Living

Au revoir to Europe, hello to U.S. wall sockets

The last day of our whirlwind tour of London and Paris began with the usual butter-centric breakfast. The Parisians are very big on butter. I imagine that if they have something like a Home Depot, employees roam the aisles insisting that you enjoy a bowl of butter while you shop.

Not that I have a problem with that.

The previous night, we had gone to what our tour director assured us was an authentic French bistro. I ate very French snails and they were nothing like the creepy things that destroy my marigolds every summer.

This was escargot, not some bourgie Southern garden slug easily lured to a saucer of cheap beer for the drowning. Only three of us ordered escargot, which made me feel adventurous for the first time since I, oh, wait, ever.

While I adored our tour group of 49, there is always one bad apple, and on this trip, it was a whiny soul who spent much of the time feverishly scribbling notes of her displeasure into a toxic little journal.

“I’m going to report this,” she said to no one in particular, when she didn’t have “time enough to really appreciate Stonehenge.”

OK, I liked Stonehenge a lot but, let’s face it, it’s a bunch of weird-shaped rocks in the middle of a field. We didn’t really need more than the allotted 90 minutes unless we wanted to spend the night with the freaks who “wait for the aliens to come back” a few cornfields over.

Ditto Churchill’s grave in tiny Bladen. Lovely. Moving on.

“We only stayed 30 minutes,” wailed Lady Buzzkill.

“He’s not coming back to life; get on the bus,” I said with forced good cheer. “Don’t get your Crocs in a wad.”

I adored traveling in England and France but did feel a surge of pride when I realized how superior American plumbing is to European plumbing.

In many places, we were confused by separate hot and cold faucets. So I got used to holding my hands beneath the hot like Laura Ingalls in “Little House” at the ol’ pump handle, then shifting quickly to the cold to make things lukewarm. If I sent my plumber over to London, they’d probably erect a statue of him in Hyde Park in a fortnight, complete with requisite gargoyles. A fortnight is two weeks, you hicks.

Also, Great Britain, why not use the euro and drive on the right side of the road like the rest of Europe? Peer pressure isn’t always bad (your idiot cousin trying to sell you some dicey skunk weed) but sometimes it’s actually a good thing. Look into it.

And, finally, we returned home with new appreciation for the Great American Wall Socket, so uniform and functional. In Europe, the outlets all require different plugs depending on what country you’re in, so tourists must travel with many converters. Despite America being huge, we keep it simple, avoiding conversations like: “Melva, did you remember to pack the Nebraska plug? It’s the one shaped like a molar. No, wait, that’s Wisconsin …”

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