Unexpected Events

Things have been great on vacation. We met up with our friends in Munich, and spent several days visiting Nuremberg, Würzburg, Bamberg, and Rothenberg ob der Tauber. We were treated to such views as this:

Nuremberg. Totally hideous, isn't it?

Nuremberg. Totally hideous, isn’t it?

We have had a wonderful time reconnecting with our friends Danielle and Sylvain, and we have discovered a few things about German culture.

  1. They like cash. I think I only used my credit card to pay for the hotel and the rental car. Cash everywhere else.
  2. Sparkling water is called Sprudelwasser.
  3. The Germans are crazy for pork and cabbage:

    That's a lot of sauerkraut.

    That’s a lot of sauerkraut.

Seriously. I ate so much pork I thought I was going to sprout a curly tail. Pork at every meal. Cabbage hiding under the lettuce of your salad and of course the ubiquitous sauerkraut. We went to the grocery store and they had an entire Wall O’ Pork. They are totally serious about their pig food products.

We are now comfortably ensconced in our friends’ old stone farmhouse in Western France. And it was good to be surrounded by friends because the totally unexpected happened.

The other day I got a text from my Mom saying Dad had been having chest pains. They went to the ER, ran some tests, and the upshot was Dad had to have triple bypass surgery. It happened today and went extremely well. He is in recovery and all signs point to a good recovery. But the fact that I wasn’t with my mother to sit there and hold her hand while her husband of 46 years had open heart surgery left me a quivering mess.

But my wonderful friend Danielle helped me through with Reiki. If you don’t know what Reiki is, I invite you to read about it here. Basically, it is healing energy from the Divine that a practitioner can channel into another being: human, animal or plant. I’ve been a practitioner for several years now and Danielle is the Reiki Master who has taught me. Together we created a flow of Reiki that was sent directly to my father, thousands of miles away. It was proactive and left me feeling more in control of my emotions and hopeful of a positive outcome. I held it together.

Dad will probably be in the hospital for five or six days. Kosta and I debated over what to do. In the end, (mostly because we can’t afford to change our plane tickets) we are going to continue with our vacation. Trust me when I say it was not an easy decision to make. Most of me is longing to be home with my family. Everyone seems to be coping reasonably well. Mom has been so brave and capable and I am proud of her for surviving an extremely difficult situation.

The last couple of days have been rough, for sure. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much on a vacation before. But Dad has survived his ordeal, Mom is coping with hers, and Kosta and I will deal with ours.

Perplexed and a little frightened...

Perplexed and a little frightened…



Guest post: Anstrengend

Written by Konstantine-George Athanasios Karras.

On the whole, European vacations tend to be relaxing affairs, and ones taken in Austria are no exception. True, the small country abounds in rugged mountain ranges, but if one is clever, their magnificent peaks are conquered with the eye only and not by the exhaustive expedient of actually ascending them. Preferably this is done from the cozy and comfortable outdoor seating of one of the many cafes or bier halls that proliferate their foothills.

Heavenly views... hellish price.

Heavenly views… hellish price.

Anna & I made the mistake of deciding to ascend one of these lithic giants not only admire the views but to specifically visit a natural site that I had known about for some time. It was the famous Eisriesenwelt ice cave perched high on the side of the Hochkogel mountain just south of Salzburg.

Nothing in the numerous brochures or advertisements I read prior to visiting the place mentioned anything about the strenuous physical activity that would sinisterly accompany such a rash decision. Most did mention the two 20-minute “walks” up the face of the mountain on either side of a short but vertiginous cable car ride. But I figured my wife and I are in reasonably good shape. How bad can this possibly be?
The initial part of the journey (via our rented Peugeot motorcar along comfortable roadways) was a delight. The views from the car windows were of the Salzach Valley, with its picture-postcard villages nestled below, the magnificent wall of towering mountains reaching to the clouds above and occasional views of the dramatic Hohenwerfen castle perched on a steep and pine-covered spur jutting out into the river. Had we only known what was in store, we’d have sensibly stayed in the car.

Only when one is actually struggling to place one leg in front of the other along a steep, rocky path is one made truly aware of the effort involved. I am from Florida where the steepest incline I must navigate is my front driveway sloping down to the street. But at least amid the exhaustive effort we were constantly rewarded with views out over the alpine valley and we could delight in whooping in bucketfuls of the fresh mountain air.

Sucking in oxygen like a pair of Hoovers, we arrived at the lower cable car station. With a perverted sense of delight we noted other intrepid visitors were arriving as winded and as sweaty as us. They jammed groups of us into the small car and sent us up the almost vertical mountain slope for the three-minute ride. Once there, another twenty minute “jaunt” awaited us, a third of this under the protective cover of a man-made concrete awning that protected the hikers from falling rocks and debris. And above it all loomed the cave mouth, always looking impossibly far away.

Little cable cars, climb halfway to hell...

Little cable cars, climb halfway to hell…


We finally made it to the cave entrance where hordes of visitors were awaiting. Anna was handed an oil lamp by our guide and a group of about thirty of us entered. Once inside, the horrible realization took hold as the sight of our physically-fit guide, Johannes, should have warned us. It was a continuous flight of wooden steps with accompanied aluminum handrail all the way to the top. And it was only now, when one was inside and deep into the adventure that the guide in his thick Austrian accent informed us that we were about to embark on a 700-step climb up into the cave system. It was the equivalent effort of ascending a 40-story building! And this was to be accomplished at an altitude of more than 1,600 meters above sea-level. Lit only by the feeble oil lamps a few of us carried, I’m certain in the darkness, Johannes stated this with a malevolent gleam in his eye.

We weren't the only suckers...

We weren’t the only suckers…


And so it began… the ascent. Never in my life had I experienced pain like this. I wasn’t aware that the human body could produce such agony much less endure it for the time I had to. The initial hundred steps or so were bad enough; but then there was the creeping sense of having made a huge mistake as those steps doubled, then trebled and still they ascended before me. But I couldn’t stop. I dared not. My wife—ahead of me—God bless her, was soldiering on. How could I ever face her again if I quit? Shame and shame alone forced me to fight through the pain and continue.

And then I noticed something else. The people behind me had fallen silent as well. The chattering and light laughter that had accompanied us to that point ceased to be. It was replaced with a dogged silence broken only by occasional grunts of effort. I know now what slave rowers on the bottom deck of an ancient Roman galley must have sounded like as the swift trireme full of murderous Cilician pirates was bearing down on them and they were forced to pull at their oars for their very lives.

Indeed, I wanted to scream out in my own rage at having gotten myself into this misery, but I could muster nothing more than a continuous and pathetic wheeze as the altitude and the exertion combined to turn my lungs into something resembling a pair of pink deflated birthday-party balloons. I couldn’t even whimper which was all I felt like doing. And still those evil steps continued.

By this time, midway through the ordeal, my legs had long since become absolute rubber—pasta cooked well beyond the al dente stage. I knew, or I guessed the Austrians must have had a word for it… anstrengend: strenuous, exhaustive, demanding. Why had they not used that word in their brochures about this place? Surely that would have deferred my decision to take this on. But I never read it anywhere in the literature and so we paid the price for my folly.

Suffice to say we completed the journey for there was a leveling off at the top of the cave system and that alone saved us. The ice formations were impressive and it was something I was glad to have seen. I think though I will simply remove my legs and stick them in a box in the back of the closet as I will have no further use for them.

A bit of Heaven and the lowest circle of Hell

We left Vienna yesterday morning. We went back to the airport picked up a rental car and zoomed off towards Salzburg. We are no different from other tourists who have done this because we stopped in the village of Melk where there is an impressively large monastery.

Monstery at Melk

Monstery at Melk

We toured the monastery and grounds. We were impressed with the library with its musty smell of old books. We also came into the church as a noon service was in progress and we were properly blasted by the pipe organ. It rumbled right through your chest and had a marvelous sound.

Garden and pavilion at Melk Monastery

Garden and pavilion at Melk Monastery

After our tour we went in to the gardens, had a drink in the pavilion, walked through the dappled shade and viewed the Danube’s lazy progression down stream. Afterwards we walked down to the town of Melk and looked around a little bit.  We tasted schnapps – hazelnut and bought a bottle. We’ll see if it makes it back to Florida.

After climbing the big hill back to the car we continued on towards Salzburg. We arrived in the late afternoon, and thanks to the GPS, found our hotel easily. After checking in we laid down for a bit (we were tired) and awoke with surprise around 7 p.m. Even though we were still tired we needed to eat and decided to drive into town (we are staying on the outskirts) and find someplace for our supper.

We found an ideal little place: Zum Wilden Mann. It was decidedly cute, had good hearty food and of course, beer. We properly filled our gullets and then took an evening constitutional around the city streets. We saw Mozart’s birthplace and the fanciest McDonald’s sign I’ve ever seen. The sun was setting, the light on the Salzach River was lovely, and the air was cool. It was a bit of heaven.

My wild man at Zum Wilder Mann.

My wild man at Zum Wilder Mann.


Sunset on the Salzach.

Sunset on the Salzach.

Today we set out by 8 a.m. towards a town about 40 km south of Salzburg called Werfen. It is home to the largest ice cave in Europe and also boasts a well-kept medieval castle called Burg Hohenwerfen.

But first things first. We needed breakfast because we just hadn’t eaten enough the night before. On our way up the mountain to the ice cave we stopped at a little guesthouse/restaurant. We were the only two folks in there while we dined on fresh baked rolls, cheese and jam with excellent coffee. Our host, a gingham-bedecked man named Casper plunked himself down at our table when we finished eating and we tried to make conversation between his broken English and my broken German. He was a friendly cuss and we laughed at our miserable attempts at conversation.

Me and Casper the friendly Austrian.

Me and Casper the friendly Austrian.

Up, up, up the road we went to the ice cave. Kosta had read about it online and it said that the trail was a little tough: first a twenty minute climb through the woods, a three-minute cable car ride, and then another twenty minute climb to get you to the entrance of the cave. It was a slog, especially for the two of us who haven’t been working out as we should. But we made it, panting, to the mouth of the cave, donned our sweatshirts and waited for the tour to begin.

At the start of the tour our guide told us there were 700 steps inside the cave itself. That sounded like a lot, but we had just hiked a long way and paid a lot of money to see this cave. So we went, despite any foreboding. What our sly tour guide, Johannes, didn’t do was give us a comparison until we were nearly through with our 700 steps. Did you know that climbing 700 steps is the equivalent of climbing a forty story skyscraper? No? Well let my quadriceps tell you about it. It’s agony. And of course, we were at the front of the line and directly behind Johannes, who barely paused while he ascended. I asked him how many times a day he did this and he replied, “Three to seven times.”

The road to the mouth of hell. Dante Alighieri would concur.

The road to the mouth of hell. Dante Alighieri would concur.

Obviously, Johannes is one of the devil’s tour guides.

Kosta says the reason why they don’t let you take pictures in the cave is so there is no photographic evidence of all the people trudging up endless risers, heads down, not speaking, only the soft noise of labored breath and whimpers for the end can be heard.

Did you know that Dante pictured the lowest circle of hell as a frozen lake of ice? The thought was present as I held my gas lantern and ascended through an icy landscape in the dark, not knowing when it was going to end.

The ice cave was beautiful. It was cold, it was impressive. I am glad I saw it but I am never, ever doing that again. When we found ourselves blinking in the sun again we were both surprised to be alive. Then we had to walk back down the hill on gelatinous legs, wait for the cable car, walk down the other set of switchbacks until we got to the entrance. I had to pee but the WC was down another flight of stairs and I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it back up again. I skipped it and we drove away, our innocence of just a few hours before shattered like a falling icicle.

Now, let me tell you about Burg Hohenwerfen. If you know my husband at all, you know his favorite movie is 1968’s Where Eagles Dare starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood. It’s a thrilling movie. The plot centers on several WWII special agents sent to raid a castle deep in German territory to liberate a crucial prisoner. There are secret plots, murder, treachery, and a nail-biting fight scene on top of a cable car.

Burg Hohenwerfen, or the Schloss Adler.

Burg Hohenwerfen, or the Schloss Adler.


Inner courtyard of Burg Hohenwerfen

Inner courtyard of Burg Hohenwerfen

The castle in the movie, the Schloss Adler, is none other than Burg Hohenwerfen. It was a dream come to life for my husband. While we were there he pulled out his iPod (yes, he still has an iPod) and listened to the soundtrack while looking around with the ecstasy of a 12 year-old boy. It was pretty adorable.

We did take an interesting tour of the place, though had to skip the falconry show, as it took place on a steep incline and we didn’t think our legs would make it. But we did climb all the way up to the bell tower and down again. Somehow. Through sheer iron will, I believe, because there was no muscle left in my legs.

After our tour we went down to the village of Werfen and had a beer at a cafe, and laughed in the way people in shock do about something traumatic that has just happened to them. We still can’t believe there wasn’t more warning about how strenuous the tour at the ice cave was. If it had been America (and I’m glad it isn’t) there would have been a lawyer at every switchback, handing out his card and pointing to the warning signs.

We are back at the hotel now, barely moving, groaning, and wondering what will become of us tomorrow. Pray for us. We will need it.

Guest Post: What… no Brahms?!

Written by Konstantine-George Athanasios Karras:

I’ve just spent three days in Vienna, Austria and must confess I am severely disappointed in the Viennese people. It’s certainly not because of their lively and clean city filled with beautiful public buildings and pleasant squares, palaces and coffee shops and musical venues. No. It’s certainly not due to the denizens themselves who are polite and cultured to an extraordinary degree. The reason for my well-placed ire is the Austrian capital’s almost complete lack of honoring one of their most famous and beloved (admittedly adopted) sons: Johannes Brahms.
This is the City of Mozart. Now I’m the first to admit that Wolfgang is no musical slouch and only a mad, uncultured lout would think his music anything but a noise close to musical perfection, but jeeze!—after walking around the city a couple of days you’d think there was only one classical composer in all the world. Wolfie is everywhere… and I mean everywhere. His likeness graces candy boxes, liqueurs, (he’s got his own brands), refrigerator door magnets, posters, store-fronts… he’s got his own venue across the straße from the city’s grandiose opera house where his minions are dressed in the lacy, periwig-donned, white-hosed attire of 18th C. court musicians who stand on the street corners and squares throughout the city peddling programs for his nightly concerts. I’m frankly surprised that his mug was not displayed on a package of “Die Zauberflöte”-brand prophylactics in the local pharmacy! C’mon, Viennese… where’s your sense of fair play?
Only by the most assiduous planning and painstaking preparations was I able to uncover two meager traces of my beloved Johannes in this, the City of Music. The evidence of him can be seen a little ways east of the city center in the humungous Zentralfriedhof, Wien’s main cemetery. It was to that sprawling boneyard that I had to travel to see evidence of his earthly remains. They are buried under a simple yet graceful monument in section 32A (plot #26) of the cemetery in an admittedly honored spot. He shares the distinction with fellow dead musical alums Beethoven, Strauss, and Schubert, although I’m forced to admit Wolfie, who heavens-to-betsy, cannot be forgotten, has insinuated himself in the area with a monument placed in the center of it all, even though the marker has no body laying beneath—it’s interred elsewhere.

I'm very excited to be within 6 feet of his moldering body!

I’m very excited to be within 6 feet of his moldering body!

The only other place Brahms is to be publicly seen (if one is to discount the little corner given him in a room of the Haydn Museum on the Haydngasse, is his statue located within the leafy environs of the Resselpark, one of the main parks of the city. It sits beneath a pleasant canopy of trees and the stone effigy of Hans looks out solemnly onto the roaring traffic of the Karlsplatz. After gazing at it adoringly for several moments I thought the sculptor captured the rather gruff and earthy composer quite perfectly, although the overall attitude of his stocky body seems as if he is about to rise from his seat and change the channel on his TV set because his remote is broken.

"Scheisse! Another Mozart program. Now I haf to get up and change der channel."

“Scheisse! Another Mozart program. Now I haf to get up and change der channel.”

So, my simple message to the Viennese is: more Brahms!

Vienna, Day 2

Last night we went to a concert at the Karlskirche to hear Mozart’s Requiem. The tickets were Kosta’s birthday present, and we were both excited.

Not a shabby place for a concert.

Not a shabby place for a concert.


The music was outstanding and the choir amazing. The only bad thing about the concert was the wooden pews specially designed for back torture to keep you from falling asleep in church. Kosta was as transported as I’ve ever seen him.

2016-07-02 19.55.23

Interior of the Karlskirche

This morning started with breakfast at the hotel, which was wonderful and Austrian: meats and cheeses, fresh rolls, boiled eggs, and coffee with hot milk. It was delicious.

We decided to go to Schonnbrun  (the summer palace of the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg Emperors), which is about 6 km outside of town. Fortunately, there is an U-Bahnn stop right there. I was checking these details at the front desk when Kosta found me. He couldn’t find his driver’s license or his credit card. In a panic, we rushed back to the room and tore everything apart looking for them. We were trying to rack our brains, was there anyone who bumped into him the day before?  Was he pickpocketed?

I was just about to call the credit card company to cancel his card when the bastard put his hand in his pants pocket and drew out the very cards we were seeking. I wanted to throttle him, my heart was pounding in the back of my throat. At least all turned out well… my husband may be an asshat, but a sweet one.

We did take the U-Bahn out to Schonnbrun finally, and by the time we got there the lines to get into the palace were very long (over an hour wait), so we just walked the palace gardens instead and it was a delightful way to spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon. It was still cloudy and a bit drippy from the storm from the night before, but it didn’t really rain in earnest.  We saw the Crown Prince Garden, the “Roman Ruin,” the Obelisk fountain, and we made the trek up to the top of the hill to the Gloriette, which has a spectacular view of all Vienna from the top.

Neptune fountain

Neptune fountain


Schonnbrun Palace and all of Vienna at our feet.

Schonnbrun Palace and all of Vienna at our feet.


Kosta and the labyrinth.

Kosta and the labyrinth.

After we took a turn in the labyrinth we headed back to town. We spent part of the afternoon partaking in a great Viennese tradition: afternoon coffee. We went to the famous Sacher Cafe at the Sacher hotel and had Einspänner coffees (espresso topped with whipped cream) and the supremely chocolate Sacher torte. It was delightful–ritzy without being intimidating, and touristy, but we are tourists, so who cares?

Cafe Sacher

Cafe Sacher

Sacher torte: chocolate cake with apricot jam filling, chocolate ganache, and, of course, whipped cream.

Sacher torte: chocolate cake with apricot jam filling, chocolate ganache, and, of course, whipped cream.


Einspaenner Kaffe.

Einspaenner Kaffe.

We then found our way back to St. Stephen’s cathedral and took the guided tour of the crypt, which was hella awesome. No pictures were allowed, but we did see the urns which held the internal organs of generations of Hapsburg emperors, a mass grave of plague victims, and an ossurary–a room of stacked bones of hundreds of years of Viennese citizens. It was creepy and glorious, and I am so glad we did it. We were the last ones out.

St. Stephen's Cathedra

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Our "crypt keeper" guide at the end of the tour.

Our “crypt keeper” guide at the end of the tour.

We rested a bit back at the hotel before we went in search of beers and dinner. The beers we had at the 1516 Brewing Company, along with some very peppery beef jerky. Then we wandered the back streets until we came upon an adorable restaurant/cafe called Frauenhuber. We had an authentic dinner (Schweinschnitzel for me and Beef cutlet with onions for Kosta) followed by Mozart Kaffe (coffee with a chocolate-marzipan liqueur and whipped cream). To. Die. For. The cucumbers in my mixed salad tasted just how my grandmother used to make them : with vinegar, onion, and sugar.

1516 Brewing Company

1516 Brewing Company

Cafe Frauenhuber

Cafe Frauenhuber

Mozart Kaffe

Mozart Kaffe

When we were presented with the check we were given a small brochure that talked about the restaurant. Apparently we walked ass backwards into the oldest coffee house in Vienna, where both Mozart and Beethoven had performed! Very exciting for my music-nut husband.

After dinner we had a stroll through the twilight, enjoying the delicious breeze and gazing in shop windows. It was a perfect day. Tomorrow, we leave early, pick up a rental car at the airport, and drive cross county to Salzburg. More pictures soon!


So. The one thing Austrians don’t believe in is air conditioning.  Which isn’t the worst thing in the world but living in Florida has left me living at a specific standard of comfort. It wasn’t terrible. It was warm today, and we do have a fan in our hotel room so sleeping was comfortable. But Lord, the Hofburg Palace was hot today. I nearly perished from the lack of water.

Our day started this morning with breakfast of coffee and apfel strudel on the Stephensplatz. From there the first major site we hit was the cemetery. Might be strange for some of you, but my husband had a very big X to cross off on his “Burial Bucket List”: Johannes Brahms.

Johannes Brahms and KAK.

Johannes Brahms and KAK.

The cemetery was full of decomposing composers: Ludwig von Beethoven, Johann Strauss, Franz Schubert, just to name a few. But my husband’s favorite has always been Brahms. We bought flowers to leave at his grave and it was lovely.

Afterwards we visited St. Stephen’s Cathedral and walked around the city center. The sun was starting to heat up and as we passed a store selling Omega watches we saw this sign:

Omega Museum

Omega Museum. Excuse the drunk expression. He wasn’t. Really.

It wasn’t a big museum, but it did have displays of Omega watches from the past, including the ones that went to the moon with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. Well, and they had air conditioning. It was a neat little place. But since we didn’t have between €3000-25,000 to drop on a watch, we left empty-handed.

In the afternoon we went to the Hofburg Palace and saw the Royal Apartments and the Sissi Museum. Sissi, in case you didn’t know, was the Empress of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the late 1800s. She was reportedly beautiful, sweet, and adored by her people. This was where I nearly passed out from the heat in those close rooms. Had I been wearing a corset necessary to fit into her ball gowns, I most definitely would have done so.

Afterwards we wandered. And as we were wandering by the Michaelskirchke we heard organ music coming from within. So we popped inside the blessedly cool interior and had a free music concert as the organist practiced. It was lovely.

This was my view. I know, hideous, right?

This was my view. I know, hideous, right?

Beyond that we just wandered. We wandered into a small shop that sold prints of watercolors of Vienna and bought two. The shop owner and her husband painted them themselves. Even though it was early, we found dinner:

Smoked salmons and scalloped potatoes for me.

Smoked salmon and scalloped potatoes for me.


Wiener Schnitzel for Kosta.

Wiener Schnitzel for Kosta.

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And beer for us both.

Walking back to the hotel, we saw this guy playing a fucking broom:

I don't know how he managed it, but he was good.

I don’t know how he managed it, but he was good.

Tonight: Mozart’s Requiem at the Karlskirche. Tomorrow? Who can say…



It’s a Small World After All…

It’s a Small World After All…

Singing the song in your head? Good. That’s you and me now. I am sitting in the airport in Düsseldorf, Germany, waiting FIVE HOURS for our connecting flight (how did I not notice this?) to Vienna and having a cappuccino. Let me tell you about our trip thus far. Even though it was just one, boring, ass-numbing, Transatlantic flight, things have already happened on this vacation.

I’m not one to talk about work on my blog any more than I am a Reference librarian at a public library in South Florida. I don’t mention bosses or coworkers. But I will tell you about two library patrons that have been regulars over the past 10 years or so. They are mother and daughter and both named Frances.

France the Elder is short, wears a lot of makeup and perfume, and loves to try and bargain her way out of trouble. She’s always complaining that things didn’t “print right” no matter how many times I’ve explained about Print Preview and demands her money back. She never gets it.

Frances the Younger is taller than her mother, wears more lipstick (if that is even conceivable) and is a champion at bickering with her mother. In short, they drive each other bonkers, and me by proxy. Every time they are in the library they sit at the computers and look up relics and shrines in Italy. They are extremely devout Catholics, but always looking for a way to worm their way out of trouble or into a better deal.

So imagine my surprise today when shortly after arriving at Miami International Airport I saw the back of Frances the Elder’s head go by in a wheelchair pushed by a Skycap. I think I gasped pretty loudly (which is probably not the best thing to do in an airport these days) and pointed furiously at the carefully coifed head of the old lady. “Oh my GOD.” I said to Kosta. “It’s Frances. F—-.”

He couldn’t see her head, but he did catch a glimpse of her pink-striped shirt, a familiar polyester mainstay of her wardrobe. We were walking a little faster, trying to catch up so we could gawk at the busybody herself. When all of a sudden a second wheelchair comes blasting past us and who should be in it but Frances the Younger.

I was flabbergasted. For you see, neither one has need of a wheelchair. They are both spryly ambulatory and I was appalled that they were having two young men push them through the crowds. What the hell?

Oh, but then? Their wheelchair status shot them directly to the front of the TSA security line. My eyes narrowed and my hands clenched into fists. Those little shits, completely fine, used the wheelchairs to get themselves bumped to priority status. Very Christian indeed.

They whipped through security and I saw the backs of them recede and I let out my breath. At least they were gone, right? Oh hell no. They were sitting at our damn gate, as happy as you please, waiting comfortably for their flight. My flight. Our flight.

And then I saw the Younger Frances in the wheelchair again, her mother standing by. And damn if they also weren’t the first two people on that airplane. I stood there, watching dumbly as they once again used a false handicap to get themselves more priority status.

I think what pissed me off the most was my grandmother spent decades in a wheelchair as a paraplegic. She needed extra help when flying and other things as well. But to fake your condition to purposely get special favors is the worst kind of despicable in my eyes.

This was when a terrible thought struck me. We were sitting in the back of the plane and would no doubt have to walk right past them during boarding. If they spotted me they’d exclaim in surprise and gush about what a small world it is and want to chat. Which was a problem since I wanted to slug both of those cheating mugs. Thankfully, they were both absorbed in something that had them both looking in their laps when I strode right on by, letting out a breath of relief as I passed them. Probably close to the last two people on earth I would want to see.

However, this was not actually so bad. It might even be a sign of good things. In the book I am trying to get published right now I used a mother/son team of patrons at the library as the comic relief in my book. I’ll tell you more about them someday. And the two Frances’? They are on deck to be the comic relief in the sequel. Perhaps this is the Universe’s way of telling me I’ll need to do close character studies in the near future?

At this end of the flight, they were the first off the plane again, I imagine. And they have disappeared. However, I just wonder if I shall be appalled to find them sitting at the gate of my connecting flight when we arrive. Stranger things have happened. Especially while traveling.