31 August 2009

The burdens of baggage

Lee showed up with, like, nothing. A duffel bag--small enough to carry on--and a half-full small backpack.

I, on the other hand, have a bag packed with roughly enough items to build a space shuttle from scratch, then supply it for a year.

Clearly Lee heeded the warnings that Arthur--or rather Hope, his wife, who penned this particular chapter--offers about "the burdens of baggage."

And yet, if you'd seen our hotel room in Amsterdam last night, twelve hours before we were to head off to Brussels, you might have thought that I was the light--or at least fastidious--packer. Which led to the following conversation:

Lee: "How is it that my side of the room looks disasterous and yours is so tidy?"

Doug: "Um, tidy?" I have never been called tidy in my life. Ever.

Lee: "Yeah, it's so orderly and neat."

Doug (stifling an incredulous laugh): "That's because I've learned to create the illusion of organization. My crap doesn't sprawl as much; it's in more vertical piles. It is not cleanliness, it's craftiness. Key distinction."

Lee: "Maaaaybe."

Doug: "Actually, I'm trying to cultivate an 'Odd Couple' atmosphere. You know, for narrative's sake. I'm Jack Lemmon and you're Walter Matthau."

Lee: "I never saw the movie, but I think I get the idea."

Doug (realizing my pop culture references tend to be as outdated as my guidebooks, and about as useful): "Okay, umm ... I'm Bert and you're Ernie."

Lee: "Ah. That's better."

Doug: "I'm tall and skinny, you're short and squat."

Lee: "No. Not better. Or accurate."

I will say this, though, in my defense: I travel lighter than the New York Times' Frugal Traveler. Not that I want to start any battles with Actual Professionals here (and not that I think Matt Gross will read this), but last year, on his own Grand Tour, he packed a blazer and three (three!) pairs of shoes. Really?!

I also travel cheaper. You know, more frugally. Lee's definitely been helping with that. The hostel he found for us in Brussels--from which I write this--is fantastic. Cheap and half a block off the Grand Place. Good work, Lee!

1 comment:

  1. As of this morning, Doug's opinion of the hostel might be somewhat less bright. Civic light shows and live jazz bands on our street played till well into the early morning. I guess I just have a knack for finding a party.


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