On day six of our vacation, both Wifey and I had great things planned. I was going to go do some work, and she was going to take the children back-to-school shopping. Because nothing says vacation like work and school.
I could tell that it was going to be “one of those days” when, as we sat eating breakfast and watching PBS, I saw the bowdlerized piece of crap that they were passing off as Rumplestiltskin.
The show was some fairy-tale based piece of garbage to help kids with their reading. And the fairy tale that they’d chosen to use today was Rumplestiltskin. At least, that was the title; the story itself shared no other semblance to the classic tale of an angry dwarf and attempted child abduction.
Oh, sure, there was straw into gold, but other than that the stories were totally dissimilar. Rumpy ended up in one piece, for example, and there was no baby abduction or wicked pagan rituals by firelight.
And without all that, what’s the point? If you can’t count on a Grimm fairy tale for violence, then the commies have already won.
The school shopping went well, I suppose, even though by the end of the day I think she was well and truly tired of them. The girl doesn’t like shopping at all, and so chooses the first thing she comes across and then vigorously defends her right to have it until forcibly separated from it.
The boy takes a different tack: he searches an exorbitant amount of time, until finally he finds the cheapest and least functional item of the group, then decides on that. Backpack made of crepe paper? Sold!
Needless to say, this often creates friction with their mother, who for reasons unknown to me demands that they select quality apparel that will last a whole year that is functional.
If it were up to me I’d send them to school in sacks with plastic bags on their feet. Now that’s recycling!
Once we were all back together, the vacation had officially begun, since there were no more work obligations to fulfill. To celebrate, we allowed the children to choose dinner. They, of course, chose Burger King in order to get more damned Pokemon cards. I offered them twenty bucks each to go somewhere else, but they refused.
What is that school teaching them, anyways, that they can’t be bribed?
At Burger King, while they were in the playland a strange man approached them and offered to give them what was in his pockets. They, being well-schooled not to talk to strangers and warned to be suspicious of any men who speak to them in a public place, immediately thrust their hands into his pockets, real deep just like he’d asked.
Turns out he had the Pokecards from his children, who were too young to yet be addicted to the vile substance. So they not only got theirs, but they got the cards from two other children as well.
A debate ensued as to the best way to thank the mysterious man, either via “a thousand hugs and kisses” to “nothing at all.” He accepted a simple thanks and was on his way.
Oh, sure, he gives away crap he doesn’t want and I have to be thankful to him? Screw that. I threw a rock at his car as he left.
After dinner, in order to top off the perfect first evening of vacation, my children insisted that we needed to go swimming in the postage-stamp pool. I could hardly refuse, since it was right outside our room and had only one person swimming in it, a boy about thirteen years old.
So we went swimming, even though it was past their bedtime.
I’ve created a game to play with my children when we swim. I pick them way up out of the water and I yell “Who’s the baddest?”
If they yell “Sho’nuff!” then I throw them into the water.
If they yell anything else, then I throw them into the water.
It’s great fun for me, now that Wifey has promised me that the next time I pull down her suit I’ll be pissing out a tube for a month. And the girl loves it. They boy, however, is less of a fan.
So I had tossed him once or twice, and he decided to get out of the pool and go stick his feet in the hot tub, where the teenager was taking a break from swimming.
“I got problems, man,” the boy said. “Dad problems.”
He proceeds to lay out his tale of woe: dad is always throwing him in the pool, dunking him, and almost drowning him. Turns out that I’m like Hitler-dad, according to the boy.
Well, eventually the teenager decides to come swim some more.
“What was he complaining about?” I ask the kid.
“He was saying that you throw him too much,” Sad Boy says. “I told him that when he’s older he’ll wish that his dad would throw him in the pool. My dad doesn’t like to swim.”
That’s when I look around and realize that Sad Boy is all by himself: no parents, guardians, or caregivers have accompanied him to the pool.
I almost cried. It was like living in an After-School special. Here’s poor little Sad Boy, all alone in the postage-stamp pool, while this other kid is complaining that dad plays with him too much.
So we played with Sad Boy, and when we left the pool, he left too, probably to go cry himself to sleep after a meal of gruel and fish heads.
Not the most uplifting experience of our vacation.
Finally, with the kids tucked into bed and everything ready to go the next morning, I lay down next to Wifey for some quality time.
“So,” I asked. “How’s your vacation going?”
“It hasn’t really started yet,” she said.
“What do you mean?”
“I had to take them school shopping,” Wifey said. “I have been running you back and forth to work, and I don’t know where the hell anything is. How is that vacation for me?”
“I suppose it’s right out of the question that you’re amorous?”
“Good night,” she said.
“Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been enjoying my vacation for almost a week.”
Wifey rolled away from me. “Then your hand should be plenty amorous enough for your needs. Good night.”
I certainly hope that tomorrow is better.
Tomorrow: A long drive to the Grand Canyon.