Travels with the offspring

In addition to an offer of urine-based first aid from my son, there have been a few other ‘moments’ as i’ve been knocking around coastal Georgia with my two children. 

– Stuck in the Charlotte airport last Wednesday due to a narrowly missed connection, we parked at an airport bar to kill the expected 3-5 hour wait.  Ordering beer with lunch, the waitress asked to see their ID, to verify that they were indeed old enough to drink.  As i rooted around in my purse for mine, i realized i’d misplaced my drivers license after leaving airport security.  The server, patiently waited, until my son said “Mom, she’s just being polite.  Let her go get the damn drinks.”

– On the island, we spent our last night hanging out in a ‘locals’ bar.  Within a couple minutes of getting settled in, the owner came over and introduced himself.  We farted around, stayed for some marginally bad karaoke, and packed up to leave around 10pm.  We waited by the door as The Boy made a pitstop.  A somewhat crunchy older gentleman sitting at the bar motioned me over.  i assumed he wanted to comment on my singing – he was a perfect representative of my typical fanbase – an elderly drunk man.  i stepped over to him.  He pointed at my daughter and said “Don’t take her outta here!  She’s so pretty!”   Rather than just disappear, i asked him to make me an offer… Fortunately, he was a bit too far gone.  i’d have stuck around if he’d bought us another pitcher… 

– Shark week!  If you’re going to be spending time lounging around hotel rooms, when it’s “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel, no one argues about what to watch on the tv-tube.

– One of the coolest things about Savannah, Georgia?  “Go cups”.  Yep, you are allowed to carry out a glass of beer, provided it’s in a plastic container.  Which makes wandering along ‘river walk’ a bit more pleasant, and the people watching far more entertaining.  Unlike New Orleans, however, there are no “walk up” windows.  A business opportunity lurks…

– The last time we did something like this?  2004.  Hard to believe it’s been six years since the three of us took a family vacation.  We still travel pretty well together, despite a few skirmishes related to ventilation in hotel bathrooms.  Didn’t really ‘do’ much.  Mostly about hanging out, sleeping and reading.  Five days was about right, as we all found ourselves saying “Yep.  Time to go home.” over dinner last night…

Time Traveling

daisyfae at 7:  [bouncing up and down beside my sister’s bed] “C’mon!  Get up!  GET UP!  He’s been here!  It’s CHRISTMAS!”  i remember when i still believed in Santa Claus.  My friends were skeptics, but i wanted him to be real, so i resisted.  i didn’t give it up until my older brother spilled the beans a year later – leading my two older sisters to bark at him for being such an asshole. 

At seven, i remember getting a “Chatty Cathy” talking doll from Santa.  It scared the living shit out of me.  “i don’t want it!  There’s a SCARECROW inside it!”  Mom orchestrated the ritual overindulgence – only stockings could be opened on Christmas morning, and we could investigate the “Santa Gifts”, unwrapped presents for each of us under the tree. 

She wanted Christmas to last, so we had to have nutritious breakfast first – often a treat of Strawberry PopTarts.  One of us would be an elf, and presents were distributed in piles to each of us in the cramped living room.  As Maestro, she then instructed us on which gifts to open – one at a time, waiting so that we could see others open their gifts.  Directed chaos.  i was happy.
 
daisyfae at 16:  [slogging down the hallway, looking for coffee] My older sister and brother were already married with babies.  These marriages were already showing signs of implosion, but it was cool to have little kids around for the holidays.  Mom’s orchestrated ritual continued, but didn’t start before sunrise – my older siblings showed up later in the day, sugar-buzzed and over-stimulated children in tow.  Stockings?  Treats and plastic toys were replaced by deodorant and lip balm, but they were still overflowing. 

It was during the teen years that i finally let my sister, T,  know i’d figured out that “lesbian” thing, and that my best friend, JW, was gay too.  The gift i left for her under the tree was a pile of 35mm film*.  But the day before, i’d given her a couple of books – “Rubyfruit Jungle” by Rita Mae Brown and “The Front Runner” by Patricia Nell Warren. Good teen gay-lit, given to me by my friend JW.  It was a turning point for us as sisters.
 
daisyfae at 21:[waking up in a strange bed, alone] It was my first Christmas away from home.  i’d been living with EJ for a couple years, and agreed to make the “parent trek” to Florida.  My first dinner with his family was memorable.  It was so quiet i could hear myself chewing!  A sound i’d never heard before at a family dinners because my clan yelled, threw dinner rolls and argued everything from music to philosophy over meals.  His parents were very sweet. 

Their house was perfect, uncluttered and understated.  i found myself missing the chaotic Christmas mornings of my childhood.  Just a little bit… Returning to the homestead for a Christmas visit the next week, i was comforted when i dumped out my Christmas stocking to find travel-sized toothpaste, shampoos and deodorant, along with candy and a smattering of cheap plastic crap.
 
daisyfae at 30:  [dragging ass outta bed as my young children tumble excitedly down the stairs, after i’d been up until 2am assembling kid toys]  We kept some of the same rules – no presents opened until we were all there, but stockings and “Santa Gifts” were fair game.  Breakfast of cookies and milk was perfectly acceptable.   i was in my “Super Working Mom” phase, and generally exhausted myself the weeks before Christmas with shopping, baking, decorating and wrapping – but i truly enjoyed it! 

The downside was always the travel.  My husband and i agreed – “As long as we have parents to visit, we will travel on Christmas.”  And so we did.  Never mind the fact that we never went ANYWHERE when we were young, our parents expected to see us for the holidays. 

Every other year we went wherever his folks were – usually Florida.  Palm trees with twinkie lights, Santa wearing shorts.  Waking up in strange beds on Christmas morning – for us and our children.  Typically driving 16 hours, we’d always have to anticipate weather challenges – dodging ice storms in the mountains of Tennessee. 

Alternate years?  Home for Christmas morning, but on the road to The Trailer Park by noon for the family visit.  Mom had taken the “directed chaos” to an entirely new level – attempting to pull off the same “one-at-a-time” gift opening ritual with a crowd now numbering close to 20, and in a living room more cluttered (and far less organized) than the interior of the International Space Station.  We returned home reeking of cigarette smoke, hauling trash bags of mostly “off target” gifts and generally very crabby.
 
daisyfae at 47: [bouncing up and down beside my children’s beds] “C’mon!  Get up!  GET UP!  He’s been here!  It’s CHRISTMAS!” Not an over-abundance of gifts, but they are thoughtful.  Sometimes disgusting, but thoughtful.  Santa still shows up, reliably delivering ‘scratch off’ lottery tickets in the stockings.  We just hang out.  We eat junk food, watch movies, drink and nap.  Friends drop in to eat junk food, watch movies, drink and nap.  “Dog Wrasslin’” is the sport du jour.  i am happy.
 
It’s just another day, but it’s an annual pinning point.  Tripping us backwards through the joyful, the broken and empty.  The sweet and the bittersweet. 

The New Year has us looking forward…. but Christmas makes us time travelers.

~~~~~~~~~~
 
* i worked at Photo Bug and used my employee discount to buy gifts for all of my friends with cameras.  Like a FotoMat, it was a drive-up photo-processing facility.  We shipped film out and promised “next-day” service.  It causes me great pain, but i have been COMPLETELY unable to find photographic evidence of a Photo Buggery.  A 15’ x 15’ box with windows in a parking lot, and a 5’ tall smiling bee on the roof, spinning merrily while holding a camera.  Surely someone, somewhere, has a picture?!?

Post-Game Analysis

Random post-game neural firings after spending eight weeks of my life engaged in an all consuming hobby…

– No regrets: Although it was a monstrous pain in the ass, and it ate my life for two months, i don’t regret it. It was funny. People laughed their asses off. It was the most “stage time” i’ve ever had in a show (we were on stage in all but two songs), and i liked my character. Pushed my limits, as well as my vocal range. Got lots of laughs – both with the scripted lines and the ad libs developed along the way.

– Ego-feeding: Although there are many reasons people get involved in community theater, for me, it’s simply “ego fodder”. Yes. i can sing. i can dance. Oh, and i’m an engineer (“oooooh!”). With a decent rack, too (“schwing”). i like the challenge, but mostly i get off on the laughter and applause. Performing. Being appreciated. Delighting an audience. Got lots of that over the past two weekends… Ego Chow delivered? Check.

– Salvation: Normally, there’s also an aspect of “team” to a show. This time? A “micro-team”. If it hadn’t been for AU, my stage-sis, and my best friend working sound in the tech booth? i’d have been cutting myself at the half-way point. Our Thursday night meanderings to the nearby biker bar for dollar beers and “dancing with pool cues” saved me. Most of the other folks in the show were fine, just kept to themselves…

– Relief: Unlike my last theatrical venture, there is no bittersweet, post-production let down. Only relief. During the show, our phenomenal stage manager would immediately re-set props after they were used on stage. During our final performance on Sunday? He returned them to the props room, or costume room, as they were used. Mid-way through Act I i noticed decreasing items on the tables – and i got excited! i gained energy through the performance, knowing that it was the LAST TIME we’d be doing a song or scene. “ Woo hoo! Never again have to hear that line of dialogue! No more slow motion choreography because She is singing at half tempo! Never again have to dance with a toilet brush and rubber gloves*”

– Divas: i’m one, too. Perhaps a lowercase “d”, but this particular hobby seems to bring out the worst of it in me. Frustrated when She was apparently not putting in effort outside of rehearsal time, frustrated when She’d drop lines, frustrated by the lack of direction**… i was prone to making bets with my partners in crime. “What are the odds she’ll spit that line out right this time?” or “Five bucks says i don’t get a note at all tonight – good or bad. He’ll just ignore my existence” (won that one). Try as i might to maintain a professional demeanor, my attitude leaked out, and didn’t exactly help the cohesion of the troupe…

– Natural Born Critics: Last Saturday night, both of my children and my daughter’s boyfriend, ZZ, attended the show. After hearing me bleat for months about the ugliness along the way, they were looking forward to seeing the resulting train wreck. In the lobby, within earshot of several cast members, The Girl said “It didn’t suck nearly as bad as I thought it would!” The Boy was even more direct: “That woman? Screeching? If I’d had two pencils I’d have shoved them point-first into my ears to stop the noise!” They mentioned highlights, too. A funny line here, or a good bit of delivery. But for The Boy? It was “Ms. GreatAss Can’t-Act For Shit” that stole his heart. “Damn, that was some world-class ass.” i mentioned that she’s kinda bitchy and he pointed out “All the better. I’d feel less guilty for the ‘fuck ‘n chuck’ routine”. Makes me proud, it does…

– Done: i think i’m cured. The compound frustrations encountered during this particular production have cured me of this pesky hobby. This is only one way for me to spend my discretionary time, and i’ve done so at the expense of other interests. Fuck that. Although i can’t say “never”, i can say “chapter closed”. It was exactly 10 years ago The Girl inspired me to audition for a production of “Gypsy”, which landed us both on stage together – her as a Torreadorable and me as Miss Mazeppa, the bugle playing stripper. Since then? i’ve been on (and off) the board of directors 3 times, have been involved with fund raising as well as many other shows and events. Although i’ve made friends for a lifetime, there are a few other encounters that have been less than pleasant. Ten years? That’s enough. Onward…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* The choreography for one song included the three of us dancing with toilet brushes. Much like a version of the song found here on youtube…. And this was pretty much my favorite dance number! i successfully fought the urge to accidently get my toilet brush tangled in The Diva’s gigantic wig during our final performance…. That would have been mean. Funny, but mean…

** Not a bad director. Just very ‘hands off’. To the point of not actually doing much “directing”. Throughout rehearsals, he only made TWO suggestions on how i delivered specific lines. The rest? Pretty much up to us. After blocking the show, he sat and watched us do it. Occasionally made suggestions, corrections or changes but for the most part just let it all happen. Other than commending The Diva when she finally got something right? Very little positive feedback either…