Family Vacation

Posted by: , July 31, 2012 in 8:59 am


Palm Island 1 Family VacationIt’s our oldest son’s first vacation.  We’re headed to Family Club Med Ixtapa, an all-inclusive resort on the fabulous Mexican Riviera.  As we pack the night before the trip, my wife, Debbie, is a little nervous about going to Mexico with a six month old baby.  I’m more nervous about who we’re going with.

Before I go on, let me be clear about something.  I love my wife’s family.  When I’m done, some of you may have the impression that I find them obnoxious, annoying, intrusive, irresponsible, ridiculous, baffoonish, drug-addled, and borderline insane.  And while technically this is true, they’re also some of the warmest, kindest, most fun-loving people you’d ever want to meet.

The flight to Mexico City is a pleasure.  Lucas sleeps the whole time.  Debbie and I get to read, a rare treat.  Even the in flight chicken enchiladas are surprisingly tasty.

This vacation is starting to look up.

We reach the resort around noon.  It’s a hot, humid day and because our taxi’s “air conditioning” is just a battery operated personal fan taped to the dashboard, the three of us are sweating buckets.  Debbie’s family is waiting for us at the hotel entrance looking all tanned and relaxed.

My mother-in-law, Beverly, and Debbie’s sister, Shari, get into a shoving match as they try to be the first one to hold the baby.  My father-in-law, Alan, gives me a big hug and says, “I know your people are uncomfortable with public affection, but too bad ‘cuz you’re gonna get kissed!”  With that, he plants a big one right on my lips.

I’m standing there, the taste of Malboro Lights lingering in my mouth like an obnoxious, uninvited party guest, and I want to scream, “You’re damn right I’m uncomfortable with it!  Especially that kind, you lunatic!”  SPITTING SOUNDS!

Instead, I just smile.  See, I was raised that the worst thing a person can do is to make a scene.  No matter how uncomfortable, or angry, or humiliated someone makes you feel, for God’s sake keep it hidden.  This is known as “The WASP Way.”  And other than giving me chronic stomach pain and a tendency to abuse alcohol, it has served me pretty darn well so far.

At this point, my brother-in-law, Mike, pulls me aside.  Mike’s a successful CPA in New York.  He’s obsessed with numbers, both in his work and leisure time.  Which is why he’s eager to show me the plastic yellow wristband he purchased at the resort bar.  “It cost me $175 and gets me all I can drink for the week,” he says.  “So far today, I’ve had three Bloody Mary’s, six beers and a Pina Colada.  At the rate I’m going, I should break even around noon tomorrow.  After that, I’m drinking for free, baby!”

“Wow, that’s great, Mike,” I say.  “I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going,” he replies.  “Yeah, please do.”

We all head inside where I check in at the front desk and get our keys.  Now, whenever we arrive at a hotel, Debbie insists on unpacking the second we’re in the room.  She can’t relax until she’s divvied up the drawers, neatly put away our clothes, and carefully arranged the toiletries in the bathroom.  This process normally takes from three to four hours.

But I’m anxious to officially start the vacation.  And even though I know the answer will be no, I find myself asking, okay more like begging, that, “Please just this once let’s throw caution to the wind, drop off the bags, change quickly into our bathing suits and head straight for the pool, what do you say?”  And to my utter amazement, Debbie says okay.

I’m thinking, has the earth just shifted on its axis?  Has my cute little control-freak of a wife finally thrown off the shackles of her rigid inflexibility and learned to go with the flow?

When we get to our room, I find out the truth behind Debbie’s new devil-may-care attitude.  She’s neglected to tell we’re sharing connecting rooms with her parents.  Under normal circumstances, this would not be that big of a deal.  But, as I’ve said, Debbie’s family is not normal. They have boundary issues.  As in they have none.  For example, there was the time my father-in-law Al invited me for a chat in the stairwell outside their apartment in New York — the only place where Bev lets him smoke.  Now it’s not that I’m some stickler about breathing second hand smoke.  But couldn’t the man have at least put on pants?  I stood there for an hour while Al dissected the New York Yankees season wearing nothing but a gold neck chain and a pair of tighty-whities.  It is an image that is forever burned in my brain.

Debbie sees I’m not happy with the connecting rooms situation.  But she assures me the positives outweigh the negatives.  “Honey, this way, my parents can help with the baby whenever we need.  And they said they’ll baby sit one night so we can go out to dinner.”

“Gee, no offense, hon, but I’m not really comfortable leaving our precious baby with your folks just yet,” I say.  Debbie adds, “And after dinner, you might even get lucky.”  “However you make an excellent point, it is more convenient this way.  And hey, we get to skip packing and go straight to the pool so what the heck I’m sure Lucas will be fine with your parents last one in their bathing suit is a rotten egg!”

When Debbie and I stroll Lucas up to the pool area some twenty minutes later, my father-in-law is trying to take a picture of Debbie’s nephews, Max and Matt, ages five and seven.  Max and Matt are acting like typical uncooperative boys and refusing to smile.  This so infuriates their grandfather that he yells for all to hear, “Keep it up you retards and I’m cutting you out of the will!”

My mother-in-law, Beverly, quickly steps in.  “Leave it to me, Al.  I know how to get them to smile.”  She proceeds to grab her very large boobs, juggle them and sing out, “C’mon, boys, look at grandma’s jello!”  JUGGLE IMAGINARY BREASTS HERE!

It works.  Matt and Max burst out laughing.  Al takes the picture.  “Great job, Bev.  That’s a winner!”

After just witnessing my son’s grandmother shaking her tits, I decide now would be a good time for a stiff drink.  Maybe two.  I start for the bar.

Bev sees me.  “Where you going, honey?” she asks.  “Oh, just to get a drink.”  “Let Mike get it.”  “He’s got the wristband.”  She calls to Mike who’s walking toward us.  “Mike, get Kell a drink.”

”That’s okay, I don’t mind paying for it,” I say.  Now Al chimes in.  “Don’t be an idiot.  Why should you pay?  That’s why Mike’s got the wristband.  Mike, get Kell a drink.”

I say, okay, fine, I’ll take a frozen margarita.  Mike nods, “You got it.”  Only he doesn’t move.  He stays put.  “With salt,” I say, in case that’s why he’s waiting.

Mike looks around, then leans over and whispers.  “Okay, here’s the deal.  I just got a strawberry daiquiri, and the rules are I can only get drinks for myself.  So just sit tight, I’ll go back in a few and get the margarita.  Then meet me over by the bathrooms and I’ll make the hand-off.”

I’m thinking I just want a drink, not the microfilm for some super-secret Nazi submarine.  But as I said, I was not raised to make waves.  So I go along with Mike’s plane.

A few minutes turn into twenty.  Then an hour.  Then two.  The sun beats down on me like an angry Mexican ball of fire.  I’m dying of thirst.  Mike and his sons are busy playing in the pool and I can’t bring myself to butt into their fun and ask, “hey, what every happened to that margarita?”

And every time I start to get up from my chair, my in-laws want to make it’s not to sneak off to pay for my own drink because Mike’s got the wrist band.  So I’m forced to sit in the boiling sun as my throat turns into sandpaper and think about how I have to spend six more days with these people.

Here are a few highlights from the week:

DAY 2.  I pull a calf muscle playing in the tennis tournament.  I fall to the ground, writhing in pain.  Al is watching in the bleachers and yells at me to “walk it off!”  I have to forfeit the match because I can’t walk, and I hear Al tell the lady next to him that I’m a “big pussy.”

DAY 3.  It’s Al and Bev’s night to babysit.  When I go next door to get them, their room is filled with smoke.  Pot smoke.  They’re lying in bed and puffing on a fattie.  Naturally I react, pissed off.  My father-in-law scoffs, “Please, we’re not so high we can’t take care of one little baby.”

DAY 5.  Mike is competing in the Annual Ocean Swim Race.

Mike starts off the race looking good, especially for a guy who had a Mai Tai with breakfast.  The family and I cheer him on from the beach.

Halfway through the race, as he makes the turn and heads for home, Mike starts to gasp for air.  He struggles to stay above water.  My sister-in-law screams, “Oh my God, Mike’s drowning!”  My nephews burst into tears and cry out, “Please, Daddy, don’t die!”

We yell for a lifeguard.  What a surprise, there isn’t one.  So I hop down to the surf.  Mike manages to reach the shallow water and I drag him the rest of the way in.  I’m about to give him mouth to mouth, when thankfully, he starts to vomit.  Every color in the spectrum seems to gush forth from him.  It’s like some tropical themed fountain you’d see at a Vegas hotel.

Later, at the bar, the family laughs and celebrates how great it is that Mike isn’t dead.  Mike says he’s sure learned his lesson about mixing sports and booze, as he gulps down his third Sea Breeze.

I can’t seem to join in on the fun.  There’s this nagging voice in my head that keeps saying, “Are these people completely divorced from reality?!”

It’s at this point, steeped in my own sense of superiority and righteousness, that I notice something.

My son, Lucas, six months old, is having the time of his life.  He is being doted on, cuddled, kissed, spoiled, and loved.  These ridiculous people are absolutely crazy about him.  And he can’t get enough of them.

I realize that when you have children, you go on family vacations.  And family vacations are not the same thing as vacations.  They’re something completely separate and distinct.  And they have nothing to do with you.  They’re for the kids.  So I decide to stop passing judgment, and jump into this family with both feet.  I start for the bar to get a drink, when my mother-in-law sees me.  “Where are you going, honey?”  “To get a drink.”  “Let Mike get it.  Mike, get Kell a drink.”

Mike looks around, leans over and whispers, “Okay, here’s the thing…”

Afterbirth Stories

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