Sunday, July 27, 2008

Only One Problem

When I finally dragged my lazy butt out of bed, I found the children on their second round of waffles, courtesy of Aunt M. They were also both clutching stuffed rabbits that I had never seen before.

“Where did you get those?” I asked.

“Aunt M gave them to us,” they said.

Oh, joy, more crap to haul back to Europe. Just what I needed.

I sat down and began eating my breakfast. As I ate, the children cycled in and out of the kitchen, bringing things that they found around the house.

“Can I have this beanie baby?” the girl asked.

“No!” I said.

“Sure!” said Aunt M.

“Can I have this stuffed monkey?” asked the boy,

“No!” I said.

“Sure!” said Aunt M.

I gave up at this point.

“Can I have this book?” asked the girl.

“Sure!” said Aunt M.

“Hey, one of you grab that hall clock!” I yelled. “We need one of those!”

By the time they were finished, it was like the scene from How the Grinch Stole Christmas where all there was were hooks and wire. I would have been embarrassed, but I was too busy trying to fit the gransfather clock in my car before they noticed it was gone.

Then the children invented a game called Bed Smush. They were sleeping on an inflatable mattress, and like all inflate-a-beds it had deflated overnight. So one of them would lie down, and then the other one would leap off a footstool onto the mattress, rocketing them (and various stuffed animals) into the air.

This game was best played in front of the large display case holding 6,000 Precious Moments figurines, their eerily-wide eyes staring down at the leaping children of doom. Closer and closer they came, each leap risking hundreds of thousands of dollars damage, as well as some scalp injuries.

But let’s be honest: if you’re going to ruin a forty-year-old priceless collection of breakable stuff, the only way to avoid prosecution is to bleed profusely.

When I heard the crash, I chose to finally investigate the laughing and discovered the joy of Bed Smush. Fortunately, nothing was broken.

“If either one of you breaks anything, then Aunt M will be mad,” I said.

“No she won’t,” said the girl. “We can do anything we want here. It’s heaven.”

“Yeah,” said the boy. “She’s better than you and mommy.”

As we prepared to leave, someone mentioned how hot it was. The boy immediately declared that he could fix it, then went outside and twisted the dial on the large thermometer that hung on the deck.

“Now it’s cooler,” he said.

The Noble Prize committee immediately called.

We finally left Aunt M and Uncle B’s. There was much crying, especially by the children. But not by me. We were finally heading to my love-nest destination: Gatlinburg.

If you don’t know the town, it’s a tawdry little village in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains that serves as a jumping-off point to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is a festival of hillbilly sights and sounds, and is the type of place that the phrase “tourist trap” was coined to describe.

It’s also a frequent honeymoon destination, so you can easily find “romantic” rooms. I had reserved just such a room:

Double queen beds, overlooking the creek, with a gas fireplace and a private balcony. The crowning achievement: a two-person whirlpool Jacuzzi tub, big enough to stretch out and enjoy each other’s company.

That’s right: it came with a big ‘ol sex tub. And one of the benefits of marrying a woman who grew up poor is that once you’ve paid for the big ‘ol sex tub, she feels compelled to use it lest you lose your money.

I am not above appealing to her baser nature to get laid. My general plan was to walk in, point to it, and say “Look, an erotic tub. I guess we need to use it erotically. Let’s get naked!”

So we set out on the road to Gatlinburg: me horny, the children sorry to leave Shangri-La, and Wifey with a touch of nausea, possibly from a boat outing sans Dramamine.

After I’d driven a couple of hours, I decided it was time for lunch. Actually, I decided it was time to pee, and near enough noon to justify eating. Plus, I wanted Wifey to drive for a while so I could catch up on my blogging, which I hadn’t done for a few days.

Your enjoyment, dear readers, is just that important to me.

We stopped at McDonalds, over the protests of our children. Damn Pokecards. Inside, it was a very nice establishment. I ordered, then waited for the food while Wifey and the kids found a seat. In reality I was using a pole to scratch my back, which was now peeling and bothering me to no end.

An elderly man and his wife approached the counter.

“I want a Big Mac with nothing but meat, cheese, and pickles,” said the man. “Lots and lots of pickles.”

“Ooookay,” said the woman. “What else?”

“I want extra pickles,” he said. “Did you get that?”

“Yes I did,” she said. “It doesn’t come with pickles, but-”

“I want pickles,” he said. “If there’s not enough, I’ll bring it back.”

“He will,” said the woman. “I’ve seen it.”

“There will be plenty of pickles,” the cashier said. “What else?”

“Just pickles,” he said. “And cheese.”

“I know, but what else do you want?”

He got exasperated. “Just pickles!”

“And cheese,” said the old lady. “Don’t forget the cheese.”

“I’ve got a Big Mac with pickles and cheese,” she said. “What else do you want to order?”

He sighed and spread his hands, looking around as if to say see what I have to deal with? “Nothing else!”

“Then your total will be two fifty-four.”

“For all my food?” he asked.

“You only got a sandwich,” she said.

“Oh, no, I want the meal. And an ice cream cone.”

“And my food,” said the lady. “Don’t forget my food!”

So they went through the process of ordering everything else, which was no mean feat. I was amazed at the cashier’s patience. Finally they finished and my food came up, giving me the opportunity to step between them and the cashier.

I leaned across the counter. “You should give him a cup of pickle brine to drink.”

Her eyes lit up and she glanced into the back. I can’t be sure she did it, but he did return his drink because “it tasted a little flat.”

We proceeded on to Gatlinburg, the children getting more and more excited as we came into an area that just screamed VACATION FUN AHEAD! Because nothing is more fun that seeing forty-two Dollywood Dixieland Stampede billboards in a two-mile stretch of highway.

All I could think about was the sex-o-matic tub.

“Feeling dirty?” I asked Wifey as we drew close. “I sure am.” Clever double entendre, eh? She suspected nothing.

“Yeah, I think I’ll take a shower tonight,” she said.

“Maybe a bath,” I said. “A nice, relaxing whirlpool bath to help ease out the aches of your tired muscles from the drive.”

“I guess,” she said.

Fool. She didn’t know what erotic pleasures awaited her.

Soon I’d checked into the hotel and we were walking into the room, or as I dreamed of it, Dr. Rod’s Romantic Love Nest and Kid Prison.

The room was exactly as described: gas fireplace, two large beds, whirlpool Jacuzzi tub sized for two, bathroom, and balcony over the river.

Except the damn Jacuzzi was sitting right next to the beds, and when turned on made slightly less noise than a plane crashing. I guess this is the way it had to be, because the actual bathroom was so small you had to close the door to get to the toilet paper. Only, to close the door you had to stand in the shower cubicle.

Because people on their honeymoon with two beds in the room often want a romantic interlude in the tub in the main area, but never need to take a shit. And if you have the runs, for the love of God be sure to close the door before you start.

“What is that for?” Wifey gestured at the tub sitting incongruously in the middle of the room.

“It’s for kids to take a giant super-fun bath in!” yelled the boy. “Thanks, dad, you’re the best!”

“You can make bubbles!” the girl said. “We can have a hurricane bath! You are the greatest!”

“I was hoping it was an aqua-sex machine,” I said.

Wifey laughed. “I don’t think so. Try again.”

“But can we still play normal Backgammon tonight? Please?”

“It doesn’t seem likely. I was kind of looking forward to a long, hot, bath. And I don’t think that tub will be used like you hope,” she said. Then, to tease me, she put on the cowboy hat. “Looks like you’ll be ridin’ the range solo tonight, pardner.”

“You sound like a dork,” I said.

Tomorrow: Not Worth the Wait

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