Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Ten Things To Do When Your Husband Runs Off To Central America
Since the temptation of decadence didn't work I try scare tactics. “Aren’t you afraid of the band…the band…bando…help me out here.”
“Band On the Run? Band of Brothers? A band of angels coming after me, coming for to carry me home?”
Graham explains again how movies are not real life. What? He says Central America is the best place for Spanish language immersion trips and that these days it’s perfectly safe if you “travel smart.” I travel smart, but I’m not sure what that has to do with fighting off a gang of highwaymen. What am I supposed to do, distract them with the sequins on my extra dinner dress and hit them over the head with my trusty mini-iron? If he thinks he can ply me with this backward logic he’s clearly forgotten to whom he is married. I soldier on and make my case.
“You don’t need to leave the country to be immersed. This is America! We’ll drive twenty minutes into St. Paul. I’ll drop you off in front of El Burrito Mercado on Cesar Chavez Street and Sha-Zam! You are immersed in not only the Spanish language but an excellent dining experience. Best of all, you don’t need no stinkin’ passport!”
He pinches out that argument countering that no matter how bona fide our Hispanic neighborhood is, it’s just not total immersion when you know you’re within spitting distance of Garrison Keillor. He has a point.
This insistence on fully integrating himself with the culture is highly suspicious. It’s time he knows exactly who he’s dealing with, so I crank it up a notch. “¿Cuál es tu plan secreto?” I demand suddenly. My dexterity with Google Translate threatens his calm exterior. I strike while he still looks confused or maybe amused, can’t tell. “Are you trying to jump on the margin of a coup? Are you planning to put on a Che Beret and run around the jungle yelling "¡Viva la Revolución!'? Because if you are, allow me to remind you that you’re a pacifist, borderline liberal from Bloomfield Hills. I don’t think you’re their guy, Honey.”
With my arguments exhausted and Graham’s questionable travel clothing packed, I asked for one concession, that he at least texts me every night so I know he’s safe. Within that text he must include a code word that we will agree on ahead of time so I know it’s him messaging me and not his captors. I ask if he thinks I should have a code word too in case someone makes off with the dogs and me while he’s away. “Anyone who abducts you and the dogs is going to drop all three of you off at our front door within ten minutes,” he assures me gently. I swoon a little, “That’s the sweetest thing you’ve ever said to me.”
And so Reader, he left with little more than a backpack and wanderlust. I waved from the porch while the theme to Out of Africa played in my head (a good all around soundtrack for most dramatic hellos and goodbyes). The following is a list I jotted down throughout the week for handy reference. Feel free to use it according to your own circumstances as advice, guidance, or cautionary tale.
1. Turn on CNN in the morning to make sure Graham is NOT on CNN.
2. Immediately switch to The Weather Channel to make sure Guatemala is still there.
3. Put the State Department Emergency Assistance to American Citizens Abroad number into my phone. Call it with a mild yet plausible threat to Graham just to see how quickly they snap to action
4. Reminder: The State Department takes prank phone calls VERY SERIOUSLY. (Try to figure out how to get off the no fly list.)
5. Prepare a briefcase full of cash in case a ransom drop situation presents itself. BE SMART: Put the white Monopoly money on top.
6. Consider the arsenal of weapons in the house and wonder if maybe I shouldn’t have put one of the handguns in Graham’s backpack. If only it wasn’t lime green and it shot more than water.
7. Remember to turn off the security system every morning so the next door neighbors will stop turning their sprinklers on me and yelling, "You want something to really be afraid of???!!!" when I take the dogs out and set the alarm off. (Text Graham in Guatemala to get the code. Remember to use the special secret texting code word we agreed on. Call Graham first to find out what the code word was.)
8. Do NOT attempt to fix kitchen appliances myself. Do NOT attempt to pay the plumber with cans and bottles so Graham won’t find out how much worse I made it. Do NOT get cranky with the plumber, who showed up on a Sunday, when he tells me Minnesota has no deposit law and he wouldn’t take them even if it did. Jeez, guy can’t take a joke.
9. Try to remain calm when Graham sends me excited text about being close enough to the hell mouth of an active volcano to roast marshmallows. I text back, “You don’t like marshmallows so GET THE HELL AWAY FROM THE VOLCANO.” Wonder if I would have seemed less hysterical if I’d added a smiley face icon.
10. Remember, that even though it’s possible I let my imagination run around the bend at times, even though I might have a tendency to make up stories in my head and believe them, and even though I have the plots of a few too many movies on instant recall, I am proud of Graham for taking these trips. I admire the way he goes into the world with zeal and enthusiasm for everything that is different and unfamiliar. But next year, we are totally going Belize together, and we won’t need no stinkin’ code words.