There was no internet on our first flight

An Unbelievable Coincidence

We heard that a snow storm was slamming the North, when we arrived at the San Juan airport at 1 p.m. We checked the arrival and departure screen and saw a list of canceled flights, but our 6 p.m. flight heading north was only delayed. We were returning from a family Christmas vacation, and my son, Bob, had waited to complete an assignment that was due the next day.

I was concerned because he was a high school senior, and a poor grade could affect his college acceptances. Bob said that he had it under control and assured me that he would finish his report when he had internet on the plane, since there was none on the first flight.  Little did he know that his procrastination would lead to an unbelievable coincidence.

We watched passengers pace with phones pressed to their ears because flight cancellations caused plans to change. Many grabbed their luggage and left. By 5:00 p.m., our departure-time status was blank, and we suspected that our flight would be cancelled. To fill time, we went to an airport restaurant for dinner. When we returned, we didn’t see any airline employees behind the desk at our gate or even at any nearby gates. The airport had emptied, and my hopes for leaving that night deflated like a boat sail. The abandoned terminal felt eerie as we watched kiosks close, and restaurant lights darken. Though the restaurants were closed, fried onion odors lingered — like us. The only people left at our airport wing were passengers on our flight, and some had moved to sit at nearby gates.

We sat on our padded seats, that seemed to harden like cement, and watched a high school swim team play catch football at the gate across the aisle. Woodward High School was printed on the boy’s shirts, and we recognized the school because Bob’s school, Craxton, competes against them in sports. When Bob saw them, he walked over and shook hands with the team’s coaches. I thought that he knew one of them, but I was wrong. I believe that the following dialogue resembles their conversation.

“Hi, I’m Bob Smith, and I go to Craxton High School.”
“Ohhh, you do? Do you know Father Corbin ? He taught for 19 years at Woodward and transferred to Craxton about 3 years ago.”
” Yes, I’m in his Science class. He’s a great guy. Actually, I have a lab report due for him tomorrow, and I’m worried about finishing it because of the flight delay.”
“Father Corbin is a good friend, and I am going to text him that you are stranded.”

The coach texted Father Corbin and told him that he was delayed in San Juan, and he was with one of his students, Bob Smith. He added that Bob was worried about completing his assignment.

Father Corbin texted back to tell Bob to stop worrying, and they would talk in class.

Bob talked sports with the coaches and team and returned to his seat flashing a wide smile.

He said, “You’re not going to believe who the coach is friends with.”

We boarded the flight around 11 p.m. and landed about 3 a.m. Without much sleep, Bob went to school and spoke to his teacher. They worked out a plan.

Bob had everything under control all right.

*This is a true story, but I changed the names.

Odd Behavior at the Charlotte Douglas Airport

Her eyes darted, and she fidgeted and sighed. She wore a tan turban that emphasized the tightness in her face.

She put her bags on the seat to her right and flopped down next to me at the Charlotte-Douglas-International-Airport gate.

She was brightly dressed in a pink and orange silky top splashed with yellow flowers. It buttoned down the front and matched her mid-calf skirt.

She looked like an Island woman. I imagined her walking barefoot skirting a dusty Caribbean road on her way to church.

While seated, she crossed her legs, then she recrossed them. Then she shifted her weight from hip to hip and changed the direction that her body faced every few minutes. Finally, she rested her elbows on her knees and bent over and clutched her head in her hands. She stayed in that position for several minutes.

When she sat up, she kept her eyes closed. I wondered if she was praying, possibly, because she was afraid to fly.

She opened her eyes, and I glanced at her and smiled. She smiled back and the muscles in her face softened briefly.

Suddenly, she arose and grabbed her large black patent satchel and white netted bag and tossed them on the seat next to me. She disappeared.

Why did she leave her bags? What was in them? Why did she trust me with her bags? Her odd behavior made me wonder…

I waited a few minutes, then I entered the ladies room. I was relieved when I saw her exit a stall. I left before she spotted me, and when she returned, I was in my seat.

She sat down, and my husband, who was seated on my left, went for a walk. As he stepped about two yards away, she leaned over and grabbed my arm.

She spoke in broken English and said, “I need your cell phone.” I wondered why she waited until my husband left to ask for my cell phone.

“My cell phone?”
I hesitated, while I weighed my options.

I decided that I couldn’t deny her use of my phone, so I asked her for the number. I dialed it and gave her my phone.

She clutched it , and I heard her say “daddy” and a few unintelligible words. She ended the call, and she handed it back, and I placed it in my bag.

Soon, we began boarding the flight, and when I was seated on the plane, I checked my phone before shutting it down. “Brad’s Phone” was printed on my screen.

I didn’t have a Brad in my contacts, and I thought that it could have been a network error.

After we landed, when I turned on my phone everything seemed normal. However, when I left the airport, I called the number that I had dialed for her.

After several rings, I heard a recording. A female voice enunciated the number in broken English and asked the caller to leave a message. I hung up.

I was still curious, and I called Verizon and asked them to check the number.

They said that the number was prepaid, and they had no record of it.


230 Fifth in Manhattan — A Must Visit

We step up to the largest rooftop bar in Manhattan, 230 Fifth on 27th and 5th Avenue. The Empire State Building towers past palm trees and pink and white flowers that spill from containers.

The Manhattan skyline offers a spectacular view as we sip a cocktail and escape from mad-motion Manhattan. Even though the weather is drizzly and cool, the patio is partly heated and customers don soft red robes provided by the staff. Large umbrellas hover over tables for added protection.

During harsh weather or if a nightclub atmosphere is preferred, customers can enjoy the view from the fully enclosed lounge a floor below.

230 Fifth is open everyday from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. and serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost is $29 for adults and $15 for children.

They offer an appetizer through dessert menu and  bottle service. With bottle service, a customer can buy a bottle of alcohol for several times the retail price like a Grey Goose Magnum for $575.

The food and drinks are also pricey. The cost for a Chicken Caesar Salad  is $16 and a Strawberry Mimosa is $15.

Though expensive, the spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline makes the price palatable. Anyway, where else can you wear a robe in a bar?


Chocolate Labrador Retriever

My Dog Saves Our Daughter

My blond-haired, blue-eyed, four-year-old daughter, J, climbed on the white plastic swing seat out back of our home. I pushed her while she clutched the metal chain loops and repeated  “again.”

It was about 6 p.m., and time to prepare dinner. The swing set was below my kitchen window, and I left planning to watch J from inside.  If she needed me, I could run to her quickly, but I didn’t know that I wouldn’t be quick enough.

For reasons unknown, I guided my chocolate Labrador retriever, Boh, by his chain collar to the swings telling him to sit and stay knowing that he wouldn’t leave.

I prepared dinner, and as I spoke to J, I watched a cream, pointed-eared chow, that I didn’t recognize trot towards her. I had seen a chow growl at J during dog training class and I also watched one attack another dog.

I flew out the great room’s white French doors, onto the wooden fortress-like deck, and scrambled down the sturdy steps jumping from the second to last one.  I turned the corner as the chow bared his white, upper and lower teeth and lunged for J’s face.

Boh charged the chow and blocked J, who jumped off the swing and leapt into my arms. We screamed while both dogs stood on hind legs, fangs to fangs and ripped jaws, heads and throats while dog screeches and loud, guttural growls pierced the neighborhood.

I put J down on the ground and grabbed sticks and rocks and hurled them at the chow hoping to end the fight. The chow finally backed off but stayed in my yard.

Hearing screams, the chow’s owner sprinted to my yard holding a leash. When I explained what happened, she apologized repeatedly and said that she recently adopted the dog from the pound and knew nothing about its history.

Then she fastened the leash to the chow’s collar and left. I  learned later that she returned the dog.

To this day, I question why I left Boh with J, because I had never done it before. It makes me wonder if someone was watching over her.

Resorter Magazine "Revisited"

My Magazine Photo From 1977 Republished

I shimmied and squeezed into the green, yellow-trimmed-one-piece cocktail waitress costume. The outfit’s scoop neck, and the V that formed in the front and back from the high-cut legs were like arrows that pointed to everything  private.

The stockings  underneath helped, but when I grabbed the bottom between my index fingers and thumbs to pull it down, it slid back up.

On my only night waitressing in the smoke-filled discotheque, I hoisted a brown plastic tray over my head topped with Tangeray and tonics, strawberry daiquiris, pina coladas and more. I slid through crowds of polyester attired men who flaunted gold watches and chains, and Farah Fawcett-haired women adorned in jewelry, push up bras, halter dresses, jumpsuits and platform sandals.

The Admirals  sang  the latest dance songs and pounded the electric piano, guitars and drums, and  blared  horns.  The songs reverberated, and the dance floor filled.

Dancers bumped hip to hip, shoulder to shoulder and hip to shoulder. They stepped high, shuffled, slid,  dipped, twisted and twirled combining the jitterbug, samba and waltz.

While the customers partied, I worked.  I leaned over to place drinks on a  low table and the bottom of my outfit slid higher and my top slipped lower.  I made my decision.

After work, I approached the owner and told him that I was uncomfortable wearing the costume. He  understood and asked me if I would wear a tennis dress and serve drinks and lunch around the pool.  I agreed.

While I worked poolside, a photographer from the local “Resorter” magazine approached and asked if he could photograph me for the cover. I consented, and he returned and shot several photos for the July 1977 magazine. I believe that this was more about advertising the club than me.

I recognize the irony that I refused to wear a risqué cocktail outfit but I agreed to pose in a bikini.  I felt cheap in the cocktail outfit, but wearing a bikini in a beach resort seemed normal.

Last week, unbeknownst to me, a local paper “revisited” the July 1977 Resorter issue and displayed my old photo in their paper.  I was surprised that I was ever that young.


The Intruder

I awoke around 2 a.m., and I lay in my double bed in our rented spartan apartment and watched a light flickering in the hall outside our bedroom.

I studied the light and goose bumps crawled up my back when I determined that the source was not from headlights but from our balcony. I suspected that someone had climbed on our deck and was shining a light in our apartment.

I was wrong, he was inside.

I quietly whispered to my roommate in the next bed.

“Core, Core, wakeup.”

She rolled over and whispered, “What’s wrong?”

I said, “Look at that light in our hallway, I think that someone is on our balcony. Did we lock the door?”

We usually left the sliding glass door open and locked the screen because we felt safe on the second floor.

“No, I locked the screen,” said Core.

We quietly slipped out of our beds, and I stepped into the hall with Core behind me. My heart throbbed and  I sucked in my breath muting a scream when a bright light suddenly stabbed my eyes,  and I saw a large figure holding a flashlight. I reeled and we raced to the bedroom and slammed the door.

Suppose the intruder was the rapist who lurked in the canal’s tall grasses and attacked those two girls ? Suppose he had a gun or knife?

Our phone was in the living room and cell phones were nonexistent. Our small-sliding-glass-bedroom window prevented escape, and our nearest neighbors had left town.

Our hands, arms and voices shook and we chattered nervously while we quickly dragged a large, brown dresser in front of our door. Then we flung open our closet and bureau drawers and frantically fumbled through shirts, shorts, sundresses and shoes searching for a weapon.

We finally spotted a tan and red wooden tennis racket leaning against the wall,  and we found a thin brass table lamp and a spray deodorant can on the tall dresser. We planned to hammer him with the lamp and tennis racket and shoot  deodorant in his eyes. It was a bad plan, but it was the best that we could concoct.

After about an hour, we slowly slid the dresser aside and cringed when we opened the brown paneled door, and it creaked. We waited, then Core ducked her head around the door frame and slinked into the hall.

She clutched the tennis racket in her right hand and cocked it over her head.  I inched behind with my right index finger on the deodorant trigger,  and I gripped the lamp in my left hand. Core flicked on the light.

Our hearts thudded, and sweat seeped like we had sprinted up a steep slope. Coffin-like silence surrounded us.

Next, we approached the bathroom. Core flicked on the light and we stared at the flowered shower curtain that covered  the bath. We slowly entered and wrenched the curtain open and heard a metal screech, but we discovered an empty tub.

We approached the kitchen which opened to the living room. Core flicked on the light and we scurried to a drawer and grabbed long jagged-edged knives.

We looked towards the balcony, and the razor slashed screen and balcony door stood wide open. Where was he?

J and her pet rat

The Unwanted Rat Became a Good Pet

When my husband, my daughter, J, and I stepped in our front door after soccer practice, my neighbor Susie followed  holding bags and a cage in her arms.

She said, “I bought J a rat for her  birthday.”

I said, “Funny.”

She said, “I asked J what she wanted for her birthday, and she told me that she wanted a rat because they make great pets.”

Susie pointed to a cage that contained a gray and white baby rat with a snake-like tail and an anteater nose.  The rat disgusted me.

I told Susie that I thought that she should have asked me first. However, though I was angry, I wouldn’t jeopardize our friendship over a stupid mistake.

The rat stayed and J was ecstatic.  She named her new pet Oreo.

J kept Oreo in an aquarium in her room.  His tail and four yellow jagged front teeth repulsed me and I worried that if he escaped, I might have to capture him.

Daily, I entered my daughter’s room, and I forced myself to touch Oreo’s back with my index finger. Within two weeks I held him, though he still revolted me.

My daughter quickly bonded with Oreo and walked him on a leash ensuring that anyone who saw her questioned her parents’ sanity.  She also dressed him in a  silky-short-sleeved-pink top and mesh-tutu-doll outfit and transformed  him into a transvestite ballerina.

One day, Oreo struggled to breathe and seemed in pain, and we took him to a vet. While we were in the waiting room, a woman approached my daughter and asked if she had a kitten in the bag.

My daughter said, “No, it’s a rat!”

The woman’s eyes widened and she loudly sucked in her breath.  Then she pivoted and hurried to the opposite side of the room.

We saw the vet and he sent us home with antibiotics and soap because Oreo was also losing his hair. Can you imagine the neighborhood gossip if we allowed J to walk a bald rat?

J  treated Oreo by sliding an eyedropper filled with antibiotics into the corner of  his mouth, and he accepted  it.  Though it nauseated me, Oreo also allowed  J to bathe him, and his health improved.

One day, as we cleaned Oreo’s cage, he escaped. I called his name, and he ran from under a cabinet and allowed J to pick him up. He was smarter than I thought and became a good pet.

The day he went to the big cheese, J and I cried while my husband gleefully ran to get the shovel. Though I bonded with the rat, the experience confirmed that a live animal or rodent should never be an  impulse gift.

When, Susie’s daughter’s birthday arrived, I called Susie and said that I had her daughter’s gift. I told her it was an anaconda with a  year’s supply of food.

I put a lot of thought into this, and I never said that a reptile  wasn’t a great gift.


Deep Sea Fishing on the Kingfisher

The alarmed clanged at 4:30 a.m. and jolted me from a deep peaceful sleep. I pried my eyes open to darkness and questioned why I would want to repeat this trip especially when the weather report called for rain.

I jumped out of bed, threw on a bathing suit, shorts and a t-shirt. My husband and I filled the cooler with beer, water, sodas, subs and fried chicken, and we loaded the car.

We  headed for the Ocean City, Md docks to meet the guys at the sportfishing boat the Kingfisher.  By 5:30,  we loaded our coolers and boarded the boat.

The engines roared and diesel fumes permeated the salt air and we motored out of the Ocean City harbor.  As we left the inlet and picked up speed the engines thundered, our hearts raced while white waves churned and frothed in a V formation in our wake. I looked back and  watched the Ocean City ferris wheel fade from sight.

We advanced into the sunrise and wind whipped my hair and salt stuck to my damp skin. Fishing lines dragged in the water, and the mate dumped a stream of red chum or bait chunks behind the boat to attract fish.

The water changed from pea green to ink blue as the water deepened to about 100 feet.  The wind blew and the boat bounced like a toy ship in a jacuzzi bathtub with the  jets on full force. Worried thoughts about boat emergencies flooded my mind.

Unlike our previous voyage when we watched a huge flat sunfish drift in the shimmering sea and the dorsal fin of a thresher shark slide by,  this day we white knuckled any vertical surface as the boat slammed into swells and the sky faded into clouds.  Some of my friends turned greenish-white, and one retched over the side.

Suddenly a fishing  line  zeeeiiinnnngggged as a fish took the bait and swam for its life.  Adrenaline pumped and queasiness was forgotten.

My friend Frank jumped in the fishing chair and the mate harnessed him in so that he wouldn’t get pulled overboard during the fight. After about 20 minutes, the fish seemed to tire, and Frank began to reel  it in.  As we watched him fight the fish, a wave suddenly surged over the back of the boat.

The swell  soaked us and gushed into the cockpit. We grabbed buckets and quickly scooped the water out.  The  rapid rush of water startled us, but it did not dampen our exhilaration over hooking the fish.

Within 45 minutes, Frank brought a tuna up to the side of the boat. The mate reached over the rail and slammed a large hook or gaff  under the backbone of the fish and pulled it onboard. Dinner had arrived and it was time to head home.

Last week Kingfisher CaptainTommy Jones, our captain’s son,  won the world-renowned White Marlin Open billfish tournament. He caught an 83 pound white marlin and won about $1 million. The day that we fished, I never imagined that the Kingfisher would become famous.

Leonberger Dog

Puppy Training 101 — Blame the Husband

I pulled into my driveway on a rainy, September day and spotted large and small strips of brown cardboard; pink, black and white clothing; and clear plastic bags scattered across my back lawn.

It looked like someone tossed debris in random directions as they rode on a merry-go-round.  Closer inspection revealed that about 50 golf shirts littered my yard. Clear plastic bags protected most of them, the rest were sopping and smeared with dirt.

I quickly bundled as many shirts as I could hold in my arms, and I hurried inside and dropped them on the Ping-Pong table. As I returned to collect more, I watched my giant puppy hop among the clutter.

He grabbed a pink shirt, growled ferociously, and shook it like he was playing Tug of War. Then he threw his head up and down several times, tossed it in the air and pounced on it with muddy paws.

Oops,  these were the company-monogrammed-Adidas-golf shirts  that my husband had ordered for his customers.  Unfortunately he couldn’t give them shirts that took a  little spin in the washer. I knew that we were in trouble.

After I picked up the rest of the shirts, I called my husband from my cell phone so that he wouldn’t know that I was home.

I said, “You didn’t leave the dog out, did you?”

He said, “Yes, I left him out.”

I said, “ Oh, did you forget that anything that the UPS truck drops off on the driveway belongs to him?”

He said, “I didn’t think about that.”

I said, “If he gets into anything, my conscience is clear, how’s yours?   Have a great day and see you at dinner.”

This was the second or eighth time that my puppy opened a UPS box. Previously, he ripped open canine heartworm pills and ate a six-month supply. The pills contain arsenic, but his size protected him.

Though I have never eaten one, heartworm medication smells and tastes like dog treats, and my dogs love them.  Food and fun rewarded my puppy when he punctured this package. It was time  to stop his behavior before he consumed his next carton.

After I picked up the rest of the shirts, I placed a cardboard box in my driveway and walked away.  When my puppy pounced on the box, I grabbed his little black furry cheeks in my hands and put my face about two inches from his and screamed “NO!”

I yelled at him for about 15 seconds, and it worked.   He never touched a box again.

It was a win-win day. My puppy’s curiosity taught my husband pet-owner responsibility, and our family and friends  added to their wardrobe. Thank goodness we have that dog.

Growing Older But Having Fun

Growing Older But Still Having Fun

I don’t plan to calmly glide a sputtering propeller plane to a slow stop at the end of my life. Instead, I will slam on the brakes and overshoot the short landing strip in my Learjet.

Evelyn who is in her 90’s inspires me to live like age is a mere number. She plays tennis several times a week and still makes great shots.

After tennis, she enjoys a gin and tonic while playing bridge with her friends.  I plan to enjoy life and embrace new challenges like Evelyn.

A few years ago I decided that I wanted to improve my writing. Though I have an English degree, I recently returned to school as an undergraduate Mass Communications major.

Returning to school is the most intimidating decision that I have ever made. I protrude like a neon clothed grim reaper as I walk to class among relaxed students clad in sweats, jeans and baseball caps.

My most terrorizing moment was when I had to write a timed news story. The professor instructed the class that the quiz had to be double spaced with specific margins. As I listened to the professor, sweat seeped from my skin, my face flushed and I felt queasy like I was seated in a small plane during strong turbulence.

I reacted because I was a computer novice and I didn’t know how to set up a Word document.   I darted my eyes around the classroom and watched the happy students click away on their stupid computers, while I stared at mine.

I finally slid out of my chair and tentatively approached the professor who sat at his desk. He looked up at me, and this is what I remember from our conversation.

I said, “ Uhh I am very embarrassed, but I don’t know Word and I am used to an Apple so I can’t take the quiz.”

The professor asked, “Ohhh, can you take the quiz home and take it on your Apple?”

I said, “Sure!”

The professor asked, “Can you learn Word?”

I said,“Absolutely!”

The professor said, “Take the quiz home and email it to me”

I said, “Great!”

I immediately relaxed, and I took the quiz home and emailed it to him. The next weekend I spent a couple of hours with my sister who gave me a crash course in Word. The rest of the semester went well and I loved it.

Years from now, as I’m overshooting the tarmac in my Learjet (fashionably late and wearing rose-colored wine glasses), my final tower communication will be: I never stopped learning.

Golf Cart

Golf Mishaps and Humor

I love it and hate it at the same time. I hate the horse flies that cut into my skin with their barbed mouths and the mosquitoes that puncture me. I also hate feeling frustrated for lacking athletic ability.

I love the exercise, competition and exhilaration from success. But most importantly, I love the laughter. When Danielle and I play golf, we become a spectacle.

The first time that we played, we spotted two men on the tee behind us. We were intimidated and worried that we were slowing their game.

We tried to speed up our game. Instead of hitting my ball in the hole, I grabbed it off the green, ran to the “getaway-golf cart,” and I jumped in and told Danielle to floor it so we could escape the men.

When we arrived at the next tee, we nervously glanced back as the two men loomed ominously. We skipped that tee, but the men were still right behind us. I wondered if the men were afraid of the group behind them and they were skipping tees too.

We finally let them go ahead of us. At least we learned this valuable lesson quickly.

We made another scene when we hit golf balls at the driving range. There are two parallel yellow ropes on the ground about five-feet apart that run the length of the driving range. This is the area where you hit balls.

We were at the end of the driving range and rope. While attempting to hit the ball, Danielle  missed and hit the rope so hard that it wrapped around her body. I imagined the headline “Woman Strangles Herself While Driving Golf Balls.”

We laughed hysterically but quietly hoping we didn’t disturb the serious golfers. Have you ever tried to laugh quietly while your body is convulsing with laughter?

Golf Partner

Golf Partner (photo by dorothyadele)

When Danielle and I climbed into the cart to play golf yesterday, rain poured even though it was not in the forecast. We laughed because we felt that it was a typical golf day for us. All went well, and I hit Danielle in the back with a golf ball only once.

Fenwick Island Beach Replenishment

Beware: Fenwick Island Beach Replenishment 2013

Beach replenishment has begun in Fenwick Island. It is  necessary to maintain our beaches, but why is it scheduled during the height of the tourist season?  According to sources, The Town of Fenwick Island has no control over the beach replenishment schedule.