There's a story that I have been keeping from you. I have been wanting to tell it from back before I even started writing this blog. I promised the parties who were involved that I would submit it to The Reader's Digest. I was certain that if they had a super-duper humorous story contest, this would win hands-down, earning me buckets of money. Well, I've been waiting for one of these contests to materialize, and nothing has happened. In looking at their website, if I were lucky enough to get the story published, I'd earn a whopping one hundred dollars. In addition, the story would forever become their property and they could use it as they wished without even giving me any credit. All in all, although I'd love to earn some money for it, I'd rather just share it with my readers for free.
Several years ago, I went on a trip to Europe with my sister Liz and my friends Marie and Julie. We started off in Budapest, spent a day in Vienna, and located my family in their little village in Western Hungary. Then we headed off to spend several days in Paris. We had a lot of amazing experiences on this trip, and had tons of fun as well. In addition to seeing all sorts of beautiful places and meeting my family, we had many moments that left us laughing until we cried.
Liz has spent many years in the banking industry, and Marie is schooled in Accounting, but Julie and I seem to have a natural knack for numbers. When we were preparing for the trip, I wanted to make sure that I had an idea of what I was spending in American dollars when I used the local currency. I told my fellow travelers that 1000 Hungarian forints were roughly equal to 6 US dollars. Pretty simple, right? You'd think so. A typical day of shopping in Budapest would have Banker Liz looking at a price tag and exclaiming, "Two thousand dollars!" On the other hand, Accountant Marie would be saying, "Okay, this is 2500 forints. If 1000 forints is 6 dollars, then..." Julie and I would act aggravated and interrupt with, "It's fifteen dollars, Marie!"
On a beautiful spring day while we were in Paris, we decided to take a train trip to see the palace at Versailles. As a student of History and a person who appreciates beauty, I was excited to see the home of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette of France. It was everything I expected, and much more. There was so much beauty and detail, one's eyes and brain almost overloaded on everything they were seeing. As luck would have it, both Liz and I had problems with our cameras that day. Liz's started having problems a day or two before, and after just a short while at Versailles, the new battery I had purchased outside the gates quit working. We relied on Marie and Julie to take lots of photographs.
After spending some time roaming through the castle, and occasionally resting on benches and chairs that the doomed King and Queen may have used themselves more than 200 years ago, we shopped, ate lunch, and found ourselves on the train back to Paris. The train had seats facing both ways on both sides of the aisle, and Julie and I were sitting on one side of the train while Liz and Marie shared a seat across the aisle and facing our direction. We were relaxing and talking, and Marie was showing Liz her photos of the artwork, sculptures, furniture, and other treaures in the palace.
As she looked at her photos of some paintings, I heard Marie say, "Oh, No!!! I cut her head off!" Well, being a natural-born smart-aleck, I quipped, "Must have been Marie Antoinette!" Julie and I both found my remark extremely witty, and we dissolved into a fit of giggles. Marie responded with, "I can't tell, I cut her head off!" Julie and I completely lost it. It's really a wonder we didn't wet our pants or make ourselves sick with laughing. Or both. Liz and Marie gave us dirty looks from the other side of the train, having totally missed the jokes. All of the passengers around us, none of whom spoke English, glared at us as well for our lack of dignity.This made it even worse. We were rolling around in our seats, tears streaming down our faces, shrieking with laughter. Even after we calmed down, we kept bursting into spontaneous fits of giggles for the rest of the ride back to Paris. It was absolutely delicious.
Marie and Liz were both good sports about it when we explained why we were so hysterical on the train. And they've gotten many laughs out of the story in the numerous times that it has been retold. Marie still seems to find it funny when I make jokes about people losing their heads, which I would never do about Marie Antoinette. Oh, wait, I already did, didn't I? Also, if you were curious about the unfortunately-photographed lady in the painting, it was Empress Josephine, the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. Marie's photo aside, her head remained intact.