As punishment for my transgressions yesterday, today's plan was to visit vacation hell. That's right: we were going shopping again! Oh joy, rapture, just what I needed: several hundred dollars more crap to jam into already-stuffed suitcases.
Can you tell how excited I was?
We went to a store named Kohl's, no relation to the former German leader Helmut. It's kind of like Wal-Mart meets JC Penny's, only without the computer games or anything else interesting and with prices that will make you wince.
But don't worry, it's tax-free shopping day, I was assured.
"You know what? If we don't buy shit, then the oppressive tax system never comes into play in the first place!"
I was told by all involved to shut up and drive.
Up first at Kohl's: school clothing for the boy. We'd looked for all of about five minutes when his shopping stamina gave out, and he started vetoing every single choice he was presented.
"You have to take something!" said Wifey, exasperated.
"That," he said pointing to a pair of Batman pajamas with a cape on them. "I want that."
After some negotiation, we got him two pairs of pants, some shirts, and the pajamas he wanted. Plus, I bought him a shirt with a tank on it so he could look menacing at his school in the fall. Because I'm pretty sure in Europe there are no shirts with tanks on them.
Then we started looking for the girl. Typically she's not a very excitable shopper, but on this occasion she was quite gung-ho. I guessed it was to humor her aunt, but at any rate, it quickly became a girlie expedition to Darkest Rackica in search of the greatest outfits ever assembled.
The boy and I were bored silly.
"Can we go yet?" the boy asked me.
"Yeah, let's bug out of here," I said.
So I told Wifey that we were going to go look for a suitcase, and off we went. I didn't know if the damn place even had them, but I resolved to look everywhere but in the girl's department to find them.
What we actually stumbled across was lava lamps. Lots and lots of lava lamps.
Did you know that if you shake a lava lamp, I mean really shake it hard, all the little bits of lava break up into a billion pieces and it looks like a snowglobe of hell? We had a lot of fun doing that, until the boy thwacked a nearby teenage girl in the exposed midriff.
"OW!" she yelled. "That burns!"
He looked up at her and his eyes suddenly filled with anguished tears. "I'm sooo sowwy," he said to her. "I didn't see you dere, wady. Pwease fuhgive me." I have no idea where the speech impediment came from. "You can hit me wif it if you want."
"Oh, no, that's okay," she said. "Would you like to burn me again with it, little dear?"
By the time he was done with her she looked like a rooster that'd been plucked. I swear, I don't know how he manages such things. If it'd been me I'd be writing this blog from prison.
Figuring we'd done all the damage in lava lamps that we could, we swung back by girl's clothes. They had 5,472 outfits and were trying them on in every conceivable combination, so I figured we still had time to kill.
So we went looking for luggage. I actually found it, every shape and size and color you can imagine, and all only about 50% more than what it would cost at Wal-Mart. I don't care if they do abuse the working man, next year I'm making them my Official Vacation Sponsor.
I selected a fancy-looking bag from Ricardo's of Beverly Hills. Now, it had some cool features, like an interior separator to make two compartments, garment bag adaptor, and a matching tote bag, but none of those was why I chose it.
I chose it because it was the God-awfullest color of purple I've ever seen, and the interior looked like Bozo the Clown ate his makeup case and then vomited up the contents.
Listen, when you're standing next to the belts after an 8 hour flight and the kids are going crazy and your Wife is about to bite your head off because she couldn't eat the creamed crap they served, the last thing you want to do is try to figure out which of the 64 million blue-black bags on the conveyor belongs to you.
So all my luggage is either red (a rare color) or, now, purple (a very rare color) with bright pink fluorescent ribbons on them. I'd have bought the lime-green puke luggage if it'd been big enough, but it wasn't.
Because judging from the pile that the girl was trying on, and what didn't fit in the suitcases we had, we needed every inch of luggage space I could muster.
I returned to the girls with my find and they were suitably impressed. Then, they asked for my opinion on the clothing they'd chosen out for the girl.
I was in kind of a quandary: everyone wanted my opinion, which really should have no value, yet I had no opinion, was bored, and couldn't really care less whether she wore a paper bag to school or not.
Worse, Wifey wasn't giving me the subtle hints of whether I should say yes or no in this high-pressure decision. I was expected to actually decide something! So I just randomly vetoed some and accepted others, and for some reason everyone accepted that opinion like it was valid.
Finally we paid the tab, which ended up being some hundreds of dollars. For every 50 bucks we spent, we received $10 "Kohl's Cash" that could be spent between August 11 and 17. Only, we'll be back in Europe then, so we ended up giving $60 to Sis-in-law.
So I quickly understood why it was we had to go shopping at Kohl's today. Dammit, I will have my vengeance. Next time I fly her over here to visit us, I'm requesting a seat in the lavatory.
Then we went and had lunch with Luggage at Pizza Inn. He's a cop, and had to work, so he came to meet us. It was very good, and afterwards we got to pet his police dog and marvel at his cruiser. The kids were thrilled
(Side note: why aren't there more Pizza Inns? Was there a plague there or something? I like that place. Good pizza, great tattoo machine, and sluttily-dressed waitresses that flounce around for no apparent reason. What more can you ask for?)
Then it was off to our last vacation stop: beautiful Atlanta, to visit Aunt Awesome, Wifey's favorite relative. Aunt Awesome is retired now, but up until recently she owned a successful business that she recently sold. I have met Aunt Awesome several times and I have to say she's my favorite of Wifey's relatives (with the possible exception of Sis-in-Law, who is always good for a laugh).
Aunt Awesome has four kids, each of them sharing the first letter of their name with their father. So we'll call them Danny, Donny, Denny, and Mini. While Danny lives with Aunt Awesome, the others all have homes and families of their own.
So we pull up and the kids eagerly ring the doorbell, their favorite part of any visit. I swear I don't know why I buy them toys: a box and a doorbell would make them happy forever. They almost went to fist city over who got to press the doorbell.
"Hey, welcome, y'all!" says Aunt Awesome. "Come see the tree that just fell on our house!"
Yes, that's right: moments before we arrived a tree fell on Aunt Awesome's house. Can I officially say that my vacation is designed to bring woe on all whom I visit? Especially since I stopped up three toilets that I never told anybody about.
The house sits on a golf course, and one of the big old trees behind it has crashed into it, knocked off a big section of gutter and cracking the roof in the bathroom that Aunt Awesome had just painted.
After I had surveyed the damage (which is just as effective as having one of those Europussie leaders review his outdated army) we sat down to dinner and caught up. Then, because it was late, I sent the children to bed.
When I came in to check on them, I overheard the girl saying sadly to her brother:
"Good-bye;" he said solemnly.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
He started to tell me. "She told me that tonight-"
"Shhh!" she said.
"What did she tell you?" I asked.
"Tonight the tree is going to crash through the house and crush the bed and kill us both," he said happily. "So it's good-bye tonight because we'll never see each other alive again."
"It is not!" I said. "If the tree crashed through the roof it'd actually land right on our bed and kill mommy and I, and maybe take Aunt Awesome and Uncle Mustache with us. But you guys should be okay."
Sadly, that seemed to comfort them.
Then it was time for bed, but I couldn't sleep, because all I could think about was ten tons of arboreal doom waiting to crush me flatter than a pancake while I slept.
Tomorrow: One Last Time at the Swimmin' Hole