The vacations gods don’t smile on my family, and at times my children do their part to ensure the latter. There has been hide-n-seek with the pet mouse among the suitcases, spit wad art decorating the car windows, and several choruses of “I’m bored,” all before we leave the driveway.
In the past we’ve lost our older son in the elevator of a hotel, and pulled him off a plane bound for Cancun (our destination was Missouri). I’ve learned through the years of family trips that the smell of boys’ feet and day-old spilled ice cream embedded in upholstery are indistinguishable, and the funk of both have the power to render the other car passengers speechless.
Admittedly, I’ve done my part in adding to the mayhem. Blessed with all the skills of a drunken navigator, I’ve read maps upside-down, and miss-programmed the GPS resulting in a detour through a farmer’s cornfield, courtesy of a narrow gravel farm road. I’ve humored hotel employees with suction-cup animal impersonations by running face-first into clear glass hotel doors. And once I provided “the biggest thrill in a while” (according to the manager) when I flashed an entire rural restaurant because my dress was unintentionally tucked into the back of my dress.
After the dress episode, my dear hubby John decided that we should perhaps take a break from our adventures. “A year off will allow us to regenerate our financial resources,” he claimed.
“Regenerate resources” my tater tots. This, coming from a guy who breaks into a sweat at the mention of us all taking just a trip to the grocery store. The truth is, he’s scared of his face appearing on the side of a milk carton or on the news—a victim of our misadventures.
I made it my mission to prove we could have an uneventful, normal vacation. For the next year I clipped coupons and cut back on unnecessary expenses, except for coffee. Mr. Coffee and I have been in a steady relationship since college, without him I couldn’t remember my name and I was unwilling to end the affair for anyone—even my family.
Finally, with money in hand, I pleaded my case to John. “You’ve been working too hard, we never see you. Plus,” I reasoned. “Ever thing that could possibly happened has.”
He sighed and stared at the ceiling. “Well, we haven’t been hit by a meteor or run over by a herd of bison. But go ahead and plan a trip. I’m a glutton for punishment.”
The night before the trip I packed the car with organizational skills Martha Stewart would be envious of. I played a marathon of Leave it to Beaver episodes for my boys, and ensured their good behavior by bribing them with promises of trips to Chuck E. Cheese.
Everything went as planned the next day. The boys, with visions of pepperonis dancing in their heads, read and quietly looked out the car windows. Convinced our streak of bad vacations were over, I convinced John to stop at a gift shop in a small town, an hour into the trip. Oblivious to my family’s whereabouts, I browsed aisles of books that stimulated the imagination, and regal-looking figurines that begged the heart to buy them.
Finally, I emerged from the store and watched as my family began to drive away in our Durango. Annoyance replaced shock. John and I always teased each other, and no doubt this was his way of letting me know I’d taken too long.
Aww well…can’t give him the satisfaction of seeing me irritated. Might as well play along and give everyone a good laugh. Screaming like a woman possessed, I raced after the SUV, arms waving over my head. I wondered, as my sandals slipped over the pavement, why my husband was accelerating. Didn’t he know when to stop a joke?
As I ran, I heard a voice call out, “Ah…Mom, we’re back here!”
At that same moment, the Durango stopped, and an elderly man stuck his balding head out the driver’s window, confusion plastered across his wizened face. I was chasing the wrong car.. In my haste to one up my husband, I had been chasing the wrong car.
Our record for misadventures grew. Clark W. Griswold has nothing on us.
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