How I Spent (on) My Summer Vacation&emdash;
Since my daughter, Jessica, made it through UC Berkeley in three years, I figured the least I could do was get her through Paris and London in a few weeks. It was my way of showing how proud I am of her achievement and how grateful I am for being spared a fourth year of tuition. Jessica made all of the reservations for our trip, which included stays at the Hilton Paris, three blocks from the Eiffel Tower, and the Hilton London Green Park Hotel, down the block from Buckingham Palace. I can understand why the Hilton Paris is reluctant to call itself the Paris Hilton, but I’m not sure why the English branch reverses its name, too. Maybe it’s a pre-emptive action&emdash;just in case Paris turns out to have an equally embarrassing sister named London.
Earthy Cause&emdash;While we were in Paris and London, so was Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was in each place to talk about global warming (according to reliable sources, he doesn’t approve of it), though I’d like to believe he was simply impressed with the itinerary my kid had laid out and was attempting to piggyback on it.
Yolo Contendere&emdash;When we were going through security in Paris to board the Eurostar, the immaculate Chunnel train that travels across and under the English Channel&emdash;and no, you don’t see fish outside your window&emdash;the guard asked what I did for a living in Sacramento. (I’m asked this on such a disturbingly regular basis that I’ve decided not to retire until I come up with an answer.) I told him that, among other things, I wrote for this very magazine, which prompted two young guys in the next line, whom my daughter defined as great-looking, to respectively say, Hey, I’m from Sacramento and I’m from Davis, if that counts. Jessica was a bit let down when they boarded an earlier train than ours. Me, too. I wanted to know what the kid from Davis meant by if that counts. Are they having civic self-esteem issues across the causeway?
Search Me&emdash;We were in London during the summer terrorism scare. In fact, I had strolled by the very nightclub (Tiger Tiger) and through the very area (the West End, near Piccadilly Circus) a few hours before Scotland Yard cops discovered a car that was rigged to explode in each locale. (My daughter was on the other side of town that day, visiting theater-student pals from the U.S.) Since this also was a few hours before our return flights&emdash;from London to Paris, then from Paris to San Francisco&emdash;I’m sure you can imagine how intense the security was at the airports, though nobody was offering any explanations just yet (it all came out in the news later that day). It was the first time I was frisked this thoroughly without it resulting in a long-term commitment. (My dentist, Dr. Gregory Owyang&emdash;I usually place an emphasis on the Ow&emdash;half-jokes that to save everyone time at the airport, it won’t be long before passengers are simply required to wear backless hospital gowns.)
My Biggest Fan&emdash;Among London’s many pleasures, I’d have to say that the roofless Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (before a lightning-and-thunder storm began) and what our bellhop called the modern new air conditioner in our room were personal faves. The latter was the size of a Mini Cooper and resembled the Master Cylinder character from the old Felix the Cat cartoons. I loved it&emdash;though not quite in a long-term commitment kind of way.