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Madeleine Begun Kane,
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Madeleine Begun Kane


A weekend trip is a splendid way to replenish your energy and deplete your bank account. In theory, such journeys should be preceded by thorough research, careful planning, and intense negotiations with your mate. Sounds a lot like work, right? Which is why so many vacations go something like this:

(1). Become increasingly exhausted and overwrought. Bicker with spouse over nonsense. Make up, bicker some more, and decide you both need a vacation. Agree to plan a trip for just the two of you real soon. Fall asleep fantasizing about a work/child/pressure-free orgy of self-indulgence.

(2). Repeat Step (1) many times during the next few months. Repeat it several times more ... leaving out the sleep part.

(3). Realize that next weekend you have three days off. Talk interminably about driving out of town. Take travel books out of library and actually open one. Savor the illusion of progress.

(4). Discuss destination options. Discuss taking off an extra day. Discuss who will watch children and/or pets. Notice three-day weekend has ended. Return overdue books ... unread.

(5). Repeat Step (1). In an unfamiliar flash of spontaneity, put sitter on standby and call random hotels. Hear clerks snicker when you ask for lodging sometime this century. Ask spouse if there's room in the budget for bribes.

(6). Conclude that every decent hotel within a weekend's drive is filled with conventioneers. Wonder if it's too late to join the Elks, the American Gourd Society, or the Ferret Fanciers Club.

(7). Briefly consider a roadway motel that features waterbeds, exotic dance, and "massage." Decide you're not quite that desperate ... yet.

(8). Miraculously manage to book something acceptable. Inform sitter and spouse. Revive spouse.

(9). Examine luggage. Search house for matching duct tape. Pack by cramming everything in sight until suitcase refuses to close. Have spouse sit on suitcase. Resume packing.

(10). Ask spouse to load car. Repeat request. Load car yourself and discover it's almost out of gas. Plan to yell at spouse ... until you realize you were the last to drive the car.

(11). Ask spouse to fill tank while you phone sitter for sixth time. For no reason other than sheer crankiness, argue with spouse about no-show sitter, lateness of hour, and other things neither of you is responsible for. Remember why you rarely take trips.

(12). Rejoice at sitter's arrival. Read sitter 10-page, typed instruction list that covers everything from emergency phone numbers to goldfish food. Review it with sitter while spouse paces. Review it again. Call hotel clerk to say you may be late.

(13). Spend five hours crawling in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Blame sitter, each other, the Industrial Revolution. Make up with spouse just in time to learn your reservation's been lost.

(14). Become hysterical. Attract a crowd. Threaten to picket. Check into room.

(15). Collapse onto bed without pausing to unpack. Contemplate luxury of pre-dinner nap as you leisurely leaf through hotel brochures. Notice hotel restaurant's about to close. Say goodbye to nap.

(16). Rush downstairs for romantic meal without changing or freshening up. Find out restaurant's under construction. It will resume serving four-star fare the day after you leave.

(17). Decide to drive to another restaurant and search parking garage for car. Realize, in a moment of stunned panic, that one hour ago you left car "temporarily" in front of hotel while checking in and forgot to move it. Spend the rest of weekend trying to retrieve towed car.

(18). Return home, unpack, and begin not planning your next vacation.

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