Last September, I did something I’ve always wanted to do for my parents: I bought them tickets to France. They’ve never traveled outside of their New York-Philippines route and Paris is one of those places a person has to go to at least once in their lifetime. (Others say that’s Disneyland, but we can have a long discussion about that.) My parents have always wanted to go to Paris but they’re not very adventurous in terms of traveling and spending. My mother just turned 58 and my father is 59 today. I can’t think of a more perfect time to give them, and myself, a treat.
There was an affordable non-stop flight via Air France to Charles de Gaulle, but I couldn’t help but pick the flight with a stop over at Reykjavik. Our layover is only forty-five minutes each way, but for my own selfish reasons, I’m already thinking of how many vacuum-sealed fish I can buy, duty-free, at the Keflavik airport! Crazy, right? But you’d understand if you were also the type who’d spend $74 on cab fare to eat barbeque ribs from the Houston airport.
My father is what Filipinos would call maarte. I can’t think of a better English translation than “coquete.” When I first told my parents about going to Paris, my father did not even bat an eyelash. My mom squealed in delight (like mother, like daughter) but my father just pursed his lips, probably still figuring out where the hell Paris is in relation to Manila.
My father is like your father. He is not mean, but tact has never been his strength (like father, like daughter). From when he refuses to taste anything I cook to saying that he doesn’t really want to see Paris, it doesn’t occur to him that how he reacts or what he says would hurt his daughter’s feelings. My father is of the male species, after all.
So the last few months, he has refused to read any books about France or look at the Paris map I’ve bought to get them oriented. My mom has been reading the guide books I gave her and she’s been checking off tourist spots she wants to see in person. (In the movie Constant Gardener, one of the characters said, Adam was God’s prototype; he got it right with Eve.) But my father has been saying things like I’ll just take the next flight back to New York if I don’t like it. He kept his mouth shut after I suggested that he might want to look at the metro map to get his aSs back to the airport without us.
The other day, my mom told me to be nicer to my dad. That in fact behind closed doors, he has been asking my mom if I am making reservations at some fancy restaurants and if he needs to pack his suit. My mom reminded me that whenever we go anywhere together, even in the city, he’s the first one to pose for a photograph. He’s just being maarte, she said.
So we’re going to Paris and we’re traveling as a family–sans my older brother–for the first time in our lives. I just want my parents to enjoy the trip and know that their daughter is thinking of them.