Not A Pink Girl

I want to travel! *eyes glaze over*

August 4, 2009
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Whew. It’s a tough travel world out there.

I crave travel. I want to go on a trip. I yearn to hit the road. But it’s not that simple.

I’m beginning to think that, unless you have an unlimited bank account, planning a getaway is an overwhelming & off-putting challenge. Every year I go through this. It’s about to drive me nuts!

When I was a kid, we didn’t really travel. We went to the beach (Ocean City MD) every summer for a week (for a couple of years there, 2 weeks). That was it. *yawn*

Don’t get me wrong. I loved our beach vacations. I lived for them. Ocean City was (still is, maybe more so) a tacky tourist trap with a boardwalk filled with all the sights & smells that make a little kid dizzy with the possibilities. Thrasher’s French Fries (I think they were the original “boardwalk fries”), Dolle’s caramel popcorn, Dumser’s real custard soft-serve ice cream (not like the fake weird stuff they serve at McDonald’s now), The Dough Roller pizza pies, Josh’s doughnuts (now called The Fractured Prune), Weitzel’s Crab Cakes, The Candy Kitchen’s fudge (I always found saltwater taffy to be the biggest letdown; all the flavors sounded so great & it just tasted so blah [& took my fillings out to boot]), & so many more yummy stuff.


Each dozen is made to your order! *drool*

Each dozen is made to your order! *drool*

I’m done with all the maintenance doctor appointments for me & my son (dentist, general practitioner). I’m itching to hit the road. Have you ever seen the book RoadFood? I want to drive (& eat) my way through that book.

I’m especially tempted by all the diners in New England. I adore New England. I figure it’s sort of like when you go to Europe. Everything is so close together. You can land in London, stay there a week, hop a ferry, visit the old castles & monastery ruins in Ireland, take another boat to France, buy a EuroRail pass & take the train to Paris, then Marseilles, Provence, the French Riviera… mais qui, mon vieux! Oops, got lost in thought there for a second & imagined myself wearing a jaunty beret & Paloma Mon Rouge red lipstick while walking my well-groomed poodle as I teeter down the 13th arrondissement & hum La Vie en Rose

In other words, if you go to Europe you’re in the immediate vicinity of lots of major cities on the continent. But if you live in Arkansas, good luck if you want to go to Vegas. You have to fly or borrow some vacation days from somebody at your job.

Remember back in the olden days when you’d drive to Florida at the drop of a hat? I’ve driven to Florida “straight through” about 3 times. That means I didn’t stop. It was a 22-hour drive. That was back when my bones & muscles were relatively flexible (like, in my 20s). Now, if I drive 100 miles without stopping, I get a “hitch in my gitalong,” otherwise known as a cramp in my hip. And how about that “restless leg syndrome?” Sheesh! When did they invent that? I get this weird feeling just below my knees all the way down to my toes. It’s not pain, but it’s this feeling like, if I don’t walk around & get the blood circulating in my legs pretty soon, my feet are gonna fall off.

The funniest part is when I go to get out of the car after driving for a hundred or so miles. I have to get out very. Slowly. And carefully. Then stand for a minute, just stand there, before I take a step. And it’s not like I’m 80 or something.

The tough thing is that I find it so difficult to book airline tickets. Don’t get me wrong, I love to fly. I mean, think about it. It takes about 2 hours to get from DC to Fort Myers Florida by plane. If I drive it takes 22 hours. Really easy choice there, right? But when’s the last time you booked airline tickets online? I am serious when I tell you I break out in a sweat every time I try to buy a seat on a plane. I always end up closing the page before I enter my credit card number & click SUBMIT.

It seems easy, right? You go to Expedia or Travelocity & put in your travel dates. First, I don’t like the markup you have to pay to use these sites. It’s just so arbitrary, sort of like the “service charge” you have to pay when you buy concert tickets through TicketMaster (the name says it all) or LiveNation. I mean it can’t cost $9 a ticket to drive to the box office at the venue & buy your tickets, even factoring in the age-old “Time is money” conundrum, carbon footprint, gas, wear & tear on your vehicle, etc. If you’re buying 4 tickets, that $36 extra you have to spend just to print the tickets out on your home printer! Thank you, dear Master, for giving me the opportunity to line your pockets with gold pieces!

Okay, so Expedia & Travelocity are out. So just pop over to one of the many airline websites, like JetBlue. I love JetBlue. I’ve flown it to Vegas. That is definitely a party flight. Everybody’s in a good mood, convinced their going to line their pockets with the MegaBucks jackpot at Caesar’s Palace. Or get lucky in another way.

All the flight attendants are perky & chirpy & passing out the Famous Amos cookie packets & bottled water like there’s no tomorrow. The flight back is a different story. I took the red-eye back. Huh-boy. Even the flight attendants are like flaccid kiddie party balloons. Vegas giveth… & Vegas taketh away.

But it was cheap, something like $238 round trip (that includes all the hundreds of extra charges, like taxes, Dick Cheney-Halliburton fuel surcharge, 9/11 security fee, TSA teach-the-security-officers-how-to-look-really-threatening class fee, etc.). And my friend Mary has a timeshare at Tahiti Villages (you know, the one that’s hawked by Alan Thicke as he stands knee-deep in one of the swimming pools on the property). The desert is beautiful in November (we went 2 weeks before Thanksgiving) & I hadn’t been there since 1995.

So, back to the present & my itch to go on vacation. I think I’m going to end up driving to Florida. Yes, I know I said I’d never do it again. The last time I drove to Florida was July 2005. I had a Scarlett O’Hara moment where I shook my fist at the I-95 rest stop sign & shouted, “As God is my witness, I’ll never make this drive again!”

But we did have an unforgettable time. I’ll tell you about it in another post.

It’s a white white world for Vera Bradley (conclusion)

June 25, 2008

I remember when I was a kid in the 1960s & 1970s & catalogs started to integrate. Every once in a while you’d see an African-American woman posing for Montgomery Ward. We had that catalog more than we had Sears, Roebuck, although we’d get that once every other year or so. It was really a big deal when this started happening.

It was by no means common though. It was really a big deal though when television sitcoms started to have African-American characters, like Julia (which I adored because she was so skinny & gorgeous) & The Jeffersons. There was also Clarence Williams III on The Mod Squad; Lloyd Haynes who played Pete Dixon, the history teacher on Room 222 (I went to Catholic school & was taught by nuns, so I was like, Golly, not only a male teacher, but a black male teacher! [& yes, I really did say Golly; my citified Philadelphia cousins used to call me Gomer Pyle]); not to mention all the sitcom spinoffs that followed.

In 1968, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act (Fair Housing Act) was passed.  This prohibited discrimination in housing-related transactions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (single families, pregnant women), or handicap (disability). I remember when this happened because advertising changed.

It used to be that when you were looking at ads for apartments or houses for sale in the Evening Star (the DC-area newspaper back then) or the Washington Post, the cute little families pictured would all be white (you know, sort of like the families in the Vera Bradley catalog circa 2008). Now, when you look at these ads, families of color are depicted. It seems so silly that we would have to pass a law to get this to happen. You have to be pretty cloistered if you never see an ethnic face. Of course, in this area, most of the people in the service-related industries (restaurants for example) are immigrants.

Knowledge of how advertising has changed over the decades makes the Vera Bradley catalog even more weird to me. I don’t think companies spend money on advertising without doing serious market research & analysis. So the question is, did Vera Bradley – the person or the company – make a conscious decision to market her things only to affluent whites? Is she trying to make a statement (through subliminal messages) that rich white girls carry Vera Bradley purses?

The anomaly of this all-white advertising stuck out like a sore thumb to me. I wonder if anyone else noticed it?


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