lessons learned, nostalgia, silliness, TV

Life lessons from The Love Boat…

I love watching cheesy TV shows from the 70s and 80s. I especially enjoy watching them when I’m laid up in bed and in need of comfort. Although I’m mostly over the virus that kicked me in the butt all weekend, I was still a touch under the weather for most of Monday. I did experience sort of a second wind later in the day, but not enough of one to call myself “well”. I managed to find the energy to wash all the bed linens and turn on the robot mower 😉 , which I forgot to check on, and later found stuck in the corner of the backyard. I even summoned the energy to walk the dogs in the afternoon, which they both appreciated. But then I came back, hurled, and spent more quality time on the toilet.

Yesterday, I watched The Love Boat, an Aaron Spelling/Douglas Cramer television show that aired on ABC throughout most of my childhood. Someone on YouTube uploaded a bunch of episodes from the 1982-83 season and I found myself glued to them for most of the afternoon. Although most of the plot lines were completely ridiculous and implausible, it was still kind of fun to watch. There are even a few pearls of wisdom within the episodes.

Yes, I did have to suspend belief when I watched the late Eva Gabor (born in 1919) playing the mother of a teenaged boy in the early 80s. It was a bit jarring to see Connie Needham (born in 1959), playing the fiance of her mother’s ex boyfriend Gene Barry (born in 1919), only to have her mom steal him back. I’m sure Alan Hale, Jr. and Bob Denver, both of whom were best known for their roles on Gilligan’s Island, had a great time on the show. It’s a trip to watch the crew members romancing the passengers as they live in huge, sumptuous quarters that I know are not the reality for actual cruise crew members. But still, I remember yesterday afternoon, actually stopping in my tracks to ponder when Dr. Adam Bricker (played by Bernie Kopell) said something unexpectedly profound. Or, at least I thought it was profound when he said it… I wish I could remember what he said at this moment, but alas, the thought has passed. Oh well, next time, I’ll make a note of it.

It’s always a treat to see Charo perform. Seriously– Charo is a very talented entertainer, especially when she plays guitar. She was a staple on The Love Boat, though, and I don’t think I ever need to watch her sing “Physical” again. My respect for Charo came when she was on The Surreal Life around 2004 or so. Even though that was a silly show, Charo showed everyone that she’s a lot smarter than anyone ever gave her credit for in her heyday, and she can REALLY play guitar.

Granted, this is supposed to be tacky and obnoxious, but it kind of goes beyond the pale. Charo later said she “cuchi cuchi-ed” all the way to the bank! I think I see a little Las Vegas era Tina Turner in this performance.
But at around 12:25 on this video of The Surreal Life, you can hear Charo play guitar… she does have some chops. I’d rather hear her play guitar and listen to her sing. Incidentally, this was one of the better seasons of The Surreal Life.

The Love Boat also did a couple of on location two-parters during that time period that were fun to watch, especially since Bill and I have been to some of the places they went. In 2013, we did our last SeaDream cruise from Rome to Athens, which included pre-cruise stops in Venice and Florence. The Love Boat, which usually focused on cruises to Mexico, went to Italy and Greece. They did one two-parter based on an Italian cruise, and one was based on a Greek cruise. I noticed they had some pretty high ranking guests for those episodes, too. Both specials made me want to travel! I have wanderlust anyway, but COVID-19 has made it more intense.

I’m sure all of the footage for the Italy and Greece episodes was filmed at the same time, production costs being what they were. I came to the conclusion they were filmed at the same time because I noticed that Lauren Tewes’ hair was the same “Sun-In” bleached blonde in both of the specials, plus the used the same footage of a TWA plane taking off. Forty years later, I’m amazed that people in the 80s thought that orange hydroxide look was attractive. Lisa Whelchel, who guested on the Greek special, had the same bleached hair with brassy overtones. It was pretty ghastly. As I watched the show, I realized it was work for everyone involved. But it also looked like a lot of fun to film.

I know this is a common phenomenon, but it seems like life was a lot more fun in the 80s… I know it probably wasn’t, for many reasons, but I was a kid back then. Actually, looking back on it, the 80s were hard for me, personally, because that was when I was growing up, and I didn’t have the greatest childhood. But we had all these feel good TV shows that were light entertainment. The Love Boat always had happy endings, with people falling in love, getting married, or discovering a new path in life. The staff on the ship was caring, friendly, and always invested in seeing that everyone had a good time. The Love Boat and Fantasy Island were great shows to watch on Saturday nights when I was growing up– at least until we had The Golden Girls, which was a much better show on all levels.

Granted, The Love Boat definitely jumped the shark around the time they kicked Lauren Tewes (cruise director Julie McCoy) off the show because of her cocaine addiction and other issues, but it always featured old movie stars alongside up and coming stars of the 80s. It was great fun to watch when I was a kid, and probably more fun to watch now for entirely different reasons. I could imagine someone turning it into a Mystery Science Theater 3000 type of show, where there are snarky comments made for every ridiculous scenario, cheesy band number, or godawful evening gown. Also, I noticed all the women wore dresses no matter what, many of which were pretty frumpy and uncomfortable looking, even if they weren’t having dinner.

As a child, I was oddly enchanted by evening gowns and fancy events. It’s probably because I used to love reading fairytales. I also used to love watching beauty pageants, not because I believed in evaluating women by their looks, but because I loved the evening gowns. I liked the colors and designs. But times change, and just like The Love Boat and silly shows like it, beauty pageants have also gone out of style. Even Miss America, which was probably the most prestigious pageant, has changed its focus more toward promoting scholarship and community service than beauty. I think that’s a positive thing, but I must admit that as a kid, I loved the glamour of 80s television. It was fun to revisit it over the past couple of days, watching The Love Boat, a televised intellectual equivalent to empty calories.

Having now been on some cruises myself, I now realize that there’s a price to be paid for wearing fancy duds, and not just at the cash register. I have a few sparkly dresses, but I don’t wear them well. I find them uncomfortable, and I never want to spend a lot of money on dresses that I won’t wear more than a time or two. Consequently, I don’t really look smashing in an evening gown. Even if I had a really cute figure, I think I would rather just wear a nightgown with no bra, rather than a hot evening dress that is always too long for me and heavy with sequins. And that is exactly what I did yesterday, as my stomach and intestines launched into a few more revolts. I did feel markedly better yesterday, but I wasn’t quite all the way…

Well, I’m happy to report that today, I feel 100% better. I have a spark of energy, and I managed to eat a banana, toast with butter, and drink two cups of coffee with cream without feeling like I needed to puke. I’m sure there will be some residual crud from the virus my body seems to have vanquished, but I think I’m on the mend. It was the first time I’ve been sick in ages. In fact, I don’t remember the last sickness I’ve experienced since moving to Wiesbaden. I was sick more often in Stuttgart, probably because Bill was always traveling to Africa and exposing me to exotic pathogens.

One thing I’ve learned from being sick for the past few days is that I needed a reminder that I don’t enjoy the experience of sickness. In fact, perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned is that I definitely don’t want to catch COVID-19. I have no idea how I got this stomach bug, which I’m guessing is less contagious than COVID is. But being sick for the past few days has SUCKED, even though I was somewhat functional the whole time. Maybe if this bug has done anything, it’s renewed my resolve to stay healthy.

Will I watch more Love Boat today? Maybe… I was watching the second part of the Greek two-parter when Bill got home. He worked late last night and stopped by the store to get me some OTC meds and food. I might watch the second part, just to finish. I could tell I was getting better, though, because as the day wore on, I was getting more tired of the lame storylines. I may need to view something with more substance today, if I choose to watch television at all. It’s amazing the boost one gets when that initial post-sickness energy surge hits.

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funny stories, Germany, humor

R.B.F.

Yesterday, the weather was predictably nasty. Bill decided to take the dogs for a quick walk before the rain started in earnest. As he was walking along the main drag, Arran decided to drop a load. Bill was stooped over picking up the mess when a “scraggly” looking guy passed. Just as Bill finished cleaning up the poop, Arran took a couple of steps and cocked his leg on a cement pillar that formed part of an archway.

The scraggly guy turned and said, in German, that letting the dogs pee on structures isn’t a good thing to do. Bill said, “Ja, ja.” and went on about his day. Then he came back home and stewed about the encounter for awhile. Bill is unusually conscientious and takes public rebukes to heart. I could tell he was upset about that confrontation. I can’t blame him for that. I hate it when random people speak to me, particularly when they really need to fuck off and mind their own business.

For some reason, it seems like Bill runs into people like this more than I do. So I told him I thought he should develop R.B.F.

You know what that is, right?

I posted about it on Facebook, and my friend Meryl wrote, “Huh?”

Resting Bitch Face. I think Bill should develop one.

One of my other longtime friends who, I guess, is often shocked by the things I say and write, commented that she was grateful that someone asked what R.B.F. is so she wouldn’t have to. I thought it was self-explanatory. I have a pretty good R.B.F. myself. I think a lot of women develop one so they won’t be harassed by men. Seriously, if you look unpleasant and unapproachable, most people will leave you alone. It’s a great defense mechanism. Today’s featured photo is an example of one of my MANY R.B.F.s. Actually, in that photo, I was pretty pissed off.

As Bill was telling this story, I was cracking up. I told him he should have pulled out his Schwanz and taken a piss, too. It’s not like we haven’t seen dozens of European men peeing in public, although they don’t typically do it on busy thoroughfares. But the weather is so chilly that it would have meant instant shrinkage. We’re talking a stack of dimes shrinkage. Bill isn’t that bold, anyway.

I usually try not to let Arran pee on buildings, though, mainly because I don’t enjoy being confronted by random people about my dog’s natural toileting habits. Arran peed on that pillar because many other dogs have peed there. That’s like the community bulletin board for dogs. They go by and leave their urinary calling cards for all of the other dogs in the neighborhood. It’s Arran’s way of saying “Arran wuz here.”

The one time anyone German (other than ex landlady) ever spoke to me about my dogs’ potty habits was pretty positive. I was walking Zane and Arran through the field near us and one of the dogs pooped near a wood pile. I was cleaning up the pile when a guy drove up in his truck. He had a look on his face that told me I was about to be confronted. I immediately got nervous, because I figured the guy was going to yell at me. Then I realized that the look on his face wasn’t one of annoyance. In fact, he looked amazed and appreciative.

The man explained in German that people were regularly letting their dogs go potty by his wood pile, but they usually just leave their dogs’ piles of crap there. So he was delighted to catch me cleaning up after my dogs and was offering thanks. That was a memorable experience and every time I pass that woodpile, I remember it with a smile.

Hearing Bill relate that story also reminded me of a funny memory from several years ago, when we visited Rome. We were wandering around the city and happened to pass a church, where a homeless looking guy was sitting on the steps, drinking a beer. Another man was passing and shamed the homeless looking dude for drinking on the church steps. The street person did not seem affected by the shaming.  He casually raised his bottle as if to offer a sip to the guy who had just yelled at him. It was pretty funny.

As I sit here writing this, I’m reminded of how much I miss traveling and interacting with people. We have had so many funny things happen to us, especially in Europe. Like, for instance, the time we were in a Seville restaurant drinking wine. A bum came in begging for spare change. This guy was pretty ballsy and had a sense of humor. He was very persistent about begging for change, and I was a bit drunk. The bum and I ended up engaging in a really funny exchange, so at my prompting, Bill gave the guy a euro or two. Then I told him to beat it.

Actually, I rarely wear a mask, because I rarely leave my neighborhood.

I really hope this COVID-19 crisis eases up soon so we can have some fun again. It’s pretty sad when a random encounter with a German guy over dog whiz results in a blog post. I miss creating memories. Hell, it’s almost time for President’s Day, which is typically a long weekend we use for traveling to other places. Last year, we went to France. It’s also Fasching season, which usually means there will be festivals involving costumes, drinking, and partying in the streets. In 2019, we even got mooned while eating in a restaurant! But not this year. 🙁

We can’t go anywhere or celebrate Carnival, because everything is locked down. I guess the one consolation is that the weather is positively shitty right now and will be so for probably another week to ten days, at the very least. So another precious long weekend gets lost to the stupid virus. At least we have Noyzi here to provide some fun. And at least we live in a comfortable home, in a neighborhood where people are generally nice and leave us alone. I don’t have to employ my R.B.F. very often in these parts. I guess I have to take my victories wherever I can find them.

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Military

Our “European Vacation” that isn’t…

Several years ago, I got into a discussion with an Italian friend. He is a naturalized U.S. citizen, but he no longer lives in the United States. He had lived there as a young man hoping to earn a doctorate. He did eventually get one, but it was in Canada that he earned it. He married an American woman, had two children, and lived in the United States for about twenty-five years until his marriage finally fell apart.

My Italian friend is now married to a German woman and, at least until the pandemic, did a lot of work in Belgium. I haven’t heard from him in awhile. There was a time when we would spar a lot, but he eventually got disgusted with social media and dropped off of Facebook. The last time I got a ping from my Italian friend was over the summer. He found my travel blog, congratulated me for being on a trip, and said he was glad I still live in Germany instead of the United States.

I was kind of surprised by his comment. I first “met” this man online, back in 2005 or so. At that time, he was still in the United States. We both wrote reviews for a now defunct site called Epinions.com. I had written an opinion piece entitled something along the lines of “I’m glad some people’s sons and daughters are joining the military.” My Italian friend, Vic, took issue with it and started an online argument with me. I remember that morning, I also had a terrible hangover and was in no mood to argue with Vic, who wasn’t a friend at that point. In fact, I thought he was just an opinionated and condescending asshole who was out of touch with reality. In those days, I was a lot more conservative.

Forgive me for not knowing the exact title of the essay I wrote. It’s so many years later, although I do remember what had inspired it. At that time, I was a member of a “support” site for second wives and stepmothers called the Second Wives Cafe. It was a pretty toxic place, in retrospect… but I was much younger and kind of bewildered by being a second wife and wanna be stepmom (Bill’s kids have still only met me once). Anyway, we had a forum called “The Back Burner”, where women would post about politics and religion and anything else controversial. I remember a lot of women were posting about how they’d never let their “kids” join the U.S. military. Remember, this was during the George W. Bush era, when war was going on in earnest.

It occurred to me that if no one’s “kids” joined the military, there would have to be conscription. At this point, it would not be possible for the United States to function without a military. Of course, in W’s era, we had no idea of the horrors that were coming in Trump. I also realized that the military provides an excellent career for the people who are suited for it. My husband, for instance, grew up somewhat poor. His parents divorced when he was very young and, though his dad paid child support, it wasn’t very much. Thanks to the military, Bill still managed to go to an excellent private university for his undergraduate degree, then earn two more master’s degrees, all with minimal debt. I know a lot of other people like that, too… people who had grown up poor in small towns and would have had a much harder time launching into adulthood with work that paid enough.

So I had written this heartfelt piece about why the military is a good career option for many people and parents should not try to talk their children out of joining if they feel led to go in that direction. I still feel that way, although I can certainly understand why parents feel the need to meddle. Vic had commented that he would never “allow” his adult son to join the U.S. military, and a lengthy argument ensued.

For years, we continued our good natured bantering. I started to see Vic for the type of person he really is, and I think he began to understand me a bit more. But he was still “upset” about the United States “occupying” countries in Europe and Asia, to include Italy and Germany. I reminded him that thirty years ago, there were military installations all over southern and western Germany, and in the former West Berlin. Now, quite a lot of them are defunct. Italy also used to have more installations, though it never had as many as Germany did. Italy now has fewer installations. Bit by bit, the U.S. presence in Europe has dwindled. In fact, I can count several places that were open when Bill and I were in Germany the first time, but have since shut down.

One day, back in 2015, Vic and I had a Facebook argument about Italy’s hosting of American troops. It came up because Bill had to go to Vicenza for a conference and I was going with him. On my old blog, I wrote a post about our discussion, and why I don’t think it’s a bad thing that Americans come to Europe to live. I will repost it at the end of this fresh content, for those who are interested.

All of this leads up to today’s topic, which was inspired by a piece I read in The New York Times a couple of days ago. It was about the Bavarian town of Vilseck, which hosts a huge U.S. military base. Bill was once posted there in the 1980s. Over the years, the Army installation in Vilseck has provided a lot of money to the town and provided its citizens with work. It’s also fostered friendships between Americans and Germans. Now, in the wake of Donald Trump’s comments about moving American service members out of Germany, the mayor worries about what will happen to the town.

The same goes for prime ministers in other parts of Germany, where there are still U.S. military bases. A lot of them have closed. Right now, four states out of the sixteen German states host Americans. They include Bayern, Hesse, Rheinland-Pfalz, and Baden-Württemberg. Over the summer, the prime ministers of those states wrote to thirteen members of Congress, asking them not to move the troops. Indeed, Trump was discussing moving the troops to other European locations, such as Poland, Belgium, and Italy, and sending a few thousand “home”.

I shared the post about Vilseck on my page, but then went back later to read the comments from New York Times readers. Not surprisingly, a lot of people seem to think that no work is going on here, and military members are simply having a vacation. That is NOT true. I can personally attest to the amount of work Bill does, and I can also say that it’s not simply about policing the world. What Bill does actually has an air of diplomacy within it. He helps plan training exercises that involve other militaries in countries in Europe. When we were in Stuttgart, he was doing the same thing, only with African countries. In both instances, he’s also worked with European militaries who are participating in the trainings. In all cases, the militaries are participating because they WANT to. Incidentally, Bill also did a similar job in Texas, working with militaries in Central and South America, who also wanted to do training exercises with the U.S. military.

Others complain that we shouldn’t be “occupying” other nations. Also not true. The United States pays a lot of money to have installations in Europe. American military members and their families also contribute to the economies, not just of the countries where they live, but also in surrounding countries. In fact, back in 2008, Bill and I visited a hotel in Poland run by Brits of Polish descent. They had not known about the American military presence in Germany when they invested $4000 in a dilapidated barn that they turned into a very cute hotel called The Blue Beetroot. Back in 2008, they were still fairly newly opened. I asked the innkeepers to tell me their story, and the wife said they had originally meant to attract Brits to Poland. But their hotel turned out to be a huge draw for American military wives on the prowl for Polish pottery. Their business is still thriving (or was before COVID-19), and it’s provided a nice livelihood for others in the community.

But my main reason for being grateful for the bases abroad, besides the fact that having them makes it easier for the U.S. to respond to situations beyond our borders, is because it allows a lot of Americans who DESPERATELY need to travel the opportunity to do so. I have lived abroad for a number of years. At this count, I’m at three countries besides the United States. I’ve learned from all of those experiences and they have made me a better person. While there are plenty of Americans who don’t care about Europe and would just as soon go home to the States and watch their Sunday football, quite a lot of people are profoundly changed by living in another culture. I know I have been. And I also know that a lot of Americans are under the impression that our way is the best or only way. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s not. Living abroad several times has made me a better person, and I don’t think I’m the only one. And when we leave these places where we’ve been for many years– like Lajes Air Field in the Azores, Portugal, we hurt a lot of the locals.

Anyway… Vic did say last summer that he’s glad Bill and I are still in Germany. But it’s because he likes us (or at least he likes me) and sees what is happening in the States– the violence and the raging pandemic. And he knows that we’re probably a lot safer here. He probably still thinks the U.S. military sucks, though. Anyway, a lot of people in the States simply have no clue what goes on over here at the military bases. Maybe some people don’t think my husband’s work is important, but I can tell you that it’s made him more culturally aware and, therefore, more culturally sensitive. And I think Americans need all of the cultural sensitivity opportunities we can get. It’s easier to do that if you’re living abroad, rather than just vacationing.

Now… breakfast is ready. Below is the post from 2015 I mentioned earlier.

Italy’s “huge” military base… (from December 17, 2015– Vic did read this, by the way)

A couple of days ago, I got into a discussion with an Italian friend of mine who is now a US citizen living in Germany.  I “met” him on Epinions.com, a now defunct product review site where I posted for about eleven years.  My friend, “Vic”, used to read my reviews and leave snarky comments.  At first, I was offended by him, but then grew to appreciate him as we got to know each other better.  Make no mistake about it.  He’s not a fan of the US military.  He enjoys disdaining it and other things about the United States.

I can’t help but think it’s a shame that Vic got naturalized, since he clearly doesn’t love his “adopted” country and now has to pay taxes.  Aside from that Vic clearly identifies as an Italian, though he hasn’t lived in Italy for years and often disdains Italy, too.  Indeed, Vic has said the only city that “works” in Italy is Bolzano.  I will agree, Bolzano is a beautiful city with a nice mix of Austrian and Italian.  I can see why that works well.

So anyway, I was commenting about my initial impressions of Vicenza, which, to be honest, aren’t all that positive.  Granted, I haven’t had the chance to see much of the city, since I’ve kind of been stuck at the hotel in the depressing outskirts this week.  What I did see looked charming, though crowded with aggressive drivers and dented vehicles and I was seeing it in the dark while highly annoyed with Bill.  The food, on the other hand, has been a real delight.

Vic agreed that Vicenza is not Italy’s nicest city.  He mentioned that one of the main reasons it sucks is because of the “huge” US military installation there.  He says that as a US taxpayer, he doesn’t like his taxes going to fund the US war machine.  As an Italian, he simply wants that “crap” out of his country. 

I had to take exception to Vic’s comments.  First off, if you want to talk size, the military installation in Vicenza is certainly not “huge”.  It’s about a quarter of the size of the one(s) in the Stuttgart area.  In fact, the United States has been downsizing its footprint in Europe over the past few years.  A couple of installations in Germany that were open when we lived in Europe last time are now defunct.  One in Italy used to be a full base, but is now just a “camp”.  Little by little, the United States military is leaving Europe, though I doubt they will ever totally go away.  And while some people would like to see them leave, others are glad they are there.  Not only is the US military handy for defense purposes; it’s also good for local businesses.  Aside from that, a lot of US citizens end up befriending or even marrying host country nationals.

But there’s another side to this that I don’t think people not affiliated with the military realize.  Americans ought to have the chance to live abroad.  Too many Americans never leave the United States.  Too few have passports and take the opportunity to travel.  People talk about how Americans have no concept of what life is like in other places and they don’t have respect for other people.  One way to build respect and empathy for others is through exposure.  Taking vacations is all well and good, but it takes immersion to really get a feel for what another country is like.  It’s true that a lot of Americans living abroad never bother to see anything beyond the gates of a military installation.  On the other hand, plenty of people take the time to see where they are and get exposed to new things. 

To be honest, a lot of Americans in the US military come from places where they might not have otherwise had the chance to travel beyond the US.  Granted, that isn’t true for everyone, but it is true for many people.  My dad, for instance, grew up poor and later became an Air Force officer.  His career afforded him a chance to see much of the world and develop a fascination for other cultures, an appreciation for which he passed on to his daughters.  We grew up more open minded than we might have, largely because we didn’t grow up in one place.  In fact, though my dad was a staunch Republican, his daughters are way more liberal than he ever was.  Because we had been exposed to other people and other places, we didn’t have that narrow perspective of someone who always stays within a comfort zone.

This is my fourth time living abroad.  Every time I move to another country, I learn new things and meet new people.  I try to be a good ambassador for my home country.  I understand why people have a negative opinion of the United States.  But if we quit living abroad and traveling, pretty soon all many people will know of us is what they see in movies or watch on the news.

I can appreciate that it’s expensive to maintain military bases all over the world.  I understand that moving Americans to Europe or elsewhere costs a lot of money.  Vic wants to know why we need to do this.  Why does the military send people to live abroad and spend so much money on bases in places like Italy and Germany?  Well, I won’t pretend to know all the reasons why.  It’s a rather complex issue that has roots going back to way before I ever walked on Earth. 

I doubt what I say to Vic will change his impressions of the military or the people within it.  I think if he met Bill in person, he would not see someone who is a knuckle dragger who likes blowing up things.  He’s a kind, sensitive, intelligent man who loves what he does and loves his country… and loves Europe, too.  All I will say is that I’m glad that we have the chance to live in Europe.  I appreciate it.  It’s changed my life and opened my eyes and made me a better person.  I can’t be the only one who feels that way.

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funny stories

The menu from Hell…

Hi folks. Checking in again, this time from Italy. We arrived here on Monday afternoon and will stay until Friday. Then we’re off to Switzerland for the weekend. Once we get home, I will write the whole story of our trip, which has turned out to be mostly fantastic so far. But, because it’s too early for breakfast and Bill is on the toilet, I figured I’d take a few minutes to write about last night.

In fairness, I knew the menu from Hell was coming. At this hotel and the one before it, half board is included in the price of the room. I don’t actually love to get the half board option, because there are times when I can be very picky about food. There are some foods I literally can’t eat without risking vomiting. Then, there are the dreaded mushrooms, which are super popular in Europe. I can’t eat mushrooms. In fact, I have a phobia of them. I’ve written about the phobia and the trouble it’s gotten me into on more than one occasion, so I won’t get into that here. Just suffice to say that they are the one food I absolutely can’t abide under any circumstances.

Unfortunately, mushrooms were the side dish of the day yesterday… Have a look at this menu.

Incidentally, they brought us menus in German on Monday.

Fortunately, they do offer alternatives for the times when there’s nothing appealing on the menu of the day. I ended up ordering an entrecote with fries, after reiterating that I don’t eat mushrooms of any kind. However, there was still a bit of a crisis. One of the starters didn’t have mushrooms. Instead, it was made of Alpine cheese. A waitress asked me if I would try it. I said okay.

So dinnertime rolls around… I was in a pretty good mood because we met a very eccentric artist completely by chance, had a nice lunch in Merano, and drank beer at a quirky bar. I decided to get antipasti, in anticipation of not enjoying some of the other stuff on offer. I took more lettuce than I should have for my salad, so some of it was leftover.

Then came the soup, which was much like the soup from the previous night, only they’d added smoked salmon to it, which made it very salty. I ate a little of that, then set it aside. The waitress exclaims, as she takes it away, “Oh, you don’t like!”

Out came the cheese tart for me… and unfortunately, I couldn’t even take the first bite of it because the cheese was really strong and smelled like sweaty, dirty feet to me. Bill loves that kind of cheese, but I absolutely can’t eat it. I felt my stomach start to roll at that point and gagged a little. Bill was worried… both about offending the staff and about the possibility that I might hurl right there at the table. He ended up eating half the tart so it looked like I’d at least tried it.

Finally, out comes my steak. It was cooked medium well because no one asked how I wanted it cooked. There were lots of fries with it. We did ask for fries, but there were way more than I could ever eat. The waitress set the platter down with fanfare. I immediately noticed everyone else’s eyes on me, since it wasn’t one of the night’s entree choices. I never finish steaks, even when I’m at home. I ate about two-thirds of the one I had last night. The waitress came back and playfully said, “What am I going to do with you! You eat so little!”

At that point, I probably blushed. Again, a bunch of people were looking at me. It brought back memories of me in my twenties, when I used to flirt with eating disorders. Of course, to look at me now, you would never guess I had a problem like that. In fact, back then, most people wouldn’t have either. Only people who ate with me would have noticed… and today, I’m downright fat. So I just kind of looked at her and said, “It’s alright. I’m definitely not going to fade away.” It was the same thing I used to say to my Granny, who would nag me to eat, but then talk about how fat I am. The night before my wedding, which she declined to attend, Granny asked me to show her my dress. I put it on for her and said, “Oh, you have a waist after all.” Wow…

People were already kind of giving us the side eye because we’re obviously Americans, although a few people took us for Dutch. Americans aren’t supposed to be in Europe right now, thanks to Trump’s COVID-19 fuckery. Bill said the people sitting at the table nearest to us kept looking at us disapprovingly, and that made the whole situation even more embarrassing.

So then she brought out dessert, which was amaretto flavored ice cream with amaretto soaked cherries. I enjoyed that, and when she came to take the plates, I beamed and said, “Now see? I ate all of that!”

After dinner, we were going to try some Schnapps made by a local distiller. It turned out the German speaking couple who was glaring at us all through dinner were also there, as well as an Italian couple. The lady who did the presentation made a big deal out of speaking English for us, Italian for the Italian couple, and German for the German speaking couple (who are probably from Germany). It was actually an enjoyable presentation, although we surprised her by knowing some German and even translating a few words she didn’t know in English.

She started talking about problems with fungus in the fruit she used to make her Schnapps and I said, “Oh, mushrooms… that was my big problem tonight!” The German speaking couple laughed, because they’d seen me struggling with the disastrous dinner, where almost everything was a total miss. I think it just might be the worst meal I have ever had in Italy.

Anyway… here is hoping tonight, the menu will be less offensive. On another note, I’m already impressed by the Swiss hotel we booked. I got a message from them yesterday in English, letting me know about the COVID-19 requirements, as well as their policy that if I didn’t want them to take my temperature at check in, I could postpone or cancel at no charge! How classy! Of course, I’d already bought insurance for that stay anyway (suggestive sell by Expedia). We aren’t getting half board there, so I look forward to enjoying dinner at a couple of different restaurants rather than a set menu.

Well, it’s time to get dressed and see what the day’s adventures have in store for us… Hope you don’t encounter any menus from Hell today.

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holidays

Hitting the road…

We’re out of here. I’m ready to go, but there’s always a little bit of angst that comes with taking a trip. I’m always afraid I’ll forget something. Then I tell myself that we’re not going to the bush country in Africa. We can always go to the store if we need to, and we’ll be back in about ten days, anyway.

On another note… last night, a friend of mine who has been a key figure on the mask preaching brigade, shared a post that a “life coach” friend of hers posted. This lady just lost her grandma, not to COVID-19, but to some other malady. However, because of COVID-19, Grandma died alone, and my friend’s friend, the life coach, is unable to go back to the United States to attend Grandma’s funeral… at least not without a significant pain in the ass trying to get back to Germany.

So life coach lady ranted about how America needs to “get it together”, so this stuff won’t happen anymore. Unfortunately, even if everyone in America was suddenly perfectly compliant about COVID-19 risk mitigation, it will still take some time for things to get back to “normal”. In fact, they may never get back to normal.

Anyway, this post is less about that, than what my friend wrote as she shared her friend’s post, then an article about COVID-19 that was in the Atlantic magazine. She basically resorted to insulting her “friends” on Facebook, telling them to “stop whining”, and directing them to wear masks and stay home.

I was about to fall asleep, so I didn’t respond to the post. Instead, I hid it, just like I hide most of the other posts of that type. People are very upset and rightfully so. What she sees as “whining”, they probably see as legitimate complaining. I doubt her friends appreciate being told they’re whining, especially by someone who has self-appointed herself a COVID-19 mask enforcer.

It occurred to me that if people want others to be convinced to change their ways, they’re probably not going to respond to someone who insults them. I get that people are frustrated. Everyone is. But calling people whiners and trying to tell them what to do is not helpful. It mostly leads to rebellion and withdrawal. Or, at the very least, people hiding your posts because you’re one of many people saying the same goddamned thing.

And… speaking of weirdness…

I talked to my mom last night. She was sounding good. But then she told me that my sister– a woman with a Ph.D. from an excellent school in public health– is embracing Donald Trump’s politics. I’m a bit shocked about it. I guess living in the south has rubbed off on her a lot. Either that, or my brother-in-law has finally brainwashed her into someone I don’t recognize anymore. Anyway, my response was a big WTF. She is the last person I would expect to be a Trump fan.

My mom also said that she read Mary Trump’s book and is completely shocked and disgusted by the Trump family. It basically confirmed what she already knew about them. I love that my mom and I have become friends now. We are a lot alike in many ways.

Well, that about does it for today. I have to finish packing so we can get going. Hopefully, we’ll come home healthy, happy, and brimming with new stories, pictures, and inspirations. I’m going to take the week off of guitar playing. Give my fingers a chance to soften.

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