Careful packing is crucial to a successful vacation with your honey. The most important thing to bring along is a Buffer Couple.
Have you ever done a fishing trip in the Midwest in the late fall? There’s nothing like it. You get up so early in the morning it’s not even morning yet. The pre-dawn sky is inky black, and the air is so frigid it turns the scarf wrapping your face (and the snot running down it) to crusty ice. You load your boat with 6 metric tons of essential paraphernalia, and then motor out onto a still, silent lake for a day of adventure. There you sit, hours of immobility spent contemplating the meaning of life and trying to restore feeling to your frozen fingers, interspersed with heart-pumping sessions engaged in the eternal struggle of Man vs Food. If you’re lucky, Man wins and dinner is wrestled aboard, flopping and gasping into the bottom of the boat. You arrive home as the sun sets, exhausted and filthy; reeking of fish and sweat, but there’s still more fun in store. Now you get to scale and gut your slimy prize.
Does this sound like something I would be even remotely interested in?
Yet my husband and I recently got back from just such a trip and we both had a ball.
When we first started talking about a fall weekend getaway, we knew we wanted different things and thought success was merely a matter of careful planning. We agreed to pick a place where he could fish, and I could hike and go antiquing.
I assumed he shared my vision of a cute cabin, nested in the pines on the banks of a picturesque lake. It should have:
- tasteful furnishings with rustic charm and modern amenities
- comfy beds
- nice bathrooms (jetted tub preferred but not required)
- a gas fireplace
- an outdoor fire pit
- a porch where I could sit and sip wine and commune with nature while reading a good book.
- a secluded, natural setting, but be easily accessible to civilization for fine dining and antiquing
Hubster did the preliminary research online and proudly showed me the “resort” he had picked as he was about to book it. No credit cards had yet been involved at this stage, thank the Travel Gods.
The place he chose featured several rows of dilapidated, tiny, wooden buildings plunked down on the banks of a murky lake. Each was outfitted with:
- a couple of narrow twin beds purchased used from a Dickensian orphanage
- a lumpy, saggy, greenish-brown tweed sofa from a McCarthy-era rumpus room
- a micro fridge brought back from a college kid’s dorm
- enough knotty pine paneling to suggest this place was single-handedly responsible for deforesting upper Wisconsin
The whole “resort” looked like a run-down army camp except it lacked that level of cozy charm. It was so far out in the boonies we’d probably have to hike in miles with our supplies on our backs, and when an axe murderer or bear got us (as they surely would in such a remote locale) the authorities wouldn’t find our mangled remains until the first thaw sometime next June.
The term “fishing trip” clearly conjured up different pictures for each of us.
When I gently suggested this wasn’t quite what I had in mind, he looked perplexed and pointed out such deluxe features as the separate gutting shed down by the lake, which ensured that less-desirable fish-parts would be kept discreetly away from our cabin. What further amenities could I want? We stared at one another across the Great Divide of the Sexes that separates even long-married couples like us.
Fast forward a week.
We met my cousin Kathy and her husband Gary for dinner and the subject of our as-yet-unconfirmed vacation came up. I don’t know who first came up with this brilliant idea, but someone suggested the two of them join us. They said they would be delighted. Schedules were consulted and we moved swiftly to the hard-core planning stage to the mutual satisfaction of all involved. We had a Buffer Couple!
I like the Hubster just fine, and I assume he feels the same about me, but we have very different interests.
He likes old battlefields, I like old jewelry.
He likes to watch sports, I like to watch House Hunters.
He likes to fish, I like to eat fish.
There’s nothing wrong with this – variety is the spice of life. It becomes a problem, though, when you’re planning a vacation. Unless you’re in the honeymoon stage where vacations involve 23 hours in the sack, only coming up for air and food, most couples want to actually DO something when they take the time, trouble and expense to get away. They want to explore and experience all the wonders their destination has to offer. If your only companion isn’t even on the same page when it comes to recreation, you wind up either doing everything by yourself, or tagging along, trying to make grudging compromise look like enthusiasm so you don’t suck all the joy out of the experience.
Enter the Buffer Couple.
Kathy and Gary are the best kind of Buffer Couple: both great company, easy going, and with good senses of humor. Kathy likes to do the same stuff as I do, and Gary likes the stuff Bill does. We split up for various activities during the days and all hooked back up in the evening. The house we booked was big enough to provide privacy.
This setup had additional benefits. Not only could we split expenses, had it been just the two of us I suspect the Hubster would have tried to weasel out of plans for dinner in town in favor of snoozing on the couch at the end of a long day in the great outdoors. Having another couple in the house added just enough social pressure to make him dude up for an evening on the town instead. Bonus!
He and I had the long car ride there and back to talk, and, since our Buffer Couple had to leave a day before us, we even got some quality time alone. It was the best of both worlds.
Taking a Buffer Couple along doesn’t mean the thrill is gone: think of it as vacation insurance, as important as any travel accident policy. The Buffer Couple provides vital breathing space – a buffer, if you will. That way one member of an adoring twosome doesn’t snap and wind up knifing the other and throwing the body over the rail of the cruise ship after too many days of undiluted, 24/7 togetherness.
I’m already looking ahead to our next trip. If Kathy and Gary aren’t available, I’m considering taking applications for a compatible duo.
Who knows – you and your sweetie may be the lucky pair selected as our next Buffer Couple!