OPINION: And now, for the rest of the story...

Jan. 7—When last I rambled, I was explaining the series of unfortunate events that plagued our most recent "vacation." I detailed the catastrophic flood in our office, and a couple of minor dustups that followed us to Texas. The bad luck continued until the end, which was Dec. 31.

My vacations are never such, in the classical sense. It is my lot in life as a newspaper editor. Now that I think about it, December kicked off in a pretty sorry fashion. A trip to Las Vegas with my son and his fiancée to see Aerosmith failed to materialize after Steven Tyler got sick. We had tickets for a July show at the same venue, but that was canceled when the frontman went back into rehab. This is what you get when you buy tickets to see aging rockers.

The train ride to San Antonio was fairly uneventful. We had one of the larger bedrooms, but these compartments have small bathrooms, and the condition of the bowels of the previous occupant is always a factor. In our case, it wasn't such a good thing, but as long as we kept the door shut, it could be ignored. San Antonio during the Christmas season is always a great place to be. The lights on the RiverWalk are spectacular, and there are some good restaurants, with Boudro's topping the list. We stayed at the Hilton Palacio del Rio, which we've wanted to do for years, but never could afford it, and this year, we got a good rate. It was worth the price, until it came time to get breakfast at the hotel our last day in town.

We had reservations, because we rarely do walk-ups if we can help it. We got seated outside on the pleasantly cool patio by the RiverWalk. The Alamo Bowl was happening in a few days, so a perpetual pep rally was going on around the bend at an amphitheater. At one point, the bands from both the Texas Longhorns and the Washington Huskies were performing on barges cruising the canal, so we momentarily thought we were going to see a fight, wherein perhaps some of the musicians would wind up in the drink. When we checked in for our rez, we were told there was going to be "a bit of a wait." I don't think 30 minutes constitutes a "bit" by anyone's standards, but that's how long we waited before someone brought us water. Before that, other ignored patrons left, and as usual, I made a loud, acid remark. A server who had just brought drinks to a nearby table smarted off: "Ma'am, we're short-staffed and we're behind." Well, yeah; who isn't these days? Shortly thereafter, the manager showed up and said, "I understand you were told there would be a wait for walk-ups." I said, "We' had a reservation." He mumbled, "Oh," and disappeared. Five minutes later, a contrite and attentive server showed up and got us what we wanted. The food was good. We tipped well.

We flew to Oklahoma City that afternoon, which wasn't bad, since we were in first class and were able to ease our stress with free cocktails. This was American, and not the rapidly imploding Southwest. But as is almost guaranteed these days, the flight was a little late, so I called our favorite restaurant in OKC to tell them we might be running late for that rezzie. They said that was OK, because a group of women had been at the table we requested for an hour and a half. Our son's fiancée picked us up at the airport, then we drove to the restaurant, where our son met us. To our surprise, the four women — apparently enjoying a "girls' night out" — were still parked at our table. It was hard to tell their ages, but I pegged them as Nichols Hills ninnies. They were wearing expensive clothing and had made some plastic surgeon very rich. The lips on one looked to have been fashioned from remnants of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. We waited for about 15 minutes, and they got their checks and paid, but continued to sit with their wine glasses and inane conversation. The harried wait staff kept peering around the corner at them, so they knew others were waiting. But they thumbed their bobbed noses at everyone, and their surgically sculpted bottoms remained planted. After we stood there 40 minutes — a record for us — another table cleared and we were seated. The chicks took up the space intended for us for four hours — a record for the restaurant. A manager did apologize, and I commented the wine-sipping wenches cost them a lot of money — by my calculations, at least $3,000, provided the hypothetical diners had cocktails. He said they had a policy that they never asked anyone to leave.

There's more, but I don't want to bore anyone with a part 3. I'll skim over the drive to Bentonville, Arkansas, after we finished dinner, arriving well after midnight; a flight the next day that was also late in departing (at least it was non-stop); and three hours in a deserted train station, trying to remotely help a sister newspaper that was having problems not unlike Southwest's. I'll narrow it down to the robbery of ample coaster time. First, a Nazi at one park seized my ticket after I forgot my ID back at the hotel room; after the long haul to the room and back, the Gestapo troops begrudingly returned the ticket. Then, at another park, we closed out 2022 in a hotel room, eating pizza, because it was raining and none of the coasters were operating. We fell asleep around 10, well before the ball dropped.

Better luck next time? Don't count on it.