A Travelers Tale

I often receive stories or videos from friends and when Linda wrote me about her     experience at Harry;s Bar & Grill in Venice, I definitely Laughed Out Loud! If you have traveled, you have run into this person…and sometimes she is NOT an American.

                                The Ugliest American I Ever Met

Umbrellas strapped in tiny straight jackets stayed with the picnic tables that skidded across flooded St. Marks Square.  We edged our way into Harry’s Bar and Grill, the only dry spot in Venice and bellied up to the bar. Grateful for seats, we sat down with a heavy sigh at the bar. The harried bartender scrambled to serve the shoulder to shoulder crowd.  Patience brought us two bubbling Bellini’s—an apricot juice with champagne touted to bet Hemingway’s favorite libation. I toasted our good fortune with my friend.

We were on our second Bellini feeling “chumsy” and warm from the body heat in the room when the swinging front doors blew open. Gusts of cold air caused the group to rise in unison as though someone had pinched their collective bottoms. The door wouldn’t shut as more people huddled in the doorway trying to get out of the deluge. After unloading from the vaparetto with hair drenched and teeth clenched, Maury and Bernice elbowed their way into the bar.  Bernice ruthlessly shoved customers out of her way.

“Get your fat ass off my foot”, she said, as she shoved a blond woman with her elbow.

The woman gave her a sideways glance. In a fair fight she could have flattened model thin Bernice in her bolero jacket and green satin toreador pants, but she just stepped backwards and bumped her with her bum.

“Are you going to let her get away with that?” Bernice demanded.

“C’mon Bernie lets just get a drink, I’m dry.” Maury replied.

Bernice straightened her five foot frame to its full height jutting her jaw out and glared at him. “Excuse me.  I thought you might be good for something besides getting a drink.”

“What do you want, he asked—a Bellini?”

“Not one of those orange sissy drinks,” she said “give me a vodka gimlet”

Maury leaned over the bar almost knocking me off my perch and snapped long thin fingers at the bartender.

Bernice eyed my barstool as she opened the conversation. “How long have you been here?”

“A while, no rush to go anywhere is this weather,” I replied.

We just got in off the Orient Express.  What a rip-off” she declared.

“Really, I heard that it has been beautifully restored.”

“Restored barn with no closets rattling down the tracks so loud you can’t hear yourself think.” she whined.

“Sorry you were disappointed.” I said

“Where are you from?” she asked.


“That hell hole. We left there ten years ago. We live in Denver now.

“I can’t wait to get home.  Europe is so substandard.” Bernice crowed in a loud, irritating voice.

“I’m sure all of Europe will be glad to see you headed back to Colorado.” I said, and ordered another Bellini.

Linda Ballou is a free-lance writer, based in Los Angeles, specializing in adventure travel.  She delights in sharing her travel articles and Great Outdoor days in Los Angeles.  Find out more about her travel essay collections, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales and her historical novel Wai-nani, High Chiefess of Hawai’i on her website.  

Harry's Bar & Grill, a caricature by Al Hirschfeld

Harry’s Bar & Grill, a caricature by Al Hirschfeld

9 thoughts on “A Travelers Tale

  1. This is so funny, I am still laughing!

    Hope you are well and enjoying 2014 in that greatest of all destinations!


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