The Pleasures of Being a Father [1995]

“Un bon pere apprend a son fils la responsabilite et donne alors sa responsabilite de fils”  Jack Dawkins, age 7             

El and I honeymooned in Europe, but we didn’t get there any normal way.  We took the Amtrak sleeper car to NYC, bought a Village Voice and started searching for the cheapest one-way tickets to anywhere in Europe.  We found an ad saying just exactly that and the ticket place was only 4 blocks away from where we were sitting.

From thereon it was like the scene in The Sting.  It’s an old building, even dingy; the elevator we take to the fifth floor is the old-fashioned close-the-gate-yourself type; and when we walk into the “office,” it’s a boiler-room operation scene:  card table desks each with a telephone; people working the phones with head-sets on; and a young bearded gentleman comes up with a friendly, serious face.  “Can we get a cheap plane ticket to Europe?” I ask.

“Sure,” he says, “for $100 each I can get you anywhere in Europe – just depends on what day you want to fly.  Madrid tomorrow?  Frankfort Thursday?  Prague on Friday?”  Madrid tomorrow we say, and find out he only takes cash and then only hand-writes up a receipt (not close to a printed ticket), and says “Take this to the Air Madrid counter at JFK tomorrow.  Be there by noon.”

So El’s pretty suspicious but I’m feeling like this worked exactly the best we had imagined.  To Ellen’s ever-lasting credit, she gave me the benefit of the doubt that we could do our honeymoon almost 100% spontaneously – the only sure thing was that we had to be back in two months.  Rosie, as I sometimes called her, has a question, so she calls the number in the Village Voice ad, worse than no answer, the line is disconnected!   Now I have my doubts too, but I tell her, “Look, we budgeted to lose this $100 and buy stand-by tickets – so what’s to worry – let’s see if it works.”  We spent the second night of our honeymoon in some motel just across the Hudson on the Jersey side of the Holland Tunnel.

Next morning we take the subway to JFK, find the Air Madrid counter, and hand over our receipts.  “Oh,” she says, “we take these but it’ll cost you each another $50.”  So we pay cash again and get on the plane.  By then the ticket taker lady and others in line knew it was our honeymoon and surprised us with a champagne-filled flight across the Atlantic.  That’s how we started our marriage.  The rest follows.

Seven week-old Jack at the Capitol

Seven week-old Jack at the Capitol

                                                         Tomorrow:  Our Marriage


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