My comeuppance was sure and brutal. It was a full two months after our return to Chicago that I could bear to tell the story to even my closest friends. I stand here now, chastened and deflated. Go, with my blessings, to the Wisconsin Dells, and be at peace.
They were the biggest marshmallows I had ever seen. Perhaps the soft pastels of green, blue, and pink were meant to make these whipped-sugar baseballs seem less threatening. Had they been in a normal-sized marshmallow bag, four, maybe five, would have fit. This sack held hundreds. I looked up and eyeballed the enormous flying saucer perched above. Yes, I calculated, if the command module is hollow as well, they just might fit.
An evening at a laser show, and the fate of Ukraine.
Ask my five-year-old daughter what she had for dinner during our stay and she will answer with resigned acceptance, beans. And what did you have for breakfast? More beans (sigh). She will only say the word out of the corner of her mouth, as if articulating it properly would give someone the opportunity to stuff more beans in.
I studied the shot of clear liquor in front of me. It had a sharp fragrance that I couldn’t place, and no one at the table knew the English word for it. Our hostess made the first toast, and I downed 2 ounces of what turned out to be horseradish schnapps. Looking at the bottom of my shot glass I thought, it can’t possibly get any more Ukrainian than this.
…I hated taking the kids out for a break – I had to assume that any real estate beyond the moat of garbage had already served as someone else’s receptacle. Exacerbating the problem was that our two younger children did not yet have a healthy fear of infectious disease – they still wanted to touch anything and everything. Trying to get at the problem from the other end, I became reluctant to let the kids eat or drink…
Promisingly, halfway up the hotels and restaurants gave way to cows and chickens. I don’t want to say that we were now in the “real” Switzerland, because that would have meant we were sitting in the waiting room of a boutique investment banking firm in Zurich
I hadn’t been this apprehensive about a trip for a long time. We were traveling to a place we had never been before and I was on edge. This foreboding foreign land for which we were bound was the four-star accommodation. For the first time, we were going upmarket.
It cuts through the center of the city and the short hop from our stop north of the center to the downtown stations convincingly made the case for calling the train a tour bus on rolling stock. There were great views of several guidebook attractions: the Botero sculpture plaza, the Plaza of Light, the bustling pedestrian malls. I felt vindicated as they got more than 85¢ worth of oohs and ahhs from me and my wife.
So we had to decide: was our decision to raise the children with an open-minded sense of adventure just crazy drunk talk, or would we step up to the challenge? We followed the lead of our newborn and decided to take baby steps: we went to Puerto Rico.