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You can learn a lot about a family during a four hour train ride, even if you don't actually speak to them. 

I was settled into my seat on Thalys Train 9340, Amsterdam to Paris, reading Liberation, when I heard them.  "LOOK AT THE NUMBERS.  OUR SEATS HAVE NUMBERS.  BABY, JUST WAIT HERE.  I'LL FIND OUR SEATS."  I glanced over my shoulder and saw that the narrow corridor of Car 13 was blocked by a woman in bright orange hotpants and a multicoloured blouse.  Her thick black hair was crowned by a baseball cap, no, a visor, with the image of a marijuana leaf boldly stitched to the front.  She looked to be about 45 years old.  Her husband, wearing tinted glasses, a t-shirt and jeans, was shifting his gaze from the sheaf of tickets in his hand to the little numbers above the seats beside him.  Two long-haired youths, both wearing artfully distressed ballcaps, were standing vacantly in the doorway to the car.  "Please let them be in the wrong car, please let them be in the wrong car," I murmured to myself, even as I stared at the bank of four seats two rows head to my right, somehow knowing that I was looking at their destination.

I was right.  The boys turned out to be relatively silent, even taciturn, but mom and dad made up for it.  I guarantee that there was not a single passenger in the entire car who did not hear every word they uttered during the 4 hour and 20 minute (we were ten minutes late) trip from Amsterdam to Paris.  As you might expect, much of their conversation was as banal as yours or mine would be, if anyone could hear us.  But there were some spectacularly memorable remarks:

Dad (to the man who brought our lunch and our drinks):  I HOPE YOU DON'T MIND US MAKING ALL THESE DEMANDS!
Mom (interrupting):  OF COURSE HE DOESN'T MIND!  HE LIKES US LOUD AMERICANS, DON'T YOU?  BESIDES, IF WE WEREN'T ASKING FOR DRINKS, HE WOULDN'T EVEN HAVE A JOB, WOULD HE?  WOULD YOU?

Or

Dad (to sullen offspring):  CAR 13, HUH.  I WONDER, THOUGH.  IS 13 OUR LUCKY NUMBER BECAUSE IT IS, OR IS IT OUR LUCKY NUMBER BECAUSE WE THINK IT IS, SO WE SEND POSITIVE ENERGY TO IT?

Or

Mom (to sullen offspring):  DON'T GET ME WRONG.  I'M NOT RACIST.  I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO HAVE SOME ORIENTAL GRANDCHILDREN; THEY'RE SO CUTE.  BUT YOU HAVE TO STAY ON THIS SIDE OF THE WORLD.  YOU COULDN'T FIT IN THERE.
Dad:  YEAH.  WE CAN BLEND IN IN AMSTERDAM, AND EASILY PASS AS DUTCH, BUT YOU CAN'T DO THAT OVER THERE.
[At that remark, I heard the Dutch woman behind me snort and then cough.  I didn't look back, but I'm pretty sure that some of her orange juice must have come out her nose.]

Or

Dad:  I MUST HAVE BEEN DUTCH IN A PREVIOUS LIFE, BECAUSE I JUST FELT SO COMFORTABLE IN AMSTERDAM.  I'LL TELL YOU ONE THING, THOUGH, I ALREADY KNOW I WON'T FEEL THAT AFFINITY IN PARIS.  DON'T ASK ME HOW I KNOW, I JUST KNOW.

I'm sure you are wondering how many times Dad asked various train personnel how fast we were going.  (The Thalys is a highspeed train between Brussels and Paris.)  Once? No.  Twice? No. Five different times!  I counted.

If anyone would like to know:
Their family name
The name of their hotel in Paris
The rest of their itinerary
Why if they weren't moving anyway they would have had to move because of Dennis
What kind of car Shane wants to get when they get back to New York
How many hats Mom bought in Amsterdam
Or anything else, just ask.  I can tell you.  And if you don't believe me, I can probably round up about 28 fellow-travellers to corroborate my assertions.
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Paul Leonard

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