Boring Subtitle: A Survey of All the Trips I Ever Took As a Teen With My Family
I was really excited when Ashley of Zebra Garden came to me suggesting that we start a linkup where we could reflect on all the ridiculousness of our childhoods. Now I have the weekly opportunity to embarrass myself more! Wins all around. This week’s theme to Remember the Time When We Did the Things is summer vacation, which I may or may not have suggested (I totally did) because I’ve been itching to talk about what a “delight” I was as a teenager. What better scenario to demonstrate my adolescent disgruntatude than that of the family vacay.
And what better way to celebrate Independence Day than to bask in the glory of teenagers hating everything.
I was in a permanent bad mood from 1994 to 2000. My teenage years were not an especially cheerful time for me because I convinced myself that it was my God-given duty to be as irritated as possible at all times. I made a hobby out of looking for things that could piss me off, and I sought them out the way a lawyer searched for ambulances. This is basically because I decided angry me was sexy me. So vacation with the family was a very sexy time, offering ample opportunities for me to groan, “GAH, why are you trying to ruin my life?”
Part I: Summers At the Lake
During my childhood summers, my parents packed us up and headed for the Ozark mountains of Arkansas to go fishing. It was a shortish drive and very economical, so we usually made it a yearly trip. But by the time I was fourteen, I was having no more of it. One rainy day, likely the third or fourth day of the vacay judging by the intense ire I had cultivated, they decided that our family would be hitting up the local flea markets.
Now, let’s talk a but about the term “flea market.” Can we all agree that it’s pretty much the worst ever? In the American North, these emporiums of bric-a-brac have been termed “swap meets” and therefore do not inspire me to throw up in my mouth a little every time I hear about them. But in the South, we have opted to name them after pests that infest the pelts of pets and farm animals. Who wants to go shopping?
So we arrived at the rural flea market grounds, a structure comprised of sheet metal and chicken wire. As my parents and my younger brother salivated at all the bargains to be had, my own anger at the audacity of this ramshacked place grew. I snapped like a twig as my dad pulled our family’s SUV into the parking lot riddled with muddy potholes and boiled peanut shells.
“It’s just a bunch of hillbillies selling pork rinds! I’m staying in the car!”
I stayed in the car and listened to Green Day on my Walkman and fomented at the inhumanity of the whole situation.
Part II: Life’s a
Even in more lux vacation settings, my anger was bound to break through when given a substantial push by my dad. He had a friend who owned a posh condo on the beach in Destin, Florida, and our family took advantage of his generous open invitation to spend our summers there beachside. But it was my philosophy that beach vacations should be just that: beach vacations. Why would anyone want to venture into the deeper waters and – ugh – go deep-sea fishing? No normal human being would want to do that, so when my dad arranged for a family outing on a chartered fishing boat, I was having none of it. Isn’t vacation for sleeping in? I’ll pass on getting up at 6AM to chum the choppy waters of the Gulf, thankyouverymuch.
But Ed Pate insisted that I go. I was irate because I had planned on sleeping in and watching Pretty Woman on Laserdisk the morning of our family’s nautical expedition. At the 5AM wakeup call that morning, though, I was inspired: my golden excuse to get me out of the fishing extravaganza would be lady troubles. I was already learning to lean on that excuse the way I now lean on the ol’ “my kid is sick” excuse when I want to get out of something. I was willing to bet that my parents wouldn’t question it and that I’d get to stay back at the condo. And it worked! My parents and my brother left me to my own devices that morning and I slept in while they trolled the waters.
The best part of getting out of that fishing trip was that once my family got on the boat, the waters got choppy and a storm started a-brewing. The skipper on the vessel indulged in a breakfast of beer and Twinkies, thus bringing on my family’s collective seasickness quicker. I didn’t particularly enjoy hearing about their vomity trip, but as a teenager I savored knowing that I had been right and that their trip had been doomed from the get-go. Yay me. Doncha know that teenagers know everything?
Part III: Taking to the Skies
The fun was not limited to my parents’ antics on vacation, though. My younger brother Trevor did his fair share of making me want to pull my hair out as well. When I was seventeen and he was about thirteen, my mom and my brother and I tagged along with my dad on a swank business trip he had in San Diego. My parents managed to pry me away from my boyfriend by promising that I’d get to go day-tripping in Tijuana. My guitar-playing boy toy could not compete with the allure of bootlegged Ricky Martin cassettes.
At the end of the trip, my dad stayed back in California to wrap up some business while the rest of us headed to the airport to catch a flight home. We were cutting it close on time as it was, but the growing boy that was my brother insisted that we get something to eat at the airport once we reached our gate. My mom was left to guard my Tijuana bounty, comprised of Star Wars marionettes and marble chess sets, at the gate while I accompanied him to McDonalds.
My brother selected the McDonalds with the longest line in the furthest terminal from our departure gate. He waited until he was face-to-face with the McDonald’s employee to even take a glimpse at the menu. Once he finally had his food, he opted to stand stationary on the moving sidewalks and eat it.
I opted to come close to maiming him.
A quick glance at my fake Rolex acquired in Tijuana showed me that our flight had started boarding 30 minutes ago. A quick announcement over the airport PA – an announcement addressing us both by name – confirmed my suspicions that our flight was about to leave and that I would likely get an earful from my mom if we made it back to the gate in time. As my brother lackadaisically chomped on a fry, I grabbed the bag of junk food from his hands, got in his face, screamed HURRY UP and took off in one of those frenzied sprints that only occur when your fear of missing a flight commingles with fear of your parent’s sure anger.
We made it, but I that was the last time I recall flying with my brother. He’d have to find someone else to drive insane. And since my parents weren’t interested in creating another spawn, that means he was out of luck.
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