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Half-Century of High Jinks

Two best friends, Jackie and June, decide to celebrate fifty years of friendship by taking a trip to Madrid. The comedy starts before they even get to the airport. After all, isn't the best part of friendship laughter and adventure?

Swirling around like two buzzards jostling for position, Jackie and June circled the breakfast platter placed on the balcony’s table by white-coated hotel staff. Madrid seemed as good a place as any to celebrate fifty years of friendship—sans husbands.

It had been quite the fiasco to get to the airport, let alone anyplace else afterwards. Jackie’s husband George left his hearing aids on the nightstand when they departed, so he didn’t hear her when she warned, “Watch out for the trash can at the end of the driveway. They haven’t picked it up yet.”

George’s Buick hit the trash can like a crash test dummy, leaving an unidentifiable heap of twisted plastic and scattered garbage the wind blew halfway down the block. A lone plastic wheel, detached from the container, kept rolling until it was completely out of sight.

June fared no better. Her husband Charlie neglected to close the fence gate earlier, so when he let their little chihuahua named Pee Wee out that morning, Pee Wee grasped the opportunity whole heartedly and made a bolt towards freedom. Luckily, Charlie realized what he'd done before he turned around to get his coffee. Charlie chased their chihuahua up one street and down another yelling, “Pee Wee, come here boy. PEE WEE! PEE WEE!!”

June sat in her front room chair, put her hand to her forehead, and wondered why in heavens they decided to name the poor animal Pee Wee. The neighborhood website was going to be full of comment after comment over some older gentleman frantically running around the neighborhood yelling ‘Pee Wee’.

And so, they finally made it to the airport on time. Before lining up in the lengthening security checkpoint queue, Jackie and June reviewed a litany of reminders with George and Charlie. If the women were an adding machine, poor George and Charlie would have been buried under fifty feet of receipt paper. The men’s eyes thoroughly glazed over, they nodded their heads and received a quick peck on the cheek. For the first time in…well…they couldn’t remember how long, the husbands were left to their own devices.

The plane trip overseas had been uneventful. Except for when the clacking of Jackie’s knitting needles coaxed June to sleep, and she snored like a grizzly bear denied hibernation for three seasons. Jackie kept trying to nudge and poke June to no effect, so she finally poured a little water from her cup onto June’s lap. That did it, and better than expected too.

The next snore-snort immediately cut off, June’s saucer-sized eyes opened and then…ever so slowly…shifted their gaze downward. June sat stock still as she tried to put two and two together, and then leaned over to Jackie and whispered, “Oh my God! Jackie give me a napkin; I’ve wet myself. I am MORTIFIED!

Jackie couldn’t help herself and started laughing and wheezing until a flight attendant came over and asked if she was okay. Gathering her wits enough to nod a yes to the steward, Jackie turned towards June, lifted the cup of water as cheers, and then doubled over in laughter again.

Pants dried from pranks and faces wiped from tears of hilarity, Jackie and June managed to arrive at their destination intact and proceeded to promptly pass out on top of their beds.

Sun streamed through the windows, slowly illuminating building after building. Eventually the rays reached Jackie’s and June’s faces as the curtains remained wide open. After stretching their stiff joints, they eagerly ordered the largest breakfast on the menu as they sat on the balcony overlooking the La Latina portion of Madrid, which oozed and seeped with history.

Easing into their bistro chairs, June leaned over and said to Jackie, “I have a feeling we’re not quite through with making memories.”



This photo is of Ca' d'Zan, which was the home of John Ringling and his wife Mable, and is located in Sarasota, Florida. John Ringling may sound familiar, as he was one of the brothers who owned and operated the Ringling Brothers Circus, better known as "The Greatest Show on Earth." In the 1920s John Ringling was one of the richest men in America, with an estimated net worth of $200 million.

"In 1911, John and his wife, Mable, purchased 20 acres of waterfront property in Sarasota. In 1912, they began spending winters in what was then still a small town. They became active in the community and purchased more and more real estate, at one time owning more than 25 percent of Sarasota’s total area.

After a few years the couple decided to build a house and hired the noted New York architect Dwight James Baum to design it. Mable, who kept a portfolio filled with sketches, postcards and photos, wanted a home in the Venetian Gothic style of the palazzi in Venice, Italy, with Sarasota Bay serving as her Grand Canal. Construction began in 1924 and was completed two years later at a then staggering cost of $1.5 million. Five stories tall, the 36,000 square foot mansion has 41 rooms and 15 bathrooms."

Read more here.

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