Meet My Better Half


By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher. – Socrates

Now is a good time for you to meet the person, without whom, this trip would not even be an idea. When it comes to trips, she is in charge. She has spent much of her career working in heritage and cultural tourism, and she knows how to plan a trip. Sure, I have lots of input, but I make my suggestions with full knowledge of who my passengers are – and one of them has a degree in this. The other two get hungry and need restrooms every 43 minutes. If we ever lack a plan, that is still planned. She is in charge. Oh, I said that already. It bears repeating.

She’s also always (usually) right. I’m not just saying that. I mean, I’m right sometimes too. Hell, most of the time. But while I tend to be full of useless trivia, she zeros in on what’s important. If you want shallow banter on a wide range of subjects, I’m your guy. If you want deep analysis of a problem or a project managed, call her. She’s a force, but not like one of those “overbearing moms” with no self awareness. If she steps on your toes, she meant to.

OK, so she’s actually wrong sometimes. She recently decided it would be fun to take the kids to see Bruno Mars in concert. She had vision of two kids dancing the night away in the shadow of this generation’s Michael Jackson. I pictured traffic, and two tired children waiting for a late show on a school night. I have a tendency to identify the pitfalls, while she is optimistic. It was a very expensive learning experience, in ways that I couldn’t have predicted. So even though I was technically right about the concert, if I had put a stop to it, we’d never have known what a comedic disaster it would be. I wrote about it at Creative Loafing.

Can she rough it? Yes, just as much as I can, but…

Before we had kids we took a trip to Belize. She planned the first week of jungle adventures, sleeping in a screened hut with no locks on the door. I planned the second week, relaxing on beaches. Prior to the trip she declared: “We can do something cheap and rustic at the beach. I’ve slept in $2 rooms in Thailand. We’re just going to sit around half naked in the sand. I can handle it.” So I booked us cheap, waterfront lodging for about $60 per night. We checked in to a hotel whose name I believe translated into “Scratchy Blue Towel.” The rooms were blue. Blue floor, blue walls, blue bed. It was like they planned to film a CGI movie in there.

Van blog blue room
I told you it was blue. For $60 per night, you get one color.

The waterfront was stagnant, slimy seagrass. But, about 100 yards away a gleaming resort with a sugar-white beach beckoned where Bob Marley tunes and tequila flowed from a tiki bar. We got in the water and she broke into tears, “I can’t stay at that place. I want to stay here.” Here was a resort where the rooms were individual stilt huts for $300 per night – and that is where we stayed. No woman no cry.

Van blog nice room
For $300 per night you get many colors. And a pool, and a beach, and room service…

My wife inherited her mother’s sense of humor. This includes the inability to be embarrassed in public, and the tendency to prank. In fact, I think the only person that can embarrass Monica is her mother. My kids have no idea what they are in for when their skin thickens a little – which I hope is soon for my son’s sake. We once went to visit the in-laws over a holiday and my wife neglected to pack anything resembling pants/shorts/skirts. It was a pantsless weekend. She got by with bikini bottoms and an array of oddities that my mother in-law had on hand.

Forgot to pack pants? No problem.
Nothing like an impromptu family Civil War reenactment.

She has no illusions about camping. She’s done it plenty. She likes to tell the story of a road trip she took with her German ex-boyfriend in which she caught her sleeping bag on fire while attempting to warm it with rocks she’d pulled from the campfire. He looked on, presumably wondering how the Allies won the war. (Too soon?)

She won’t be packing a curling iron (her hair is already curly), no hair dryer, no Direct TV dish. Hell, I’m the one who’s still trying to figure out how I sneak an iron on this trip. (With the spare tire?) I’ve seen her wear the same two shirts, pants, and bras for ten days. I know she is capable of roughing it. But did I tell you that she takes a bath almost every day? I haven’t searched Amazon for “camping bathtub.”

Oh, come on:

“Hello, Mr. Cartwright. I’m pleased to be able to receive your call while bathing and doing laundry at the same time.”

Stay tuned for the link to the Camping Bathtub Go Fund Me campaign.

“Don’t make me turn this van around” is written by Jonathan and Monica Kile. Check out Jon’s periodic column, “So How’s That New Book Coming?” at Creative Loafing – Tampa. His 2014 thriller, The Grandfather Clock, is available free for Kindle on and other eReaders at Smashwords. Reach him at Monica is a freelance grant writer, non-profit consultant, tour guide, and connoisseur of 70s rock lyrics.  

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