Tag Archives: vacation

Girls Gone Mild

I shared this story in my first book, but I was recently reminded of this situation and thought I would share it on here in case you missed it because you’re waiting for your book to arrive.

Right? Right.

It’s a story about the time me and my best friend B went on Spring Break. This could conjure up expectations of a “Girls Gone Wild” type post if I failed to omit one important detail—we were 8th grade girls and we went to Florida to stay with my grandparents at their condo.

beach-84560_640

Every morning we would throw on our suits and flip-flops, hop on 3-wheeled bicycles and spend our days in the sun by the community pool. The afternoons and evenings, however, weren’t always quite as smooth.

As you might remember, my grandma was someone who believed that once meat was cooked, it didn’t need to be refrigerated and could be left out on the hot countertop until it was either consumed or it disintegrated. What did need to be refrigerated—or more specifically, kept in large Ziploc bags in the freezer—were ketchup and mustard packets from various fast food establishments that always gave out “free condiments.”

Because of a desire to avoid food poisoning, we often suggested frequenting various chain restaurants for dinner. This suggestion was often well-received, not only because my grandpa loved to eat anything anywhere, but because Happy Hour drinks were 2-for-1 at most of these restaurants—as long as you ordered both drinks at the same time.

That meant that when you walked into any Applebees, Outback, etc. between the hours of 4-6, you would be greeted with tables full of senior citizens pushing their oxygen tanks off to the side of their booths to make room for their two Rum and Cokes, Screwdrivers or Vodka Tonics.

The waitresses were thrilled with their tips, I’m sure.

One day my grandparents presented us with an exciting proposition—going to the beach about an hour away where the “real” action was. We eagerly packed our beach bags and hopped into the back seat the Cadillac, windows down, Neil Diamond warbling from the speakers.

As we got closer, B and I exchanged excited glances and gathered up our bags, waiting for the car to slow down and park so we could join in the whole beach experience.

The car never stopped.

“This is the beach,” said my grandpa, proudly pointing it out as we kept driving by. Confused, I asked where we were going to park.

“What? Why would we?” asked my grandma, looking at me as if I had just suggested only playing 12 Bingo cards at once or actually refrigerating leftover chicken. “It’s too busy, too hot. Do you girls want some ice cream?”

Now mortified, I looked at B and saw panic in her eyes. The only way we wanted ice cream was if it could be eaten on the beach, which meant the car would have to stop at some point soon.

But despite my protests, the next time the car stopped was at McDonalds just off the highway. Grandpa placed the order of sundaes and cones while we sat in shock in the back. No basking in the sun on the sand, no dipping our toes in the ocean—just a drive-by in the Caddy and “Sweet Caroline” on repeat.

As we pulled up to the pick-up window, my grandma leaned over the driver’s seat and gave strict orders to the window worker to include the condiments, which I naively assumed to be the optional nuts for her sundae.

In retrospect, I should have been prepared to hear her demand not the nuts, but the free packets of ketchup and mustard to add to her collection back home.

“Free condiments means free condiments,” she said with a chortle, turning around to face us in the backseat. “When you’re paying (.99 cents) for each ice cream, you better make sure you get your money’s worth.”

Because after all, nothing completes a day at the beach like free ketchup and mustard to hoard with your ice cream.

“Now who’s ready for happy hour?” she asked, tucking the packets into her oversized purse, no doubt to make room for the sugar sure to be swiped from the restaurant.

I looked at B and saw resignation in her eyes.

We were ready.

Make it a double.

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Senior Moments: Spring Break

Given the proliferation of Florida pictures in my Facebook feed, it’s become apparent that it’s currently Spring Break season. In the words of the immortal Matt Foley, a la Chris Farley, “Whoop-deefrickin-doo!”

My apologies to those enjoying sunshine and relaxation, but until a mandatory Spring Break for working adults is implemented, I will continue to carry a slight chip on my shoulder.

Oh wait, that’s just part of a pita chip. I really shouldn’t eat those on the couch.

Anyway, my point is this got me thinking about Spring Breaks of the past. When I was in elementary school we often went down to Florida to visit my grandparents, and I’ve already recounted the tale of eight grade Abby and her best friend going down to stay with those grandparents at their condo for 10 days.

beach

I was basically a child genius.

In case you don’t want to click over—although I would advise that you do if you want a good chuckle—we spent the trip riding three-wheeled bicycles to the community pool, narrowly avoided both food poisoning and elderly binge drinkers while dreaming of a trip to the beach that turned out to be less than expected.

But a couple years later I went back to Florida to spend Easter with my grandma, as it was the first Easter she would celebrate after my grandpa passed away.

Unlike the first trip, it rained almost every day and instead of spending time sunning myself at the pool, I made the 20 minute drive to the only mall within 100 miles to use a tanning bed so I could at least return home looking less miserable than I felt.

However, a large chuck of time was once again spent cleaning large Ziploc bags full of ketchup and mustard packets from various fast food establishments—“free condiments!”—out of the freezer, among other mysterious things.

Now if you’ve never spent time as the youngest person in a retirement community, I feel the need to prepare you for your adventure.

Geriatric Girls Gone Wild

Elderly women often marinate in perfume and get their thinning hair styled and set into old lady Afros once a week at the beauty shop, tipping “the young girl” of 55 at least $1 each time. Old men with shorts pulled up to their nipples will smell of flea market cologne and stylishly wear white socks with balls on the back with their sandals. If the temperatures dip below 60 degrees, all will be outfitted with earmuffs and gloves.

Yard decorations, a year-round staple, will take on a festive Easter feel, and passive aggressive signs of a dog pooping with a big “X” over said pile of crap will be replaced with trees decorated with massive plastic eggs, pastel lights and plastic flamingos wearing bunny years.

Dinner at the clubhouse will bring to mind memories of middle school in which the women gossip and men talk about their upcoming athletic pursuits, be it a shuffleboard tournament or landing a 7-lb fish. If you’re single, this will become the point of conversation and condemnation as each yenta tells you how perfect you are for their 60-year-old single Jewish son who has most of his hair and part of his hearing.

Members will make sure to eat their fill—they paid $10 for the meal, after all—and then stuff whatever they can into napkins to take back to their condos for later. This not only includes food, but often silverware, sugar packets and toothpicks.

Speaking of food, you might return back to the condo one blazing hot afternoon to find a picnic basket on the front porch—in the sun—from your grandma’s best friend down the street. This picnic basket might contain potato salad and leftover prime rib.

You might have a horrified look on your face as your grandma deems it her supper for later, as she believes once meat is cooked, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated and can left out until it’s either consumed or disintegrates.

You might just be lucky to make it out alive, older—but still the youngest around—and hopefully just a bit wiser.

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It Was a Drive-By Beaching

Today I am going to tell you a story about the time me and my best friend B went away together for Spring Break.

This could conjure up expectations of a “Girls Gone Wild” type post if I failed to omit one important detail—we were 8th grade girls and we went to Florida to stay with my grandparents at their condo.

Every morning we would throw on our suits, flip-flops and tanning accelerator, hop on  three-wheeled bicycles and spend our days in the sun by the community pool. Aside from the occasional water aerobics class and shuffleboard tournament, we basically had the place to ourselves.

My grandma was someone who believed that once meat was cooked, it didn’t need to be refrigerated and could be left out on the hot countertop until it was either consumed or it disintegrated. What did need to be refrigerated—or more specifically, kept in large Ziploc bags in the freezer—were ketchup and mustard packets from various fast food establishments that always gave out “free condiments.”

Because of a desire to avoid food poisoning, we often suggested frequenting various chain restaurants for dinner, be it gram’s favorite—Juicy Lucy—or something more familiar to those of us under the age of 65. This suggestion was often well-received, not only because my grandpa loved to eat anything anywhere, but because Happy Hour drinks were 2-for-1 at most of these restaurants—as long as you ordered both drinks at the same time.

That meant that when you walked into any Applebees, Outback, etc. between the hours of 4-6, you would be greeted with tables full of senior citizens pushing their oxygen tanks off to the side of their booths to make room for their two Rum and Cokes, Screwdrivers or Vodka Tonics.

The waitresses were thrilled with their tips, I’m sure.

One day my grandparents presented us with an exciting proposition—going to the beach.  About an hour away, the beach was where the action was. We eagerly packed our beach bags and hopped into the backseat the Cadillac, windows down, Neil Diamond warbling from the speakers.

As we got closer, B and I exchanged excited glances and gathered up our bags, waiting for the car to slow down and park so we could join in the whole beach experience.

The car never stopped.

“This is the beach,” said my grandpa, proudly pointing it out as we kept driving by. Confused, I asked where we were going to park.

“What? Why would we?” asked my grandma, looking a me as if I had just suggested only playing 12 Bingo cards at once or actually refrigerating leftover chicken. “It’s too busy, too hot. Do you girls want some ice cream?”

Now mortified, I looked at B and saw panic in her eyes. The only way we wanted ice cream was if it could be eaten on the beach, which meant the car would have to stop at some point soon.

But despite my protests, the next time the car stopped was at McDonalds just off the highway. Grandpa placed the order of sundaes and cones while we sat in shock in the back. No basking in the sun on the sand, no dipping our toes in the ocean—just a drive-by in the Caddy and “Sweet Caroline” on repeat.

As we pulled up to the pick-up window, my grandma leaned over the driver’s seat and gave strict orders to the window worker to include the condiments, which I naively assumed to be the optional nuts for her sundae.

In retrospect, I should have been prepared to hear her demand not the nuts, but the free packets of ketchup and mustard to add to her collection back home.

“Free condiments means free condiments,” she said with a chortle, turning around to face us in the backseat. “When you’re paying (.99 cents) for each ice cream, you better make sure you get your money’s worth.”

Because after all, nothing completes a day at the beach like free ketchup and mustard to hoard with your ice cream.

“Now who’s ready for happy hour?” she asked, tucking the packets into her oversized purse, no doubt to make room for the sugar sure to be swiped from the restaurant.

I looked at B and saw hope in her eyes.

We were ready.

Make it a double. 

This trip down memory lane was brought to you by this weeks RemembeRED prompt:

Take us back to an embarrassing moment in your life. Did someone embarrass you, your parents perhaps? Are you still embarrassed or can you laugh at it now?

As you probably know, I could write a whole book on my senior experiences. And trust me, we always find the funny…and the discounts.

Roughing It

I figured we could end the week with one more nature post, seeing as many people will be packing up to go camping for the holiday. I will not be one of them, as I do not camp.

annenot camp

Don’t get me wrong. I love the outdoors and worship the sun and nature. And while I’m not high-maintenance—the closest thing I’ve had to a pedicure in the past few years is stubbing my toe while falling UP the stairs and losing a nail—I  don’t find appeal in sleeping on the ground in a tent pretending I’m homeless.

While it’s been years since I’ve been on vacation, when I go, it involves the option of a warm shower, a real bed and little bottles of shampoo I can steal and take home with me.

And although I’ve never slept in a tent, I do have a bit of camping experience. When I was younger we had a trailer up north that we spent a good deal of time at in the summer. It was a decent sized rig with a shower, small kitchen, deck, etc., but it was still a trailer.

I fished, I shot my bow and arrow (not at anything living, at least on purpose,) I tore around on the four-wheeler, we went for nature walks and into town for ice cream at Jones’ ice cream and cheap toys at the Ben Franklin.

We would blow up the inflatable alligator and hit the lake before coming back to nighttime campfires, Cribbage games and attempts to attract bats by throwing random crap up in the air by the park lights.

I was young, and other than the fact that I rolled out of the top bunk of triple bunk beds—a bed rail was quickly installed—I had no real complaints. Now that I’m older and debatably wiser, I would have many complaints, which is why I don’t even attempt to pretend to want to camp.

Thesis statement:

Why someone would want to leave indoor plumbing, decent food and the likelihood of not contracting mosquito malaria for outhouses, dirt-covered food and the likelihood of being attacked by a baby deer in the woods is beyond me.*

*To each their own, of this I know (disclaimer so campers don’t get pissed, although if they’re camping, they shouldn’t have access to Wi-Fi.)

But for those who enjoy camping and would like to recreate this experience at home, I have a few suggestions:

  • Hang your clothes over a wood fire to get that signature smell, the one that will hopefully cover up the other signature smell of musty dampness.
  • While you’re over the fire, singe your eyelashes and grab a hot poker to recreate the experience of starting the fire and attempting to roast anything over said fire with a metal stick.
  • Scald the skin on the roof of your mouth in an attempt to eat whatever it is you were trying to roast that didn’t fall into the flame.
  • Hovera lot—and get used to swatting bugs with one hand while wiping with the other. This takes skill, which is why you will most likely find yourself pissing on your own leg (hey, you wanted to go camping.)
  • Pour sand directly into the bottom of your bathing suit and any exposed crack or opening in your body. If a lake is nearby, also include seaweed.
  • If you feel like getting fancy, spray yourself with a water bottle to recreate the (lack of) water pressure trailer showers provide. Forget about washing your hair (this is actually a positive in my book.)
  • Plant families of the loudest bugs on the planet in your backyard directly next to your window. If available, add in the mating calls of mystery creatures you’re sure are rabid and hunting you down.
  • Roll your meals in damp dirt.
  • Roll your clothes in damp dirt.
  • Roll yourself in damp dirt.

So for those of you starting your camping season this weekend, may the force be with you. I plan on working in the yard a bit, reading and enjoying the luxury of warm showers, good food I didn’t have to catch and a few good baseball games.

I love not camping.