. Not only did I live in Switzerland and Italy for most of the 1990’s, but I married a European. That said, I have noticed over time that our vacations to that continent seem to be increasingly stranger, not to mention somewhat distressing.

If you’ve recently traveled to Europe and are wondering if your vacation was fun and normal or weird and depressing, then take this short quiz. Just place a check mark next to any of the below occurrences you experienced. Once completed, total the number of check marks and read the result that corresponds with your score.

1. The flight is so outrageously expensive you wonder if the kids really need that 529 college savings account. On the bright side, the plane ride includes a dinner that is surprisingly delicious. In fact, you are even tempted to post a picture of your meal on social media… that is, until you realize that no one will be impressed, since the tin meal tray makes your delectable polenta look like a Lean Cuisine.

2. Your kids forgo the tasty food and instead down an entire bag of Goldfish crackers while watching an endless loop of Peppa Pig on the inflight entertainment system. You definitely won’t post a picture of that dinner.

3. Despite the lack of turbulence and the Dramamine you shoved down their throats, your kids take turns throwing up for the duration of the 12 hour trip. You pat yourself on the back for having had the foresight to pack everyone a change of clothes in your carry-on. Your happiness is short lived, though, when you realize you forgot the mouthwash.

4. You are staying at a three-star hotel, but the usual amenities that you take for granted are missing. Instead of miniature bottles of shampoo and conditioner, you inherit the half-empty bottle of body wash the last guest left in the shower.

5. You can’t use the body wash, because there aren’t any washcloths.

6. You realize after washing the remaining vomit out of your hair (with the shampoo you brought yourself) that you have to go to the hotel reception to ask for a hair dryer.

7. While handing you the hair dryer, the hotel’s manager proudly declares you can keep it in your room for the duration of your stay, since he “has enough of them.”

8. You’re grateful, since the last hotel you stayed in didn’t even have a hair dryer…you had to borrower one from your in-laws, whom you were visiting down the street.

9. The hotel maid nearly walks into your room twice while you are naked, since there aren’t any “Do Not Disturb” door hangers. You wonder if the door hangers are in the same dusty storage facility as the washcloths.

10. The shop across the street from your in-laws is literally called “ISIL”. Once you recover from the shock, you can’t help but wonder what they sell.

11. Your kid wakes you up at 3 a.m., because she fell asleep on top of the covers and is cold. You are not amused, since the combination of beer and sleeping pills you tried out to combat jet lag was finally starting to work.

Score

1-4 check marks: you had a little bad luck, but overall you really did have a great time. A little vomit and jet lag never hurt anyone, so stop complaining and go make a photo book of your adventure.

5-8 check marks: your vacation was a little rocky, but at least you got to visit family and friends. Don’t blame Europe; you had some weird experiences at that motel you stayed at in New Mexico. Next time bring your own washcloths and hair dryer and get your 7 year old to make you a “Do Not Disturb” sign. Also, stay in a more expensive hotel, you cheapskate.

9-11 check marks: to numb the pain, keep drinking beer with sleeping pills. The good news is, thanks to your kids, your memory is shot; give it a year or so and you’ll be ready to hit the Old World again.