Sitting in for our beloved TRex who's homeward-bound from Jane's house tonight, I thought we could gather 'round the LateNite hearth to tell some travel tales.  The call of the far-off train whistle, the allure of the international air terminal, the excitement of not knowing what's around the bend on that mountain pass you're hiking, the delight of the Airbus middle seat — well, not so much the last of those, but surely travel makes the heart skip a beat, sometimes?  

Catch that stranger's eye while in a crowded security line; see your good friend's book of poems revealed in a fellow passenger's carryon bag; overhear a conversation in a language the speakers don't know you understand — ??

     
Okay, I'll start!  On the last fast train from Paris to Brussels one night, I shared a second-class compartment with three Danish students my age (and my thirteen-year-old brother curled up in the corner) when the talk turned to politics.  It was 1973 and my father, then working for SHAFE, had warned us not to appear unpatriotic when speaking with foreigners, even though many of them had pointed questions.  Most questions stemmed from not understanding how Nixon could hold out with such clear evidence of wrongdoing around him; in any parliamentary system, a leader would have been long gone.
    
Two weeks prior, Watergate Committee Minority Counsel Fred Thompson had asked H.R. Haldeman's former assistant Alexander Butterfield his crucial question, "Are you aware of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the President?" and the entire world now knew the tapes were there for the listening.  About ten days later, Nixon's physician had announced the President's life-threatening phlebitis, a diagnosis being taken with a grain of salt, given his new and immediate political troubles.
      
Anyway, back to the train — one Dane pointed to my International Herald Tribune and asked, "Nixon is sick, no?"  Knowing my opinion of Nixon and our father's warnings, my brother's ears pricked up, to hear just how I handled this international discussion without criticizing America.  In all seriousness, I repled, "Yes, our President is very sick."  One of the students laughed while he rotated his index finger around his ear in the universal symbol for crazeee and said, "Yes, he's sick in the head." 
     
"Well," I said, "I don't know about that, but he's certainly a criminal."  
      
Cheers and high-fives all around, much to little brother's shock.  Our discussion continued all the way to Brussels where our newfound friends said they needed a place to crash until tomorrow's train north.  We offered our parent's living room floor, so my Dad was greeted the next morning by a handsome young man from Denmark who announced, "Your son thinks Nixon is a criminal.  Good for him!"
       
Moral of my travel story — beware what you reveal to strangers on a train!
       
Who's next?
       
PS — Speaking of travel, have you made your Yearly Kos plans yet?
       
       

Teddy Partridge

Teddy Partridge

269 Comments