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Madeleine Begun Kane,
Humor Columnist,

Madeleine Begun Kane


Your closest friends keep badgering you to join them on a trip. You're running out of excuses and may be forced to go along. Can friendship survive seven days of constant contact? Will you loathe each other by the time you return?

Joint vacations can be a challenge to any relationship. But with patience, a sense of humor and the help of this agreement, you can take that trip and keep your friendship intact.

AGREEMENT entered into this __________, 20__ by two close couples who would like to remain friends.

WHEREAS, Couples A and B are about to embark on a shared vacation;

WHEREAS, Couple B would rather stay home, but has agreed to give this trip a try;

WHEREAS, Couples want to work out ground rules so their friendship won't self-destruct.

NOW, THEREFORE, Couples agree to the following vacation terms:

1. The trip shall commence on a date determined after consulting Couples' children, employers, and baby-sitters. It shall not involve backpacks or a tent.

2. Once a date has been chosen, Couples shall enter into vacation spot negotiations. The following factors shall be duly considered in the course of site selection:

(a.) Wife A burns if she glances out a window.

(b.) Wife B loves to sprawl out on the beach.

(c.) Husband A considers himself an art aficionado.

(d.) Husband B admires prints of large-eyed tots.

(e.) Couple A likes to read while listening to Rossini.

(f.) Couple B would rather meander through discount shops.

(g.) Couple B enjoys aquariums and dolphin shows.

(h.) Couple A favors trout broiled with soy sauce.

3. When Couples have narrowed the site down to a particular city or town, they shall select accommodations giving due consideration to the following:

(a.) Couple A likes to splurge while on vacation and sometimes even self-indulge.

(b.) Couple B's concept of luxury is four walls, a door lock, and no kids.

4. If Couples can not agree on mutually satisfactory accommodations, each Couple shall choose its own lodgings within a ten mile radius of the other Couple's selection, subject to the following:

(a.) Couple B shall not complain about the clanging AC or mattress-induced back-aches.

(b.) Couple A shall not brag about the beach side view, the canopy bed, or the bathroom phone.

5. Each Couple shall rent a car to accommodate quick escapes when Couples are tempted to throttle each other or can't agree on where to eat.

6. Meal selection shall be made with the following factors in mind:

(a.) Couple A prefers hotly seasoned food.

(b.) Salt is Couple B's favorite spice.

(c.) Wife A vigilantly avoids red meat.

(d.) Husband B is a beef and potatoes guy.

(e.) Couple A favors fancy, gourmet fare.

(f.) Couple B figures if it's good enough for Bill Clinton, it's good enough for them.

7. Each time any of the parties wants to eat, Couples shall take an appetite survey. If two or more individuals are hungry, Couples shall dine. However, if only one person is hungry, he or she shall munch on a candy bar selected in his or her sole discretion.

8. Thirty minutes per meal shall be allotted for restaurant selection. If Couples can not agree within said period, Couple A may pick a restaurant without giving any consideration to the likes or dislikes of Couple B. The next meal negotiations breakdown shall be handled in the same manner, except that Couple B shall make the restaurant choice.

9. Martyr-like dining activity shall not be engaged in. For example, nobody shall frown at the menu for fifteen minutes and then say "That's okay. I really wasn't hungry." Additionally, eating off someone else's plate is banned without the plate owner's express written permission.

10. Couples acknowledge that they have differing vacation activity preferences. In choosing joint activities, they shall attempt to ensure that neither Couple is miserable more than half the time. Moreover, Couples shall be open to new experiences and willing to partake in each other's favorite leisure pursuits. Notwithstanding the foregoing, no scuba-diving, bungee jumping or opera attendance shall be required.

11. Couples shall avoid comments such as the following:

(a.) "Is this supposed to be fun?"

(b.) "You want to what?"

12. If either couple really detests an activity or just can't stand the sight of the other Couple for another second, the following shall be deemed proper get-away etiquette:

(a.) Claiming you're desperate for a nap.

(b.) Developing an allergy to wherever you happen to be.

(c.) Suddenly recalling that you forgot to check on the kids.

Such excuses shall be followed by feigned disappointment, a hasty exit, and a deep sigh of relief had by all.

13. Before leaving for their trip, Couples shall list the reasons why they are friends. Couples must re-read said lists as soon as they get home and promptly phone and beg for forgiveness.

WHEREFORE, We affix our signatures.

© Madeleine Begun Kane. All Rights Reserved.
1st Published Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine
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