About the Book

To: Jane Harris <jane@wondercat.com>
Fr: Claire Harris <charris2004@freemail.com>
Re: You

Hi, honey! It's me, Mom. I know it's a big secret that your friend Holly and her boyfriend Mark are eloping in Italy, and that you and Mark's friend Cal Langdon (the handsome New York Journal reporter with the big book deal) are going, too, as their witnesses. But I just saw Holly's mother at the Kroger Sav-On, and I thought I'd warn you: She doesn't seem to like Mark very much at all. Just wanted to let you know.

PS I don't understand why you don't like that nice Cal Langdon! He seemed so smart when I saw him being interviewed on Charlie Rose. And so handsome!

PPS Don't forget to wear a sweater!

Cartoonist Jane Harris is delighted by the prospect of her first-ever trip to Europe. But it's hate at first sight for Jane and Cal Langdon, and neither is too happy at the prospect of sharing a villa with one another for a week—not even in the beautiful and picturesque Marches countryside. But when Holly and Mark's wedding plans hit a major snag that only Jane and Cal can repair, the two find themselves having to put aside their mutual dislike for one another in order to get their best friends on the road to wedded bliss—and end up on a road themselves ... one neither of them ever expected.

Publication Information

  • Avon Trade Paperback, published January 2005
  • Brazil: Distribuidora Record
  • France: Marabout/Hachette
  • Germany: Blanvalet
  • Indonesia: PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama
  • Poland: Amber Publishing
  • Spain: Booket/Planeta
  • Thailand: Nanmee Books
  • Turkey: Epsilon Yayincilik
  • United Kingdom: Macmillan
  • Vietnam: Phuong Nam Culture Corporation

Excerpt

To: Jane Harris < jane@wondercat.com>

Fr: Claire Harris < charris2004@freemail.com >

Re: You

Hi, honey! It's me, Mom! You said you'd be able to get emails in Europe, so I hope you get this one. Everything here is fine, don't worry. Well, Dad stuck his hand in the woodchipper again, but he's going to be all right.

Anyway, I know it's a big secret that your friend Holly and her boyfriend Mark are eloping in Italy, and that you and Mark's friend Cal Langdon (the handsome New York Journal reporter with the big book deal) are going, too, as their witnesses.

But I just saw Holly's mother at the Kroger Sav-On, and I thought I'd warn you that I don't she's going to be very happy when she gets Holly's telegram. She doesn't seem to like Mark very much at all. Just wanted to let you know.

Also, be careful of pickpockets in Rome. I hear they'll careen through those little narrow streets on motorbikes and snatch the handbag right off your shoulder! So be sure not to wear your shoulder strap slung across your body, or you could be dragged to your death.
Have fun!

Love,

Mom

PS I don't understand why you don't like that nice Cal Langdon! He seemed so smart when I saw him being interviewed on Charlie Rose. And so handsome!

PPS Don't forget to wear a sweater!

When cartoonist Jane Harris's best friend Holly, New York Journal art director, announces that she's eloping to Italy with longtime doctor boyfriend Mark, and asks Jane to come along as her witness, Jane jumps at the chance, delighted by the prospect of her first ever trip to Europe.

What Jane doesn't gamble on is Mark's witness, New York Journal foreign affairs correspondent Cal Langdon. It's hate at first sight for Jane and Cal, and neither is too happy at the prospect of sharing a villa with one another for a week—not even in the beautiful and picturesque Le Marche countryside.

But when Holly and Mark's wedding plans hit a major snag that only Jane and Cal can repair, the two find themselves having to put aside their mutual dislike for one another in order to get their best friends on the road to wedded bliss, and end up on a road themselves…one neither of them ever expected....

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Alitalia Boarding Pass

Passenger Name Frequent Flyer Number

Langdon, Cal E17H616

From: Flight Class Date Departs

NYC-JFK 1516 K 13Sept 626PM

To: Gate Boarding Time Seat

ROMA-Fiumacino 30 550PM 21D

GROUP 4

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Alitalia Boarding Pass

Passenger Name Frequent Flyer Number

Harris, Jane ---

From: Flight Class Date Departs

NYC-JFK 1516 K 13Sept 626PM

To: Gate Boarding Time Seat

ROMA-Fiumacino 30 550PM 21C

GROUP 4

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

John F. Kennedy International Airport

--Duty Free--

Reg #06 Tran#8971

Cshr#0084 Str#2411

1 New Republic Mag $2.99

1 AA Batteries $1.59

Subtotal $3.88

Total $

Payment Credit Card

C Langdon**** **** *** **** Exp 2/08

March 25 3:59PM

Thank you for shopping JFK Duty Free

Enjoy your flight!

John F. Kennedy International Airport

--Duty Free--

Reg #06 Tran#8972

Cshr#0084 Str#2411

1 Gift PK Toblerone $9.99

1 Dramamine $2.29

1 Earplugs $0.79

1 Advil $2.29

1 Us Weekly Mag $1.99

1 Bottled Water $1.29

1 Bottled Water $1.29

1 Bottled Water $1.29

1 Bottled Water $1.29

1 Bottled Water $1.29

1 Travel Diary $12.95

Subtotal

Total

Payment Credit Card

W Harris **** **** *** **** Exp 3/08

March 25 4:02PM

Thank you for shopping JFK Duty Free

Enjoy your flight!

Travel Diary of Holly Caputo and Mark Levine

On Their Elopement

Composed by Jane Harris, Witness

aka Maid of Honor

aka Holly's best friend since first grade and roommate since freshman year at

Parsons School of Design

Dear Holly and Mark,

Surprise!

I know neither one of you would bother to keep a record of your elopement, so I've decided to do it for you! This way, when you're approaching your twentieth anniversary and your oldest kid has just wrecked the Volvo and your youngest has just come home from her cushy Westchester private school with head lice and the dog's thrown up all over the living room rug and, Holly, you're asking yourself why you ever moved out of the righteous East Village pad we shared for so long, and, Mark, you're wishing you'd stayed in resident housing down at St. Vincents, you can open this diary and go, "Oh, so THAT's why we got married."

Because you two are the grooviest couple I know, and totally belong together, and I think eloping to Italy is a BRILLIANT idea, even if you did steal it from Kate Mackenzie in Human Resources.

The eloping part, I mean. Not the Italy part.

But she HAD to elope. I mean, with in-laws like hers? What CHOICE did she have?

But you two are doing it for the pure romance of the thing—not because you HAVE to, because both your families are perfectly respectable.

Well, I guess there is that teensy religion thing with your moms.

But whatever! They'll get over it.

Anyway, that's what makes your elopement so special.

And I plan to record every detail of that special-ness, starting now, before we even get on the plane. Before I even meet you guys at the gate. Which, by the way, where ARE you, anyway? I mean, we were supposed to get here three hours before our departure time. You know that, don't you? I mean, it says that right on the ticket. For international travel, please arrive no later than three hours prior to departure time.

So. Where are you guys?

I suppose I could email you on my new BLACKBERRY, but as you keep reminding me, Holly, it's for WORK PURPOSES ONLY, which is the only reason the IT guys let you have them (thanks for mine, by the way. I mean, it's nice of Tim and those guys to think of me, even though I don't exactly work there anymore).

God, I hope nothing happened to you. I mean, on the way. People drive like maniacs on the expressway.

Wait—you didn't change your minds, did you? About getting married? You can't. That would be awful! Just AWFUL! I mean, you two are so perfect for each other…not to mention, it would be totally unfair to cancel on me. My first trip to Europe, and my travel companions ditch me? As it is, I can't even believe I'm really doing it. Why did I wait so long? Who turns thirty without having been outside the continental United States at least once in her life? No Paris with French class in the 11th grade. No Cabo for Spring Break in college. What's wrong with me, anyway? Why am I such a non-transcontinental flying freak?

And okay, seriously, what is with the guy with the cell phone over there? I mean, he's cute and everything. But why is he yelling? We're going to Italy, dude. Italy! So chill.

Okay, ignore the guy on the cell phone. IGNORE THE GUY ON THE CELL PHONE. I can't believe I'm wasting the first pages of your travel diary on him. Who cares about him? I'M GOING TO EUROPE!

I mean, WE'RE going to Europe.

I think. If you two aren't lying in the twisted wreckage of your taxi to the airport on the Long Island Expressway.

Let's just assume you were running a little late this morning and that you aren't dead.

Thank God you two are making me do this. You and Mark, I mean, Holly. I'm finally crossing the Atlantic, and for what better REASON? God, it's so romantic--

(Oh, wait, that's the same guy who was in front of me at the duty free! The one who was rolling his eyes because I bought all those bottles of Aquafina. Obviously he hasn't read this month's Shape. They say air travel is very dehydrating, and that you should drink half your body weight in water during the course of your flight if you want to avoid jet lag.)

And okay, they have water on the plane and all, but is it good water? I mean, as good as Aquafina? Probably not. I saw this thing on Ask Asa on Channel 7 where they sent the water from a plane to a lab and it was filled with all these microbes! And okay, it was the water from the tap in the plane bathroom, and no one would really drink that, but still.

--Not that MY mom and dad wouldn't kill me if I did what you're doing, Holly. Elope, I mean. And to ITALY, of all places.

But it's just so totally you, Holly. God, you're lucky. Mark is so...grounded. And, Mark, I know I give you a hard time about being such a sci-fi geek and all, but seriously, if I could meet a guy as--

(Oh my God! Cell Phone Guy just practically threw his phone at one of those little carts with the old people in it! The one taking them to their gate! And just because the guy driving it made that backing-up-truck sound to warn him he was in the way. God, what's got his panties in such a bunch? Although he hardly looks like a panty-wearing type of guy. Jockeys, more likely. Or maybe boxers.

Oh, no. How can I give this diary to Holly and Mark on their first anniversary if it's full of musings about some random guy's underwear????

NOW what am I going to give them? I can't give them candlesticks or something. This is HOLLY. It has to be something SPECIAL.

Okay, well, one mention of underwear. You guys don't mind, do you? I mean, it's just underwear.)

Where was I? Oh yeah. Mark. So cute, in spite of the Star Trek Next Generation marathons he makes you watch, Holl. So responsible, with the whole doctor-and-health-column thing. Which reminds me, I need to ask him about this mole on my elbow. God, Holly's so lucky, she can get her moles checked for free anytime she wants. Why can't I find a boyfriend with a useful skill like that? All Malcolm can oulddo is beat me at Vice City. And what good is that? Can high score on Vice City save you from a life-threatening carcinoma? No.

Okay, now I totally can't give this to Holly and Mark. What is wrong with me?

Cell Phone Guy just hung up on whoever it was he was talking to. I just heard him go, "That is inexcusable," but that was all I could get because they've got CNN turned up so loud in here. Now he's got out his Blackberry. He's typing into it furiously. I will never be able to type that fast into mine.

But maybe that's a good thing. Cell Phone Guy is a classic example of a Type A personality, as illustrated in last month's Shape. I can practically SEE his blood pressure going up. I hope he doesn't stroke out on the plane.

Although I wouldn't mind giving him CPR.

Oh my God, I can't believe I just wrote that.

But he is kind of cute. I mean, if you like the tall, rugged, sandy-haired, razor-stubbled-with-piercing-blue-eyes-who-knows-how-to-use-a-Blackberry type.

Okay. Now I definitely won't be able to give this to Holly and Mark as an anniversary present.

Oh, wait, I can just rip out the pages with Cell Phone Guy comments. Or black them out with a Sharpie.

Or maybe I should just get Holly and Mark a nice silver frame from Tiffany's instead.

But that seems like kind of a lame present to get for someone who has held your hair back while you were throwing up tequila shooters as many times as Holly has for me.

Although of course I've done it for her often enough, most recently Friday night when the entire art department took her out for a bachelorette party. For two people who are supposed to be eloping, Mark and Holly told an AWFUL lot of people beforehand.

!!!! On CNN it says a plane is being held at the San Francisco airport under suspicion that a passenger aboard it has a highly contagious virus that they're worried will spread worldwide!!!!

You know what this means:

I need more snacks for the plane.

Seriously, those people have been on board that plane for TWO HOURS with no food service. If I go two hours without eating, I get that weird thing where I can't see out of one eye. And Toblerone won't do it. I need something with protein. Like smoked almonds. And maybe some cheese popcorn. Which I bet they don't even have in Italy. I better go back to the duty free and stock up, just in case.…

y

To: Tara Samuels <tara.samuels@thenyjournal.com>

Fr: Cal Langdon <cal.langdon@thenyjournal.com>

Re: Travel Services

Where is everybody? I've been calling for the past half-hour, and nobody there is picking up. Does Travel get half days on Fridays through September, or something, while the rest of us slobs have to give them up on Labor Day?

I asked you guys to book this ticket a month ago, but I'm at the airport now and they claim I'm in coach, not business class.

In a middle seat. For a seven hour flight.

Freaking Frodo wouldn't last for six hours in a seat that small. How is a six foot four, two hundred pound man supposed to do it?

Someone had better pull some strings or you're going to have one very unhappy journalist on your hands.

C. Langdon

y

To: Dolly Vargas<dolly.vargas@thenyjournal.com>

Fr: Cal Langdon <cal.langdon@thenyjournal.com>

Re: Last night

Thanks for last night. However, I think moving in together might be a little precipitous. And I don't think your husband would really appreciate it.

Let's just keep things casual for now, and see how things go. Okay? I'm off to some podunk part of Italy no one's ever heard of because Levine has some idiot idea he's going to get married there, but I'll be in touch when I get back in a week.

C.

y

To: Cal Langdon <cal.langdon@thenyjournal.com>

Fr: Tara Samuels <tara.samuels@thenyjournal.com>

Re: Travel Services

I'm SO sorry, Mr. Langdon, we were in a budget meeting, which is why no one picked up. I've been calling the airline ever since I got back, and they're booked solid. I could get you in business class on another flight…but not until tomorrow. Would that be all right?

Again, I'm so sorry about the misunderstanding. I can't imagine how you ended up in coach. We ALWAYS book you in business class, as you know. Except of course when the plane you're taking is so small, there isn't a business class. Which isn't the case here. I can't apologize enough, really. Could we upgrade you to a suite when you get to your hotel?

Tara

y

To: Cal Langdon <cal.langdon@thenyjournal.com>

Fr: Dolly Vargas <dolly.vargas@thenyjournal.com>

Re: Last night

There you are! I've only left ten messages on your cell phone. How COULD you have snuck out like that this morning, without even leaving a note?

And Peter and I aren't married, sweetie. We have an understanding—the same one you and I have.

And of course I wasn't asking you to move in permanently. Just offering you the spare guest room until you find a place of your own. I know how brutal the New York real estate market can be.

Not that you'll have any problems, the way sales are going for Sweeping Sands. In fact, the penthouse across from mine just went up for sale, a steal at two million. Interested? I could speak to the co-op board on your behalf….

In any case, darling, call me when you get back from Mark's little elopement.

XXXOOO

Dolly

Travel Diary of Holly Caputo and Mark Levine

Jane Harris

Okay, I asked Cell Phone Guy to watch my stuff for a minute while I ran to buy snacks, and he was TOTALLY rude about it. He said, in this very snarky way, "I highly doubt anyone is going to steal your water, miss."

!!!!!

Which wasn't even what I was asking him to watch. My water, I mean. Clearly, I meant my BAG. I mean, the last thing I need is for the airport to blow up my stuff because I left it unattended.

Whatever. It's just like Malcolm says. Some people just suck and there's nothing you can do about it. I should have known Cell Phone Guy was one of them. Especially the way he keeps banging at the keyboard of that Blackberry. He's still at it. How can someone so anal retentive look so good in a pair of jeans? I don't get it. I mean, evolutionarily speaking, his kind should have been wiped out a long time ago. Because who'd want to mate with someone with THAT kind of attitude?

OOOOOO I see Holly!!!! Holly and Mark are here, at last!!!! YAY!!!!!

I wonder where Mark's friend Cal is. The best man, I mean. We were all supposed to meet at the gate.....

y

To: Mark Levine <mark.levine@thenyjournal.com>

Fr: Cal Langdon <cal.langdon@thenyjournal.com>

Re: Where are you?

I'm at the gate. I don't see you. You didn't take my advice and cancel the thing at the last minute, did you?

Forget it, you're not the leave-em-at-the-alter type.

So. Nervous yet? I've got the flask, don't worry. We're going to need it, too, there's a real nut job on this flight. Apparently she thinks there's a possibility we might crash land in the Sahara.

Hurry up and get here, I want to kiss the bride–

Oh, there you are.

Cal

Travel Diary of Holly Caputo and Mark Levine

Jane Harris

Oh my God.

Cell Phone Guy is Cal. Cal Langdon, Mark's best buddy since elementary school, the one who's been traveling all around the world for the Journal, writing about social unrest and economic instability for the past ten years. The one with the new book that's just out—the one he supposedly got this huge advance for.

I wish I were on that plane that's stuck in the San Francisco airport instead of on this one. I would rather have a deadly virus than have to spend a minute more in the company of Cal Langdon, aka Cell Phone Guy, aka Mark Levine's Best Friend.

Oh, but guess what? HE'S SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO ME. That's what he was so mad about before. He was calling Travel Services at the Journal, trying to get them to change his seat so he could sit in business class, or at least on the aisle, and not in the middle, like he is now.

Ha ha. Ha ha, Cal In the Middle. Hope you like bumping your elbow into mine every five seconds, Mr. I Highly Doubt Anyone Is Going To Steal Your Water, Miss. Because I am SO not giving up my aisle seat. No way.

And don't expect me to share my water with you, either. OR my Toblerone. Or my cheese popcorn. I don't care how long we're stuck on this runway, or what kind of virus might get into the ventilation system. You're getting nada from me, mister.

I'm not telling Holly how much I hate her husband's best man, though. I don't want to spoil this special time for her.

I am so not going to be able to give them this travel diary as an anniversary gift. Oh well. It's probably just as well, since my handwriting is barely legible, thanks to the Armrest Nazi next to me. Excuse me, Mr. I'm-So-Big-I-Need-To-Take-Up-Your-Space-Too. Could you please move your stupid hairy arm with the stupid waterproof watch that tells the altitude and the exact time on all seven continents which I know you so need, being such a fancy world-traveler who knows so much about foreign policy and things a poor little cartoonist like me couldn't even begin to understand?

I'll tell you one thing: if this is a setup, Holly is dead. I mean, I know she doesn't like Malcolm, but could she seriously, even for one second, entertain the idea that I might like Mister Nothing-Comes-Between-Me-And-My-Blackberry here? Please! He asked me what I do for a living (he was so just making conversation because Holly and Mark are seated right behind us, and he didn't want to look like the Uptight Anal Retentive Control Freak he really is in front of them), and when I said I was a cartoonist, he was like, "You're kidding."

Totally deadpan. You're kidding.

And get this: he's never heard of Wondercat.

Never. Heard. Of. Wonder. Cat.

He has to be lying. He writes for the paper in which Wondercat was born.

And okay, he's abroad all the time, and you can't get the Journal everywhere.

But doesn't he watch television? He may have been gallivanting all around the world for the past decade, but excuse me, he's back now, promoting his stupid book. Hasn't he seen Wondercat's commercial for energy saving products on New York One? Everyone watches New York One, if only to check the temperature.

My God. Who is this guy? And why does Mark even like him????

I think I'm going to have to have a word with Holly. Does she know what she's getting herself into, marrying a man who'd be best friends with a guy who doesn't watch TV????

y

To: Mark Levine <mark.levine@thenyjournal.com>

Fr: Cal Langdon <cal.langdon@thenyjournal.com>

Re: I'm going to kill you

What in hell is a Wondercat?

Cal

y

To: Cal Langdon <cal.langdon@thenyjournal.com>

Fr: Mark Levine <mark.levine@thenyjournal.com>

Re: I'm going to kill you

Excuse me. I don't believe you are allowed to use these things on planes.

Mark

PS You didn't tell her you didn't know who Wondercat is, did you?

y

To: Mark Levine <mark.levine@thenyjournal.com>

Fr: Cal Langdon <cal.langdon@thenyjournal.com>

Re: I'm going to kill you

You can't use them while you're in the air, according to the FAA—although I doubt the veracity of this, as I've left mine on plenty of times and none of my flights have ever plummeted into the sea because of it.

You can, however, still legally use them when you're sitting uselessly on the tarmac while the air control tower guys are having a limbo contest, as they are apparently doing right now because I can see no other conceivable reason why we're not being allowed to take off.

And yes, I did ask her what a Wondercat was. Is that why she is busy scribbling into the travel diary she bought at the duty free? Because I offended her so deeply with my lack of knowledge about her cat?

Cal

y

To: Cal Langdon <cal.langdon@thenyjournal.com>

Fr: Mark Levine <mark.levine@thenyjournal.com>

Re: I'm going to kill you

Yes. And stop emailing me, Holly keeps asking who I'm writing to. I told her it was the hospital, and now she's all mad that the hospital is emailing me when I'm supposed to be eloping.

Mark

y

To: Mark Levine <mark.levine@thenyjournal.com>

Fr: Cal Langdon <cal.langdon@thenyjournal.com>

Re: I'm going to kill you

How would the hospital even know that, anyway? The word elope means to run away with a lover with the intention of wedding in secret. How secret is your wedding going to be if the hospital knows about it?

C

y

To: Cal Langdon <cal.langdon@thenyjournal.com>

Fr: Mark Levine <mark.levine@thenyjournal.com>

Re: I'm going to kill you

I had to tell the hospital I was getting married. And the paper. They weren't going to give the time off, or let me out of my column, otherwise. DON'T TELL Holly. She still thinks the only people who know what we're really doing are the four of us.

And of course the entire art department at the New York Journal. But she doesn't know that I know that.

Mark

PS Quit writing to me. I'm turning this thing off.

y

To: Mark Levine <mark.levine@thenyjournal.com>

Fr: Cal Langdon <cal.langdon@thenyjournal.com>

Re: You Dog

Your secret's safe with me.

But seriously. Is this girl one of those cat people? For the love of God please tell my I'm not going to be stuck in a middle seat in coach next to one of those cat people. She doesn't carry around pictures of it in her wallet, does she? Her cat? Because I will seriously suffer an aneurysm midair if that's the case–

AT THIS TIME THE CAPTAIN HAS REQUESTED THAT ALL ELECTRONIC DEVICES BE TURNED OFF AND STOWED AWAY UNTIL WE HAVE REACHED CRUISING ALTITUDE

What do you think of him?

Oh my God, Holly. What is this, the ninth grade? You're passing me notes? On the PLANE????

Well, how else am I supposed to talk to you with the stupid food cart in the way? And they won't let us turn on our Blackberries. Come on, hurry up, while he's asleep. What do you think of him?

He's not really asleep. He's just faking it so he won't have to talk to me. I know because he's still playing armrest war with me. Every time I put my elbow on the armrest, he puts his there, too, to block mine.

You don't like him?

Holly, he's never heard of WonderCat!!!!

Janie, he's been doing foreign correspondence for the past ten years. They don't get family papers like the ones that run Wondercat in places like Kabul.

But you said he moved back to the US a couple of weeks ago—

And you think he should have spent those weeks catching up on YOUR comic, as opposed to, I don't know, FINDING A PLACE TO LIVE???

Well. He also made fun of me for bringing so many bottles of water on board.

You do have kind of a lot.

Excuse me. Nine out of ten people found dead after getting lost in the desert actually have water left in their canteens, they were just so concerned about conserving it, they didn't drink enough of it to survive. It's true. I saw it on the Discovery Channel.

Okay, okay. But what do you think of him???? Do you like him? He's cute, right? I told you he was cute.

He seems very…smart.

The Blackberry thing. I knew it. I told Mark to tell him to put that thing away. I know nothing freaks you out more than guys who are smarter than you.

I can't believe you just wrote that. First of all, it's not even true, and second of all, in no way is Cal smarter than me. I mean, yes, he has traveled all over the world covering news stories about grisly wars and Ebola outbreaks and has written a book and stuff, but that does not mean he is smarter than I am. I mean, can he draw a cat?

Besides which, I happen to like smart men.

Right. Like Malcolm.

Oh, that's low, even for you. I will have you know that Malcolm can do a three hundred and sixty degree spin in midair and not lose his board.

You have got to stop dating snowboarders and musicians, Jane. You're thirty years old now. You've got to start thinking about the future, and date people who will actually stick around for a change, instead of going off to their next Xgame or gig.

Maybe I don't WANT a boyfriend who sticks around. Have you ever thought about that?

Then why did you cry so much those first couple weeks after Malcolm moved out?

I just felt bad for The Dude. You know they'd bonded.

Yeah, well, there's that, too. The Dude needs some stability in his life. He might not bite people as much if he had a positive male role model in his life. The same could be said of you. Plus, financially, you'd be much better off with a partner who actually had steady employment. As a freelancer, you are paying a premium for health insurance. If you married a guy who had his own insurance—through, say, the paper--that'd be a big chunk of change saved. Plus you'd have security. And a 401K.

This is pretty funny coming from a woman who once spent an entire month's rent money on a pair of purple leather pants.

Hello. Can we talk about things that happened in this millennium, please?

Fine. You know what? It's very unfair of you to throw all that stuff about 401Ks and all of that into my face, when you know perfectly well that I HAD all that when I was dating DAVE, and you saw how THAT turned out.

OK, well, I'll admit walking in on your boyfriend in bed with your HR rep can be psychologically scarring. Especially considering it was Amy Jenkins. But you'll recall that I ALWAYS told you it was never a good idea to date a foreigner. You can never tell when they're lying.

Hello. Dave was BRITISH.

Yes, but that accent had us fooled. If he'd been from this country, we'd have known right away he was an HR rep-whoremonger. But really, Janie, just because things didn't work out with Dave is no reason to start dating unemployed losers half his age--

Need I remind you that Malcolm is not unemployed? You know he got that big Winter Cal Games contract. That's the only reason he left. I mean, he had to move up to Canada. For the snow.

And the fact that he was a chronic wake and baker had nothing to do with you ENCOURAGING him to move.

Well, at least he isn't an anal retentive control freak like SOME people who happen to be sitting next to me, HOGGING THE ARMREST.

Jane, your bedroom still smells like the inside of a bong.

It is so typical of you to bring this up at a sensitive time like this. After all, YOU'RE the bride. I'm only the bridesmaid. Or witness. Or whatever.

Well, other than the smart thing. What do you think? Do you like him?

. I get fan mail from Wondercat readers in SRI LANKA, Holly. SRI LANKANS have heard of Wondercat. But not Mark's friend Cal.

So? Have you ever read any of his articles on landmines?

At least I know what a landmine is!!!!!!!!!

Just try to get along with him, will you? Because otherwise it's going to be a really long

trip.

No problem. Now stop writing to me, please, my food is here.

Benvenuti in

(Welcome to)

Alitalia Inflight Menu

Durante il volo da New York a Roma verra servita la cena e, prima dell'arrivo, la colazione.

I piatta che gusterete sono stati preparati per voi. Buon appetito.

(During the flight from New York to Rome we will be serving dinner and then, prior to arrival, breakfast. The dishes on today's menu have been specially prepared for you. Enjoy your meal.)

~~Cena~~

Farfalle al pomodoro pachino e foglie di basilico

Rolle di tacchinella e broccoletti accompagnata da caponata de melanzane e patate

Oppure

Filetti de pescatrice con potage de zucchine e insalata Catalana

Assortimento dei fromaggi, accompagnali da composte di frutta e cruditees

Caffe "Espresso" e cioccolatini

~~Dinner~~

Farfalle pasta shapes in a fresh pachino tomato and basil sauce

Turkey roll with broccoli stuffing served with aubergine stew and potatoes

Or

Monk fish fillet with green zucchini potage and Catalan style salad

Cheese assortment accompanied with crudites and fresh fruit compote

Italian "Espresso" coffee and chocolates

Travel Diary of Holly Caputo and Mark Levine

Jane Harris

Oh my God. The Italian food on the plane is better than the Italian take-out around the corner from my apartment. And I thought their insalata caprese was to die for.

!!!!!!!!! The movie is starting!!!!!!!!!! It's the new Hugh Jackman!!!!!!!!!! OH MY GOD I HAVE DIED AND GONE TO HEAVEN!!!!!!! I AM GOING TO EUROPE WITH MY BEST FRIEND AND THEY ARE SHOWING A HUGH JACKMAN MOVIE ON THE PLANE!

If only the Armrest Nazi would MOVE HIS ELBOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PDA of Cal Langdon

As usual, the food on this flight is barely edible. And what passes for entertainment in this country these days is truly depressing. The in-flight entertainment appears to be yet another romantic comedy about a harried young career woman who finds love in a completely unexpected place. My traveling companion is watching it with rapt attention, as she swills from her many, many bottles of water. She is clearly envisioning herself in the role of the harried young career woman.

I think I can say with a certain amount of confidence that she is NOT picturing me in the role of the handsome young leading man. In fact, her marked lack of enthusiasm for me borders almost on the comical. She is taking great pains never to allow her elbow to touch mine on our mutual armrest, as if she fears she might contract some sort of deadly virus from doing so.

And all this, because I happened to remark on her rather remarkable penchant for bottled water.

Oh, and the Crazy Cat thing. Or Wondercat. How was I to know Wondercat is a comic strip, and that she is its creator? I haven't read a comic since Mark and I were kids, and used to shell out thirty-five cents a week for the latest edition of Spider-Man at the Big Red Food Mart. I certainly have never made a habit of reading comic strips in the newspaper—not since I turned ten. The newspapers I choose to read don't have comic strips in them.

Although I don't suppose it would be politic to admit that, seeing as how the tome we all work for features two pages of comics daily—not to mention horoscopes and Dear Abby. In fact, now that I'll be living in one place for an extended period of time, I suppose I'll have to start subscribing. So I have that to look forward to. In addition to so many other joys I've missed while I've been living out of a bag, such as apartment-hunting, buying various electronic devices like a toaster and stereo equipment, and waiting all day for the cable guy who promised to come between ten and two, then didn't show.

Ah! Domesticity! How I haven't missed you!

But I suppose domesticity can have its benefits. Mark is happier than I've ever seen him. He seems almost to welcome the noose that awaits his neck at the end of this journey. Although I suppose when the noose looks like Holly….

And she does, I'll admit, seem to think about topics outside of her nails and yoga and Must See TV, unlike most of the American women I've encountered lately. I even had an intelligent conversation with her last week about Gore Vidal.

But I had intelligent conversations with Valerie in the early days, as well.

And as for this friend of Holly's….I don't know. I suppose allowances must be made because she's an artist.

But is cartooning really art? My mother would surely think so.

But Mom thinks the lint she picks from the dryer and hot-glues to clothespins is art. And sadly, she is supported in this belief by the art community of Tucson, where she's lately set up a studio.

Still, though she may be an artist, and therefore by definition a flake, Ms. Harris does have very shiny hair. It's brown, like her eyes.

The tattoo of a cat head—Wondercat, I'm supposing—she wears just above her right ankle is somewhat off-putting, however. And her mouth never seems to stop moving. Now she's telling the flight attendant how much she enjoyed the male lead's last film, in which he played some kind of mutant.

This seat is so uncomfortable. I can just fit into it, if I don't inhale.

Oh, well. I've slept in worse places. At least there aren't any guerillas hiding in nearby undergrowth, waiting for the opportunity to slice my throat. Or snakes.

God, I hate snakes.

So that's something, anyway.