Lange: Coming Home Naked
08/25/11 7:55AM By Willem Lange  Download MP3
(HOST) VPR commentators share their thoughts on a common theme at an
annual brunch every spring, which we record and sample later on the air.
This year, we asked them to write on the theme, "Picture This." And
that inspired commentator Willem Lange to describe a particularly
colorful arrival home from a European holiday.
(LANGE) Willem Lange, "Coming Home Naked."
Now picture this: Mother humors my neurosis and agrees to get to the airport two hours before departure time. The plane takes off an hour late. Nine hours from Nice to Kennedy. We clear customs and drag our baggage to the connecting flight conveyor belt. We shuffle cattle-like with hundreds of other travelers. A woman demanding passports and boarding passes is rude to Mother. Then she announces loudly that my boarding pass is wrong side up.
From inches away I hiss, "Would it break your face to smile once in a while?" Then I grab my papers and beat it before she can call Security.
She asks Mother, "Are you with him? You must be a saint!"
It's a six-hour wait for a flight to Burlington . "Can I get you something?" I ask.
She's - ah - she's upset.
"Gin and tonic - a double." With a glass of beer for me, it comes to twenty two bucks. Holy Toledo ! But it works. Half an hour later her eyes begin to close.
Panicked, I suggest we find our gate while she's still conscious. We aren't speaking. At the gate, she plops down with her valise and trench coat to wait. "A cup of coffee?"
I hand her the large coffee; she sets it on the valise in her lap. "I'm going to the john," I say. "Be right back." I touch her shoulder.
She doesn't want to be touched, and jerks away. The coffee spills down her front and keeps on going. She leaps up, shoves the valise at me, and heads for the washroom.
A while later - and I've still got to go to the john! - she returns in her long black trench coat and hands me a plastic grocery bag with wet stuff inside it. "Here! Your fault. You carry it."
"But what have you got on?"
God! How I wished for one more security checkpoint! But there wasn't any. So you and I are both just going to have to... picture it.