Lange: Coming Home Naked

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Commentator’s Brunch Sampler

(HOST) VPR commentators share their thoughts on a common theme at an
annual brunch every spring, which we record and sample later on the air.
This year, we asked them to write on the theme, "Picture This." And
that inspired commentator Willem Lange to describe a particularly
colorful arrival home from a European holiday.

(LANGE) Willem Lange, "Coming Home Naked."

picture this: Mother humors my neurosis and agrees to get to the
airport two hours before departure time. The plane takes off an hour
late. Nine hours from Nice to Kennedy. We clear customs and drag our
baggage to the connecting flight conveyor belt. We shuffle cattle-like
with hundreds of other travelers. A woman demanding passports and
boarding passes is rude to Mother. Then she announces loudly that my
boarding pass is wrong side up.

From inches away I hiss, "Would
it break your face to smile once in a while?" Then I grab my papers and
beat it before she can call Security.

She asks Mother, "Are you with him? You must be a saint!"

It’s a six-hour wait for a flight to Burlington . "Can I get you something?" I ask.

She’s – ah – she’s upset.

and tonic – a double." With a glass of beer for me, it comes to twenty
two bucks. Holy Toledo ! But it works. Half an hour later her eyes begin
to close.

Panicked, I suggest we find our gate while she’s
still conscious. We aren’t speaking. At the gate, she plops down with
her valise and trench coat to wait. "A cup of coffee?"


hand her the large coffee; she sets it on the valise in her lap. "I’m
going to the john," I say. "Be right back." I touch her shoulder.

doesn’t want to be touched, and jerks away. The coffee spills down her
front and keeps on going. She leaps up, shoves the valise at me, and
heads for the washroom.

A while later – and I’ve still got to go
to the john! – she returns in her long black trench coat and hands me a
plastic grocery bag with wet stuff inside it. "Here! Your fault. You
carry it."

"But what have you got on?"


How I wished for one more security checkpoint! But there wasn’t any. So
you and I are both just going to have to… picture it.

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