"Napoleon brandy? Is that your pleasure?" asked the flight attendant. "There's none on my wagon here in the back of the plane, but I'll scoot up to first class and get their bottle. On second thought, first class isn't filled, so why don't you just pop up there and take an open seat."
And so help me! Right on the heels of that good fortune, my bags were the first to emerge from that dreaded Island of Lost Luggage.
Disheartening news awaited me at the hotel, however. They had me down for this time next year. "Not to worry," interjected the clerk with a friendly wave. "We have one room left. I hope you don't mind a suite with a view of the seacoast. Enjoy. Same price as the one we usually give you next to the elevator. It's usually foggy this time of the year, but the weather forecast is for nothing but sunny skies." The smile never quivered as he nudged my gratuity back across the counter. "Against policy."
Later, when we reached France, there were tables open and service was prompt at a popular bistro. "Please do not struggle with French," the waiter said solicitously. "I am happy to speak English. I need the practice." He then suggested the house wine rather than the expensive Haut-Medoc I had in mind. "Comes from the same vat." A sly wink. Upon departure, the same waiter, a picture of alarm, pursued me for nearly half a block. "Sir! Sir! You left too much gratuity on the table."
On to Germany, where my hotel reservation was in order, but other problems cropped up. "The machine doesn't seem to want to accept your credit card." Uh oh. "Well, never mind. You have an honest face. We'll process it anyway."
Marveling at this, I followed the blue signs to reach the autobahn, Germany's free-wheeling freeway. It was gridlocked as usual, but a Mercedes driver motioned me ahead of him into the only moving lane. "I have plenty of time," he explained.
Italy was next on this unusual trip. Expecting the bargaining to be as recriminatory and tedious as ever at the Florence straw market, I made a patently ridiculous opening offer. "Sold!" exclaimed the merchant. "You Americans have always been good customers and I like the funny baseball caps you wear."
On the other hand, we forgot to reconfirm our flight home. The last time I pulled this stunt, we spent an agonizing weekend stranded in Bogota.
My frantic telephone call rang through without a busy signal.
I was not put on hold.
No metallic voice came on to explain how to punch various numbers and then the pound key for infinite somersaults into cyberspace.
"Oh," the human voice said in English, "this airline abandoned that archaic reconfirmation rule a year ago. Just be at the airport in time to go through security."
Certainly there could be no more bullets to dodge.
Alas, yes. Our Dallas connection to Tucson was overbooked. "We're awfully sorry for the inconvenience, folks,” came the voice of the loudspeaker. “We're substituting a larger plane, so the wait will be about 15 minutes. So we’re passing out free drinks once you board."
And a merry APRIL FOOL to everyone who followed George Ridge's flight of fancy this far.