“We just got back from three months of driving a rented RV along the coast of Australia,” Kensaid, eyes gleaming.“It was amazing,” added his wife, Gisela, a South African woman in her late 30s with a beautifulface and brazen crew cut.Just before meeting our new best friends, my wife, Elena, and I had been sitting at the bar inKona Village, a family resort on the big island in Hawaii, watching a mommy and baby humpback
After they arrived, Elena kept asking them detailed questions, clearly convinced that we wouldsoon be heading to Australia
way.“Imagine a population smaller than New York City, spread out over a country as big as ours,”Ken explained.“What are the beaches like?” Elena asked.“Pristine,” Gisela responded with a British-sounding accent, “if you saw ten people that wouldbe a busy day.”“Wildlife?” I questioned weakly, trying to play along, but disturbed by the direction theconversation had taken.“Kangaroos everywhere,” Ken said. “But the coolest was a Koala Bear wanderin’ from one treeto the next right beside the RV. He stretched halfway up before climbin’ the rest of the way andgoin’ back to sleep.” “That’s so cool!” Elena said enthusiastically, her wheels turning. During our seven-year marriage,we had been to Florence (twice), Athens, Paris (twice), London, a dude ranch (four times),Florida (countless times), New York City (countless times), Laguna Beach (for a month once),Los Angeles, Dallas, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Sedona, St. Lucia, the Bahamas, and nowHawaii.As much as I really liked Ken and Gisela, this whole exchange set off a familiar terror that was
a hulking former swimmer and rower, I still had my fair share ofdemons. I was still alone in a certain sense, not by choice but necessity.
obsessive compulsive with
Gisela had mentioned port-a-potties and campground showers and my mind had somehowconnected the strange bathroom protocol on a three-month road trip in Australia to Nicholsoncoming home to pull a bar of soap from his medicine cabinet (stacked with nothing but soap),rubbing his hands under scalding water, dropping the bar in the trash and repeating the processover and over again, exemplifying extreme germ phobia. He even brings plastic silverware tothe one restaurant he patronized.
perhaps the smartest man I
Yale. But he has to arrange the chairs in a certain way at family gatherings and becomes visiblyupset when food is served in a way that doesn’t meet his expectations. He is not as extremeas Jack Nicholson in the movie, but his obsessive-compulsive tendencies can lead him to dark
to pain me as an adult. There are certain behaviors that he simply can’t control; but mom alwayswished he could.
of driving a rented RV along the
coast of Australia