My Friend Can't Take Cocaine

In 1985, Dixie and I made our first trip to Europe. It was not our last, but it might ought to have been.

We joined a tour group in Rome and toured across Europe by trains, planes, and charter buses.  Along the way my charismatic friend collected a following of fellow travelers.  

Left on our own on “free days,” we covered all the places on our lists.  We disregarded the need for sleep, even food sometimes although that was not often.  Every day a few more travelers would ask, “Where are you going today?”  “Do you mind if we tag along?” 

Before we left Italy, Dixie and I were traveling with an entourage, well, Dixie, was.  I was considered no more important than an extra bag.  

Dixie is one of those people who can with genuine charm intrigue flight attendants to provide first class treatment, waiters to drop a second dessert at no extra charge at her place at the table, store owners to whisper an extra discount on a fur coat and it just goes on and on to this day.

Once we reached Basel, Switzerland, we came to a screeching halt as a railroad strike had struck.  We were stuck in Basel for most of a day.  This was the hard part: no food or drinks.  I was ready to start working on the upholstery by the time a special train arrived to take us to Paris.

By the time we left Basel, the whole tour group had settled around the Queen.  While she was holding court, I snuck to the back of the car to try to wind myself around a couple of seats and sleep.

But I could hear Dixie at the front of the car.  I clued in when I heard her say in a loud voice, her voice carries anyway, “I can’t take cocaine. I just can’t take it.  It makes me sick, sick, (as her voice rose an octave for emphasis) sick.  When she didn’t get the desired response, she repeated, “I can’t take cocaine, I just can’t take it.  It makes me sick, sick, (same rise in voice) sick!”

I lay there in my uncomfortable position and pondered whether I should save her or just let her stew in her own juice.  Just as she was about to go into a third monologue, I raised up and looked at her and her groupies.  Mind you, Dixie had never noticed how shocked, dumbstruck, horrified, or whatever her adoring audience had become.  (This was a very conservative group of retired teachers, accountants, and caregivers, just as Dixie is herself.)  Reluctantly, I decided to save her. 

“You can’t take codeine, Dixie, codeine. Codeine makes you sick, sick, sick.”

Without taking a good deep breath, she announced, “Oh, yes, I can’t take codeine, I just can’t take it.   It makes me sick, sick, (again same rise in voice) sick!”  By then the damage was done. The mortified group turned to each other and began speaking to their husbands, sister-in-laws, and significant others.

By the time we got to our hotel in Paris, the entourage had thinned absolutely.  Dixie and I saw the opera house and Versailles, river boated the Seine, and marveled at the Rose Window of Notre Dame with just ourselves.

Once we got to Texas, I couldn’t wait to tell her daughter a few “Dixie stories.”  Later her daughter said, “Mama, I bet you and Jenny acted like a couple of twits all over Europe.”


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