Still Innocent Abroad
At long last, thanks to the unforeseen Cuban Missus Crisis, I am happy to announce the arrival of the book that so many of you have been asking for – the sequel to An Innocent Abroad.
It picks up the story from October 1978 and takes it on until Christmas 1978. It was a Christmas we were unlikely to forget anyway, but we had no idea just how unforgettable it was going to be.
During the course of the year there were more encounters with parents on the warpath and more problems with the malfunctioning Big Blue Mean Machine. On the lighter side of life, we experienced the great American institutions of Kris Kringle and Thanksgiving as well as Hallowe’en – American style.
Then there was the decision taken by the innocents to put their trust in the BBMM and visit relations in Canada, a mere round trip of 1200 miles over the mighty snow-clad Rockies – just for a long weekend. Had they not learned anything in the three months they had been living in Montana? It seems not.
In this extract, I come fresh from a confrontation with an irate parent to be told that there is a worse one waiting in the wings.
“Mrs Van der Bosen…er…um…I am sorry to have to tell you that…er…um…well you see, Loren’s been kinda comin’ late into school recently –”
“Who said that? Who’s been complaining?”
“Well, er…um –”
“Was it that Scotsman, Adderson or some such reptile like that? His homeroom teacher? It would be, wouldn’t it? Well, we’ll see about that!”
And then the line would have gone dead. What’s a poor principal to do? He wasn’t to know that she’d come tearing up to my room and tear strips off me. No point in warning me in advance that she was on the warpath. No point in worrying about something that might never happen, Matt would have thought. Or was he just too scared of her to do anything? Like he did the time before last when a parent wanted my guts for garters.
When I tell Steve and Blake all about this latest escapade, once they have stopped laughing, they really get me worried. I’m not worried in the slightest about Loren’s mom or stepmom, as she appears to be. Loren can be as late as he likes as often as he likes from now on for all I care.
“Just wait till you meet Mrs Apachito, Dave,” says Blake, as expressionless as ever.
“You bet, Dave!” agrees Steve. His eyes, above his walrus moustache, are animated. “Just wait until you meet her! Boy, are you in for some fun!”
I have an uneasy feeling that they are the ones who will be having the fun when I tell them all about it later, but when I press them for some more information about her, they will not be drawn, only increase my anxiety by saying, “Wait and see, Dave. Wait and see. She is somethin’ else. Oh, boy!” And they walk away, shaking their heads, chuckling at the prospect.
Unbelievably there is going to be another parents’ day in a week’s time, on Hélène’s third birthday, as it happens.
As the day of fear draws nearer, so my anxiety grows in proportion. Blake and Steve might just be winding me up of course, that she’s not as terrifying as they would have me believe, but I have met three scary moms already and there must be something in it, no smoke without fire…