I have been writing for the past three weeks in my newspaper column about our trip to Quebec and I just finished up another one today. Following is last week’s entry.
Romance is in the air.
I have learned over the past ten years of wandering the country that travel is an addiction that needs to be fed on occasion and since we are very fortunate to have friends across the border in Quebec who issued an invitation to visit, my wife, Susie and I decided this was a good excuse for a change of scenery.
A thousand mile trip by automobile can be tedious. One way to relieve this boredom is to seek the road less traveled, always keeping in mind that the journey is as important as the destination (Note 1). The byways are always more interesting than those wearisome four lane ribbons of Interstate highway.
Susie, for her part, would always choose the byways. While I tend to agree with her, I am also a realist and have learned that all that lollygagging around, never missing a chance to see the world’s 2nd largest ball of twine, means that you are never going to get where you’re going so we have another way to pass the time. Some years ago, we discovered recorded stories that can be listened to while traveling. If you get a good book, these recordings will make the hours of driving fly by.
Before we left, we went to the library and selected a half dozen books that totaled about 60 hours of listening time. We get more than we need in case one or two of them turn out to be clinkers. I selected a couple of books that I was anxious to get to but Susie is in charge of the listening operation. This also makes her the Director of which of the books we will listen to so naturally she selected a book that was about ten percent mystery and ninety percent romance novel.
I protested because those ‘girl meets boy’ novels are too predictable and I wanted something that would hold my interest.
“Let’s just listen to a little bit of it and if you don’t like it, we’ll listen to something else.” She batted her cute little eyes as she talked and I knew there was no use arguing. I’m a sucker for ladies with batting eyes.
There was enough story to hold my interest although it was constantly being interrupted by interludes of a possible upcoming romance between our heroine and the young man being stalked….., er, ah, pursued. It was totally unnecessary stuff that contributed nothing to the action.
We made our way across Canada’s Ontario province, stopping for the night in London and an early stop the next day in Kingston so we could take a boat tour of the St. Lawrence Seaway’s Thousand Islands area where the Captain was offering copies of the famous salad dressing recipe to all the passengers. As we made our way through the myriad of Palatial Estates on the Islands, Susie revealed to me that she hated Thousand Island dressing.
“The pickles. I don’t like the chopped pickles and that pink color. It reminds me of vomit.”
I couldn’t believe it. Now I knew why we never had Thousand Island dressing at our house. After 48 years of marriage, I have learned one of her secrets. What else is she not telling me?
The following day, we struggled to get through Toronto’s unbelievable traffic and on into the Province of Quebec while on our CD player, our heroine had solved the murder and she and her Beau were finally about to get together. He made a move to kiss her and she noticed that his eyes were the color of an autumn Periwinkle sky…… Hold it. Hold it.
“What the hell is a Periwinkle sky???” I asked Susie.
“Blue. It’s blue.”
This is why I’ll never write a Romance novel. Too much of that flowery crap.
“Why didn’t she just say that?” I asked. “That’s enough. We know who the killer is. Let’s stop and get something to eat.”
I pulled off the highway and headed towards a recognizable sandwich shop, coasted to the intersection and the familiar octagon sign where ‘Arret’ was printed across the front instead of ‘Stop’. I looked around and all the signs were printed in French. Good Lord, Quebec is really serious about this French heritage stuff. This might be a problem.
We struggled through the process of ordering our foot long sandwich with lots of pointing and pigeon French on our part. My half of the sandwich ended up coated with black olives, a garnishment I dislike almost as much as Susie hates pink salad dressing. Luckily, Susie loves black olives (remind me to tell you sometime about black olives and Susie’s first pregnancy). After we ate, I drove back towards the interchange where I realized that the information signs gave me no clue on how to get back on the highway.
I pulled to the side of the road and watched the rolling, silvery white clouds make their way across the autumn Periwinkle sky.
* * * * * * *
Note 1: This is a very profound observation but I didn’t make it up. While I was doing a little research trying to find out who did, I discovered a Robert Frost poem called ‘The road not taken’. The last stanza would fit well on my headstone:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.