As I pack my bags for Iceland it makes me remember my last visit to a Nordic country. A completely different situation that time. I was young and of course there was a boy involved and no planning involved. Just like the rest of my life my travel has become more about work and less about romance. Not to say I was a push over back then - this hard head has been winning battles since 1975.
Nowadays, I make sure I have internet, a comfortable bed and a place to escape any fellow travelers. I still don’t plan too much though, I never did. I just wasn’t built that way, I don’t like being caged in. Even with plans I will almost never commit to anything. It is too much pressure and I don’t like holding the guilt or responsibility. My last trip almost 20 years ago was to Sweden and yes I was visiting a boy. I don’t think he was ready for All-Jolie-all-the-time. He seemed to be under the belief that I should care about his baby fits. It is like he never met me. I have one rule when traveling, “You will not ruin this for me.” It doesn’t matter who or what you are I am having a good time come hell or high water. Damn, bring both I will find a way to build a boat and use the flames to steam it along. This trip was the proof and why I hold this belief dear, bear with me and you will see why.
My bags were packed and I was ready to see my first Nordic country. Pacing the floor and to excited to sleep I had the sudden urge for orange juice. Weird since I had never had that urge in my entire life. So I grabbed my little “dummy purse,” (the one without my passport or much money- occasionally my paranoid self can sometimes come up with some ingenious plans. Pretty sure a would be mugger wasn’t coming back saying, “Ma’am I am afraid this bag is a disappointment, would you happen to have another.”) Dummy bag over my shoulder I strolled down Dauphine St. with only the occasional highly intoxicated tourist passing me by. This is when it should have hit me, “Why the hell would Matassa’s be open at 3 am?” Usually at 3 am I was behind the bar serving my last wave of drunken fools so the thought never crossed my mind. I proceeded to break all my own rules. Number one being: Don’t walk by yourself late at night down dimly lit streets and two, be unaware of your surroundings. Yeah, all caution to the wind I went gliding along with images of Swedish delicacies dancing through my head. My destination ended being a dark and shuttered store, my on one side my O.J. on the other. With a glint of sadness I turned to head home. And just like that I felt his presence. I knew it was too late. This was happening.
All my excitement fades as a man with an obvious substance abuse problem points his jacket at me and demands my purse. At least I think that was what he said, he wasn’t the most eloquent individual. Being well trained at being mugged (I seem to release a pheromone for robbers too,) I assume the position. Gently slide my purse off my shoulder and proceed to throw it as hard as I can across the street. Before it has had time to hit the ground I am off headed home as fast as my Fred Flintstone feet can take me. Now he has two choices me or the money. Luckily, I have only been held up by robbers and not rapists because I feel like I may need a new plan on that one.
Bursting through the door and slamming it behind me I awake my now annoyed roommate. He, of course, is concerned with my safety while I am more concerned about a forming new dummy bag and getting to the airport. Against my advice he calls the police. At that time the police in New Orleans were as helpful as trying to remove a splinter with jelly. Shockingly, they actually showed up, about 4 hours later but hey, back then that was a minor miracle. With the usual stern ”it is your fault" I am here demeanor,“ the officer flips out his little tablet. Here I am standing on my stoop ready to leave and now you want to be serious about crime. The usual parody ensued- “What time and where did this happen?” “Can you give me a description of the suspect?” Then right into how it’s my fault. “What were your doing out that late by yourself?” My answer of “I wanted orange juice,” did not seem to convince him of my innocence. As if to make sure to leave me with a lasting impression of New Orleans before my trip he asks me, “Did you actually see the gun?” I couldn’t help myself. My smart ass just couldn’t be restrained. “Well I didn’t fucking ask him to prove it! As a rule when a cracked out man at 3 am tells me he has a gun, I take his word on it.” Before he has time to absorb what I just said my United Cab pulled up. There he was like a fairy Godmother, my regular cabby. Otis was there to save me.