Baths & Buns – A Short Story

It had been an adventurous few days for Thelma, Louise and Patty (the Nice One.) There were transatlantic flights; train/tube rides to a hotel in the London suburbs; a few days playing tourist in the city; learning to drive on the wrong side of the road in a rental car; trying to place an order at a Welsh café where the cook spoke no English. Even a visit to Stonehenge.

A few days into their trip, the ladies were a wee bit tired. And perhaps a bit cranky as well, but they were determined to soldier on and enjoy every last minute of their vacation.

Thelma slid their rental car into a slot in front of the Royal Crescent in Bath, England on the unseasonably warm November afternoon.

Once parked, the three set out to explore the town and marvel in the beauty of the old architecture and feeling of history that the town of Bath exudes.

Patty, who had been to Bath before, was anxious to share one of her favorite places in the town with her friends, Sally Lunn’s Eating House. She had been there on a previous trip to England and was anxious to tuck into one of their world famous buns.

Knowing their eventual goal involved food, the three began to walk through the town, enjoying the sites as they strolled through the cobblestone streets.

Bath is an ancient and beautiful city. It’s also one of the only places left in the world where you can see an original Roman Bath. Built in 70 AD, it has been preserved so well that it’s easy to imagine watching the people of that time enjoying a swim in the warm, spring fed pool. At least that’s what Patty told her friends.

“I’m not paying £15 to see dirty bath water!” exclaimed Louise when they saw the prices at the ticket booth.

A little taken aback by her friend’s outburst, but ever the pleasant one, Patty smiled and sweetly replied, “That’s okay, I’ve seen it already.”

Fixing a smile on her face, Patty returned to acting as the trios’ tour guide and headed in the direction of Sally Lunn’s. The thought of a warm bun and hot tea was enough to propel them forward and push through the fractious mood that had settled on the friends.

“It’s right around this corner. Oh I can’ t wait for you to see this place! It’s been so well preserved you can imagine eating there 300 years ago. And the food is amazing. You two will love it!”

Louise and Thelma (who was struggling with a knee that was determined to cause as much difficulty as possible) were heartened by their friend’s enthusiasm. They could almost smell the fresh baked bun and feel its pillowy softness in their mouths.

Patty turned the corner ahead of her friends and stopped dead in her tracks. Louise nearly toppled her over.

“It’s not here! I swear it was right here!” Patty cried out as she looked at the empty lot. “Where could it have gone?”

Patty, dumbfounded by her navigational mistake, nearly burst into tears. She was hot, tired, and stuck with two foul mooded, hungry women after all.

“Well, I don’t think an ancient building can just walk away…” Louise quipped.

“Ummm, where’s the bread?” asked Thelma.

Patty merely stared at her friends. She had no words, but her eyes conveyed her shock and sadness.

“You mean I hobbled all day through this town looking for some chick’s buns and now I don’t get any?” exclaimed Thelma.

That was all it took. It started as Louise giggled at Thelma’s statement. Thelma quickly joined her, much to the chagrin of a frustrated Patty. The giggles turned into guffaws, then the tidal wave of laughter began. Patty, at first annoyed by her friends, finally was unable to hold onto her outrage. She joined her compatriots as they laughed and laughed and laughed.

Finally, as tears streamed down all three faces, Louise turned to the others in her group and suggested, “Maybe we should ask someone where it is?”

And so they did. They eventually found Sally Lunn’s, grabbed a couple of her buns to take on the road with them, then walked back to their car. They left Bath in their rearview mirror as they continued on the pilgrimage to their self-declared motherland, Shrewsbury.

But to this day, if anyone asks them if they’ve been to Bath, England, the response is the same no matter which of the three is queried. “You mean the place with dirty bath water and some chick’s buns?”

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