My eVest has given me the kind of security only a true neurotic could love. Like B.C. and A.D. once upon a time, I could rename this era for me as B.e (Before eVest) and A.e.(After eVest), such as 2017 B.e and 2018 A.e.
In 2017 B.e. I traveled through France without an eVest. My days of travel were spent checking and rechecking pants and shirt pockets, constantly padding them down to make sure all my vital items (passport, credit cards, cash, phone, granola bars) were all still safely on my person from my last check five minutes previously. From a distance, the sight of me sauntering down the streets of Europe must have looked like someone using his body like a set of bongo drums.
But those days are largely gone now. Inside the fourteen pockets of my eVest safely reside all my vital possessions, zippered away so consistently in their same pockets, only a relatively occasional padding is necessary to reassure their secure possession. In bongo drum terms, I've gone from Desi Arnaz’s “Babalu” all the way down to something like a slow reggae beat when I leave the hotel and check for my valuables.
But fully loaded, my eVest has the bulk and weight of a bulletproof vest without the justification of actually being bulletproof. I feel like the Michelin Man walking down the street, and an experienced marksman can still take me down with a clean shot. By the end of the day the weight of my world has indeed been on my shoulders.
So, in Avignon we had an apartment for our week's stay. Gated at the street and with key entry to both the building and the apartment, I felt totally at ease leaving the eVest behind. Carol and I left for dinner that evening with the most bearable lightness of being I've felt since we'd started our trip. I had only the pocket with my card key, credit card and phone to worry about, and I felt so liberated and unburdened, I didn't worry or recheck myself at all.
Later that evening as we were finishing our main course that had followed upon our first pastis aperitif, happy hour carafe and our dinner wine, our waitress appeared holding my card key and credit card asking if it belonged to me. Seems she'd spotted it on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, the same sidewalk where a deranged homeless man had spent the evening going back and forth while ranting about socialism. I supposed it had slipped out when I reached for my phone, something that wouldn't have happened had it been zipped away in my eVest.
Carol and I looked at each other with the same look that Bogey and Claude Rains had regarded each other in the “Major Strasser has been shot” moment in Casablanca. We thanked the waitress profusely, and over the vanilla ice cream laced with Amaretto, considered our great fortune in what could have been an evening of inconvenience and worse, cancelling a credit card to say nothing of getting back into our apartment without a key, or worse, finding it occupied by a dapperly dressed (courtesy of a shopping spree with my card) homeless guy railing now about the promise of capitalism.
I didn't go back to being the Michelin Man, but Carol did become the keeper of the credit card, rather than enduring walking down the street next to a guy doing a rendition of “Babalu.”