Philly flower show opens a window on adventure

March 14, 2006|By SUSAN REIMER | SUSAN REIMER,SUN COLUMNIST

Why is going someplace with you always such an adventure?"

It was my daughter's lamentation, expressed at the age of 6, when we got terribly lost going to the Kennedy Center in Washington. It was during our ballet phase.

She said it again last year when I took her to the Philadelphia Flower Show. We got terribly lost on the way home, and she huffed at me in too-familiar irritation.

But I made the trip to Philadelphia for the flower show with confidence this year, my friend Lisette riding in the seat Jessie had understandably vacated. "Going someplace with me can be an adventure," I warned, but I was laughing.

Parking, not driving, was where the trouble began. I put down my window to pay the guy at the outdoor lot, and the electric window would not go up again. The same mechanical glitch had recently happened to my husband's car, so I called him, requesting information, not rescue.

"What did you do?" I asked over the cell phone.

"I slammed the door a bunch of times and jiggled the button," he said.

"Did it work?" I asked.

"No."

But Lisette and I slammed the door a bunch of times anyway, and we jiggled the button and we asked a stranger for help, too. No good. That window was down to stay.

Neither of us travel what you would call "light," so we packed up all our belongings and trudged to the flower show, loaded down like mules. I even took the CD player out of the dash. We left the van window open to the bright sun and the warm breeze and the pedestrians of Philadelphia.

We had driven all this way to see flowers and, confound it, we were going to see flowers. If I came back to a grease spot where my van used to be, so be it.

But our magical stroll through 10 indoor acres of the most beautiful landscapes and flower arrangements in the world was interrupted several times by calls from my husband.

"I am only two hours away," he said each time. "I will drive to Philadelphia, give you and Lisette my car and let you drive mine home. You are not going to want to drive home down I-95 with that window open and a nor'easter blowing in over your left shoulder."

Very nice of you, I said the first time, but we'll manage. We will find some duct tape and plastic or cardboard or something. Besides, it is sunny and warm.

But I responded irritably when he called a second time to make the same offer. "I can handle this," I said. Lisette thought he was a great guy. I thought he was patronizing.

Six hours later, we returned to the van, found it undisturbed and began the drive down Interstate 95.

With a nor'easter blowing in over my left shoulder. Just that fast, the weather had changed.

Frozen and damp with rain, Lisette and I pulled off I-95 and onto some random state highway in Delaware.

And right into a dealership with - get this - the parts and repair departments still open at 8 at night. We were back on the highway 15 minutes and $75 later.

"This is a miracle," I said to the service manager.

"No," he said. "This is Delaware."

Flush with triumph, I called my husband. I could hear the relief in his voice.

Arriving home much later, I was met with my brother-in-law's smirking laughter.

Turns out my sainted, unselfish husband - ready at a moment's notice to drive to Philadelphia just so he could drive back in an open van instead of me - had had other motives.

"You know I love you," he said. "But I really didn't want to have to deal with you after you'd driven down I-95 for 2 1/2 hours with a nor'easter blowing in over your left shoulder."

susan.reimer@baltsun.com

To hear audio clips of selected Susan Reimer columns, go to baltimoresun.com/reimer.

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