Travel Stories

Dinner with “The Jacket”

Our friend and loyal customer Shawn (a.k.a. “Princpessa”) enjoys writing about daily events, family adventures, vacations and travel, her three well-behaved children and her favorite subject, her husband. She lived in France with her family for a year in 2001-2002 and her misadventures of speaking the language and day-to-day living in a foreign country are legendary.  All of her stories are true with no embellishments, additives or preservatives. It is Shawn’s hope, after reading her stories, that you realize you don’t suffer the misfortunes of your spouse’s or children’s bad behavior on your own.

We would like to share one of Shawn’s adventures with you…

Dinner with “The Jacket”
by Shawn Undewood

When my husband, Craig, and I lived in the south of France, we met a lot of unusual people. We made friends with quite a few ex-pats through the International School of Nice where our kids attended school. However, one couple in particular made a distinctive impression with us. As is often the case with couples new to town, we met through our eight year old daughters who played together at school.

Ginger’s (my daughter’s friend) mother invited us over to dinner with her “fiancé”, and a few other couples from the Valbonne area. We arrived in a thoroughly crabby mood because of my inability to read the map (French or otherwise), and poor directions from Ginger’s mom.

The door was opened by a “Lurch-like” (recall The Adams Family) grey haired gentleman sporting velvet slippers, and a SMOKING JACKET. I had not seen a smoking jacket since I watched Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart in “Rear Window.” We were apprised of “The Jacket’s” background immediately, He was the eldest son of a long line “wealthy plantation owners” in the deep-south. This all relayed in a very strange accent; “Ahm the black sheep of the family, our people have a plantation in the South.” Making matters worse, he was “in his cups.” His accent an affected mixture of upper-crust English accent and southern drawl.

Wondering where Ginger and her mom were, we made ourselves comfortable on the two-person sofa while velvet slippers stumbled to the cocktail table. My daughter, Lydia sensing all was not right in this household, wisely ran off to find Ginger. We gladly slurped down a few drinks thinking we were in for a long slog. As Craig and I gulped our drinks, we gave each other; “the look”, that only long married couples exchange. “Get me the heck out of here.”

“The Jacket”  was eager to show us his musical knowledge from Northwest musicians, and turned up the volume to an ear-busting crescendo on his stereo. “Crawg (said with a short a vowel sound), you must know this band, come on Crawg, who are they?” Craig was paralyzed into near hysteria as “The Jacket” played his air guitar with great enthusiasm. Our host’s face was a contorted Halloween mask, mouth drawn decidedly down one side. I excused myself to the bathroom and recovered my composure, leaving Craig as he dithered with his own “air drumsticks.”

When I returned, Crawg was now slumped into the two person sofa with the bleary eyed “The Jacket” (who sat perilously close to Craig) as he (The Jacket, not Crawg) as he extolled the virtues of Northwest bands.

Thirty minutes later, Ginger’s blowsy haired mother scurried into the room, tsk-tsking ‘The Jacket’ for his impromptu performance. “What will they think of you Ashley?” and “For Gawd’s sake, Ashley, turn the music down.”

We were desperate and wanted to escape the madhouse, but at that moment the rest of the guests arrived, an assortment of British ex-pats, all clearly used to Ashley’s preference with the air-guitar. They immediately repaired to the dining table.

Craig and I sat as far away from Ashley as possible, and prepared for a marathon meal while Ashley (Formerly know as ‘The Jacket’ to only Craig and I.) berated people’s use of the Internet. Everyone at the table vehemently opposed Ashley’s moronic ideas about the world-wide-web. However, Ashley stuck to his guns. “Ahhh, only keep track of maaa business on paper.”  

Our hostess disappeared again and rushed back into the room and literally threw a large plate of BBQ ribs on the table . . . and nothing else. Well, of course there was wine, lots of wine, until “The Jacket” fell asleep, an hour later, his head peacefully propped on his gnawed spare ribs.

We invite you to enjoy more of Shawn’s stories at her website

Share on Twitter

About Keli Sim DeRitis

Keli Sim DeRitis is an artist, designer, passionate cook, teacher, and tour guide. Keli founded Poggi Bonsi in 2001 to share her love of European travel, food, wine, and culture. Connect with me on Google+


Keli Sim DeRitis is an artist, designer, passionate cook, teacher, and tour guide. Keli founded Poggi Bonsi in 2001 to share her love of European travel, food, wine, and culture.
Connect with me on Google+