When Did I Become The Ugly American?

by Ellen Barone

I sit tightly wedged into an economy class airline seat, braced for the long haul — a pashmina hanging from the seat back, a water bottle in the magazine flap, ear pods in the iPhone jack—when a handsome Air France steward stops to stand beside my aisle seat. 

“Excuse me, madam,” he says, leaning into my view. “These two are mother and daughter,” he continues, gesturing to an elegant middle-aged woman in the row in front of me and the twenty-something blonde seated beside me. “Would you please exchange seats so that they can sit together?”

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THE TRAVEL WORM HAS TURNED

by Judith Fein

Last night, I was sitting in an auditorium, waiting for the audience to file in, and an open-hearted woman I know sat down next to me. We exchanged a little chit chat, and then she asked me where I had been lately. I told her we had started out in Tunisia, headed for central and northwestern Spain and capped our travels in northern and then southern Ireland.

“You can’t take it with you,” she said, half to herself and half to me.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, last year I couldn’t imagine how I could spend what was left of my money on travel. Now I’ve had a change of heart. When you’re gone, the money is of no value to you, so you may as well spend it on things you love.”

“And?” I prompted her.

“And I love travel. So I’m willing to spend my money on it.”

To the best of my knowledge, the Recession, which looks like a lot like a pre-Depression to me, isn’t over. People are losing their jobs the way folks used to lose cell phones or keys. Empty houses are growing old and weary as they get battered by the market. I haven’t been in a crowded store since autumn leaves were falling. Expensive restaurants are offering prix fixe menus that barely cover the cost of the wait and kitchen staffs. And with all of this, folks I know are taking down their suitcases from their shelves and are ready to travel again.

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Vegas On The Cheap

by Jules Older

With the possible exception of myself, I don’t know a cheaper sonofagun than Charlie Leocha. It’s no coincidence that we’re both writers — a notoriously underpaid gang of rogues who survive on free lunches. Wanna meet a writer? Wait by the food table at any press conference. The first ones there – plates in hand, pockets bulging — that’s us.

Charlie lives in East Boston — East Boston because it’s about a tenth the price of Boston, itself. Until I moved to San Francisco (that’s another story), I lived in the smallest, poorest, snowiest village in Vermont, about half an hour and half a million bucks north of the resort town of Stowe. Charlie and I meet when we travel — almost always, free travel — and this time we find ourselves meeting at what’s probably the most expensive city in the USofA.

OK, writer-cheapskates — welcome to Las Vegas! Let’s see you cheap-out here!

Hey. We’re writers. We can, to adapt the New Hampshire license plate to the writer’s creed, Live Cheap or Die anywhere. Even Vegas. Bring it on!

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