Finding Fish Pants – Part 1

Back in late January, I set the table for today’s tale – telling y’all about how my wife Andi and I first came together. If you haven’t read it, hit the link and do your homework. There’s some key intel there that will help color today’s tale of woe.

As for the rest of ya’, let’s continue.

In that post, I mentioned that despite the fact Andi and I have been bonded in wedded matrimony for over a decade – and together even longer – it’s stunning that we ever made it six months let alone long enough to see Y2K come and go with nary one continent destroyed.

For it was only about 4 months after we started dating that we embarked on a week’s vacation down South to hit up the House of the Mouse and then embark on a little 6-hour tour to the Bahamas for a nice cap to the week.

This was a trip that Andi had “allegedly” won the year prior – just a week or so before exiting college. At the time, she was engaged to her college boyfriend and the two were going to use this trip as a little last hurrah before they headed off on their life of wedded bliss. Alas, that relationship ended and the trip vouchers sat on Andi’s shelf – collecting dust.

Until along came this playah’.

We were dating about two months when Andi mentioned that she had two vouchers for 3 days in Orlando followed by 3 more in the Bahamas. The trip was due to expire in a few short months so she wanted to know if I wanted to go. Having never been to Disney World, let alone Florida – my inner child screamed to be invited. And so we set a plan in motion. We’d depart February 2007 – just after the school vacations had expired – and make a bee-line for Orlando. We’d stay there for 3 days and then point our rental car towards Ft. Lauderdale – where the ship would depart the next day for a weekend Bahamas getaway.

And with that, all we had to do was wait. And not for long either. This thing was sealed quickly and in a matter of weeks, we were leaving on a jet plane. In fact, aside from one of those tiny Cape Air planes that puddle-jump to the Vineyard and Nantucket, this was the first time I had ever taken flight. How I made it a quarter-century without taking to the skies, I have no idea – but those are the facts.

So, I was full of all sorts of excitement. First plane flight. First trip to the House of the Mouse. First run in with organized crime. All kinds of excitement.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The trip certainly began uneventful. We departed Boston’s Logan Airport on a frosty Monday morning under a thin-blanket of fair weather clouds. A few short hours we touched down in Orlando and made our way to the hotel. Grabbing some grub, we cobbled together our plan for the next few days. Under the provisions of this trip, we were on the hook to take a walkthrough of some local time shares before we’d be granted our Disney and cruise vouchers. Little did poor naive Andi and Ed know at the time – this trip she won was really one of those classic bait and hook arrangements. We were facing down the hard sell from some people who don’t like to be told “No” when presenting an offer you shouldn’t refuse.

So, the next day we awoke bright and early and headed to the resort complex. There, we attended a walkthrough of the various vacation bungalows before we (and several fellow travelers) were herded into a large conference room – dotted with a dozen or so tables and a small army of sales staff. One woman broke from those ranks and introduced herself to us, ushering us over to a table where she talked enthusiastically about the joys of time share ownership.

At some point during this song & dance, I motioned to Andi that I could talk us out of this. We felt in over our head but I thought I could get us back to land. I prepared one response to any question they lobbed at us. Simply put – no matter what they say – just smile and say “No.” Not “No, Thank You” nor “Oh, I don’t think so…” or “I don’t recall, Senator.” Too many extraneous words and the next thing you know, I’m signing over your kids because at this stage in our very young relationship, there was no way we were letting the concept of children enter the equation.

Finally we get to the numbers game. The girl pulls out a pad of paper – talks about how great the site is – and how vast their empire of time shares spread – and then jots down a figure. For only $19K a year (for 358 years) that place was OURS!!!

No.”

What was that, sir?”

Stick to the plan. Stick to the plan.

No.”

I’m sorry. I didn’t quite catch that. Repeat again, por favor, if you’d be so kind.

No.

Sorry, sugar. I’m still not getting it. Did you say something there?

Stay on target. Stay on target.

No. I mean, Yes. I did say something. I said… NO!

See – too many words and now I’m confusing myself.

So – she finally grasped my meaning and did the usual salesman scratch and erase and rewrite – pushing the new figure of $17.5K per year at us.

“No.”

So she went down to $15K.

“No.”

$12.5 K?

“No.”

$10K…$9K…$8K…$7K…$6K…$5K???

“No…No…No…No…Maybe- I mean No…”

“May I ask why?”

And at this, Andi stepped in and explained that we had only been dating a few months and while we hope to stay together forever and a day, there was no telling where the road would turn this early in our journey.

“I completely understand. Young loooooooove,” she says in her best Southern drawl – as slow and sticky sweet as molasses on a June Bug.

“Well, if you don’t mind. I just need to have my manager come over and give you a quick survey and then you can be on your way.”

Whew – we were out of the woods. Andi and I exchanged a look that said, if we got out of this alive, we would have to give real thought to staying together forever and ever. No doubt they’ve be coming for us. Safety in numbers is the cornerstone of every great marriage. That and food preparation… oh, and communication, of course. Can’t forget that one.

After a few agonizing moments, the world’s first UFC fighter wanders over and takes a seat. He doesn’t say “Hello” so much as he bellows it. His snarl and clenched fists seem in cahoots. He stares deep into my soul – just daring one of my dreams to dream a little dream. This is how my world ends – not with a bang but a whimper… and wet pants.

His meaty paw reaches out and grabs a pen. Stabbing at the parchment in front of him, he works feverishly to connect lines and curly-cues to create something that rests somewhere in the dead zone between language and threat. Finally he pushes the paper to us.

“1K per year. FINAL OFFER!!!”

I look at Andi. Tears look ready to dawn. I realize there’s only one way out of this. It’s all come down to this. This time it’s personal. I reach deep into that college-educated brain of mine, run through the extensive vocab that four years of Journalism and Writing courses have granted me, and select the one true word that can strike down whatever slings and arrows he lobs.

“NO!!!”

(grumble grumble DAMN STUPID STATE SCHOOL grumble grumble)

He keeps his stare a moment longer and finally slams his mitt to the table. Lifting his hand up, we see two tickets to Disney World.

GO!!!“, he says.

And with that, we grab the tickets, high tail it to the exit and never look back.

It’s not until an hour later – when we were safe under Walt’s watching eyes – that we could breathe easy.

And while the next two days would offer up much fun in the sun, we still had a trip further South to Ft. Lauderdale ahead of us. When that Thursday dawned and we hit the open road, looking ahead to the fun weekend in store, we never once thought to toss a glance at the rear view mirror and the trouble that was stalking us in a hurry.

…TO BE CONTINUED

Comments now closed (3)

  • Your Uncle Ron got us in a similar situation also down in Orlando-except I was the one saying NO-repeatedly- as on “No, I won’t go with you”… “No, I don’t care that the guy said it had to be both of us”…”No, I don’t care about any vouchers”…” No, I will not get my butt off of my pool chaise”…”No, I will not call him. I never agreed to show up”…my final argument being that if I was going to vacation in Fla every year, it would not be in Orlando! I admire your spunk!