Long Story Short: Mentioning unmentionables

My column last week was not a traditional column. I explained to readers about a trip I took to New Brunswick in August with a dozen local members of the media. We had just taken off from the New Orleans airport and reached our cruising altitude, when I unbuckled, stood up and grabbed my ever-important pillow from the overhead bin. I was resting with my eyes closed just about to drop off to sleep.

When someone tapped my left shoulder.

I turned around to find myself face-to-face with David D’Aquin, former reporter at KATC and now a reporter with NBC33 in Baton Rouge. We had met briefly on the bus on the way to the airport. I knew him as well as I knew any of the other members of the group.

D’Aquin leaned toward me, sort of pointed toward the aisle and said in an awkward whisper, “You dropped something.”

And in that instant, I realized with horror what I was about to see when I looked down.

You see, I’m a believer in packing a few vital necessities to carry on-board flights. Before I left that morning, I had stuck a few extra items in my pillowcase.

There, on the aisle between D’Aquin and Hoyt Harris, news anchor for KATC, were the emergency undies I had stuck in my pillowcase. They had fallen to the floor in my haste to sit back down and buckle up.

I was mortified. I mean mortified. I may bear my heart and soul in this spot every week, but I am unaccustomed to bearing much else. But what’s a girl to do?

There was no place to hide. We were on a plane and would be traveling together for a week. I guess I could have stayed mortified for the rest of the week because the entire group of strangers watched and waited for nearly five minutes for me to pick up my panties out of the aisle of the plane.

But, that would not have been fun. In the instant I realized what had happened and just as the drink cart was rolling in my head’s direction, I knew there was nothing to do but laugh.

I also knew D’Aquin and I would become good friends. I realized the poor guy had been debating what to do since the panties hit the floor.

“I think my jaw hit the floor of the airplane before your panties did. I didn’t know how to mention the unmentionables,” he said last week. “The stewardess started walking toward us and that’s when I had to tell you rather than have her pick them up and make an announcement.”

Five months after the fact, we’re still laughing. The incident became the joke of the week. No one could deny that panties in the aisle of a plane were anything short of hysterical.

During the course of the trip, I became good friends with Hoyt and Bette Harris also. Last week, Hoyt Harris gave further comment on the airing of my laundry at 29,000 feet.

“I really didn’t know Jan all that well, but with her drawers waving like a flag in the fuselage. Well, what an icebreaker,” he said. “We became great buds on the trip, and I think the world of her – and her lingerie has nothing to do with it!”

The moral of this story: When the nice television reporter taps your shoulder to let you know your panties accidentally fell out of your pillowcase and were there in the aisle of the plane for five minutes – in full view for one and all, pick up the panties, put them back in your pillowcase (with more care this time) and then laugh.

You can transfer the panties to a safer receptacle later.

Preparing to teach the youth of the world…

So, in less than a week, I’ll be doing what I went to college to do — sort of. I went to college to teach high school English. With a slight twist of that, I’m busting another move. Starting Tuesday, I’ll be teaching high school Spanish in Carencro. Yep, that will be me holaing down the hall. Should be a trip. I’m making my classroom rules as we speak (or rather, as I type). We’ll see what makes the list. I’ve got to be general enough to cover it all in five — and specific enough to enforce them. Please send me your suggestions. 


Long Story Short: What happened next?

Time heals all wounds — even superficial ones.

Back in August when I went with a group of local media folks to New Brunswick, Canada, I just didn’t think it was the time to write about one particular incident that happened shortly after the trip began.

I needed time.

Now that a few months have passed, I think and hope I’m ready to tell the tale.

Certain background information is necessary for anyone to fully appreciate this story:

First, you should know that I like to be prepared. I’ve been blessed to travel a lot at different points in my life. I know how to prepare for a trip. I know what makes a trip generally work well. I know most of the mishaps that travel can introduce into life – and along the way, I’ve figured out ways to prevent many of the major problems.

Since the carry-on bureaucratic extravaganza, I check a bag. However, I still believe in carrying the necessities with me onto the plane. I don’t want to get stuck anywhere without my pillow, a toothbrush and a very few other basic supplies.

So in the wee morning hours before I left for New Brunswick, I gathered my bits and bags. I almost forgot my pillow and ran back inside to get it. Just to be careful, I stuck a few extra small items in my pillowcase – a great place to store things you want to keep nearby when you travel.

Then my husband dropped me off at the Albertson’s parking lot at Congress and Ambassador Caffery. About 12 members of the local media were going on the trip. While I didn’t know any of them personally, I knew of their work. We all jumped on a van and headed to the New Orleans airport. We stopped in Baton Rouge to pick up David D’Aquin, former reporter at KATC and now a reporter with NBC33 in Baton Rouge.

We made our way onto the plane with little fanfare. I was seated by Lucias Fontenot, a local photographer. Our seats were in the middle of the plane. The rest of the group was behind us.

Hoyt Harris, news anchor for KATC, was sitting directly behind me. His wife Bette was beside him. D’Aquin was sitting across the aisle from Hoyt Harris.

Once we reached cruising altitude, the pilot gave us permission to move around the cabin. I unbuckled my seat belt, quickly stood and grabbed my pillow from the overhead bin. I was exhausted and was ready for a nap before the meat of the trip. I knew there would be time and experiences to get to know the folks in the group, and I was looking forward to that, but for that moment, I just wanted to sleep.

With my favorite pillow tucked into the seat’s back, I closed my eyes. A few minutes passed. I was just beginning to relax. I could tell most of the people behind me knew each other and were enjoying conversing.

With my eyes closed, I heard the flight attendant begin to make her way down the aisle.

Then someone tapped my shoulder.

I turned toward the aisle and around to D’Aquin. He leaned toward me, sort of pointed toward the aisle and said in an awkward whisper, “You dropped something.”

And in that instant, I realized with horror what I was about to see when I looked down.

Stay tuned next week for what happened next. Jan Risher’s column appears Sundays. E-mail her atjan@janrisher.com.


Turn and face the strain. Ch…ch…ch…changes…

Yes, after only eight months at Barnes and Noble, I’m making changes. 

I sort of had an epiphany about two weeks ago. I realized that now — more than anything else — I want to spend as much time as possible with my girls. The best job for that (when one has to have a job) is teaching. So, in two weeks, I’m going back into teaching. I’ll be teaching Spanish at Carencro High School. Five sections of Spanish I should keep me hopping. I’m excited about it. I’m also under no illusions: Teaching is hard work.

Anyway, just wanted to let you know. This way we’ll have time to go to travel this summer. France, here we come!


Long Story Short: I resolve…

Until the end of December 2005, New Year’s resolutions didn’t carry much weight in my world. Until that year that almost did us all in, feel-good nebulous self-improvement goals didn’t have the effect I needed.

As anyone who lived through 2005 in South Louisiana can tell you, times were tough. Yes, economically, things were booming. But I believe that if Queen Elizabeth had lived here, she would have revised her thoughts on England’s 1992 and decreed 2005 “annus horribilis.”

Such drastic times warranted a New Year’s resolution.

I had certain criterion for my resolution. I was looking for something concrete and something that would improve my life, as well as the lives of my family.

So, for 2006, I decided to do what I could to change the pace of life for my family. The way I decided to do that was to make the resolution to read at least one book every two weeks. I knew that if I were home being still, my family would likely be home, too. My plan worked like a charm. Since January 2006, my family has spent more time just being at home – especially on the weekends. My motherhood obligations don’t always jive with the reading I want to do, but I strive for a better balance than before. I’ve learned that if we miss a parade or play date, my children won’t be scarred for life. I believe the quality of our lives has improved dramatically.

For 2008, I decided another concrete resolution was in order. I decided to focus on my wallet. I decided to stop using credit cards and my ATM card at the drop of the hat. I did not resort to high-tech Quicken budgeting systems or Excel spreadsheets. Nope, I decided to actually use cash. It’s the simplest budget I ever tried. It works like this: I get paid and deposit my check in the bank. I give myself spending money – in cold, hard cash. I use that money and only that money until the next time I’m paid.

I had to start thinking in a way I had gotten away from in years past. I had to re-introduce myself to the timeless concept of asking, “Can I afford that?” But the lifestyle changes were healthy. Ultimately, my new cash-based budget worked well.

Since I’m on a roll with New Year’s resolutions that work, I’ve decided to get even bolder this year. This year I’m going to focus on character building. I am going to try – and this is going to be difficult – to stop gossiping. To keep me focused, I’m giving “gossip” a definition.

Gossip: Anything I wouldn’t say to or in front of said person.

I gave up gossiping one year for Lent. It was not easy, and I am not proud to admit that I am not completely keen on trying it again. My friends can validate that I love a good story more than most. I know what discipline is involved in keeping my newest resolution, but I also know choosing to do the right thing makes life in general work better.

What about you? Do you have a New Year’s resolution for 2009? Will you have a chance at keeping it if you tell someone? Your secrets are safe with me.

Jan Risher’s column appears Sundays. E-mail her your New Year’s resolution at jan@ janrisher.com