Perhaps you noticed an absence of
hilarious mediocre perfectly adequate comments or 3,000-word posts defending universally loathed pop-culture figures last week. Do not panic. Dustin didn’t fire me yet. I was actually on vacation. Our socialist, layabout, government-teat-sucking foreign readers need no introduction to the concept of vacations as their entire life is a perpetual taxpayer-funded holiday. For Americans who can barely use the restroom during work without fear of being replaced by an unpaid millennial/next-gen Roomba, a vacation is a trip where you fully disconnect from your professional responsibilities and simply enjoy life.
Each September, my extended family travels down to North Carolina’s beautiful Outer Banks for a week of drinking on the beach, drinking by the pool, drinking while reading a book, drinking during Scategories, and drinking while drinking. We also occasionally participate in buzzkill activities like eating, taking family pictures, catching up with loved ones and playing with adorable children. These parts are intolerable but relatively brief and likely critical for liver recovery/survival.
This is the first time we made the trip since our daughter was born last August. As any parent can attest, traveling long distances with a one-year-old adds a dozen wrinkles to an already grueling drive. Strategic packing (“DON’T TOUCH THE PACK-N-PLAY IT NEEDS TO GO IN AT A 37-DEGREE ANGLE SO THE COOLER CAN FIT!!”), insane departure times (4 am, so she could sleep for at least half of the eight-hour journey), and frequent stops (“I think she pooped again”) become standard. It’s all worthwhile, though, when you pull into the beach house for seven days of sun and chill with family.
Except the math didn’t quite cooperate this year. The sun and chill made an appearance on the first day. Then some celestial being apparently put Carly Fiorina in charge of the weather because the beautiful sunshine and warm breezes disappeared overnight. In its place came rain. Torrential rain. Unceasing rain. Animals-lining-up-in-pairs rain. It looked like this:
Inclement weather is just an annoyance without children. Yeah, it sucks, but you can read or take naps or drink for hours and then take another nap. One year olds require constant supervision. They’re too old to sit still for any substantial amount of time but too young to entertain themselves. My wife and I couldn’t take her to the pool. We couldn’t take her to the beach. We couldn’t let her run around outside. Here’s what we did instead.
Garden of Eden. No complaints except there’s no beer within reach. But this is easily correctable.
“BABE, CAN YOU GET ME A BEER?!”
/gets hit in head with flying Natty Ice can
//bleeds everywhere and can’t remember what year it is
///NFL doctor insists I’m fine to get back out there
Rain. The day’s activities include:
1. Chasing my giggling daughter clockwise around the table
2. Chasing my giggling daughter counterclockwise around the table
3. Smashing my shin on the table, looking around for something acceptable to kick, and finding nothing
4. Getting even madder
Play cards that night. I try to bluff my grandmother with a garbage hand and she calls my weak shit without so much as blinking. She takes all my chips. I mumble something about a bad beat and turn in early with a mild tickle in my throat. It’s probably nothing.
Rain. Throat tickle has metastasized into a full blown burn. Also, mucus. This is not going to help my drinking ability or my mood. Thankfully, we gots POPE, MOTHERFUCKER! So much Pope. Older family members cannot get enough of this big-hatted bastard. The massive flatscreen in the living room stays tuned to Fox News all day Tuesday for wall-to-wall Pontiff coverage. As a lapsed Catholic I don’t really have any investment in who leads the church, but Francis does appear to be a truly humble, respectful, caring, self-aware individual and I dig that he genuinely gives fucks about the sick. He even takes time to visit a large group of them the next day.
The problem with watching Pope coverage on Fox is that every host except Shepard Smith feels the need to fill the downtime by editorializing. Digressions about presidential candidates and climate change policy and abortion clog the airwaves and send my relatives into a frenzy. Some choice nuggets:
“What did Ben Carson say about Muslims?” “That they shouldn’t be president.” “Oh, I agree.”
“Carly Fiorina seems really presidential. Those Planned Parenthood videos she described sound awful.
“The delegation at this 9/11 Memorial ceremony looks like a scene from Star Wars.”
I actually laugh my ass off at that last one.
Rain. Nasal passages blocked like a 13-year-old conservative pre-pubescent pube tweeting invective at the prez. Haven’t touched alcohol in 36 hours. This is torture. I’m water bored.
More Pope. PLEASE HEAL ME FATHER FOR I AM SICK!
Decide to watch a movie. I choose Tomorrowland, Brad Bird’s highly disappointing tale about a secret John Galt-esque futuristic city where the world’s geniuses are free to indulge their brilliance unencumbered by ordinary dum-dums. We already have that. It’s called 4chan. Embrace it. The only memorable takeaway from Tomorrowland is the realization that the animatronic robots villains were played by Marco Rubio. He’s really quite talented.
Rain. Like a big city mayor trying to end crime, I haven’t so much solved the mucus problem as relocated it elsewhere. In this case, my chest. Odds of death at 69 percent.
I play blocks with the kid. The set came with alphabet stickers that parents can affix to the blocks to spell out words like “cat” or “ball” or “on fleek.” Some letters — mostly vowels — are represented more than once. One rare non-vowel with more than one sticker? The letter “M.” There are two of those so kids can spell “Mom.” Cute. I use the extra “M” to spell “Misandry,” however, because while there are multiple Ms there are MOST CERTAINLY NOT two Ds for “Dad.” The matriarchal child rearing industry, apparently unsatisfied with mandating stroller handles that make anyone over 5’8” appear riddled with scoliosis, collects another victory.
We also visit an aquarium because four days on an island in the rain isn’t enough water for us. The kiddo shrieks at some fish and has a grand old time. This makes me happy because I am pudding-soft old man.
Pounding sheets of rain. The kind of rain that precipitates (GET IT?!) flooding and roadway erosion and frequent urination. The Pope drones on in the background but no one cares anymore. He has forsaken us. This must be how Katrina victims felt, I think from the complete safety of our fully stocked and powered nine-bedroom beach house.
My daughter is the only one with any remaining energy. Being trapped in a house with a 13-month-old all day for five straight days must be the hell the Pontiff speaks of. I push her around in a box and build block structures for her to destroy and beat her senseless at Trivial Pursuit. Nothing holds her interest for more than five minutes. She picks things up and puts them down more than the Planet Fitness lunkhead. My only real job is to prevent injury. Make sure she doesn’t get near the stairs. Make sure she doesn’t eat my brother’s cell phone. Make sure all the fans are spinning because she points and screams “DA!” whenever they’re off. Pick me up, she gestures, only to squirm and whine after three seconds off the ground. I check to see if it’s her nap time so often I nearly sprain my neck. Child care is somehow both ungodly expensive and the greatest bargain in American history. Thank God my wife and family are here to help.
We have the house through Saturday morning but family members are glancing at one another hoping someone will be the first to say what everyone is thinking: let’s get the hell out of here NOW before the one road off the island washes out. My brother finally floats the trial balloon and the decision is made within minutes. We’re done here.
Leave. Rains most of the way back. Hit traffic at goddamn midnight in goddamn DC because every road within 30 miles of our nation’s capital is as gridlocked as the goddamn government itself. The kid wakes up at 11 pm and decides to screech-cry at random intervals for the next two hours. Get home at 2 am, unpack the car, and fall asleep before I even touch the mattress.
Wake up in my own bed. Glorious. Look outside.
It’s starting to rain.