The Unsolicited Opinions of the Alabama Housewife: Standards

Words by Mary Alayne B. Long

Illustration by Eliza Bishop

 

I could not possibly be any less concerned with high social position, and I assure you, not unlike Garth Brooks, I have plenty of friends in low places. And that’s by design.

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A great day for me might be spent working in the house or out in the yard, planting or picking things in the garden, hanging out on the wharf and playing with the dogs. Follow that up with a tomato sandwich for supper paired with an episode or two of Andy Griffith and I’m all set. If I have spent over half of the day in bare feet, even better. Sure, I like to get all dressed up for special occasions from time to time, but as a general rule, I’m about as laid back as one can be. 

The one place where my low-end lifestyle comes to a complete halt is when I travel. I’m good to stay at a hotel right off the interstate for a quick overnight when it’s needed, but for any big trip or “vacation,” the Travel Snob in me comes out with full flying colors. Now don’t misunderstand that to mean that I lose all sense of propriety or that I turn into some sort of entitled, rudely behaved traveler. Quite the contrary. I only mean to say that if I’m going on any sort of holiday, I’m going first class. Flight. Hotel. Activities. You name it. I am not standing in line. I am not waiting on a table. I am not—I repeat not—getting on any sort of bus, and group activities of any sort are completely out of the question. I want the fast pass and the private tour guide and I want to go in through the back gate. I will gladly pay whatever it costs, and if I can’t afford it, I will gladly skip it. I am very fortunate that I don’t ever feel like I am missing out on much of anything, so it doesn’t bother me to stay home. Not in the least.

When our children were young, we rarely traveled. A few trips to Disney here and there and two or three visits out west, but we always waited until we could travel like we wanted and usually stayed in really nice places—so it was all they knew. On one trip, our son broke his arm and spent most of the time propped up in the hotel room while the ski valets took turns bringing him lunch every day. Once, when my daughter was about eight years old, we spent the night at a little mountain lodge-ish hotel on our way to summer camp. After settling into our room (which was great by the way), she started out the door. I asked where she thought she was going, and she looked me square in the eyes and said, “I’m just running down to the club lounge for a quick hot chocolate before bed.”

“Ummmmmm—oh no ma’am, you’re not. You’re going to sit right here on that bed while you eat your Easy Mac in your lap, and then we will watch something on HBO—because they have free HBO here.”

It gave me pause and made me realize that we needed to take a few more trips, and we definitely needed to make a few more stops along the real life highway. Both children have traveled plenty since then and have learned the joy that can come from throwing a backpack over your shoulder filled with all you need for a week overseas or sharing a room with three

friends on a school trip—and honestly, those memories are worth more than the price of a club level suite at The Ritz.

There’s nothing wrong with knowing what you like and setting standards. And there sure as heck isn’t anything wrong with flying first class. As long as you are always kind to the people you meet along the way and you don’t ever lose sight of where you came from, you’ll easily glide through any trip you decide to take—and that includes the great and wonderful excursion we call life.