Travel Wrinkles
John Norberg, humor columnist s

One of the best things about this time of year is summer travel. This is a time for families to take off someplace fun together. It's a time to explore. It's a time for adventure. It's a time for families to make lifetime memories.

Unfortunately, before any of that can happen it's time for families to pack suitcases. And that's about as much fun as the flu running through the family.

The family that packs suitcases together might not be speaking together when the time arrives to go.

To start with, "suitcase" is kind of a strange word. Probably the last thing anyone wants to put in his or her vacation suitcase is a suit. Suits are for work. Vacation is for play. These vacation cases should be called t-shirtcases, or shortscases. If we have to use "suit" how about swimsuitcases?

Let's cut to the chase. These things should be called something more descriptive. How about wrinklecases because that's how my packed clothes always end up?

One of the greatest things about the age we live in is that we can find instructions for whatever we need to do on the Internet. Do you need to repair a faucet? There's a YouTube video that will show you how to do that and a million other things.

I Googled "how to pack a suitcase" and found 9.2 million sites offering instructions. But not even 9.2 million suggestions are enough to help me pack a suitcase.

The first site I tried was a YouTube with Martha Stewart. I should have known better. Martha Stewart can cook, decorate, sew, pack and do lots of other things and if I could do any of them as well as she can I'd be on TV and magazines and she'd be coming to me for help.

Martha packs everything in plastic bags. Color-coded plastic bags. She probably has a staff of people who spend hours folding everything perfectly and slipping them into colorful plastic bags so she can effortless put them in her suitcase on YouTube and say "You see how easy this is!"

It's not easy. In fact, it's not possible to pack this way since I don't have staff to do it.

On our first trip together after our honeymoon I remember my wife offering to help me pack. I also remember her saying something along the lines of snowstorms coming in July before she'd ever to try to help me pack again.

There are snowstorms in July in some places on earth. But, not in Lafayette. And I've been packing alone ever since.

Wife: "Are you packed."

Me: "We aren't leaving for two hours yet. What's the hurry?"

Wife: "Packing is not like Christmas shopping that you can put off until the last minute. Have you decided what you're going to take? That's the hardest part of packing."

Me: "Sure. The usual. Pants, shirts."

Wife: "Well, that's a start. Do they match?"

Me: "I don't know. But, why should I dress any differently on vacation than I do at home?"

Wife: "What about washing. Have you washed the clothes you're planning to pack?"

Me: "You told me there was a washing machine where we're going. I thought the easiest thing to do would be to just throw everything into the suitcase, let it get wrinkled and then wash it when I get there."

Wife: "You can't do that. You can't pack dirty clothes to go on vacation. You can only do that on the way home from vacation."

Me: "So now there are suitcase packing rules?"

Wife: "Absolutely. The first thing you have to do is wash. Then lay out all the clothes you're going to take on the bed. Fold them all very carefully and neatly. Then place them into the suitcase putting the items least likely to get wrinkled, such as jeans, on the bottom. Shirts go on top."

Me: "You know, if we vacationed on nude beaches I wouldn't have this problem."

Wife: "Pack."

I don't care how carefully I pack a suitcase. By the time I arrive at me destination the suitcase gremlins have run up and down over my clothes and everything comes out a wrinkled mess. I decided there was only one logical thing to do.

I called Martha Stewart and asked her to pack my suitcase.

I think this is another one of those snow in July things.

Two hours passed.

Wife: "It's time to go. Are you packed?"

Me: "Yes. I've got my suitcase right here."

Wife: "It feels light. Are you sure you have everything you need?"

Me: "I'm all set. Let's go."

I was pretty proud of myself. It took a little thinking but I finally came up with the perfect way to have unwrinkled clothes when you arrive at your vacation destination.

I left the suitcase empty and decided to buy all new clothes when I arrive.

But I have no idea how I'm going to pack the wrinklecase to get all that new stuff home.

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