Life in the Boomer Lane Meets Her Waterloo

Posted on November 9, 2021


Life in the Boomer Lane and Now Husband have just returned from a week in Brussels. They stayed with close friends who live there part time, and they had a great week. One of the highlights of the week was to visit the Museum of Waterloo, the Belgian town in which Napoleon met the end of his reign. Napoleon could never have foreseen the forces that would converge to do him in, and the subsequent events it would unleash. LBL and Now Husband, innocently stepping onto the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for their flight, could never have foreseen the forces that would converge to do them in on their trip. They were vaccinated, with booster shots. They were tested before leaving the US, with negative results. They had an official QR code on their phones, given to them by the EU, that would allow them to enter museums and restaurants. They anticipated a week long whirlwind of the best in culture, history, and food. Like Napoleon, they subsequently met their Waterloo.

Because of the length of the flight, and the time change between the US and Belgium, the plane landed on November 1, the exact day when the EU decided to throw all the COVID requirements up into the air and then see how they would land. The plane and the new COVID regulations landed at the exact same moment.

They presented their shiny new QR code to the hostess at the first restaurant they tried to enter. She scanned the code and the scanner blinked red: Entry Denied. Her explanation involved a lot of French words that LBL, being a non-French speaker, did not understand. LBL does, however, understand the meaning of a red light, as well as a serious look of concern on someone’s face.

The rest of the week involved more COVID tests, ever-changing regulations, filling out the same forms over and over, and being told requirements that contradicted each other. Aside from being in their friends’ apartment, the week was spent entirely outside. The exception was the one time they were, for some inexplicable reason, allowed entry to the Museum of Waterloo. It would take too long to detail all of the red tape that wrapped up the week. Instead, LBL will allow Napoleon to explain it:

3: Number of languages in which Napoleon was fluent/Number of languages in which LBL is either fluent, OK, or simply knows a handful of words. None of these include French.

11: Years Napoleon was Emperor/Number of emails and texts received daily by LBL and Now Husband, concerning COVID regulations

600,000: Number of soldiers in Napoleon’s army/Number of times LBL said “I can’t read French and even if I could, this doesn’t make sense” during the week.

Let’s get something clear here: Brussels is a gorgeous, amazing city. The architecture is a show-stopper. The food is world-class. The coffee is the best LBL has ever had. The fries and the waffles really are amazing. The bread, ah, the bread, oh my. LBL and Now Husband wore layers of clothing and walked miles and marveled at everything.

At the end of the week, they arrived at the Brussels Airport with two and a half hours to spare. Their first stop had to be the United Airlines desk, in order to get boarding passes (She will not explain here, why they were unable to get boarding passes before this.) They noticed a line that looked like the equivalent of a new ride opening at Disney World. They were perplexed.

After awhile, a reporter approached them and asked where they were from. When they said the US, they were asked if they would agree to be interviewed for Belgian TV. They agreed. The reported said, “Thank goodness. I’ve asked everyone in line, and you are the only travelers from the States.” They did the interview, answering questions about themselves and how they felt about this being the first day EU members now being able to travel to the US. That answered their question of why there were so many people in line.

By the time they got their boarding passes and went through security, their flight was boarding. After the plane landed, virtually everyone on board went on to get other flights. LBL and Now Husband were the only ones whose destination was actually DC.

When they passed through the exit doors, a huge number of reporters and photographers were set up, waiting. LBL briefly assumed that she and Now Husband were now celebs, based on their appearance on Belgian TV. In reality, it might have been in anticipation of Obama’s arrival back into the US, after speaking at the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow.

If LBL ever runs into Obama, she might ask him if he ran into any confusion and red tape with his trip to Glasgow. She might also point out that, whatever he had to say about his trip to those reporters at the airport, couldn’t have been anywhere near more colorful than what LBL could have said about her own experience.

One final item about Napoleon, before we leave him to his Eternal Rest:

Without knowing this for a fact, LBL is fairly certain that, had Napoleon been asked about his decision to go to Waterloo, he would have said, “In retrospect, it was most likely a bad idea.” LBL, on the other hand, if asked that, would have said, “It was a great experience.”

Napoleon 0, LBL 1.

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