“I was so happy to see your Mom at Alex’s concert the other day. Saw she’s using a cane now, so’s mine. She’s been falling a lot – I’ve had to go over and help her off the floor more times than I care to count. She needs a second total knee replacement now; she told me that your mom does, too. Sucks watching our parents get older, doesn’t it? Fuck, it sucks getting older – period.”
“You’ve been on your own Medical Mystery Tour – forgot to tell you: I finally had that MRI. I guess I got tired of people making the whole, “a migraine for a month is called a ‘brain tumor'” joke and figured that if I was actually dying, I should probably be aware – I’d have to plan my own funeral, after all. The test wasn’t too bad, but it was the first time I’d had to sign one of those “emergency contact” forms. I no longer had anyone to list and it felt weird. I’d actually started to fill out your information when it dawned on me – you’re no longer my person. You lose people in small ways for a long time, I guess.”
“Got the results back the other day – “bright spots and structural changes consistent with chronic migraines.” Beats the balls a brain tumor – guess Mimi and I have more in common than erms, well, everything. She’d probably agree that the only time you want to hear the term “bright spot” is when you’re talking about diamonds, not your brain – she’s my daughter, after all. The neuro seems unperturbed by this – the bright spots, not the diamonds; never talked to him about those – so I guess it’s just one of those things that happens. Still kinda scary. I try not to think on it.”
“Hope work is going great for you; I know how you love your job. My job’s going well – just got a promotion. So weird to think that all of those years ago when you told me I should “start a blog,” it would change my life. Not only did I start spewing verbal diarrhea across the Internet on Mommy Wants Vodka, I founded Band Back Together; landed a job as a writer in downtown Chicago. Thanks for the suggestion – never really did think it’d go anywhere. It’s funny – I regularly take the very same train you’d tried to unsuccessfully catch all those years. Reminds me of college: I still bitch about the “lifers” and commuters on the train – they’re still the same pricks I remember. Never did love the bustle of the city like you did, but it fills my days, and that’s what matters.”
“Glad to see you’re still using the “Good Dog” bowls I bought for the cats years ago, remember how I’d laughed at my cleverness? Miss those days. Happens, I s’pose. That reminds me, the wisteria needs a good pruning. Sorry to see that the trellis I’d put up didn’t withstand the harsh winters a bit better. It was a good experiment. Saw that you’ve got an old wasp nest on the porch, right by the nickel address sign I’d proudly picked out – the kids are so scared of bees, you may want to take care of that before it’s a problem. I can do it if you want – wait, that’d be weird. Forget I offered. The flower beds I’d planted in the front are overgrown with weeds – I’ll teach the kids how to take care of them. Bet they love the magnolia I’d planted to replace those overgrown horrifying bushes I ripped out when I realized they made us look like those creepy people who probably made lamps out of the boobs of dead hookers. Always wanted a magnolia bush. Never did get to see it bloom.”
“Feels so weird to be in an apartment after living in a home for so long. Forgotten how transient apartment living makes life feel. Always did like the idea of putting down roots somewhere – I know it wasn’t your style, but it was – still is – mine. I’ll plant another magnolia, more roses, have another orchid collection. Someday.”
“Did I tell you? I’m Marching for Babies again this year! Still looking for more people to join our team – so far it’s a couple of my work buddies. Remember the last time we did it? Mimi was barely walking, Alex was too young to go, and Ben, well, it was a long hike for him. Just a few of us walked right along the river. I remember happily pointing out my (old) apartment complex to you. Sure never thought I’d move back there. Man, that feels a lifetime ago. This year, I’m walking along the Lakefront downtown – both Alex and Mimi want to walk, but I’m torn. One hand says, Mimi is one of the reasons I walk for babies, the other reminds me that, 3 miles is particularly long for a five-year old, even if she is a miracle. Hm. Yeah. Maybe I’ll get a stroller.”
“Saw the new car in the driveway, glad you got that CR-V off your hands. I know it was a good idea to get it at the time, but it turned out to be an albatross of a thing. Alex told me that your parents got it for you – that’s really nice of them. I’m sure the new car is more gas efficient – total plus. You must be so happy about that.”
But I don’t say any of these things.
My mouth’ll form the words, but the words won’t come out.
What tumbles out is, “See you later,” as I bundle the kids out the door I once tripped through spilling my diet Coke down the hallway as laughter rang freely. I hear you say, “Yeah, whatever. She’s here. She’s just taking them for a couple hours.” Tears I can’t explain sting my eyes as I walk out the door of the house I once called home.
Because I am not only stupid, but dumb too, I can’t back down from a fight.
I tried once, but it broke my arm.
So when I started getting the hairy eyeball for daring to sit on an unoccupied chair adorned with an unused beach towel, my fake-rock bruised ass was absofuckinglutly ready for the Thunderdome. Wearily, I hummed Eye of the Tiger and was all “I know EXACTLY what roadkill feels like” as the entire row of vultures, er, people in the chairs in front of me got up, one by one, and began to form a semi-circle around one man who appeared, from my vantage point, to be as tall as he was wide. By their goat-eyed stares, I assumed they were either talking about me, or the kid in the glasses in the corded-off area behind me devouring an ice cream sundae using absolutely no silverware at all.
Honestly, I couldn’t blame the group if the kid were the target – that’s pretty impressive.
The staring contest persisted far past my comfort level, and when bordering on “abject annoyance,” my opponent made himself known. Hoisting up jean shorts purchased (assuming) deliberately in size “comically large,” he waddled over to me. Not because he was overweight; not a bit, but because his pants were so enormous they needed their own area code and walking as a normal human being would have been damn near impossible. Nevertheless, he deliberately made every attempt to appear as though he was swaggering all macho toward me, which made him seem about as hardcore as Grimace or Big Bird. It was clear he was posturing in front of his crew and all 63,027,182 children in the pool, so I let him have his moment. Clearly, waddling is hardcore work, so it took him a good few minutes to travel the twenty feet to me; the one I’d “stolen” after I’d finished my days work of mercilessly butchering baskets of fluffy kittens, insulting a wee baby piglet in rain boots, and knocking over teacups filled with incy-wincy hedgehogs.
By the time he actually reached me, he was sweating so profusely that it looked for a small moment that the tattoo across his neck said, “Booby,” instead of “Baby.” Maybe that “art” was intentional – I’m not a fucking tattoo artist. Because I am also physically incapable of making a good decision, I stood up tall and proud as he tried to squash me with his eyeballs … this time from a closer distance. What he had misjudged as he postured before his crew was something very simple: I was easily half a foot taller than him. While this may seem a moot point, I’m sad to report that I’m only 5’5″ which does not a hulking Amazonian princess make. His eyes widened as I stood – I was even taller in the heels I was wearing.
It was clear he’d not thought this through. But could he back down in front of his crew? Could he? Could he be beaten into submission by a female? I wasn’t sure and, I like to think, neither was he. He got into my face to see if the whole “personal bubble” thing would, I don’t know, knock down and cause me to whimper for sweet mercy at his flippity-flops. I’d have said, “Ha, I have kids, motherfucker. I can’t even take a poo without someone trying to clamor up onto my lap,” but it was too fucking loud to communicate.
As we sized each other up and down and back up again, his eyes began tearing, which I’d initially attributed to fear, but in hindsight, was probably due to the heavily chlorinated air, he made his decision: he could. He COULD back down. There was no place, it appeared, for a street fighting (wo)man in this waterpark. Which was just as well – I didn’t want to brawl in front of my kids.
With that sad, sad realization, shame mingled with the sweat now traveling down his pants, making him appear to have pissed himself, he did a Waddle of Shame back to his friends, but not before he grabbed the free beach towel off the back of the chair, his eyes daring me brawl over the free towel. I simply stared, undeterred.
Once he was safely back into his pack of still-glaring friends, I settled back into the tacky beach chair, eyes squarely on my kids – well, two of them – no one’s returned my call about cosmetic surgery to add a third eye. Eyes daring between the three kids, I waved at Mimi who was happily splashing in the wave pool that was, no doubt, full of the pee of a thousand diapered asses, and smiled, no idea that evil was about to hit so very close to home.Dun-dun-dunnnnnnn.
Part IV of this omfg-stop-talking-about-your-stupid-vacation-already-Becky will conclude this series. EVENTUALLY.
After wandering through the endless labyrinth of badly-carpeted halls while lugging the absolute most amount of crap I’ve ever packed for a trip, finally, we reached our room. The kids, by this time, were weeping from hunger, and I’d begun to shake although I couldn’t say for certain if it was low blood sugar, horror at the prices of a cup of entirely mediocre coffee, or as an aftereffect of the cacophony of the lobby. Eyes set forward on an unfixed mark way down at the end of the hallway, I set my mouth into a thin line and said to no one in particular, “We’d better get there fucking soon.”
The kids nodded tearfully.
Standing in front of our room, dutifully, I whipped out the packet the guy at the front desk had slithered to me as he mumbled this or that. For all I know, I’d just agreed to let him harvest my kidneys in exchange for my keys – it was too loud and I’d left all the fucks to give in my other pants. Into the tiny folder I went, fingers scouring for that telltale plastic edge to simultaneously give me a paper(plastic?)cut and let me know that I’d gotten the implement that’d allow me to laze about in my underwear for the next two days.
Confused, I put down the 37 stuffed animals and “special” blankets my children insisted were too heavy to carry, and searched with my eyeballs this time. Again. Nothing. A couple’ve plastic wrist bands for the kids but nothing that would allow me access to my room.
Briefly, I considered sitting down on my luggage and having a good old fashioned cry, but realized that it’d have just given me a worse headache than the hibiscus carpet and fuck-you-in-the-eyeballs paint on each wall already had.
Then, I looked down at the gigantic, orange band that looked as though it’d been thoughtfully regifted by the local penitentiary. I remember the dude at the front desk mumbling something at me about those particular bands, but unless he’d looked at me directly in the face, two inches from touching eyeballs and screamed, there was no way I was hearing dick. Hell, I already had ringing in my ears from merely hanging out in the lobby.
Stupidly, I did something that was probably going to cost me a good mocking for the rest of the vacation: I held my wrist up to the door like some wanna-be psychic. I whispered, “enter sesame,” although I didn’t even begin to understand why.
The door opened.
I’d like to say that balloons and streamers, possibly a hot guy in a cake popping out from somewhere, as calliope music filled the hall, but that’d be a lying lie. With absolutely zero pomp OR circumstance, we entered our room. My first thought was “wow, Panama Jack ejaculated everywhere,” followed quickly by, “there’s no door to the bathroom.” I shrugged at the last bit and vowed NEVER to carry a blacklight with me – if Panama Jack boofed anywhere, I’d rather be none the wiser then huddled in a plastic hefty bag.
The third thought that tumbled out was, “it smells like poo in here,” which I immediately wrote off as being par for the course – this was a kid’s resort, kids poo, kids often poo in the wrong places, and like second-hand smoke, it was probably just one of the delightful treats of staying at a kid-friendly hotel.
My father came into our room, gruffly told us to put on pants (which, had he looked, he’d have noticed were squarely on our bodies) so that we could go out to dinner. At that moment, I nearly hugged him. Dinner was everything you’d expect in a cheesy faux-tropical hell – bland, expensive, but with kicky (read: corny) names. Not one of us complained – we were so hungry that the Aye-Aye-Matey Burger tasted cardboard; delicious cardboard.
By that time, my mother and my eldest had arrived and quickly we switched to our swimsuits and headed downstairs for a late-night swim. And, it turns out, we were about to be schooled in the Ways of a Tacky Waterpark. The instructions, posted absolutely nowhere, included:
- Letting your kid unattended in the pool is a great idea, especially so you can enjoy your alcoholic beverage
- Unattended children will attack your attended children with the ferocity of a thousand angry suns and you can’t do much about it unless you want to brawl
- Pooing is okay in the pool so long as no one claims it
- You should take every item you own and drape them over all of the chairs surrounding the pool, in the event that your fifty-sixth cousin from Brazil comes in to the States unannounced, somehow locates you at the water park, and would like to sit down
Feverishly, I wished that I drank alcohol for the 37th time in an hour and a half as I sat in the pool area, bombarded by inhuman noises that seemed to rattle the inside of my skull. I tried tuning them out. No luck. I tried listening over the din to Jimmy Buffet, wishing I could shove that cheeseburger down his smug motherfucking throat. Didn’t help. People-watching only reminded me that I needed to shave.
One by one, I pulled Alex and Amelia out of the pool, thanking the powers that be for dominant jeans and together, we shivered back into the room.
“It smells like poo in here,” I remarked to absolutely no one – which is precisely who responded to my statement – as we readied ourselves for bed. One by one, we began to drift off into sleep, the delicate scent of an oddly-fresh pile dook playfully tantalizing our nostrils. I dreamed that night about a poo-flavored air freshener and woke early to cheerful pounding at the door. Blearily, I answered the door, knowing full well my nipples were on display through my sleep shirt – I was, once again, fresh out of fucks to give.
My dad, looking as though he’d just smoked a gallon of meth and was examining the wall to see the individual paint molecules moving about, greeted me: “GOOD MORNING, REBECCA,” he boomed. “READY TO GO SWIMMING AGAIN?”
No. The answer was no. I wanted coffee, a nap, and possibly a chocolate-chip muffin. I did not want to go swimming. Not even for a second.
But the kids were clamoring around my feet, all doe-eyed and sweetly inquiring if I’d please, oh very please, ma’am take them to the pool. I wondered for half a second how my kids had learned the phrase “ma’am” and then decided I didn’t much give a shit. Drinking hotel coffee swill, I grasped the hand of each of The Littles and off we trotted to the pool.
Nearly bowled over by the stench of chlorine, the kids made a beeline for pool and I looked around for a place to plop my ass. No way in fuck I was going to showcase my dimply white ass in the pool to a bunch of strangers which; now that I think on it, would be better than showing it off to my friends.
Chairs mysteriously taken by “beach” towels that appeared to have no owner, we took turns hovering over a rock, my parents and I, until my mother finally said “Fuck THIS” and plopped her ass onto a towel-covered chair. Hobbled, my bruised ass followed suit. Which is when the glares began. The front row of chairs circled the pool, making it an ideal place to watch your kids, if, in fact, that was your goal. It did not appear to be the goal of anyone in the front row, as they stumbled around, clearly intoxicated. As someone who refers lovingly to her children as “crotch parasites,” I am by no means a helicopter parent, but I do want to know where the shit my kids are if they’re in a gigantic pool (Read: DANGER) so this apathy toward children baffled me.
As no one appeared to be drowning, I sat back to live and let live. Which was, apparently, not shared by the guest’s whose chair I “stole.” A pack of people stood up from the front row, glaring at me, shouting to one another, while staring at me as though my skull make a nice trophy hanging on the wall of a rec room.
I stared back, undeterred.
They made their move.
I stood my ground.Sorry, Pranksters, but Part III will air soon. I’m still getting used to writing all day, every day. Gotta get my groove back on.