Home » 1991 » “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” Alice in Wonderland

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” Alice in Wonderland

So there I was…wondering which way to go from here. Do I keep this up? Do I continue writing regardless of what is happening? How I feel?
Maybe…I can’t sleep and I feel horrible.

Writing is meant to take you away from yourself. Whether you are writing or reading, it isn’t always about lessons. Sometimes it’s just about forgetting. If I could, I would write a fantastic romance about a girl who has had bad things happen and then she overcomes everything and there is a happy ending. And she wears wonderful clothes and only cries because she’s happy.

I could write that. But then again I had my trip in 1991. The year that Europe was doing what the Middle East is doing now. Blowing up and rearranging itself. And there I was with my sensible ballet flats and all that plaid that I bought in London because I thought plaid was the coolest thing ever. Plaid and Branston Pickle. I really must try and take some pictures of my travel pictures and post them. Maybe tomorrow.

Plaid and Branston Pickle

Plaid and Branston Pickle

Tonight it’s late. Tonight I will tell you how I got Valerie to stop dogging my steps through Europe. It was remarkably simple and I didn’t have to resort to telling the truth either. Sometimes the truth hurts and telling Valerie I didn’t particularly like her wasn’t something I could bring myself to do.

So I went back to the Hotel. What was the name of it? Rue de Henri Marten? Something like that. I went back after the Louvre and I washed and brushed and went to sleep even though it was the middle of the afternoon. Valerie was still asleep which told me that she wasn’t exactly sleeping comfortably in that youth hostel.

On the River Seine

On the River Seine

I was supposed to be in this shot. It’s kind of cool looking though so I kept it.

I woke up a few hours later, because Valerie wasn’t the type to move around quietly. She was awake and that meant I should be awake too. We went out. It fit into my nefarious plan. I sussed out quickly that Valerie didn’t want to be taken for a tourist. When I asked her to take a picture of me in front of a monument she gave a quick surreptitious glance around and hastily snapped a pic in my general direction. It didn’t turn out, none of them did, as it turns out. These were the days before digital cameras so one had to be thrifty with the film. I had 5 rolls of Kodak colour film, 36 exposures. But I was willing to sacrifice a roll of film.

I would loudly call out to her ‘HEY Val, take another. Make sure you get some of the background people in. Lots of French people.’ and ‘OOh ooh there’s a bee! eek!’ and I ran around the fountain with a juicy orange screaming and making a spectacle of myself. Valerie was dying of embarrassment.

The top of my head was in this one- I cropped out the bad parts when I got home and they look 'arty'

The top of my head was in this one- I cropped out the bad parts when I got home and they look ‘arty’

Hah, a picture with me in it. Blurry and dark and far away-but that's me.

Hah, a picture with me in it. Blurry and dark and far away-but that’s me.

When she wanted to know where we were going to eat I insisted that we go to the Gare de L’est because there was a (gulp) McDonalds there. ooh…I am soooo bad. She put her foot down. She really did. So we ate at a cafe that had a prix fix meal near the hotel and she ordered all wrong-and I let her. I’m so bad. I ordered perfectly. Nothing. Nothing at all. I whispered loudly that the place didn’t look clean to me. I wouldn’t eat out of a dirty kitchen. THe waiter was thrilled, as you can imagine.

I bought a bag of cookies and milk to take back to the hotel and slept like a baby with the sodium vapour lights shining in my face and Valerie tossing and turning and muttering. Like a baby, I slept the sleep of the innocent.

In the morning Valerie got up extra early. She wanted to check out fast and get to the youth hostel so we could get a good bed. Yuck. So I told her I was leaving for Frankfurt that morning. My brother was shipping out or whatever they do in the air force and I had to cut my Paris stay short. (My brother was stationed in Frankfurt at the time and I was going to visit him and his wife, Karen, and my nephew. Looking forward to it, too. Only thing is,they were expecting me the following week.)

So she insisted on taking me to the station and that meant I had to pack. Not so bad. I managed to pay for my nice little twin bed at the top of the hotel for the next 5 days. I had to take my luggage but Al knewI would be back. He was disappoiinted in me. I knew I was letting him down. But Valerie was watching me like a hawk. I had to buy a train ticket. Can you imagine the cowardice?! I bought a ticket to Frankfurt for the following Friday. I waved the ticket at her and stowed it away in my purse and told her she should take off if she wanted to get that good bed at the hostel. I kissed her goodby and told her I was going to McDonalds for breakfast and she practically RAN away from me. The Ugly American tourist. I never saw her again. Sad.


Policemen at L'Orangerie

Policemen at L’Orangerie


Notre Dame

Notre Dame

this was the clincher for Valerie. A fanny pack...in front of a sex shop. She was done with me.

this was the clincher for Valerie. A fanny pack…in front of a sex shop. She was done with me.

Yes, I believe that I would rather ruin someones image of me rather than ruin their image of themselves.

Paris was wonderful.


23 thoughts on ““Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” Alice in Wonderland

  1. Sometimes, the best way to escape the here-and-now is to explore the there-and-then. It doesn’t diminish the now, but I think it does make a difference when you sit outside on your porch. Or plunge your hands into the dirt in the garden. Or notice how the light changes as it races across the sky.

    I love the photo of you in plaid. And the one of the Pantheon. I loved that place.


    • The here and now sucks. I want the soon to be healthy future or the big fun past. I think sitting is good. Being still is good. But not the thinking part. I need to keep my mind busy but since I can’t DO anything very physical, it’s a hard thing to manage. But I will. Thanks Andra.


  2. You’re more tactful than I am. I would have told her I was going to vacation alone, and make arrangements to be such. I’ve already instructed my family I will not vacation with them again, as it’s just too much to bear.


    • Cowardly and Non confrontational and tactful-all sort of interchangeable depending on the circumstances. I, to this day, can’t tell anyone anything that just may hurt them. I prefer to sort of help them mend their ways. Tactfully. Unless I dislike them. Then I just avoid them. That’s non confrontational. What I did? Lying? That I’d file that under cowardly…


  3. I absolutely love the way you dealt with Valerie! Still roaring with laughter at you getting her to photo you in front of the sex shop with fanny pack. Priceless! btw you prob know that fanny means something slightly different over here…..


    • Oh Lord I would never call it a fanny pack in England-and that one was left sitting empty on a train seat stuffed with the tourist tee shirt. Yes, Valerie despised me at the end of the day. But at least I got ONE good picture.


  4. Caught your blog through the Mason Bentley blogger’s crawl. I’m repeatedly described as “blunt”. Don’t think i could have been so kind! God help me, my mother has already purchased her fannie pack for our trip to London in September! She even asked if I wanted to borrow one!


  5. here as part of the MasonBentley blog party. Love your ditching Valerie story…I could so see myself doing the same and kicking myself for being so non-confrontational all the while…


There is no sin except stupidity.

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