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You Should Have Been Here Last Week!

by Rose Madeline Mula


Did you ever get the feeling that your whole life is running at least a week late? Mine is. Maybe it's because I was overdue at birth, so I've been behind ever since. If I could ever catch up, I'd have it made. Because, my friends, the secret to success and happiness is not beauty, brains or talent-it's timing. And, boy, is my timing ever off.

As a teenager, I'd go to Cape Cod with my girl friends. Dullsville! All the other girls there said, "Gee, you should have been here last week-end-it was wall-to-wall boys!"

Later I'd take a trip to New Hampshire for the foliage. Only there wasn't any. Oh, there were leaves all right, but they had all turned brown. "If only you had come last week," I'd be told, "the colors were spectacular!"

In the winter, I'd trek back to New Hampshire to ski; and I'd arrive just as an unseasonable heat wave was melting all the snow that had been fantastic last week. So I'd head south to Florida to cavort in the surf, but I couldn't because the jelly fish were having a convention. Last week, needless to say, the water was gorgeous-and fish-less.

Come spring, I'd go to Washington, bringing with me a cold snap that killed the last of the cherry blossoms just as my plane touched down at Washington National Airport.

In fact, wherever or whenever I go, the first thing I usually hear from the hotel desk clerk are the chilling words, "The season is over." Do you know what that means? It means that if you haven't brought your knitting along to while away the quiet hours, you've got big trouble. On one such memorable trip, I did manage to find a small shop that was open, by some fluke. The owner probably needed a rest and decided that was the best place to get it at that time of year. Out of sheer boredom I started spending with wild abandon. Heck, what's a vacation for? I then asked if I might have a shopping bag for my parcels. The shopkeeper shook his head and said, "I'm sorry, I don't have any. The season is over." Bummer. When you can't even make the shopping bag season, you know you're a loser.

Way back in another century (1963 to be exact) my friend Irma and I went to Zermatt, Switzerland, and managed to hit it during the one-week slump (and I do mean slump) between the end of the summer season and the beginning of the winter season. Since there was no one else to talk to, our big entertainment was to go yell at the Matterhorn so we could hear it yell back. Understandably, a little of this mad excitement goes a long way; so after a couple of days of such stimulating activity, I decided it would be much more fun to do some laundry. As it turned out, it was.

While I was in the bathroom rinsing out a few things, I heard voices. Human voices. Not an echo, but an actual conversation. They were coming from the suite next door, loud and clear, apparently amplified by the plumbing and tile. I was fascinated. My neighbors (a socialite couple from Boston, I gathered from their discussion) were having a humdinger of an argument about everything from her money (which she accused him of spending on himself rather than investing for her) to his business affairs (which, not having been born yesterday, she knew were not strictly business). Then they got around to fighting over their Swiss sojourn. It seems that when she wanted to go home, he absolutely couldn't leave because of pressing business there. But now, just because the Red Sox had won the pennant, suddenly they had to rush home so he wouldn't miss the World Series. So the Red Sox had pulled it off! This was news to me-we hadn't seen a newspaper in days.

I burst into the bedroom where Irma was knitting (she's smarter and more realistic than I, you see-she had brought hers along). "Guess What?!" I exclaimed. "The Red Sox won the pennant!" She dropped three stitches and to this days hasn't figured out how I learned that in a radio-less bathroom in the shadow or the Matterhorn. You don't think I was going to admit that I was eavesdropping, do you?

To further illustrate how bad my travel timing is, I once got to Capistrano a week after the swallows arrived. The travel agent had convinced me they were going to be late that year. A little bird told him.

I am finally resigned to the fact that wherever I go, at least three or more of the following are bound to be true:

  • The midnight sun shone brighter last week.
  • The eligible millionaires were all here last week.
  • The Grotto was bluer last week.
  • The sunsets were more spectacular last week.
  • The Pope addressed the audience in English last week.
  • It wasn't as crowded last week..or worse..
  • There were lots of interesting people here last week.
  • Dior had an incredible sale last week.
  • The wine festival ended last week.
  • The grass was greener last week

But I don't have to travel to be in the wrong time zone. I manage very well right here at home. For example, the other night a friend took me to a trendy club where it turned out that for that night only they were featuring local amateur "talent." Not only was the show unbelievably bad, but the place was a mess-wrecked by all the enthusiastic fans who had been there last week for a super star-studded spectacular.

Remember that old dance, the Funky Chicken? Well, I finally learned to do it a week after it died and went to the great barnyard in the sky. I also personally insured the demise of the Electric Slide and the Macarena.

Furthermore, the week after I had my hair cropped to overall one-inch fuzzy ringlets, long and sleek became the only acceptable style. And do you know how long it takes my hair to grow? Just long enough so that short and curly will be back "in."

But I do have my good days now and then. Take last Thursday. That was a beauty! When I checked the winning lottery number in the paper I saw it was mine! I was ecstatic-until I noticed that I was reading last week's paper; and, of course, I hadn't bought a ticket then.

Well, I've cried on your shoulder long enough. I'd better wrap this up and send it to my editor. Excuse me a second while I check my calendar for the submission deadline...

Dammit! It was last week!


Editor's Note: Rose Mula's most recent book, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, is now available at your favorite bookstore, through and other online bookstores, and through Pelican Publishing (800-843-1724), as is her previous book, If These Are Laugh Lines, I'm Having Way Too Much Fun.


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