Kelley Baldwin: I'm in the dark on a trip to Ireland
There’s nothing like traveling to Europe and discovering just how stupid you really are.
For instance, it’s vitally important to understand the delicate connection between interior lights... and the toilet.
The Irish are committed to keeping their Emerald Isle as green as can be. As part of their conservation efforts, many of the hotels require you to swipe a hotel key card through a designated slot inside the room, which allows you to turn on the lights.
No wasting electricity here, my friends. Admirable? Yes. A pain in the rear? Why, yes. Yes, it is. And here’s why.....
There I was. Sitting on the porcelain throne, minding my own business. In a hotel room in a foreign country. And the lights went out without warning.
Drowning me in total darkness. Suffocating in its entirety. Almost scaring the you-know-what out of me... you know, if my intent had been a No. 2. Which, fortunately, it had not been. And I am not ashamed to tell you I was a little more than nervous and feeling quite vulnerable in my precarious position.
But then I remembered I was a red-blooded American, and there’s a reason the rest of the world hates us. We’re easily ticked off and have no problem expressing ourselves. Shock and awe, my friends. Shock and awe.
“What the hell?!” I yelled into the darkness, pushing back the fear and getting angry instead. “Did someone forget to pay the light bill?!”
Damn, Irish. I muttered. I knew their economy was, well, in the toilet… but this was taking things a bit far, don’t you think?
So there I sat. Blind. In the dark. Pondering my next move. You know, beyond the obvious.
I finished up best I could and then threw open the door and stormed into the room and over to the little key-card-light-switcher-on-er thingamajig. I leaned in to look closer.
Apparently, I pulled another American-ism: Failure to read directions completely.
Apparently, one must LEAVE the card in the slot. A mere swipe of the key only turns the lights on for a few seconds, leading to my innocent belief the lights were working before venturing into the bathroom. And, thus, the reason they went off at a most inconvenient moment shortly thereafter.
It’s like the hotel people timed just how long it takes a person to walk into the bathroom, close the door, drop his/her drawers and assume the position –– 14 seconds. Yeah. They timed it. Just to screw with us.
Can we invade Ireland? Is that allowed? .... Like NATO or the United Nations would stop us… As long as we promised to turn over the Guinness warehouse, everyone would turn a blind eye.
Oh, I kid. Ireland is a gorgeous country. Full of friendly faces and open hearts.
The worst part was having to rely on email to communicate with my family back home. As I settled in one evening to “chat” with my 6-year-old son and my husband, I was excited to tell them about all I had seen that day.
My son’s first question: “What does Ireland look like?”
I gushed about the miles and miles of rock walls lining the lush, green countryside. The hundreds of small castle ruins. The Cliffs of Moher and the gently rolling hills where sheep quietly grazed under the warm Irish sun.
Ten seconds later I read this snarky comment: “I don’t care about the hills... that’s boring.”
I sniffed. My feelings a little more than hurt after reading the terse message.
My husband, dutifully dictating my son’s thoughts, made sure I knew just who was doing the talking: “I’m just the messenger,” he typed after the snarky hills comment. “Don’t shoot me.”
I waited out the next minute in a snit. Apparently, Dad had a little talk with our heir because the next message was a little friendlier, “So what kind of sports do they play in Ireland?”
That’s more like it.
So I started telling him about this game called hurling. A cross of hockey, lacrosse and rugby played with sticks, a small ball, no padding and a total disregard for human life.
It. Is. Awesome.
Fast-paced and fierce.
And that’s just the blood-letting.
“Sounds cool, Mom!” my son wrote in response to my commentary. “When can I play?”
Over my dead body.
I smiled and typed back, “Forget about hurling. Let’s talk about chess instead.”