I’m horrible about doing things when I’m supposed to, especially when it comes to things that are important. I went for seven years with the wrong name on my social security card. It was my name from my previous marriage so it was technically me, sort of like The Artist is technically Prince…well actually it’s not like that at all, but it was the story I used for seven years.
It seems the more powerful the agency, the less I seem to care. Well, actually it’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I simply don’t have the intestinal fortitude to do what I need to do to get the correct information to the correct government body in order to be correct. Read that a couple of times, it totally makes sense…I swear.
“My name is wrong on my social security card.”
“You are going to go to prison. Do you know how important that is???”
There was a whole debacle when I lived up north because my driver’s license had expired on my birthday and I finally went to get it renewed about ten months later AFTER I had lost all of the paperwork. The DMV in Illinois is run by the Gestapo. Everyone scowls, there is no talking and there are endless lines of hapless victims waiting for their number to be called whose numbers are in the triple digits and the person behind the desk has just bellowed “THREE?!”
Anyway…I didn’t have my paperwork, I didn’t have a correct social security card, I had the wrong address on the expired license along with the wrong name and I was ten months late.
“TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN?!?”
“That’s me! That’s me!
I scurried up to the counter where Roz from Monster’s Inc. was waiting to “help” me.
“Okay…I’m a little late on renewing my license and I lost the paperwork but I have a marriage license and divorce decree and two pieces of mail with my new address. Everything on the card is the same, here’s my twenty bucks.”
She stared at me and started to pick through the pile of stuff using her fingers like tweezers because apparently my stuff appeared to be hazardous. This took her approximately six hours to complete. She then pushed it all back to me and gave me a hateful glance. I gave her a hopeful smile back. She tapped on her keyboard which apparently was manufactured in the THIRTIES and hit enter with a decisive loud CLICK. She stared at the screen.
“I’m sorry. You’re a code ten. Have a nice day. TWO HUNDRED SIXTEEN!?!”
My jaw hit the counter with an audible thump.
“Hold on…code ten…what…how…we didn’t….but….”
“You’ve been FLAGGED by Homeland SECURITY because your social security number doesn’t match the NAME under which you’ve been paying taxes.”
Shit! I AM going to prison!
“So I just need to go get my social security card updated?”
“I don’t know WHAT you’re going to do because you need a valid driver’s license to get your social security card updated. TWO SIXTEEN?!!?!?”
And she gave me a glare that clearly said GET LOST LOSER.
I grumbled around and gathered up all my junk and made a production out of slamming my purse around a little and then I stomped out of the DMV. It turned out that the social security people have no sense of humor EITHER and I ended up having to go to the hospital where I’d been treated in the past with the correct name and address and pay 1.00 for a copy of a medical record that had their special Secret Squirrel seal on it. That satisfied the social security people who updated my card…I went back to the DMV and they updated and renewed my license. I went out to my car and noticed that my sticker was expired on my plate. Crap.
So…fast forward to now. I’m supposed to fly somewhere next week. You know how the TSA is. They want to know your name and where you live and you better be able to PROVE IT or you get patted down with a club by the TSA agent named OLGA who looks like she used to be or might STILL be a man. I just realized that my driver’s license has the WRONG address on it because we moved this past fall. So today, I took my lunch hour and went to the DMV…only I’m in Indiana now… they call it the BMV. The place is practically in the middle of nowhere just past a no frills farm supply store called RURAL KING. That’s a whole different blog, by the way. I was pretty sure all the Hoosiers would be home watching Judge (insert current TV judge name here) by one o’clock. WRONG. Parking lot was full. I gathered up all my paperwork and headed inside.
It’s actually quite a pleasant place unlike the Illinois facilities where you expect to be shot at close range by any one of the other patrons who have been waiting for six hours to get a license plate sticker. I trotted up to the computer screen and pressed the button on the screen to get my ticket…scowled at the others in the waiting area (to let them know I was on important business) and plopped into a chair. I was 216.
Well this was going nicely! I settled in to wait a few more minutes and gave the people across from me an extra scowl just incase they thought I might want to chat.
AHA! I flounced up to the counter where the BMV guy (with an impossibly large cranium) sat and slid into the chair across the counter from him.
“I need to change my address and here’s my two pieces of mail addressed to me with my new address and here’s my old license”. I slid a twenty-dollar bill across the counter and looked at him expectantly.
He paused for a minute…shuffled through my stuff and then…said something completely unintelligible in barely a whisper with a southern drawl.
I looked at him and lifted one eyebrow…
“Excuse me, I didn’t catch that”
He pointed to the paperwork and then running everysinglewordtogether, said the same thing and smiled.
I shrugged and laughed a little and looked confused. He laughed too and started processing my stuff carrying on an animated conversation where there were NO SPACES BETWEEN WORDS. I tried to keep up…injected bits of laughter here and there, nodded knowingly, shook my head sadly, and said “AH!” a couple of times. He finally seemed to have everything he needed.
I cocked my head a little…like a confused dog.
“PICTURE” and he pointed to the camera area like I was from another planet.
“AH! Yes! YES!! Let’s do the picture!!”
It took him four attempts because he kept saying “DROPYERCHIN” and I had no idea what he was trying to say. Finally he was satisfied. I skittered back to the chair.
“SO…I have to fly Monday and do you think I’ll have the new license by then??”
He went and made some copies and unceremoniously shoved everything back at me. I think he made some other comments but I was just smiling vacantly and nodding at that point. I scooped up my stuff and wiggled my fingers and said “SEE YA! Thanks!” and rocketed toward the door.
I was back at my office in exactly ONE hour. However…it remains to be seen whether the TSA agents will accept my temporary-printed-on-the-BMV-printer temporary driver’s license. They have NO sense of humor. One time I was flying out of Memphis and one of them all dressed in fatigues with a gun on his back said “Do you have ID?” I said “No…but I have a cookie!” and I took a giant chocolate chip cookie out of the pocket of my coat. He stared at me impassively. I recall sighing, putting the cookie back in my coat and taking my license out of my pocket which he looked at briefly, flipped it back at me and then jerked his head in the direction I should move in. Lt. Buzz Kill at your service.
So I’m flying out on Monday. I suppose I should call and check with some agency…somewhere…I’m not sure where or who I would check with. I thought about calling the airline, but I’d rather they be undistracted while they make sure that my plane is totally safe and install sound proofing around the seat I’ll be sitting in since I’ll likely scream all the way to Minneapolis. I keep remembering that BMV guy’s word: “youmightgetoutcantsayyoullgetback”.
I wonder if Tom will come and pick me up in Minneapolis…or Guantanomo Bay Prison where I’ll surely be sent if I offer the TSA guard a cookie.
I have a tendency to put things off that I don’t want to do. I have known that Emma needed something to wear for her Christmas show for a while. Something red, green or black, is what the note from the studio said. I announced last week that we were going to go on SUNDAY to get said clothing. Sunday came and suddenly I was sure I had Dengue Fever, so I put the shopping off. Tom suggested Monday…but you know…it’s MONDAY. So I said “Tuesday! After piano we will go because we’ll be on that side of town.” So we went Wednesday…because you know I didn’t go Tuesday because…I have no good reason…other than…I didn’t want to.
She’s nine. Previously, I could go shopping…pick up just about anything and she liked it. Suddenly she thinks she’s entitled to an opinion. So I let her think she GETS an opinion and told her that we were going to Kohl’s to shop.
I told her if we didn’t find anything there, we could try Justice.
(Aside: If you don’t have a girl, you may not be familiar with the clothing store “Justice for Girls”. It is the Little Girl Mecca of the civilized world. It is literally jam-packed full of girlness. Dresses, skirts, skorts, jeans, Capri pants, shoes, tops, pants, sweat shirts, sweaters, accessories, underwear and it’s all completely coated in GLITTER or SEQUINS…which is pretty much the pre requisite for every outfit that Emma owns. It has to have glitter, sequins, or a ridiculous picture on the shirt…like a dog with eyes that are too big. Some of the stuff is really cute…other things are just blatantly AWFUL. The problem is that there is TOO MUCH of it in the store…and it’s in every color but the color you NEED…and they never seem to have the size you need…AND it’s ridiculously expensive.)
Her response of “YAY!!!!!!” pretty much told me that she was going to veto everything at Kohl’s…so I grudgingly told Tom “Let’s just go to Justice. I’ll take her if you want.” To which he replied (and I still don’t understand this) “No, I want to go too!”
So yesterday after work, we headed for the east side of town where Justice is located in a nice shopping center. Tom dropped us off at the door and went to park and Emma ran to the store doors like she was a bug drawn to one of those zapper things. I half expected the door to shock her and she’d drop to the ground like a stunned moth. She threw open the door and streaked inside. Nirvana.
Justice caters to the little girl and tween crowd. To that end, they constantly have pop music videos playing on TV screens that are hung around the store from the glittery ceiling. Of course, they happen to have the CD’s available for sale should you “need” one. It’s pretty much a Jonas-Brother-Taylor-Swift-Selena-Gomez-One-Direction nightmare. By the time you leave, you want to rip your ears off your head. Emma was happily singing along and dancing a little as she started wandering around the store. I muttered something about Taylor Swift and a hammer and headed toward a rack of sequiny skirts that I’d already picked out from their on-line store.
“Hey Emma! What about this?” (Holding up a black sequined skirt with cute lace peeking out from under it and silver sequined stars all over it)
YES! I thought…this might not be so bad! About that time Tom came in and I waved the skirt at him happily. Now we had to find a top, leggings and boots.
I held up a cute matching shirt
I held up another
“I HATE THAT!”
“Now Mom that’s just horrible”
In front of a group of other mothers I calmly declared “I am going to KILL you in THIS STORE.” They nodded knowingly.
To be honest she wasn’t paying much attention because she was enamoured with a display of weird cosmetics full of glitter and way-too-fuzzy socks in neon colors. Tom growled “EMMA…you need to help your mom pick something”
Clearly…she wasn’t, as she scooted across the room toward glittery stuffed animals.
I just started digging through tops looking for something red, green or black in her size that would go with the skirt that I didn’t like because it meant she WOULD like it. I felt a tap on my arm.
“How about this!”
She had a cute black bolero sweater that was…of course …glittery…and…of course…a size 6…she’s a 16.
“Well I really like it Em, but it’s too small”
We tried to find it in her size. NOPE. So I found a similar one…which she vetoed and then later she came back with the vetoed sweater and said “What about THIS ONE!!!”
I just stared at her for a moment and slowly agreed that it would be fine…don’t ask questions at this point.
There were no red shirts. Only crazy neon pink shirts…which were not on the list of acceptable Christmas show colors. Finally I held up a bright green tank and said “You’ll look cute in this.” She opened her mouth to veto it and I glared at her and she changed her mind and scuffled over to the boots where Tom was sitting on a bench and looking exhausted from the whole process.
She grabbed a pair of silver sequined boots…I shook my head. “They need to be black.” Emma looked at me like I was a complete idiot. She thought that would look completely stupid. So I made Tom hold the outfit and I held the boots underneath and then we had a half hour conversation about what “matched” while Tom played clothes rack. Finally I looked at the price…FIFTY TWO DOLLARS…and there was nothing, in any “matching” color in her size. Tom declared he was taking her down the street to Payless and I was to pay for stuff and meet them there. GOOD! Get her OUT of the store.
“But I wanted to spend my birthday money tonight!!”
Practically in unison “NO”
So she stomped her foot and Tom escorted her out of the store.
I weaved my way through the racks (which are too close together) to pay for the outfit…not even caring that I left the “40 PERCENT OFF EVERYTHING!!” coupon on the side of the fridge at home and that I had “FUN BUCKS!!” for the wrong time period. There were approximately and I’m just rounding this number…7,000 mothers in line. I waited and waited and waited and mothers wrangled coupons and “FUN BUCKS” out of their purses and exchanged things and asked for gift receipts and finally I was next in line and I realized….
I forgot the black leggings.
I stomped back out into the display area, found the leggings in her size (surprise) and returned to the line where I was now behind MORE cranky mothers with glitter on their faces from simply shopping in the store. I finally got to the front where a teenage girl waited on me and proclaimed “THIS OUTFIT IS CUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTE”. I swear she used that many “u’s” when she said it too. She gleefully informed me that I could still get the 40% off because they had my email address on file. This made me want to kill her just a little bit less. Not much, but a little bit. After hearing a very long story about her little sister’s Christmas program, I finally was checked out and made a beeline…or as much as I could, a beeline…the clothing racks are EVERYWHERE…to the front door.
MADE IT OUT FOR LESS THAN A HUNDRED BUCKS….79 dollars with tax. YES.
I trotted down to Payless, just a couple of stores away, and found Emma in peds trying on boots with Tom. He handed her a box…
“Try those on”
“TRY THEM ON”
She slipped them on and walked around a little
“Oh they’re CUTE!!”
So I paid and we were DONE.
On the way to the car she said “When can we spend my birthday money???”
I sighed “How about Sunday”
So. We’re going back Sunday. This time, Tom has conveniently made himself unavailable. It will be just me and Miss Fashionista going back into the glittery abyss.
Pray for me.
I have always been a rabid Halloween fan. RABID. As a kid, I remember that the time leading up to Halloween was the absolute BEST time of the year. At school, the jointed paper skeletons would start to appear on the doors of classrooms and every blue “ditto” sheet we completed would be decorated first with fall leaves and then followed by pumpkins and bats. I LOVED it. A weird sort of anticipation always surrounded Halloween for me. I’m not sure what I was waiting for, because it wasn’t the candy.
My mother wasn’t a big Halloween decorator. Actually, it really wasn’t that in-vogue in the early 70′s to decorate for Halloween. Sure, everyone usually had carved pumpkins on their porches, but other than that it was a pretty blah holiday. Around about the middle of September though, I’d start sniffing around the house for Elmer’s Glue and construction paper. Mom kept a drawer of “craft stuff” in the kitchen and she’d find me rifling through the junk in the drawer.
“DON’T MAKE A MESS”
“I’m not…I need construction paper”
“You’re messing that up…WHY do you need construction paper?”
“I need to make pumpkins”
“LOOK…there’s construction paper…you’re making a MESS”
“But there’s no ORANGE…and I need black and green”
“Well we must be out of it then…put that stuff back in there NEATLY”
My mother obviously didn’t get it…and did I mention she was a clean freak? I think I’ve mentioned that. I’d eventually con my dad into taking me to the local Rexall Drug Store where he’d have to buy me the jumbo pack of construction paper for the three pieces of orange paper that it had in it. Back at the house, I’d make all sorts of orange paper pumpkins with green stems and black triangle eyes and noses and jiggy-jaggy or gap-toothed grins. I thought they were fabulous. I taped them up all over the house much to my mother’s yearly dismay. She promptly took them down November 1st. Total buzz kill.
My brother and I had a parade of homemade costumes because mom was convinced that this saved money and that we could wear the costumes afterwards for pajamas (insert confused look here). As I recall, one year, I was a giant pink rabbit complete with a white yarn pom-pom tail and a head hood that had great big, pink, limp rabbit ears. My brother was a leopard. His costume also had the head hood with ears, but it had a long leopard tail that my mother had stuffed with…old pantyhose. My brother wore this leopard costume for several years. I think it was made when he was maybe 8 years old…he was still wearing it when he was 12 and possibly older…my memory has blocked it out. See, it wasn’t always on Halloween that the leopard costume would appear. He seemed to think it was hysterical to just cram himself into it on a Sunday afternoon and come flailing into the family room yelling “RAHHHHHHH”. I’d roll my eyes and dad would say “oh shit, here we go” and mom would yell “Oh MY GOD!!” It was very predictable. By the time he was 12 or so the costume was ridiculously too small for him and the zipper was broken but he still managed to cram himself into it. And much to the delight of our Shetland Sheepdog, Duffy, the tail was intact. When my brother pounced into the room in his leopard suit, Duffy was in hot pursuit after that pantyhose stuffed tail. They’d wrestle on the floor in a blur of leopard spotted fabric and dog fur and in between the growls and giggling you could hear the costume ripping at the seams. We finally had to take the shredded costume away from him (which was no easy task) and by the time that mom was able to smuggle it out of his room, it was not much more than a broken zipper and a tail with shredded pantyhose hanging from dozens of holes in it. I wish I had pictures…because I’m not above blackmail.
On Halloween day, excitement was high. We got to bring our costumes to SCHOOL. After lunch, everyone would put on their costumes and then walk around the school grounds in some sort of weird Halloween parade. I think it was just to get us out of our classrooms so that the beleaguered room mothers could get set up for the next event that we were all drooling for…the class Halloween party! The parties mostly consisted of a couple of games and a lot of spilled Kool-Aid and some frosted cupcakes with plastic spider rings stuck into the frosting. The candy haul was pretty decent though. By the time the bell rang signaling the end of school, we were completely high on sugar and anticipation for trick or treating. The room mothers were exhausted from rinsing frosting off spider rings and cleaning up the spilled Kool-Aid. We just couldn’t WAIT to get home to start phase two of Halloween.
In the town where I grew up, the Chamber of Commerce sponsored a yearly Halloween Weenie Roast. When I was young, it was held at the junior high school which was an elderly, brick building with big drafty windows and clanking pipes. The Weenie Roast was free. They encouraged all the kids in town to stop by for a hotdog prior to trick or treating and oh…bring your own stick. The night of Halloween, I’d be outside frantically searching for sticks. Of course, the only thing I could find were TWIGS or LOGS…that perfect weenie roasting stick was as elusive as the ghosts that supposedly came out on Halloween. We’d ransack the neighborhood looking for perfect sticks and would bring our stick collection back to the house for dad to examine for appropriateness as a roasting stick. He’d select a couple and then whittle the end down to a pointy pointy point and we’d put on our costumes and race for the car with our sticks and plastic pumpkin buckets. Dad followed yelling from behind us “DON’T POKE EACH OTHER WITH THOSE STICKS!! YOU’RE GOING TO POKE YOURSELF IN THE EYE!!” It was beginning to get dusky outside when we made our way to what the locals called “The Bonfire”.
At the junior high, about a half-dozen small fires were built on the lawn. Huddled around them were kids in their costumes and parents wondering if those costumes were flame retardant. The kids would all have hotdogs on sticks that they were holding FAR too close to the coals for FAR too long and that would be completely charred by the time they pulled them back for their parents to evaluate. By then, the costumed kid would be WAY over the whole bonfire thing and anxious to move on to the real activity of threatening people for candy. The parents would eat the black hotdogs while the kids dragged them back to the car waving their sticks and yelling “COME ON!!!!” Same thing. Every year. I swear. But the weenie roast set the tone for the evening….by the time we were done it was very dark, a haze of wood smoke hung in the air and the orange dancing flames added bright punctuation to the spookiness of the night. I loved it.
Back in the car, we would plan the trick or treat route. We could only go to people’s houses that my parents knew…because you know there was razor blades and poison in everyone else’s candy that they gave out on Halloween. We’d stop at a few of their coworkers houses and they’d talk WAY too long while we were anxious to get on to the next house. We’d finally make it back to the neighborhood where we’d meet up with my cousin and start canvasing the houses on our block. Everyone knew us so we got extra candy and some people had SPECIAL BAGS made up for us. They’d come to the door, see who it was and say “OH! Just a minute, I have something else for you” and there’d be a special brown lunch bag of candy with extra stuff in it. Sometimes there were POPCORN BALLS. If they came in a wax paper Halloween decorated bag, we knew they were the store-bought kind that would cause you to visit the dentist because you’d chip a tooth on them. If they were wrapped in plain wax paper or Saran Wrap? BONUS. They were HOMEMADE….and frankly, coveted by my parents. Every time we left a house, we’d yell “THANK YOU” and scurry back down the sidewalk to our waiting parents. They’d say “Whadja get?” and if we said “popcorn ball!” they’d say “OOOOOOH”. The next week was spent trying to keep them from stealing it. Eventually one day it would be gone from our pumpkin buckets and they would mumble something about “stale…don’t want bugs…you wouldn’t have liked it”. Popcorn balls were rare rare treats. It was every man for himself.
The town had trick or treat lore that was spread every year. Under NO circumstances were you to go uptown to the main streets. Every kid knew this. Uptown, all the ne’er-do-well bad kids convened on Halloween. If you went there, they’d attack you with shaving cream and depilatory cream and all your hair would fall out…and you’d get egged…and toilet papered…and possibly killed…probably not, but we had vivid imaginations. One of the stories went that Dawn Pozdoll sprayed a girl’s head with Nair and she was bald forever. We weren’t taking any chances so we made sure that we never went towards the main streets…but while we were out, we made SURE to listen for the screams that we were sure would come from that direction.
We’d set off down the street where pumpkins glowed on every doorstep and porch lights indicated that the house was a willing victem to be hit up for candy. We’d run from house to house and someone would usually trip in the dark and split their lip or tear their costume. Yearly…this happened. We never seemed to learn. Anyway, when we’d made it around the block with only minor injuries, we tried to coerce our parents into just a couple more streets, but we had pretty full candy buckets and trick or treat was almost over and so we were dragged home…usually pouting. My brother got an enormous charge out of running ahead (in the leopard costume) and hiding in piles of leaves and behind trees and then jumping out and causing everyone to scream. He never got tired of it. Scaring each other was actually a family hobby and he ended up on all of our lists for revenge because of Halloween night. When we got home, we’d dump the candy on the floor like every other kid and start sorting. Mom and dad would supervise the sorting and confiscated anything that looked sketchy (apples were always tossed, no matter where we got them). They got all the stuff we didn’t like such as wax paper wrapped peanut butter kisses, Mounds, Almond Joy, Bit-o-Honey and Baby Ruth (I later got over not liking ALL of those candies). If you weren’t careful, Duffy would try to sneak off with candy and mom would try to take your pop corn ball. I tried to trade all of my Dubl-Bubble gum for my brother’s Butterfinger bars and this usually did not work but there was some high pressure negotiating that would go on for about 20 minutes or so. We would finally get told to put the pumpkin buckets on the counter but it would already be too late because my brother would be writhing on the floor in his leopard costume saying that he was “full” meaning that he was going to hurl. While mom and dad dealt with that, I usually tried to sneak out the front door to sit on the steps.
After trick or treat was over, the neighborhood porch lights would go out one by one. Lighted pumpkins still usually glowed on the porches. Our pumpkins would still be lit with their candles beginning to sputter as the wicks reached their ends. It was usually quiet. The smell of burnt wood and leaves was faint in the air and if we were lucky, it was slightly warm that year. I’d sit on the porch and just watch, listen and wait. When I was older, I would bring a small candle out to the porch and light it and just watch its tiny glow attempt to drive back the darkness. I’m not sure what I was waiting for or listening for during that time. I did it every year that I was able. Eventually one of my parents would come and shag me back into the house, but I always left the pumpkins burning and the tiny votive glowing on the steps. I just sensed that something was different on those nights. There was a presence, a closeness that I couldn’t explain. It was something that pulled on me and I felt drawn to spend that quiet time on the candlelit steps while the smell of burning pumpkin wafted through the air. It’s something I still do and I still don’t completely understand why I’m drawn to spend that time in the dark on Halloween night. Tonight after the porch light is off, I know I won’t be able to rest until I go outside and light the candle in the dark. I’ll feel that connection that I feel every year and I’ll know it was the right and necessary thing to do. Blessed Samhain….and protect your popcorn balls.
I attended 7th and 8th grade in the oldest building in the school district. It was a three-story brick structure that had once proudly housed pretty much the entire school district. When I was there, it was known as “The Junior High”. It was where the town kids, officially met the kids that attended the outlying country schools in the district. It was drafty and crumbling and classroom lectures were often accompanied by hiss and clang of the ubiquitous steam radiators.
In junior high, we got to choose ELECTIVES…meaning classes that weren’t part of the required core curriculum for graduation. ELECTIVES were things like band, chorus, art, and foreign languages. I chose to take art. Foreign language sounded like too much work, band students had to walk to the high school for class, the chorus kids were sort of viewed as misfits and art was…well…in the basement. I was also sort of good at it, so what the hell.
Seventh grade Art was a fairly large class, but if I recall correctly, you had to be recommended by the art teacher to get to Art II. A handful of the first year art students ended up in the second class allegedly because they were talented, but mostly because the big, football player, sized art teacher liked them and they could at least draw a dog. There were maybe twelve of us total in the class and it was usually mayhem until the instructor bellowed “SIDDOWN!!!!!”
We met in series of basement classrooms between which the walls had been removed. The first classroom held drawing tables and stools, the second was similar with more work tables and the last tiny room held a kiln, a potter’s wheel and some sort of miniature smelter for metal work. The rooms were edged on one side with high windows and steam pipes snaked across the ceiling throughout all three rooms. We painted, worked on still life drawings, learned the color wheel, worked on drawing with two-point perspective and made things from clay.
One day, the art teacher announced that we were making jewelry. We bought real silver pellets for our projects by the ounce and he showed us how to use thin strips of wax to form a band and what we would need to do to include a stone or other decorative pieces. Later, he would use the smelter thing in the kiln room to melt the metal and then use a crazy centrifuge thing to send it flowing into the a vessel that held the wax piece that we had created. Allegedly, this worked. It was impressive and a little scary if nothing else. Then he gave us each a bunsen burner, a supply of wax strips and left us to our own devices.
We had lots of tiny sharp tools and wax and open flames. No way that this could end badly, right? I successfully made a wax band and then because apparently I thought I was much more talented than I actually was, I decided to make this ridiculously complex filigree pattern with the wax that would eventually surround a stone of some sort. I’d heat the tool in the bunsen burner flame and then use it to try to form the wax. During the second class of working our ring projects, I was busily working when suddenly I smelled something awful…burning popcorn? REALLY BAD burning popcorn. I looked around and bent back over my work again. Crackling? More stench!! I looked up again and someone pointed out that my bangs were on fire. I frantically slapped at my forehead. I probably wasn’t going to have a career in jewelry making.
One day, the instructor arrived with an assortment of cut stones that had been done by another rock-loving faculty member. There were tiny colored stones in a beautiful colors sparkling in individual cotton filled containers. I was AGOG. I’ve got this whole thing about “SPARKLY”. My dad always said that he could put glitter on an empty milk carton and I’d buy it….he has since become convinced that I’d buy dog poop with glitter on it…which is quite possible if the glitter is iridescent. Back to the story…. We all gathered around the teacher’s desk and ogled over the jewels in the cases. My favorite was a beautiful green Peridot stone. It sparkled, apple green in its tiny case. I don’t remember what the price was of the tiny stone, but I knew I didn’t have it to spend. I must have said that I “loved” that stone a million times while we stood there. Finally we returned to our projects where I forgot about the beautiful stone as I concentrated on not burning the rest of my hair off.
The semester went on and we continued to work on our ring projects. I looked at the stones daily and often drooled over the bright green Peridot stone. We eventually melted our silver and “cast” our rings. Mine was, despite my artistic attempts at filigree, an oddly shaped mass of silver when it emerged from the crazy centrifuge thing. I tried to sand, buff and polish it into something at least wearable, but it was pretty much blobby and unrecognizable as adornment of any type. The jewelry career was really looking bleak if I thought I was going to head that way with my life. To add to my dismay…the tiny green Peridot stone, in its cotton lined clear plastic case was gone.
One day, after leaving art class, one of the guys in the class said my name. Tom Thompson, a tall kid with a head full of shaggy red-brown hair, was waiting for me. He had asked to be my boyfriend in seventh grade and I’d turned him down. I don’t know why, other than I was terrified of what my parents would say if they knew I had a boyfriend. Tom was nice enough, but…I was awkward and shy and lived in fear of my parents’ opinions about everything. There in the art hallway, Tom, without saying much of anything, placed the clear plastic container holding the sparkling green stone in my hand. He had bought it…for me. I stammered thank you and I remember him just sort of shrugging. I never did date him.
Twenty-six years later we would meet again. I’d discover that he was my best friend and soul mate. He would claim that he knew that I was his, all those years ago.
I don’t know what happened to that little sparkly green stone. I wondered for years. Today Tom bought me another…beautifully cushion cut and surrounded by tiny diamonds in a setting of white gold. I thanked him in the store and he smiled and sort of shrugged a little, much like the first time. Unlike the first time though…I’m holding onto this one…and maybe him too.
This morning we had to stop for gas on the way to work. While Tom did the gas thing, I sat in the car and watched people. Fascinating.
You know how you’ve been sitting at home and all of a sudden you need a Hostess Fruit Pie? You’ve got your jammies on and they are SO comfy. You think “Well geez, I’m just running to the gas station for fruit pies”. So off you go to the gas station, wearing your sunglasses, your hair hasn’t even seen a brush in a day or so and is looking extra nappy, you’re wearing a Peace Frog t-shirt with taco stains on it and Snoopy pajama pants. And Crocs…with no socks.
At the gas station, you cruise into the convenience store, get one fruit pie in every flavor and a water tower sized soda that is 89 cents. Oh what the hell…while you’re there you pick up two hotdogs from the Roller Grill of Death. Pleased with your treasures you pay at the counter while the attendant yells “PUMP 7, YOU CAN GO AHEAD!!”. Back out to your car, you set the GIANT SODA on the roof of the car and throw the fruit pie bag into car, while holding one hot dog in your hand and the other in your mouth. You grab the giant soda, start the car, scarf down the rest of the hot dog in your mouth with no hands, stick in the next one, and pull out of the parking lot with “Her Name is Rio” blaring on your radio through the open windows of your car.
I just want to let you know…it IS just the gas station…so you don’t have to, like, get dressed up. However, gas stations do not make you INVISIBLE and I just want you to know that I’m judging you from my car parked at Pump 7.
Every summer when I was still a child, we took a summer vacation. Some were fairly simple and involved a trip to my Aunt’s house in Southern Illinois. Others were more elaborate, like Florida and Disneyworld. Still others were sort of experimental like driving from the Amana Colonies in Iowa to Hannibal Missouri and then to Nauvoo, Illinois where something big happened in the Mormon faith but being Catholic at the time, I didn’t pay any attention to what it was because, well, they were going to hell anyway. My mother loved it because it was historic. My brother and I didn’t want to get out of the car because it was hot. So much for Mormon history lessons.
I’m sure I’d have denied this at the time, but looking back now I think my favorite vacations were the ones that we took to the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. My mother comes from a large family and someone thought it would be fun if the families all vacationed together. (Raises an eyebrow) Anyway, the planning for the vacation always started with the arrival of the visitors guide from the Ozarks. We’d all fight over it for a few days and it would become dog-eared from having been studied by my father, my mother, my brother and myself. Someone, somewhere would pick a resort that was relatively cheap and make reservations for all 600 members of the family. Actually, it was more like 20 people, but when the bulk of those people are KIDS, it probably seemed closer to 600 to the people who owned the resort. And then the planning began in earnest.
The moms were in charge of food, naturally. My mother and her sisters would plan and scheme about who would cook on what night and who would be responsible for what. For some insane reason, they seemed to think that there were no stores in the Lake of the Ozarks area and we would pack boxes and boxes of groceries to take with us. I’m sure this was some effort to save money…because you know those hillbilly Missouri store owners in the Ozarks were just lying in wait for unsuspecting Chicago area families. Whatever. So we baked and packed and unpacked and repacked and ate what was baked and had to bake again. The aunts and my mom all schemed, made lists, decided the list was dumb and made new lists. We kids got into what was packed and ate the vacation snacks and pretty soon got banned from our respective houses.
Finally it was the night before we were to leave. Mom would be frantically packing clothing and doing last-minute laundry and cleaning the house and changing the sheets because 1. Who wants to come home to dirty sheets and 2. It made everything infinitely more complicated. My brother and I would pack “stuff” that we thought we needed to take with. I packed books, jewelry I couldn’t live without, and whatever spending money I had managed to not spend. My brother packed junk he’d never play with and ranted about goggles for swimming. We’d stuff our junk into the back seat and complain about who was going to sit where and stake out our territory a hundred times until my father finally intervened and sent us back into the house to terrorize our mother who at this point was distraught because of some detail or another that really didn’t matter and was looking for her plastic sandals that she bought at the county fair last year so that she could step into the shower without contracting a dread disease. We’d eventually get sent to bed early so that we could be up and ready for the big departure the next morning.
3:30 a.m. Everyone is up and out of bed. For some reason, my father and my uncle (who lived across the backyard with my aunt and cousins) always thought we needed to leave at some ridiculous time in the morning. Dad would be packing the coolers with meat and ice (because apparently there are no STORES in the Ozarks). Mom would be trying to get last-minute toiletries together and my brother and I would be sitting in the back seat wondering what was taking so long. Finally, we’d all be in the car and Dad would fire up the CB radio and start saying “BREAKER ONE-NINE FOR A RADIO CHECK!” to which my uncle would respond something truckerish. Finally we’d hit the road. Excitement was high. I’d settle in to listen to my father talk nonsense on the CB radio and my brother would bounce around, annoy everyone and obsess about swimming goggles. We were finally on our way.
Hours later. The good mood has pretty much evaporated. Now it’s raining and my father and my uncle are tired of keeping track of each other on the highway. Mom has had the map unfolded several times and we’re supposed to meet up with other family members around St Louis and of course that doesn’t work out quite right either. My brother and I have eaten all the snacks or are tired of the ones my mother brought and have descended into sibling squabbling which has my father’s nerves completely frayed. Mom has wondered about the coffee pot being unplugged for roughly…the entire trip. My brother is fascinated with stopping to pee and Dad has started to refuse to stop, so Mom has my brother peeing into a cup…which he’s also fascinated with. About this time, my hay fever kicks in and Dad pulls over to get me an Allerest from the trunk. After I take it, the sneezing, watery eyes and constant stream of snot stops, but I fall into an antihistamine coma which makes my brother gleeful because now he can put his feet on MY side of the car and not get bitched at.
About three in the afternoon, we finally pull into the resort. Ahhhhh…The Carousel. A collection of aged cottages perched on a bluff overlooking a small beach at the edge of one arm of the Lake of the Ozarks. All the families have joined the caravan at this point and we’ve made the all important first stop to buy cases and cases of BEER while we were still in town. To get to the resort, we travel on roads that twist and turn and have steep hills and drops on either side. My mother is half crazy because she can’t stand the roads and my brother and I are half crazy because we’re finally THERE!!! My father just wants a beer at this point.
Everyone parks and the men all go to the main lodge to check in. Money changes hands and the men come out with cottage keys. The kids are all half insane by this time. Everyone is chanting about the BEACH and can we go to the FISHING HOUSE and of course my brother is screaming about goggles. The mothers manage to wrench us away from the overlook to the beach in order to help unload the cars. Beer is refrigerated, coolers unpacked, and lectures given about LIFE JACKETS and BUG SPRAY. We’re finally set free to explore (all wearing life jackets on dry land) the resort.
The resort is a simple fishing resort. There is a floating boat dock and then floating walkways that go to the Fishing House. In the middle of the area created by the docks which float on empty oil barrels, there is a swimming area. The kids are nearly rabid with excitement. We all go pounding out onto the boat dock and try out every floating walkway. We go to the Fishing House and then run screaming up and down the tiny beach. One of the cousins yells “SHELLS” and we’re all mesmerized for a short time by picking up tiny freshwater mollusk shells from the sand. Eventually one of us ends up falling into the water with our clothes on and we all go tearing back to the cottages to get our moms so that we can go swimming. They’ve just settled down with a pitcher of draft beer on one of the verandas so an uncle offers to have “Fish School” and will watch us while we play in the water. We’re ecstatic. Everyone changes into swim clothes and stampedes for the tiny beach with plastic rafts and Donald Duck swim rings in tow.
Afternoon passes in a blissful haze of lake water, algae, sand, swim rings and the occasional dead fish. We’re all finally hauled out of the water by our fathers because the moms have dinner ready. We all eat in shifts in one cabin because what fun would it be to do anything else? There’s confusion, noise, tons of food, lots of laughing and the occasional scream. I’m pretty sure the resort owners are putting us on a list of families never to allow to return. After dinner, the adults sit on a deck on one of the cabins while the kids catch lightning bugs, beg for quarters for the arcade games in the main lodge, and get eaten by mosquitoes the size of Lear jets.
Bedtime. All the cousins are tucked into their own cabins and the adults are still gathered on one of the decks with the cases of beer that were purchased at a bar called “The Glory Hole” in town. I can hear them all talking and occasionally there are GALES of laughter. I lie in bed listening to them talking and laughing. There must be an interesting story because it gets very quiet and then I hear my uncle yell “GOAT” and the laughing starts again…more silence and “GOAT” and more laughing. Finally I fall asleep.
Morning. Before my parents are even thinking about getting up, my brother and I are rocketing around the cabin. So much to do! Shop for fireworks, souvenir junk, swimming goggles (for Pete’s sake), go swimming, go fishing, let’s rent a BOAT!! Mom gets up to help the aunts with breakfast and I put on my life jacket and head for the floating dock. The water is so calm on the lake this early that it almost appears mirror-like. There are a few fishing boats sputtering around on the water. I stand at the edge of the dock and look back at the resort. I’m convinced I’m in heaven. I squat down to look into one of the boat slips and there are a dozen bluegill and sunfish just hanging out in the fairly shallow water. They see my shadow and dart off. The air is warm, but in the shady spots on the dock there is still some of the night’s coolness lingering. The boat area smells of diesel fuel and dead fish. I step out onto the floating walkway between the dock and the fish house in my bare feet. The walkway rocks slightly in the still water. It’s beautiful on the lake this early. My cousins are all eating breakfast and looking back at the main cabin that we all congregate in, I notice that there is a huge beer can pyramid on the deck leftover from the previous night’s festivities. I can almost smell the heat of the day that will arrive shortly, making the water the only place of relief. The smell of cooking bacon and the sound of a screen door slamming followed by the shouts of my cousins fill the air. Time for the day to begin. A day full of everything different because we’re not at home. I run down the swaying, floating dock to the boat dock to return to land.
This is going to be the best day ever.
The school year is over again for Emma. It was a much better year than last year. Well, at least SHE did much better. I continue to be one of those hopelessly disorganized parents that runs the other way if a PTO member happens to catch sight of me. It’s not that I don’t want to help out at school. I’d love to. It’s just that, if you remember, I can’t usually find my socks in the morning and never remember to pay the bills on time. Give me something of major importance like being in charge of a book fair, fund-raiser, or games at family fun night and you’re asking for disaster. I was talking to my cousin (and super mom), Kathleen, one day while she was organizing prizes for the fun fair at the parochial school that her children attend. She had spent hours shopping, buying and organizing cute little prizes for the fun fair. I on the other hand couldn’t seem to find time to buy groceries or stop at the gas station. Digressing…I know.
Some of you who have read my blog before know that my daughter spends the summer with her father in northern Illinois. Hell, I might as well say Wisconsin because if you threw a rock from his house it would land in Wisconsin. I also like to say that he lives in Wisconsin because he hates the Green Bay Packers. Before Emma could talk he taught her to say “BOO!” if she heard anyone utter “Packers”. I think it’s sort of nice Karma that he lives next to the land of all things Packer and cheesy.
Emma leaves tonight to go and spend June and July with her father. I, of course, have nothing packed. My cousin Kathleen would not only have her child packed but would have packed things to do on the trip, snacks, a first aid kit that rivaled a small ER and several types, and SPF’s of sun screen. At our house, Emma’s clothes are in the dryer and I’m not sure where any of her shoes are…I think she’s wearing shoes today…huh…I should check. Okay…anyway…I should take lessons from Kathleen because I’m envious of her prioritizing skills, but I spend way too much time on Facebook reading funny memes and making snarky comments. Damn it, the digressing is bad today…Look a chicken!
This morning Tom and Emma and I all piled into our Equinox to go to work. We would have gone in separate cars, but Tom’s is dead again and the driver’s side window is stuck in the DOWN position and so he covered it with a black trash bag and gaff tape. It’s not even locked because the thieves drive by it and see that the window is covered with a trash bag and they think “There can’t be ANYTHING in that trash heap worth stealing!” Back to the story…Emma was sulking in the back seat.
“What’s wrong Em?”
“I wanted to play with Kiley (ne’er-do-well neighbor’s kid) after we got home tonight but daddy is coming to pick me up”
“I thought you were excited??”
“Then what’s wrong?”
“Kiley got a new POOOOOOOL.”
(Sigh). Alright. I’ve written about the neighbors before. The guy next door is sketchy. I’m sure this pool is hot. How does one steal a swimming pool? I don’t want to know, but this guy will have entire dining room sets, still in their factory wrapping show up in his driveway and then they are gone the next day and they weren’t carried into his house either. Let me paint you a picture…several DUI, doesn’t work because his “back hurts” although he still seems to be able to carry around dining room sets with no problem without assistance, this is the guy who had his electricity turned off for non-payment so he just hooked up a hot generator that was hidden in his shed with an orange electrical cord that was taped together in no less than 10 places and was approximately 5,647 miles long. This is the same guy that doesn’t speak…he “hollers”. Same guy who walks around his yard naked from the waist up with his pot belly hanging over the front of his pants and his butt crack showing in the back with a cigarette butt in his mouth. We think he’s murdering people and then transferring the bloody bodies somewhere because he constantly is cleaning out his 1980 Toyota Sienna van, including hosing off his floor mats every day.
Still think he bought that pool? Me, neither.
But they couldn’t wait ONE DAY til Emma had gone up north to put up that rotten, hot pool. NO. Last night, he was out schlepping around the back yard half-naked filling it up with water while the girls danced gleefully around it. Emma came racing into the house, begged to put on her swimsuit and then raced out of the house again in spandex blur. The only other time I’ve seen that child move that fast is when I’ve said “Wanna go get frozen yogurt?” and she breaks the sound barrier getting to the car.
So this morning she was grumpy because she is going to be leaving Redneck Shores (the pool next door) when she leaves tonight. I reminded her that daddy and his fiance are really excited that she is coming and that her step-sister to be is having her sweet sixteen party tomorrow and is having a BOUNCE HOUSE. I reminded her that daddy has arranged for the same fun day camp that she went to last year, swimming lessons, cheerleading camp and has a new trampoline! I told her that his fiance had already gotten her some new summer clothes and that she was going to get to see Grandma Betty and swim in her pool and go to the beach. I reminded her of all of the wonderful things that summer would hold. New friends and adventures with daddy and the whole summer with her old dog Frosty-the-googly-eyed-Pomeranian-that-never-stop- barking. I told her that it was just June and July and then she’d be back in the first part of August. I reassured her….
Or did I try to reassure me.
I’ll be fine tonight as I pack her clothes and she’ll throw all her favorite videos in her travel bag and take Mr Weiner Dog, her favorite stuffed animal with her in the car. She’ll run to her father when he gets out of the car and we’ll all pack up her things into the back of his SUV. I’ll be fine and hug her and tell her we’ll talk on the phone even though I know when I call she’ll be too tired or too busy or just not really interested because she’s eight. I’ll help her get strapped in the back with her VCR, her Nintendo DS and her pillow and assorted junk and give her a hug and kiss.
And then they’ll leave.
Tom and I will wave from the drive way and her dad will honk and they’ll wave back and then they’ll drive away.
I’ll stand on the sidewalk and look after them. This is how it always goes. I’ll stand and stare after them watching his white SUV get smaller as it drives away. I know I’ll feel small and lost and I’ll remind myself over and over again how wonderful it is that her father loves her and wants to spend time with her and does so much with her and that he and I are on good terms. I’ve waived child support for the summer so that he can spend it on her. I’ll stand there with my shoulders slumped feeling as though my feet are glued to the ground and that my heart has stopped beating.
Finally, Tom will say…”Hey…Come here…”. I’ll realize that he’s been standing behind me the whole time. He’ll pull me into his arms and let me sob for a couple of minutes and then remind me that she needs her father as badly as she needs us and that this is good. This summer is good.
We’ll go into the house and the Chihuahuas will dance around and our lab and mutt will wrestle happily in the dining room because we’re back in the house. The house that suddenly seems to be achingly empty.
This summer is good. I know it is.
Sometimes…the best things are also the most difficult.
So, Tom tried to give me a political history lesson….
“Fascism was in Italy…Mussolini was their grand….”
I don’t like to grocery shop. Not even a little bit. It all goes back to the whole grocery trauma of my childhood when we bought necessary groceries instead of junk. See this post , to see how not buying Hostess SnoBalls as a child nearly ruined my adult life. Anyway, back to the issue of grocery shopping. It’s one of my LEAST favorite things to do. It’s right up there with having my skin removed with a cheese grater. To make things worse, Tom likes to shop at the Super Wal-Mart which, granted, has some low prices, but unfortunately is full of unseemly patrons which this video clip clearly displays:
Yeah. So, because Tom used to have a mullet, I figure that he’s a much better candidate to go to Wal-Mart than I am since I have always been the epitome of cool (Hi Honey!). Thus, I have him do all the grocery shopping…it makes sense. (Just agree with me, okay?)
Recently, a new store opened in town and I’m SMITTEN. I actually will come up with EXCUSES to go to this place. It’s…It’s…It’s…..FABULOUS. First of all, I totally love a grocery store that doesn’t sell tires and firearms. This store is called…THE FRESH MARKET. This is totally not a commercial for them, but I’m tellin’ ya, if there is one in your town, put down whatever you’re doing and go there. Seriously. The fruit is perfectly stacked. They carry more than green peppers, celery and cucumbers. There is a fish counter (which I’ll overlook), and a butcher counter and all kinds of fancy pants salads at the deli and they make fresh sushi (yuck) and they have lots of BREADS and special snack items and a fancy dessert counter and barrels of coffee beans and all kinds of rotisserie meats and cool cheese that isn’t made by KRAFT and…and…and…special CANDY and….I could go on and on…there is beautiful classical music playing and everyone is happy and no one is screaming at their child to STOP IT!. It’s food Nirvana and I want to LIVE there. No one there has a MULLET. No one there is wearing a t-shirt that says “World’s Greatest Pa-Paw!” while wearing plaid shorts and black socks with flip-flops and absolutely NO ONE has a cart with underwear, ammunition and Cheez-its in it.
That…in and of itself makes it worth paying $54 for a gallon of milk.
We didn’t have big plans for Labor Day this year. Come to think of it, we never have big plans for Labor Day. Anyway, Tom’s been a whirling dervish of cleaning this weekend. He cleaned the carpet in the bedroom, did a ton of laundry, vacuumed the whole place and ate three-quarters of a pan of baked mostaccioli. I boiled the mostaccioli noodles and had OCD about uploading a video to Facebook and YouTube. I finally decided that I needed to get out of the house, so today we piled into the car with the camera and went for a ride.
We filled the gas tank, got lunch for Emma, picked up two grande-coffee’s-in-venti-cups-with-two-Equals-in-each-and-topped-off-with-half-and-half from Starbucks and started driving. When I have a full cup of Starbuck’s coffee and my camera, everything seems like a good idea and forgetting that the bipolar Evansville weather had dropped 40 degrees in 24 hours and that we were all wearing shorts and sandals, I said “Hey…what about Harmonie State Park? I bet I could find good places for pictures out there…”. Tom, being the long-suffering husband that he is (he made me type that), obligingly turned the car around and headed west.
On the way out to Harmonie State Park which is near New Harmony, Indiana, which is right next to the Middle of Nowhere, I noticed that the breeze, which I thought would cause Emma’s hair to blow softly, had risen to more of a HAIR WHIPPING AROUND YOUR HEAD status. I decided that it might not be a great day for pictures, but what-the-hell, we were almost to the state park, so we just kept driving.
Emma was all excited about getting there because I told her that we were going to a FOREST by a RIVER. As we pulled into the entrance of the state park she happily chirped “I have to PEE!!!”. She always does this. I swear. The moment we go somewhere and are at the furthest point there is from a toilet her bladder kicks in. I had my usual high-speed-come-apart while she bounced up and down in the backseat, talking non-stop about peeing.
Tom headed to one of the picnic areas that appeared to have restroom facilities. He had barely stopped the car and he and Emma had vaulted out of their seats and were on their way down the trail to the “facilities”. The wind coming of the Wabash river was FRIGID. Emma instructed Tom to use the “MENS” side and she would use the “WOMENS” side. Child is going to be president someday. Anyway, Tom ducked into the “MENS” side while Emma, who was singing at this point, skipped to the “WOMENS” side and opened the door.
Singing stopped. She stopped. I nearly ran her over.
“MOM. IT. HAS. NO. FLUSHER.”
Yep. Chemical toilet. I told her that it was the only restroom in the area. She spun around and said “THAT’S NOT A TOILET” and she turned around and stomped back down the trail.
“I thought you had to pee?”
“NOT THAT BAD”
“FORGET IT MOM”
So we all got back in the car and started driving again. Tom decided it would be funny to pretend that he was driving the car down the boat ramp into the river. I decided it would be funny if I pounded the shit out of his right arm. It seemed like we’d driven for DAYS (because Emma needed to “PEE!!!!”. We finally found the campground and there, surrounded by cherubim and seraphim and a glowing light….REAL BATHROOMS.
Emma shot out of the car and toward the bathrooms. When we got inside she opened the door and said “THANK GOD. A FLUSHER.”
Back in the car, we drove further into the campground. Tom told Emma about how he had camped one time and had to use a shovel and a branch to go to the bathroom. Without going into many more details than that, let’s just say that Emma found the whole idea absolutely both horrifying and simultaneously hysterical. It took us quite a while to get her calmed down. Tom thought that maybe we should try camping. We had to get Emma to stop laughing again. As her giggling got under control, we drove into a section of cabins. Cute….log…cabins…with electricity…and bathrooms and showers. Tom made some comment about not having to find a “current bush” to plug my hairdryer into….so I shot him a wilting look. He gave me a big cheesy grin. I was mumbling about smuggling the chihuahua into the “NO PETS ALLOWED” cabins when Emma said “If they have electricity, I could watch TV!”
“No TV’s in the cabins Em”
“Well then I’ll watch Netflix on the iPad”
“I DON’T WANT TO GO CAMPING”
We tried to reassure her that it might be fun…hiking, fishing, biking. Pretty soon she was in tears.
“There won’t be anything to DO!”
We finally got her calmed down and convinced that she wouldn’t die from camping when we passed a line of RV’s waiting at the dump station at the exit to the campgrounds. A guy with blue rubber gloves up to his elbows was inserting a thick hose into a hole in the ground. I yelled “THEY’RE DUMPING POOP OUT OF THEIR CAMPERS!!!!” and the mayhem in the backseat started all over again…only this time I joined in.
Tom stopped at the campground office and got information about renting a campsite or a cabin. I tried to convince Emma that it wouldn’t be that bad (although I didn’t believe a WORD I was saying. I happily pointed out to Tom that it was only TWENTY THREE DOLLARS a night! And then quickly added that we would need roughly THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS worth of camping gear. He finally gave up trying to convince both Emma and I that it would be fun.
We drove back to Evansville and by the time we got home we’d forgotten all about camping. I hauled all my stuff in from the car including the camping information from Harmonie State Park. I unceremoniously dumped it, along with my camera gear, my purse and other miscellanea from the car onto the dining room table. I’m sure it will soon get buried under the weekly onslaught of papers from school and work. In a couple of weeks when I’m trying to dig out the dining room table to avoid being the next subject of a “Hoarders” episode, I’ll probably run across it and put it in the “keep” pile….where it will stay until I unearth it six months later and throw it into the “What the hell is this?” pile.
I don’t think Emma has anything to worry about.