“If I ever happen to fly with you, I’ll walk to the back to visit you in economy,” my friend Perry assured me laughingly. We were schmoozing in my tiny Israeli kitchen, her knees bent in an awkward position to avoid banging them on the cabinet knobs. Yes, it’s that tiny.
“How nice of you,” I said, making a face, whereupon we both started laughing.
We were discussing Perry’s husband’s upcoming trip to Lizhensk. Perry had just told me that because her father-in-law’s business had an almost endless supply of credit card points, her husband was flying in business class.
“We always fly business or first class whenever we go to Belgium for Pesach,” she’d shared, “even when we go with the whole family.”
My eyes almost popped out. Perry lived as frugally as I did, and the image of her lounging in first class suddenly transformed her into a modern-day Cinderella.
A few weeks later Perry called me up, sounding breathless. “I just realized that Chana Leah’s son’s bar mitzvah is next week!” she said. “What are we sending her as a present?”
Chana Leah was a mutual friend who had lived in our apartment building for many years but moved back to England two years before.
“I wish I could send myself,” I groaned. “I could use a vacation.”
“Hey, why not? How about we surprise her?” Perry sounded like she was considering it.
“Is your father-in-law with the billion credit card miles looking to sponsor my ticket?” I asked her.
“I doubt it,” she replied, her voice trailing off. “So what will it be,” she continued, “chocolate or flowers?”
“Let me think about it,” I answered, hanging up just in time to salvage the dry end of the towel my three-year-old had just pulled into the bathtub.
“Who was that? Are you planning a vacation?” my husband asked, having overheard the last half of the conversation.
“Wishful thinking. Chana Leah’s son’s bar mitzvah is next week.”
“Yes. Why are you asking?”
“Because Mr. Gross downstairs, who always seems to know everything, just came back from London. His brother married off a daughter. He told me that the tickets were dirt cheap because hardly anybody is traveling these days. Maybe we can afford it.”
I wouldn’t even allow myself to hope. “No. It’s crazy. We have a million bills to pay,” I reminded him.
My husband didn’t answer, and I reached for a new towel.
The next evening, he triumphantly took a pile of papers from his pocket and presented them to me with a flourish.
“Your itinerary, ma’am,” he said, bowing gallantly.
“You heard me.”
My heart skipped a beat.
“Stop. Really? Wait! What about Perry?”