Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – August 7, 2004
A Day Trip To Stratford
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – August 7, 2004 – Last evening I had one of my dreadful, thrashing, menopausal nights. Snuffed sinus cavities, hot sweats, covers off-covers on and an inability to settle down and get comfortable. At quarter to four I was still awake. I had to get up at seven-thirty to get ready to go to the theatre at Stratford. Eric and Dorothy’s birthday gift this year was a picnic by the river and tickets to King John.
I stumbled downstairs to take Augie out for bathroom parade and then fed the foot-footed contingent. I put the kettle on for tea and grabbed a shower while I waited for it to boil. As the hot water was streaming over my head, I thought about the luxury of being able to snooze in the back seat while Dorothy drove.
I sighed with contentment at the thought. I was towelling dry when the phone rang. It was Dorothy asking me if I minded driving. Her neck was bothering her and she really wasn’t up to the task. “Sure – grrrrreat – you bet”, I said, wondering how I was ever going to keep my eyes open.
We started off about quarter to ten and I picked a sensible speed in the middle lane. I was secretly wondering how long it would be before I fell asleep and careened off the guard rail on one side of the road or the other. I pictured a multi-car pile up with dozens of cars strewn across the expressway, and the mangled bodies of passengers being carted away in ambulances.
I recognized a wee bit of anxiety rearing its head and wisely kept these thoughts to myself. It reminded me of a joke I really like – “I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car”. Eric read the paper for awhile and then promptly nodded off in the back seat – (that was supposed to be me).
Dorothy and I chatted away about a dozen different things and drove right past the turn off at the Kitchener exit – the one that leads west to Stratford. I was convinced that we could get there via the 401 to London. There wasn’t another turn off for miles so we kept going and finally veered off on the Drumbo Road to Innerkip. A gas station provided the opportunity to buy a road map and ice cream cones and also to peruse the local stores and houses of this little Ontario village.
There was a restaurant called Smully’s on the main street and we decided it was probably the home of the famous southern Ontario “Smully Burger”. I firmly believe once you’ve had a Smully Burger, you’ll never again settle for Wendys’, McDonald’s or Burger King. We didn’t actually have time to stop at Smully’s – but it’s on my list for a future day trip. We were hopelessly lost, even with the map, and when we reached a ‘T’ in the road we asked a local man if he knew where Road 258 was located.
The poor guy wouldn’t have had a clue because Dorothy had mis-read the map and we really needed directions to Road 59. He was wearing a number of mis-matched earrings and carrying a weed with a big clump of earth at the root end. However he tried to be helpful by telling us – “Nust nrive, nrive ova dere and go weft”. After a series of unsuccessful lefts and rights, and directions from a helpful man at a garage sale, we ended up on the road to Stratford. We’d left early so we weren’t in any danger of missing our two o’clock matinee. Half an hour later we arrived at Stratford and followed the long lineup of cars to the river by the Festival Theatre.
We found a free parking space on the river road and unpacked our picnic. Dee had packed a colourful blue and white checked tablecloth and a basket full of smoked salmon, mini Quiche, devilled eggs, fresh French stick, a tomato salad in herbed oil and chocolate cheesecake in case of a sweet tooth attack. She also blatantly disobeyed the laws of the Province of Ontario by serving white wine from a thermos. I was shocked and dismayed by her audacity – but not so much so that I couldn’t partake of the offering from said thermos.
The afternoon sun was deliciously warm when it peeked out from behind the cloud cover and we soon devoured the contents of the picnic basket. Not a crumb remained. After lunch we had time to stroll around an arts and crafts show on the lawn before our performance began.
Two o’clock sharp – the theatre went dark and Shakespeare’s King John began. A tale of royal intrigue between the kings of France and England, war, family betrayal, greed, grief, sorrow church interference in matters of state (imagine), arranged marriage and death.
Wow – it sounds just like the eleven o’clock news! The set was simple but very clever, the actors were excellent to a person and the play was wonderful. A mid-point intermission gave us an opportunity to do a seventh inning stretch and compare notes on Shakespeare’s characters and the somewhat complicated plot. Falconbridge’s character has some incredibly funny lines and he utters a keeper for my profundity file – “A twice told tale soon becomes tedious”.
We were on the road by five o’clock and back in Toronto by seven. The Alphabet Boys were eager for dinner and after I walked Augie and fed them, I put the kettle on for an evening tea. As I sat sipping in the den, I thought about what a fun-filled, lovely outing it had been and what a wonderful birthday gift a day at the theatre had been. A chance to get out of Toronto, have a picnic by the water, delight in a cultural afternoon and the thoroughly enjoyable company of my brother and sister-in-law.
This was a simple, inexpensive day trip to a beautiful destination and what a nice way to spend one of the last days of my holiday. I have two days left of my summer vacation, before I go back to work on Tuesday. It’s been a good break away from the hectic pace of real estate, and although I’m not particularly rested, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time without my pager, my cell phone and the incessant demands of my computer.
I’m going to plan more days like this one. Working every week-end just isn’t good for either my peace of mind or my (usually fully engaged) sense of humour!