RHETA GRIMSLEY JOHNSON: Travel stories end on the return to home and consequences

By Rheta Grimsley Johnson

FISHTRAP HOLLOW – Was it last week or the week before when I was sitting in front of Le Palais des Papes in Avignon listening to an organ grinder sing opera? Turns out, organ grinders without monkeys must sing to make life interesting.
Either way, I won’t go into it right now. I think talking about going to France is like being one of those people who has a near-death experience and comes back reporting on a white light. Nobody really wants to hear it.
“How was your trip?” a friend will ask. I’ll begin to tell the friend about the grape harvest in Provence, or the market in Vaison, or the delicious rabbit slathered with mustard on my Paris plate.
“Ah-huh,” she’ll say. “You won’t believe what happened here while you were gone …”
Column readers are pretty much the same way. I don’t blame them. I glaze over hearing about someone else’s vacation. The only thing worse is being forced to look at the photographs, too.
So what I’ll do is sneak in a few experiences here and there, and you’ll never even notice. I can work the colors of Giverny into a column about the Republican debates if I have to.
I must share, however, one truth: I remain the world’s worst traveler. The more I do it, the worse I get. When I arrived in Paris and finally had a chance to brush my teeth, I grabbed a tube of anti-fungal cream. Thank goodness I did not swallow.
I took winter clothes to frolic in warm temperatures. I wore loafers that lost their soles. As always, I pulled when the door said “Push,” and vice versa. No matter how much black clothing I wore, I quickly was discovered as American.
Specifying Mississippi as my home state helped a little. It opens doors, I’ve noticed. A funny taxi driver asked if I knew Tom Sawyer. He didn’t miss a chance to joke while driving 100 miles an hour, literally, and filling out a receipt. French motorcycles were weaving in and out of lanes like mad seamstresses taking up a hem, and police sirens were making that hee-haw noise you remember from “Pink Panther” movies.
But there I go. Talking about it. I should be concentrating on what I found upon my return home. Now that, you might find interesting.
For the second time in two months, my computer had been hacked, if that’s the right high-tech terminology. All I know is that everyone on my emailing list has received an ad from a Canadian pharmacy in a message bearing my name. Last time this happened, I paid an expert to clean up the mess. But I guess those who do this sort of thing for kicks are more expert than the experts.
Some on my email list took it as a bad joke. Some got mad at me. Some recognized a virus waiting to hatch when they saw it and shrugged.
Not all of the home-front news was that bad. I have nine small pumpkins on my vines in the patch. They’ll be jack-o’-lantern size by, oh, December.
My dogs were really glad to see me. The microwave had started smoking, but had earned its retirement.
On the political front, Obama appears still to be swimming in economic hot water, but the Republicans don’t have a clue or a candidate. There have been a few Republican presidential debates, but they seem to have been about as interesting as an organ grinder without a monkey.
Oops. There I go again.
Syndicated columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson lives near Iuka. Contact her at Iuka, MS 38852. To find out more about her books, visit www.rhetagrimsleyjohnsonbooks.com.

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