Catherine Ford Gets Personal

One year: A challenge for change


with 2 comments

It’s not true that the entire population of Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary are on Maui at the moment — it just seems that way.

The Canadians are interspersed with the northern Americans, here from North Dakota, Nebraska, Alaska and Minnesota, all for the same reason: the chance to feel hot sun on winter-white bodies, to get some Vitamin D in its natural state, rather than pills from the pharmacy.

One of the distinct advantages of retirement is the mid-winter vacation away from ice and snow, someplace where dressing up means a shirt and shoes worn together.

Western Canadians go to Hawaii for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is not having to overnight in Toronto before hitting a Caribbean beach. That’s often the drawback of such vacations –— the tedious effort to actually get there. And given the paranoia of the moment in all of our airports, the less time spent being patted and fondled and questioned by po-faced martinets with the power to prevent one from actually getting in a plane, the better. And the thought of having to go through Toronto just to get to a sandy beach makes the Caribbean less than attractive.

Still, it was surprisingly not-inconvenient getting here. Expecting a long line up of disgruntled people at Calgary’s airport we arrived, as ordered, three hours before our flight only to find out that everything went smoothly and the inconvenience was minimal. I had the good sense to strip myself of all jewelry except my wedding ring and thus managed to pass through the metal detector without setting it off and thus occasion a secondary wanding or pat-down. Don’t you just love it when they ask for your permission to do so? What if you say no? And isn’t the signage at security comforting when it says that any person can refuse to go through the process, as long as he or she doesn’t actually want to board a plane

But our unencumbered process left us a good two hours after security to wait, our mood not improved by the dubious quality of an airport sandwich tightly wrapped in cellophane which proved an exercise in frustration just trying to open it. I suspect eating the wrapper would have been just as tasty with a lot fewer calories. That’s what’s so frustrating when you’re trying to make good choices about food – wasting money and calories on stuff that has little taste, its only advantage being availability.

And tops on the list of wasted calories surely must be airport food, at least what is available beyond the security barrier. It is exceeded in its tastelessness only by airline food which, given the current state of flying (the in-the-air equivalent of taking a cattle car) is nonexistent. Himself actually ordered a sandwich on the flight, turned over the outrageous price demanded from a captive audience and then realized it had no redeeming qualities, either.

We thought we’d lucked out when Air Canada announced a direct flight from Calgary to Maui, obviating the need to trudge our asses and our suitcases across the entire Vancouver airport to be questioned and prodded by U.S. Homeland Security (is George Orwell turning in his grave?) before being “allowed” to board a plane. Does anyone have an answer to the question of why it is necessary to hire people for these jobs who lack the ability to be even moderately pleasant? And am I the only person who finds the signage to be amazingly offensive? Why, for example, am I forbidden to, say, take a picture? Or talk on a cell phone, not that I’ve ever been tempted to do either. And the shoe thingy is getting tiresome, too. But it’s the attitude that every one of us is a potential terrorist that rankles.

The chance to eliminate one step of the process, only having to take a single fight and go through U.S. customs in Calgary was, we thought, a blessing, But nothing is that easy. I’m reminded of the old joke that if you want to hear God laugh, go ahead and make plans. Half-way across the Pacific, a mechanical problem cropped up necessitating a turnaround back to, you guessed it, Vancouver, where we cooled our heels , supplied with what could only be charitably called bar snacks and pop by Air Canada as another plane was rustled up to speed us on the way. The flight that should have landed at Kahului airport at 6:30 Hawaii time landed after midnight.

But who’s complaining? We were safely delivered to paradise, where we shed most of our clothing immediately, and the next day dropped $550 at Safeway, but as that included a six-pack of Tanqueray and a six-pack of wine, it didn’t seem too expensive. Okay so it was an expensive visit to the grocery store but that’s the only drawback — paradise comes with a price tag. And while I’m in the mood to complain when will our Canadian governments get with the times and allow liquor to be sold in grocery stores? At least in Quebec, one can drop into the local depanneur and pick up a nice red, along with milk and bread.

There are a lot of advantages to the Hawaiian islands not the least of which is water that’s safe to drink. Mexico may be interesting, but only an idiot would trust the water or the sidewalk food vendors. And for a good dose of guilt, any beach in Mexico that’s “open” to the locals — i.e. not fenced off — is also open to children, beggars, and hawkers of tawdry trinkets, frequently the same people.

For most of my life, the last place I ever wanted to be was on a beach in a bathing suit. Certainly the last thing I ever wanted to do was shop for a bathing suit, but since I’ve been on this campaign, I’ve bought both a brand-new suit and a daring “10-pounds-lighter” bottom for the Tommy Bahama bathing suit top I bought a couple of years ago, but have yet to have the guts to wear. (The ten pounds lighter advertisement is much like wearing a panty girdle for those of us old enough to remember such garments. And it works like a girdle too. I tried on a one-piece suit but discovered the makers had not allowed room for breasts, a distinct disadvantage.)

Up to now, the excuse for not wearing the top was not having the right bottom for the suit. This year I brought the now-two-piece suit with me. We’re here in paradise until the end of February. Do I have the guts to debut it on the beach?


NEXT: Why wearing a bathing suit is a test of will power.


Written by Catherine Ford

January 30, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Ah, the bathing suit dilemma – I await with ‘bated breath.

    Jennifer Diakiw

    February 2, 2010 at 9:05 am

  2. Great writing skills, you must do this for a living. Any chance you can share some pointers to a newbie like me?

    Tanya Atkins

    February 13, 2010 at 3:39 am

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