Hey, Remember That Time We…

So then…we wake the kids by bellowing, “Dizzz-neee-laaaaaaand!”

8:00 am

Remember 180 8 am

They pop right out of bed, super excited to return to their favorite place. Chloe, age 5, and Tucker, age 8, get dressed and hustle downstairs for breakfast.

We live in LA, so it’s only 1.5 hours to drive to Anaheim to Disneyland. We pack up the minivan, ensuring our backpack contains all 832 essentials for surviving a long day at the park – and off we go!

9:00 am

Remember 900 new black new 180 180

We’re zipping along the 101 Freeway.

Zip! Zip! Zip!
Zap! Zaaaap. Zaaaaaap.
Zerp.
STOP.

What the hell?

We were careening down this freeway, and now we’ve STOPPED DEAD, smack dab in the middle of a 6-lane gridlock, with cars stretching as far as the eye can see.

How did this happen so fast? It’s like someone sent a mass group text to every driver in California with an urgent message: “Hop in car! Rush to 101 Freeway! Surround the Perdu Family Vehicle. Ensure no escape!”

And BAM!
EVERYBODY WHO HAS EVER LIVED IN CALIFORNIA IS NOW ON THE FREEWAY WITH US!

David and I slowly turn our heads to look at each other.

His eyes say: “Let’s cut our losses, go home, and watch football.”

My eyes say, “Yes! Abort! Abort the mission! Turn around and go home!”

Then we turn to look at Tucker and Chloe in the back seat happily chatting about which Disneyland rides they’re most excited about riding.

We slowly turn back to look at each other.

Now my eyes say beseechingly, “We must go! Look how excited they are!”

His eyes say, “Football.”

“No, David, we have to keep going,” I say out loud. “It’s just a little traffic! It’ll be fine.”

9:30 am

Remember 180 930 am

He agrees – but it’s quickly evident that the 1.5 hour trip’s going to be a 3 hour trip.

Unspoken tensions are running high – but with each mile, it seems crazy to turn back – so we push valiantly onward.

We hit the parking lot, which is bulging with cars. Honestly, did EVERYONE decide to go to Disneyland today?

12:30 pm

Remember 180 1230 blue clock

After an excruciating hunt for a parking spot, we finally disembark the car to find the shuttle to take us to the park.

We wait an hour for the shuttle.

Let’s say that again just so we fully appreciate the agony of standing there after a long car ride:

We wait an hour for the shuttle.

Finally! We hop aboard and head to the entrance.

I’m overly cheerful to compensate for the flagging spirits of my crew. Grinning broadly, I say, “Won’t this be fun!? We had a little bit of a late start, but now we’re here and we’re gonna have a blast!”

1:30 pm

Remember 180 130 pm

The shuttle drops us off at the entrance, which is obscured by engorged lines of people snaking out in all directions.
Just as we approach, the intercom announces, “I’m sorry, folks, Disneyland is full. No more entries today.”

Full?

FULL?

What do you mean Disneyland is FULL?

We just spent 4 hours to get here! And what about all the people who FLEW to get here? And all the people who saved for months for this trip to pay for your stupid crappy $6 hot dogs and $16 Mickey hats! How dare you shutter your doors!? What about the children? What…about…sob…the childrennnnnn?

(I’m in full meltdown mode — but my kids are actually taking the disappointment pretty well. David is another matter altogether. I can actually see him squeezing his eyes shut and concentrating fiercely — trying desperately to time travel back to that point on the freeway when we could’ve abandoned the mission and returned home.)

“I’m hungry,” says Chloe.

“Me too,” says Tucker.

I’m starving.

David and I look to the left. Literally thousands of dejected people are leaving the park entrance to line up for the shuttles.

We look to the right. Thousands more are walking to the souvenir shops and restaurants just outside Disneyland.

We look at the backpack. Its snacks were depleted long ago on our long-ass car ride.

We look at the children. They appear edible.

That will solve everything. I will eat my children.

They will satisfy my hunger and I won’t have to deal with their disappointment about missing Disneyland.

I’m just about to explain my plan to David when he points toward the shops and restaurants.

“It’ll take us hours to get back to our car and find someplace to eat, so we might as well line up over here,” he says.

We reluctantly join the huddled masses, yearning to be fed – shuffling from restaurant to restaurant looking for a line that looks to be less than a 2-hour wait.

3:30 pm

Remember 330 brown

Out of desperation, we finally settle on a pizza place which is so packed we have to eat our cold cheese slices standing up between hordes of other families standing up, eating their cold cheese slices.

All the adults look a bit dazed. Like, “How did this happen?” We all expected a spectacular day at the Magic Kingdom — and now we’re standing in line for almost 2 hours just to get a slice of crappy pizza.

Then we trudge back to the shuttle line, wait an hour and a half, walk a million miles to our car, then drive with 4 billion people on the freeway through rush hour traffic, and finally reach home where we collapse – as exhausted as though we’d just climbed the Himalayas.

9:00 pm

Remenber 180 900 green new

Our roundtrip is 12 agonizing hours.

We promise the kids we’ll return to Disneyland soon – and we do – and it’s wonderful and glorious and all the things it’s supposed to be.

As for today? Well, today is the day we refer to as:

“Hey, remember that time we drove 12 hours for pizza? Ah. Good times. Good times.”

— Darcy Perdu

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(Do you have an example of a “Hey, remember that time we…” experience? Something fun that ended up NOT so fun?  Ever show up someplace that was “full” or “closed?”)

Ah, good times (NOT!) - hilarious true tale of a trip gone awry #funny #Disney

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Hungover in WHOSE Heels?

Hungover in WHOSE Heels?  #funny  #travel #flight #Boston #heels

So then…just as I settle in to sip my soda at 20,000 feet — I hear the passenger behind me ask the flight attendant, “What’s the weather like in Boston?”

WHAT THE HELL?

This flight’s going to Washington DC!

She says, “Oh, it’s nice in Boston tonight. A little cool.”

I pop up and tap her on the shoulder. “Um, where did you say this plane was going?”

“Boston,” she replies.

“No, Washington DC,” I say slowly.

“Noooo. Boston,” she says.

We stare at each other.

One of us is wrong.

And it’s possible the one who’s correct about where the airplane is going is the airplane employee.

Ah, dammit!

To be candid, I hadn’t wanted to go on this stupid business trip anyway. I love my New York job but what 24-year-old wants to cut their weekend short to fly to DC for a Monday morning conference?  Not me!

“I thought I was on the plane to DC?” I say hopefully. Maybe the pilot can make a U-turn?

Um no.

“Sorry,” she says. “We’re headed to Boston. But let’s see what we can do.”

Angel that she is, she radios down to the airline supervisor who hooks me up with a free flight to DC first thing tomorrow – and a free hotel room in Boston tonight!

SCORE! I’m thrilled I don’t have to pay for it myself — or miss the conference — or admit my blunder to my boss.

When I unpack my overnight bag in the hotel, I realize I brought my business suit, blouse, stockings – and NO SHOES!

I only have the sneakers I wore on the flight tonight!

I can’t possibly attend a professional business conference in a suit, stockings, and SNEAKERS! And of course they don’t sell high heels in the hotel gift shop! And certainly not in a size 10! (Yes, I have feet the size of surfboards!)

Brainstorm!

“Hello, Kim? Guess which of your favorite cousins just landed in Boston and desperately needs to borrow a pair of your size 10 heels? I’ll buy you massive amounts of cocktails in exchange for borrowing your shoes!”

So my big-hearted (and big-footed) cousin Kim drives over to the hotel and dumps 7 pairs of heels on my hotel bed! We pick a pair, then head to the lobby bar for libations.

We laugh, talk, cackle, eat, drink — and drink some more — and finally stumble back up to the room in the wee hours of the morning.

The next day, my head’s splitting as I slip on her shoes, hug her goodbye, and dash off to the airport for my early morning flight.

An hour later, I land in DC – hungover in borrowed heels.

I suffer through the conference – taking a few notes to share with my boss later.

Then I zip back to NY, so relieved that no one need know about my slight detour.

A week later, I receive a note from the accounting department saying, “Your receipts included an airline ticket stub from NY to Boston – and from DC to NY. Please advise how you got from Boston to DC.”

Ah dammit.

I wonder if I can say, “Hey, dudes, chill. It didn’t cost the company any extra money – and just never you mind how I got from Boston to DC. Just be cool, accountants, be cool.”

Probably not.

I figure I’d better “advise” my boss before I “advise” the accounting department.

I’m mortified, of course. At 24, I want to appear professional, well-prepared, and competent.

I hesitantly confess.

My boss bursts out laughing. “You got on the WRONG plane?”

She hops up and pokes her head out the door to yell: “Did you hear that? Darcy got on the wrong plane! She was supposed to go to DC but she went to BOSTON! Bwahahaha!”

My coworkers pop up from their cubicles to cheer, clap, and laugh.

I hang my head on the Walk of Shame back to my cubicle.

Henceforth, I’m mocked mercilessly whenever I go somewhere:
“Have a great trip to Denver, Darcy – or where ever you end up.”
“Need a map to your apartment?”
“Can I help you find the bathroom?”

And THAT’S how I earned the nickname, “Wrong Way Darcy!”

— Darcy Perdu

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(Ever end up in the wrong place? Take the wrong road – get lost – hop on the wrong plane/train/bus/boat? Any other delicate flowers out there with Sasquatch-size feet?)

Hungover Letter to President

Hungover Letter FROM President

Although I’m mercilessly mocked for my wayward ways, I have the good Southern manners to write a thank you note to the President of Eastern Airlines (as shown here).

I share the story of the free flight and hotel room, then write, “I was delighted with the kindness and concern of your employees. I salute your generosity and understanding. Should I ever wander on to the wrong plane again – I hope it’s one of yours!”

Yep, these are actual excerpts between me and the President of Eastern Airlines over the airplane snafu!

The Pilot I Almost EJECTED!

What NOT to Ask a Pilot - hilarious true tale of what the pilot told me 20,000 feet in the air #funny #airplane #travel #vacation #humor

So then…I enter the airplane with trepidation. I quickly glance at my preferred seating section by the emergency exit, but all those seats are taken!

My heart speeds up a bit. Anxiety looms.

Typically, I’m a nonchalant traveler, calmly criss-crossing the country. To me, turbulence is not terrifying – just annoying – especially if it spills my wine or makes my book too jumpy to read.

But a recent flight has shaken my confidence in the air travel industry as a whole – and, in fact, in the very concept of human flight. (That flight made me skittish as a cat on a hot tin roof — on meth.)

I sidestep passengers shoving their bags in the bins.

I trudge down the aisle, desperately seeking a seat near an exit, when suddenly I see him – A PILOT!

Sweet mother of Jesus! Sitting here in the passenger seats — a Southwest Airlines pilot in full uniform with distinguished white hair and a solid, reliable face.

I am so excited! This airline lets you sit wherever there’s an empty seat – and who better to sit next to on a plane than an EXPERIENCED PILOT? He can help me in an emergency – hell, he can even fly the plane!

I scramble over to him quickly. “Do you mind if I sit here?”

“Of course,” he says in a rich baritone voice, exuding confidence and reassurance. I am in love with him. He is 25 years older than me and possibly ill-suited to my temperament, but I don’t care, because if there is trouble, he will save my life and for that, I most surely owe him my undying devotion. (Key word: undying.)

After I settle in, I turn to him and say, “I hope you don’t mind my confiding that I’m a nervous flyer these days — and I feel safer sitting next to you, since you’re a pilot.”

(I want him to pat my hand, proclaim, “Don’t worry, my child, you are safe with me,” then stare straight ahead on high alert, prepared to handle the slightest jiggle or jump of the aircraft.)

But instead, he smiles and says, “Well, the key to being a good pilot is to have as many landings as you have take-offs.”

Huh?

“And in my 32 years of flying, I have to admit I did have one more take-off than landing.”

Huh?

“Back in ‘Nam, our chopper was taking heavy artillery ground fire, and we knew it was going down, so my co-pilot and I ejected, deployed our parachutes, and smashed down in a field – with only three broken bones between us.”

He smiles, self-satisfied, and waits for my congratulatory oohs and aahs.

But in my head, I’m thinking: Dude, we are on an airplane right now. We do not have parachutes! We are lucky if we get a pack of peanuts. We don’t even get pillows or thin scratchy blankets, with which to FASHION a parachute! Why the hell are you telling me this story?

But instead I say, “Oh, well, heh heh, I guess we’re lucky we won’t be encountering any heavy artillery on our way to LA.”

To which he replies, “Oh, there’s lots more stuff that can take a plane down other than artillery. One time, we were flying to Seattle, and suddenly the engine….”

I stare wide-eyed as he tells me a story of a near-miss in Seattle. Then he proceeds to tell me about every other mid-air mishap and dangerous take-off or landing he’s had – or heard about – in his entire 32-year career!

I keep trying to steer him away from this topic, but clearly he relishes these spine-tingling gems about missed maintenance checks, co-pilot error, disastrous weather impacts, flight crew hangovers, small cockpit fires, and the damage a 4-lb. bird can do to the engine of a 200,000-lb. plane!

It would be difficult enough to hear these stories if I were safely on the ground, in a bar somewhere, allowing the alcohol to dull the edges of these dreadful terrors.

But I’m hearing about all these airplane malfunctions and near-crashes while sitting ON an airplane, hurtling through space at 600 miles per hour!

As he speaks, I’m turning paler by the minute, trying desperately to change the subject – but also trying hard not to offend — since he is, after all, my appointed rescuer.

So I just keep consoling myself by repeating over and over in my head: But he’s alive — so he obviously survived all these calamities! And I will too!

In an effort to conclude the catalogue of horrors, I say brightly, “Well, those are amazing stories. But you survived them all! You lived to tell the tale!”

To which he replies, “Oh, but some pilots are not near so lucky. In fact, one time in ‘Nam, we had four choppers on the way to Da Nang…”

At this point, I want to stick hot pokers in my ears just to stop the flow of ghastly stories.

I am ready to jump off the plane myself right now just to escape HIM.

I can’t believe that I sought the sage counsel of a distinguished airline pilot about safe flying — only to be regaled with tale after tale of aviation catastrophes!

I clench every muscle in my body and sit, taut and terrified, for the remainder of the flight — desperately wishing for an EJECT button for my seat-mate!

— Darcy Perdu

Original Illustration for So Then Stories by Mary Chowdhury

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(Ever turn to someone for support and guidance – only to be freaked out even MORE?  Like a doctor who confirms your WebMD fears?  Tell your travel terror tales – or anti-reassurer stories below!)

Madcapping Adventure

Madcapping Adventure
So then…I fake a ghastly gastro-intestinal malady to exit work early, grab a cab to my apartment, and throw together a couple ensembles appropriate for the flash and dazzle of Vegas. Hey, why spend a lonesome weekend in my New York apartment when I can surprise my boyfriend on his business trip at a big casino hotel?

I board the flight with much excitement. Here I am, madcap gal, flitting cross-country for the weekend! I am spontaneous! I am wild! I am…actually…exhausted. How long is this flight? Finally, I land in Sin City, ready to Sin. In the lobby, I call my boyfriend’s hotel room but no one answers. Hmm. Perhaps surprising him was not such a good idea after all. I call again. Still no answer. I had not planned on this.

Plan? Plan? Madcap gals do not plan!

So I charge over to the registration desk and request a key for my “husband’s” room, certain he’d be pleased with the instant promotion. And wonder of wonders, the clerk gives it to me! I’m amazed he does not require documentation of some kind before so blithely passing over a hotel key! But hey, this is Vegas.

I zip down the hall, eager to freshen up before searching for my soon-to-be-surprised paramour. But as I approach the door to his room, I hear voices. My key poised just above the lock, I pause. There is only one reason you do not answer your hotel room phone when you are in your hotel room.

Oh…my…God. He’s in there with some blonde blackjack dealer. He is having sex. He is…shooting guns. Shooting guns? Wait. Car crash. Sirens. Oh, thank God. It’s the TV! He left the TV on! I quickly enter the empty room. What was I thinking? He would never shoot guns while having sex.

So I look in the mirror, as I am wont to do occasionally, OK, frequently, OK, obsessively. And I notice that the cross-country trip and near brush with infidelity have taken a toll. If I hurry, I can shower and change before my boyfriend returns to his room. Then I can surprise him in clean and glowing splendor.

I strip, rush into the bathroom, slide open the glass shower door, and — CRASH! It smashes into a million shards of glass. Good grief! I didn’t slam it! Now what? I survey the pile of jagged glass. My boyfriend could return to his room at any minute. I can either notify the front desk…or I can succumb to vanity and take a shower anyway.

Cut to: Me showering, gingerly tiptoeing on bath towels covering the broken glass.

Hair dryer. Curling iron. Make-up. Gold-spangled mini dress. I lift the towels to survey the damage, nicking my finger in the process. Damn. Blood on the bath rug, the mini dress, and the curling iron.

OK, now how do I deal with the fact that I broke the hotel’s shower door – AND I’m not even supposed to be in his room in the first place? How much do shower doors cost anyway?

Not feeling so madcap now. Descending in elevator. Descending in mood.

BRAINSTORM! I march over to the front desk and demand the front desk manager’s attention post-haste. “I almost killed myself in your shower!” I exclaim. “Your door shattered into a million pieces and look – the glass slashed my finger!” I thrust my nicked finger in his face, wincing with pain, while still maintaining my accusatory glare. “My husband is NOT going to be happy when he hears about this!”

Cut to: Me, supervising the bellmen packing and moving all my boyfriend’s belongings to our new (and complimentary) hotel suite.

I am ecstatic. I nibble a strawberry from the complimentary fruit basket and sip the complimentary champagne as I lounge on the sumptuous king-size bed, wearing my most revealing nightie, waiting for my honey to enter and enjoy the benefits of my clever madcapping.

Regrettably, he is downstairs in his old room, frantically reporting to hotel security, “I’ve been robbed! And look in the bathroom: Glass everywhere! Blood! I think someone’s been stabbed!”

— Darcy Perdu

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(Any madcapping adventures to share?  Have you ever tried to surprise someone?  Or taken a spontaneous trip?  Share your fun stories in the Comments Section!)