On being incapable of saying no

It turns out the Giorgio can create an Italy tour for under eight million dollars, so with some trepidation I tell him that I am leaving it in his hands. Visions of the kinds of disasters that could potentially ensue dance in my head for a few minutes after I send the e-mail, and then Jessica comes into the room with the New York City travel books.

I am already feeling slightly traumatized – I have made a commitment! I have bought airline tickets – nonrefundable airline tickets! – and I hyperventilate for a few minutes while she plops on the sofa next to me and says, “We are going to meet Randy in New York before we go to Italy.”

I remember her negotiating this a long time ago, and I say, “Eh,” which she takes as more encouraging than I mean it to be, but Jessica does not let other people’s lack of enthusiasm impact her own.

“We will call her right now,” she says. “And we will find out what day she is free for dinner. And then we will go to Macy’s.”

“We will what?” I don’t think I’ve ever uttered the word Macy’s in her hearing in my life.

She points a finger at a picture in the travel book. “It’s a must-see,” she says seriously. “Along with the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. And the Strand Bookstore. That is for you. But I will buy a book, too. Also we will go on the subway. And take taxis.”

Modes of transportation are a form of entertainment to Jessica, not a method of travel. Leaving the planning up to her certainly frees my brain up for other activities, like panicking, but it tends to result in an itinerary that one might characterize as unusual.

“What about the Statue of Liberty?” I say. “The Empire State Building? Central Park?”

“I do not like tall things,” she says. “And it will be the middle of winter. But we will do the Statue of Liberty on our way back.”

“On our way back?”

“We have to come back to New York from Italy,” she explains.

“Yes, but that just means a two-hour layover at JFK before we catch a flight to Kansas City.”

“No it does not.”

“It means … Two more days in New York?” I guess.


She has that determined look on her face. She has always been a person who grabs life with both hands, and clearly she has a picture of this trip in her mind, and since I don’t, I see no percentage in arguing about it just for the sake of arguing.

“Okay,” I say.

She picks up the phone. “We can call Randy now,” says the girl who knows how to get things done.

“Okay,” I say.

“This is going to be the best trip ever,” she says.

“Even though we won’t be meeting any Disney princesses?”

“We will be the princesses,” she says, and starts punching in the numbers for Randy’s house.