'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
THE HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH A CONFUSED TOURIST
My wife and I recently went on a nine-day, once-in-a-lifetime vacation to Austria. We went to visit our daughter, a student at Franciscan University who is studying abroad this semester. We were accompanied by about 50 other parents visiting their children, also Franciscan students.
Austria is an amazing country. I saw a lot of snow-capped mountains, but surprisingly, not a single kangaroo. (OK, I know that’s lame. I’ve been saying that ever since we got home, and I’m going to keep saying it until someone laughs.)
We spent two days in Salzburg, the historic city where the story of “The Sound of Music” took place. On Friday morning, although it was raining fairly hard, some of us decided to go to Mass. One member of our group held up a city map and announced that he knew EXACTLY how to get to the church, no more than a five minute walk from the hotel. So everyone grabbed his or her umbrella and fell in line behind this confident fellow.
About 25 minutes and 15 rain-soaked blocks later, this no-longer-confident fellow took a closer look at his map. That’s when I realized I was looking at a map of Waterbury. I mean, that’s when HE realized HE was looking at a map of Dusseldorf.
Anyway, we missed Mass and we all had to slog back to the hotel. The group decided not to shove this no-longer-confident map reader in front of a passing trolley car. (It was a close vote. My wife, not wishing to be a widow just yet, cast the deciding ballot.)
We finally reached the hotel, discouraged and soaked to the bone. But our prospects brightened a few minutes later when the bus showed up to take us on the “Original Sound of Music Tour” through greater Salzburg.
The tour gave us the opportunity to ride in a warm, dry bus…for almost ten minutes! Then we had to get off the bus and walk through the cold driving rain to look at a spot where, um, something happened during the movie. I forgot exactly what. Maybe it was where Liesl danced, or Capt. von Trapp sang, or Julie Andrews cursed out the lighting crew, or something.
Then we got back on the bus, dripping wet, and drove for another ten minutes before we did it all over again: tramp through the cold rain to see where Kurt ate a bratwurst, or Max Detweiler made a phone call, or Gretl threw up.
This continued for about four hours until we reached a point where I can confidently say the entire busload of American tourists reached the unanimous conclusion that “The Sound of Music” is now our most hated movie of all time.
No, I’m only kidding! Of course we still love the movie. However, that cannot be said for the residents of Salzburg. Even though “The Sound of Music” is the most popular movie musical ever made, with millions of devoted fans around the globe, the people who live in the city where much of the filming was done think it is a piece of cinematic tripe.
You see, Austrians can be a bit strange. They seem to be hung up on a thing called “the truth.” Either that or they don’t quite grasp Hollywood’s definition of the phrase “artistic license.” The people of Salzburg know the real story of the Trapp family, and what American composers and British actors did with that story makes them scratch their heads in confusion.
Next week I’ll relate more travel tales, including the amazing discovery that people in a foreign country actually speak a foreign language. Who knew?
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