Monday, May 28, 2007

Honeymooners: the Black Queen Story Part 5

I wasn't able to go on a honeymoon immediately after getting married, because I had to get a document stuck in my passport, granting me leave to remain in the UK. I had to acquire this document before I left the country. There was another impediment to our honeymoon: my wife's ex-husband. When she asked him to have the kids so we could go away, he refused. D---a was upset that he was being so spiteful. I decided to turn it around on him. I asked her if the kids had ever been to America. She confirmed they had not. So, I suggested that we take them with us. That way they'd remember their first trip to America as being with us. My wife agreed, so that's what we did.
After I sorted out the bureaucratic details, D---a got the boyfriend of a friend of hers, who worked for British Airways, to book us some discounted tickets, through their staff travel office. I wanted to take my bride and her two bairns to New York City and Washington, D.C. There was no discounted space available to New York, or to Washington, so I suggested trying Philadelphia, which is halfway between. Sure enough, there was space available to Philly. The four of us flew from London's Heathrow airport, about a week after our wedding.
At Philadelphia International Airport, I picked up a rental car. I selected a big, Pontiac, Grand Prix. I like a car with power and it had room for the four of us and our luggage. I headed south, towards D.C. I drove till we felt like stopping. I wanted to get us out of the Philly area, because I knew from experience that motels would be cheaper once we were out of the big city area. Somewhere in Delaware, along Interstate 95, my new family informed me they were all hungry. I saw a sign for a Holiday Inn with reasonable rates, advertised as being off the next exit. I stopped there as Holiday Inns are known to be "family friendly." The kids could stay free, sharing a room with us. A room was available, so we checked in and put our bags in the room. After that, we made a beeline to the hotel restaurant. Once the family were fed and watered, we went back to our room. The kids wanted to go swimming, but we were feeling tired. My wife and I advised them that we should have an early night. After all, it was five hours later back home.
In the morning, we had breakfast, then I indulged the children in a dip in the pool. The pool area was deserted, other than the four of us, but the kids didn't seem to mind. By lunch time, we were back on the road. Once we reached the suburbs of D. C., I looked for an inexpensive place to say. Spotting a Days Inn just outside the District, in Maryland, I stopped there. I knew prices would be cheaper there than they would be actually within D.C. After settling into our room, the kids began a familiar refrain. They wanted to go swimming again. We all got into our swimming costumes and headed for the pool. When we got there, I had a strange experience.
Another family came to use the pool. They had a boy who was about 12-14 years old. He took one look at my beautiful, eight-year-old stepdaughter and shot straight for her. If it had been a cartoon, he would have left a smoke trail. My wife found the resultant look on my face hilarious. I was not happy. I scowled at the boy, who seemed to take no notice. To make matters worse, he looked and sounded like a particularly low class type of American. His sleazy appearance and accent only added to a trailer-trash image. Without any idea where it had come from, I was suddenly flush with a feeling of, "he's not good enough for my little girl." The only problem was, she's not actually my little girl. I was just her newly crowned stepfather. I spent the rest of our poolside afternoon smouldering, much to the continued amusement of my bride. When we finally made our move to go to our room, the sleazy boy actually had the nerve to ask MY stepdaughter for our room number. The innocent little lass walked up to me and gently asked what our room number was. Thank goodness she didn't remember it! "We don't give our room number to strangers," I advised her. I felt some slight relief that we wouldn't be disturbed by horny fourteen-year-old boys calling our room in the middle of the night. As we walked into the building, I gave the boy one last, withering glance, as if to say, "she's only 8, for Pete's sake!"
Part of my trip itinerary was that we would visit Washington while the Libertarian Party National Convention was on. Formerly, I had been a member of the Party's National Committee (LNC). My political career included two terms as Vice-Chair of the Libertarian Party of New York State, 1993 Libertarian candidate for Mayor of New York City, Official Liaison from the Party to the Howard Stern Campaign, and candidate for the nomination for Governor of New York. I was quite well known amongst convention delegates and I wanted to take the opportunity of introducing my new family. As a former member of the LNC, I had received an invitation to attend a show on the first evening of the convention, performed by the Capital Steps. The opportunity of taking my family to a free show was too good to resist. It was a thrilling night out for the kids, who weren't used to being taken to such things. I was also proud of my new family and wanted to show them off.
Altogether, we spent three days in the D.C area. I took my family sightseeing, just as I had been taken sightseeing on my first ever trip, which was to Washington, when I was 10 years old. On our last night in the D.C. area, which also happened to be July 3rd, my birthday, we went to Baltimore's Inner Harbor, for dinner. On the 4th of July, we checked out of the Days Inn and began the drive to New York. We stopped in Philadelphia, halfway, around lunch time. I took the family to see Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, back in 1776. We watched some ceremony commemorating the event, which was part of Philly's 4th of July celebrations. After a bite to eat, we got back on the road north. It was to be the children's first time seeing New York.
Speaking of firsts, I had arranged for us to stay at my family's home, on Long Island. It would be my grandmother's first time meeting the children, but my mother's first time meeting them and their mother. My mother's a bit eccentric and she has a history of avoiding meeting my girlfriends. After I got engaged, D---a pleaded with me that she wanted to meet my mother, who was to be her future mother-in-law. I told her I would try my best and passed on her request to my mother. With a stubbornness that is my mother's trademark, she refused D---a's quite reasonable request. I implored her to change her mind, for my sake, but all she would agree to is that she would speak to D---a over the phone. It was arranged for the last trip D---a made to visit me in America, before we got married. My mother left the house and then called. When I answered, she stated she was ready to speak to my fiancee. After I handed the phone to D---a, my mother proceeded to tell her that she shouldn't marry me. Gee, thanks mom! Fortunately, or unfortunately, D---a didn't heed my mother's advice. Now that we'd been married, my mother was prepared to meet my wife, face to face. In a strange about face, once my mother had met D---a, she acted very friendly. She acted like she liked D---a more than she liked me. My grandmother and mother admired the children as they played in our back garden. So far, this was the closest they had come to having great-grandchildren and grandchildren, respectively. They were quite beautiful children, so it was easy to admire them. My folks also saw me in a different light. This was their first time seeing me taking responsibility for a family of my own. They were both quite surprised at how well I took to the role. Neither of them had been aware that for all of my adult life, I had longed to be a family man.
Staying at my family's home saved us the cost of a hotel. Using it as a base of operations, we took the children to see the sights of New York, which I had previously shown their mother. This included a trip to the top of the then still standing, World Trade Center, as well as a visit to Liberty Island. On our first night, we started off by going to see the 4th of July fireworks display, over the East River. Most children love fireworks and the New York City display, sponsored by Macy's, is one of the largest in the world. I tried to expose the children to as many delightful experiences as possible. Among these were ice cream parlours, hot buttered movie popcorn, sidewalk vended pretzels and hot dogs, and F.A.O. Schwartz toy store. This was more their honeymoon than my wife's. We even managed to squeeze in a trip to Six Flags Great Adventure theme and safari park. After three nights, it was time to return to the UK. We said goodbye to my surviving biological family and the house I grew up in. I drove us back to Philadelphia, to catch our flight back to my new home.

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