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My View: Father, son roles are slowly being reversed

By Larry Beahan

Fifty years ago, my wife and I took our boys Nick, age 3 months, and Teck, age 2, on a driving trip to Boston. We passed Paul Revere’s House and the Old North Church. When we saw the Parker House we couldn’t resist. Lyn had read that it was America’s longest continuously operating luxury hotel. After two years of babies, we were ready for luxury.

We put baby Nick in the Boodle Buggy. I tossed Teck over my shoulder and we unloaded the diaper bag, baby bottles, Pablum and blankets. We trundled into the swankiest restaurant in the swankiest hotel we had ever seen. Nick started crying. There was no highchair, so Teck sat with his chin on the table, nose dripping.

The formally dressed crowd stared at us. We stared at each other, nodded, got up and left, agreeing that humorist Robert Benchley had it right, “In America there are two classes of travel – first class, and with children.”

I was going to drive. Both kids were yelling. Lyn was very close to tears. With desperation in her voice she begged, “Please, let me drive!” I rode home with wet baby Nick on my lap while he used my little finger for a pacifier.

Fifty years later, the whole situation reversed. In August, we met Nick at the Las Vegas airport for a tour of Bryce and Zion National Parks. He immediately took our heaviest bag and lugged it to the car-rental desk for us. When the clerk put a hard sell on us for insurance, “You know if there is damage, you’ll have to rent the car until the repairs are done,” Nick advised, “Skip it. They’d have a hard time enforcing that in court.”

That night we stayed in a casino hotel on the Nevada-Utah border, each of us with $5 of free gambling credit. Nick’s advice paid off again. Playing only with house money, we came out $9 ahead.

Bryce and Zion were beyond spectacular in orange, yellow and red canyons, cliffs and towering rock hoodoos. Lyn and I drove through the parks and strolled bits of the dizzying, 10,000-foot overlooks. Meanwhile, Nick plunged in and did all the heavy-duty hiking so we didn’t have to.

Back in Las Vegas, ready to fly home but fatigued and tense, our last night was difficult. Nick had located two luxury hotel bargains: the giant-pyramid Luxor and the fabulous, reconditioned Tahitian Village. We found the Tahitian Village first and checked in. Our freshly painted suite was so impressive that we called the front desk to confirm its bargain price.

Nick took off on the complimentary hotel bus tour. We showered and snoozed till I woke up in a sneezing fit, apparently allergic to the fresh paint. We had to move.

Nick’s cellphone was off; we could not reach him. We left a voice mail, “We are moving to the Luxor; meet us there.” Increasingly tense and with Nick out in no-man’s-land, we maneuvered Las Vegas traffic to the Luxor.

There, we left Nick’s luggage in the rental car, which a valet concealed in the bowels of the pyramid. I was ready for a heart attack, dragging our suitcases through the cavernous pseudo Egyptian pyramid. We tried Nick’s phone again. This time he answered, “I am at the Luxor outside your room.” I looked up and there about a half mile down the balcony that serves as an open corridor was Nick hurrying to help me with the luggage.

In the room, panic descended on Lyn. “My absolute favorite flannel nightgown is gone,” she cried.

Nick got on the phone and located the precious garment back at the Tahitian Village.

Poor Nick slept in his underwear that night. The car and his luggage, buried deep in the catacombs under the Luxor, were beyond even his power to retrieve.

Larry Beahan, who lives in Amherst, finds it much easier to travel with his son now than he did 50 years ago.
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