Better not to fuss about diction - go for the croissants

Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Who can complain about a plane trip when the destination is France? Thankful for short legs, I settled in to enjoy the hospitality of British Airways. My son, Shane, fell into a state of semi-hibernation, taking little food or drink, never leaving his seat during the 10-hour flight to London. That would require breaking eye contact with the screen on the back of the seat directly in front of him. I don't know when airlines began to provide continuous, individual viewing, but that, along with the free drinks for anyone over, say, fourteen, succeeded in keeping the passengers stupefied.

My personal favorite was the gift bag containing socks, mini-toothbrush with one serving of toothpaste, and mask to cover your eyes while sleeping (sleeping?). It's like those breadbaskets that used to (and perhaps still do) sit on the table of certain restaurants. Places like Black Angus Steak House. There was a container by the salt, pepper and sugar arrangement cradling packets of crackers - not just saltines but Melba toast and squat breadsticks. As a child growing up in the '50s and '60s, especially one who ate out an average of twice a year, I associated a particular feeling with those individually wrapped packets. This was a special occasion. This was not something that happened every day. As long as I didn't get the saltines - even we had those at home.

Arriving in Paris, we sailed through customs in search of our bags. Shane, tired from his night of uncensored entertainment, fell asleep on a bench while I eagerly watched the conveyor belt for our new rolling duffels. When I had memorized the final unclaimed pieces (perhaps their owners used those masks and slept through the disembark phase of the journey), I approached the counter to report that our bags had not arrived. Many people get out of sorts at this point of a trip; conversely, I was feeling quite smug. I had cautioned my husband and daughter to carry on an extra set of clothes and essential toiletries when they departed Juneau a month ago, but had they heeded my advice? When their luggage was delayed four days, I had that wonderful sense of self-righteousness that perhaps only a mother can understand. I had followed my own advice, thinking all the while that my bags would then, naturally, arrive with me. Then they could have their laugh at me for my unnecessary precaution. Consequently, it was with that sense of, "Gee, I sure am glad there was a catastrophe at the millennium since I bought four cases of refried beans at Costco. Wouldn't want that to go to waste," that I accepted the "Overnight Comfort Kit" offered by British Airways.

What with the goodie bag on the plane and now the overnight comfort kit, complete with a one-size-fits-all T-shirt (whew, it fit) and panties, I was in cracker heaven. This was, indeed, a special occasion.

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