Le bouton rouge

My favorite trips are those down memory lane, accompanied by the people who shared those particular moments with me. Somehow everything looks grander when you’re looking at the rearview mirror, even if at the time they were ostensibly insignificant or ordinary or crazy.

Over lunch today my mom and I reminisced about the one summer seven years ago when we spent an entire month in Europe. I was a month shy of my 15th birthday, and as any dilettante in Latin American culture knows, this is a time when Mexican girls celebrate their quinceañera, the equivaelent of the American sweet sixteen.

Many of my friends went all out when they feted this rite of passage-the big, poofy dress, the Mexican DJ/dancers (in my town, everyone hires the same group of young guys who not only provide music but some sizzling Latin moves), the towering cake with frosting measuring three inches in width–the whole over-embellished enchilada.

I attended these lavish events and had the best time dancing up a storm, but I never felt like I wanted to have one for myself. So, given my propensity for wanderlust, I asked my parents to take me to Europe because I’d always wanted to go.

(As I write this, by the way, my mom decided to put my graduation video where I’m 20 pounds heavier–let’s not go down that lane.)

And this is one of the episodes we remembered from this trip–more to come later:

Paris: In an attempt to save money, my mom, brother and I all stayed in a room that was purportedly for two people. I think only half of my foot actually fit in there, but we were so tired (and, well, we couldn’t really say much due to our  illicit behavior concerning the number of guests) that we didn’t complain. The hotel manager, however, got his knickers in a twist and told us we’d have to pay the prix for the extra personne. Merde.

We tried to pull the “we don’t speak any English/French/any other language Monsieur manager understands” card, but it was too late. Or so we thought.

We were in a hurry the last day in Paris, so we packed up and went to the lobby to check out. As we’re about to head out, the alarm goes off. The entire hotel is buzzing and men and women are fleeing their room left and right in their pajamas or half-wrapped in towels.

My brother, his flushed face revealing an impish smile, whispers in our ear “I pressed a red button. I think it was the alarm.” Javi is known to have incontrollable hands. We made a beeline for the lobby and the young, helpless manager is in such a tizzy that he forgets to charge us the extra fee and quickly checks us out of the hotel.

As soon as we’re out the door, we burst into laughter.

Au revoir!

5/90

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