OK. A couple-three weeks ago when Irie and I spontaneously drove and hour and a half to meet my parent and cousin Mia at a tack shop (no, Mike, not thumb tacks).
Dad was like, "Mia and I want to come to your house in a couple weeks and stay for the weekend. Mia wants to bring that little horse... what's his name again?"
"Herc," Mia answered with her default expressionless expression, and sipped her sweet tea with a straw.
"Yeah," Dad continued in his highly caffeinated persona, "And she wants to bring the cart so she can give Irie rides all over the farm!"
I looked at Mia for confirmation. She nodded.
"Of course, I'll be going to golf while you guys do your thing. It will be fun!"
I imagined my father, all 280 pounds of him, sleeping on the couch because we have no spare beds besides the flimsy half-broken bunk bed that he would fall through just looking at it, swearing that he "likes sleeping on couches better! Seriously!"
To my complete amazement they actually came. With some revisions. Herc and the cart did not make it, but Mia's little brother (and I do mean little) Zander came instead. Irie was disappointed. Quinn thought it was a good trade.
They got here Friday afternoon with a whole convenience store's worth of junk food: pies, doughnuts,candy, and juice boxes. Lots of juice boxes. My kids and their cousins on the other side, buzzed around for hours, cramming it down as fast as they could knowing it wasn't going to last. The others--Mia and Zander--at the junk too, but as it they were professionals, and the others total rubes.
On a constant stream of flavored sugar water between jolts of doughnuts on the very hot and humid day which was actually significantly less hot and humid than the past couple of weeks, all the kids except Mia played Baldur's Gate. And when I say "All the kids" I'm including my husband. He's the ring leader. Before they arrived I reminded Irie five or six or seven hundred times that "When Mia gets here you have to go outside and play with her."
Mia sat at the kitchen table looking painfully bored as Dad and I talked. Actually, it's kind of hard to tell because I think that's her other expression she has, (she's 12 and has hit puberty).
"Irie, what are you doing?" I asked, knowing what she was doing. "Why aren't you outside playing with the horses with Mia." She just smiled sheepishly at me. Mia who sat across from me at the other end of the kitchen table gave no indication that she knew I was talking about her, or that she heard me talking at all. She looked off into the distance.
After asking Irie this same question two or three times within a half an hour, Mike finally spoke up. "Did it ever occur to you," he said while shooting vagrant peasants who said exactly the wrong thing, "that Mia is becoming an adult and she doesn't like to play with little kids, she'd rather listen to the grown-up conversation? Oh my God! I didn't see those guys there!!! I lost 5 hit points! Ahhhh!!!"
Yeah, he had a good point. "Is that true, Mia?" I asked, thinking he was probably right.
They finally went outside, then Dad couldn't sit still for long and had to go wandering around. I canned tomatoes, then as Dad returned with pizza, Alli came to pick up her kids and asked us Dad what we were planning to do the rest of the weekend. She busted out onto the porch like she was saving me from drowning.
"You aren't going to the boardwalk tomorrow! If you're going to go, go tonight." She was trying to save us from sitting in miles and miles of crawling traffic. "11:00 tomorrow is check-out time, and 3:00 is check in."
I explained our plan of arriving at 4:00... for the early bird special pricing at Paul Revere's Smorgasbord. It used to be something of a tradition for my family when I was 0 - 18.
"Oh. Oh, OK. Well, you might be going tomorrow then. Call me." She left with Shiloh and Judah.
The next morning Dad went golfing and didn't come back until around 2:00 pm. After fifteen minutes of sitting at the kitchen table, he became antsy again. I must be pretty boring. "Maybe we can go now. I mean, if we're early we can just walk around the boardwalk." OK. Whatever. We rounded up the kids and actually didn't leave until 3:00.
Halfway there I reminded him. "No, we ARE going to hit traffic. It's not going to stress you out, right?" He hemmed and hawed and said he couldn't promise anything.
Turned out the traffic was relatively light. It only took us 50 minutes for the half hour off-season ride, but well until the 1.5 hours it could have taken. The inlet parking was full as were the first two lots we came to so like the martyr he is, he had us all jump out at the 2nd street red light where the restaurant is, and went looking for a parking space alone.
At 3:50, ten minutes before they were to open, a crowd of mostly over weight and sweaty tourists gathered like cattle to be slaughtered, and waited. The Jesus sand sculpture guy across the boardwalk that has been there for as long as I can remember had a couple sculpture to look at. I dragged the kids over there we waited on the nearby benches for Dad to reunite with us.
Just four minutes after 4:00 when the place still hadn't opened, I spotted him walking like a fat mad man on a mission toward the restaurant. "I thought they opened at 4:00!" he said like I had somehow tricked him and it was all my fault.
"Yeah. That's what it said online..." I was sure of it, but sometime the web isn't reliable. He walked down the steps into the waiting area below boardwalk level. There with all the other fat sweaty people, kids crying, adults losing their shit with their kids, Dad started to overheat. Then at 4:15, he started to get mad. Boiling mad. You could see steam coming out of his ears. Sweat was literally dripping off his nose. "This is ridiculous! I'm leaving!"
"Look Dad," I said whipping out my cell phone and trying to distract him, "Do you want to watch some baseball." He didn't. At that moment he hated everything including baseball. And anyone in charge of opening the restaurant. And me for suggesting we go there.
Seconds after he announced for the second time that he was leaving, the doors opened and air conditioning wafted out kissing our moist faces. He immediately forgot all about leaving and a disaster was averted.
After the meal that did not live up to our memories, we walked toward the pier for a couple block then he had to rest on a bench. The kids wanted to jump in the ocean. I wanted to walk down to the pier and get a Kohr Bros. cone since I used to work there. So, Dad stayed on the bench, the kids went in the ocean, and I walked down to Kohr Bros. and took a trip down memory lane. I stood at Kohr Bros. and looked over to Kingie's. That's when I read their sign and noticed--after 24 years--that the name of that store where Jenn used to work, is actually "King's." Jenn has no idea why everyone called it Kingie's.
Dad and company left at high noon the next morning, and I worked the rest of the day on my book, finishing the revision. Then the next day I revised the first chapter. I'm thinking about revising it again. Just when you think you're done, you're not. Peace out.
Dad's Visit and Revising the Revision (again)