Monday, July 2, 2012

Are you called a butler if you don't get paid?

               My sister, niece and niece’s boyfriend were here for vacation last week.  My Daddy couldn’t fit it into his busy schedule to accompany us on our trip south, so we had to make it to LA and back bereft of the stimulating conversation that he would surely have provided.  He wasn’t far from our minds however, when on our trip back, we noticed the most wonderful sight in the world.  It was a delivery truck.  The wording on the side said that they delivered groceries to your home.  Have more beautiful words ever been spoken?  If I could just go online and click all the things I (read my father) need from The Wal-Mart I would never have to have my passport stamped Little Guatemala again.  It’s not that I mind being around those for whom Spanish is their only language, it’s more the crowded street market feel of the whole experience that does not meet my expectations for a fun-filled Saturday morning.  If I were a betting man I would give you ridiculous odds that there are in fact live goats and chickens tethered in the regions of the store into which I fear to tread, notably the “Home and Garden” and “Sporting Goods” sections.  Several years ago I found, to my dismay that the H&G section was more garden than home, so I have not returned. 

                As the parent of exactly zero real children (lest we not forget the imaginary Kinley) I keep forgetting that a vacation with a teenaged girl is not so much a family outing as it is a trip with her highness and the three wait staff who cater to her every whim.  Now I personally have no memory of my parents ever asking me what I wanted to do, however this new generation (the dreaded Millenials) don’t wait for an opinion to be requested, they offer theirs up with greater frequency than a Kardashian plans a new reality show or a marriage.  Typically, growing up, we didn’t so much take a vacation than spend the summer at my Grandparent’s farm or after my grandfather’s death, my aunt and uncle’s ranch of sorts.  All I remember is spending every summer surrounded by the flora and fauna typically found in East Texas which included cows and poison ivy based on the disasters that befell me each sojourn.  I guess I should also include horses as I have spent more than 8 seconds on one.  I won’t regale you with specifics.  Suffice it to say that I haven’t willingly gotten back on the horse since.  Note I said willingly.  I have been on a horse since although it was not by choice.  Again, not sure if it’s this new generation or not but I don’t remember ever, not even once, being asked would you like to (insert horrifying proposition here).  Things as random as “camp out on an abandoned flatbed trailer and sleep directly on poison ivy because you hadn’t begun the studying cub scout guide for indigenous plant life” or “ride in the Grand Entry of a rodeo even though you have squat experience and if horses can sense fear, yours is aware of the terror-filled youth in ill-fitting denim sitting in a quasi-sidesaddle position as one foot got stuck in the wrong stirrup and the chubbiness of the legs and agility of the youth did not allow for proper or speedy correction”.  Granted they didn’t go into that much detail, I’m assuming, because no one in Texas would have imagined someone could do those things outside of a 1930s screwball comedy starring Myrna Loy or Rosalind Russell.  At least they had the excuse of being snooty society types from “the Manor” whereas I was not a society type unless you count 4-H as a society.  You’ll notice I declined to discuss the manor from whence I came.  You’ll notice the declination is still in effect.  I thank you for your cooperation.

                After we trailed behind Payton and her long-suffering boyfriend Chad, paying and offering trivia as we went (one of the costs of Uncle Dusty’s financial support is the required interest (feigned or otherwise) in whatever manner of infotainment tidbit decides to present itself to all gathered.  Sometimes Uncle Dusty himself is surprised by the (admittedly) fascinating anecdotes), we made our way ever northward from Anaheim to LA to Santa Monica and finally back to Menlo Park our home base where we returned to the reality that whenever left to his own devices, my father will attempt to batter and fry the entirety of the contents of my home.  There was a thick layer of country wafting through the air.  For the uninitiated, country is a euphemism for grease, smoke and flour; the least health conscious Yankee Candle scent ever.

                Such is the vacation for this year.  Now, I am familiar with the idea of a stay-cation where you’re just off work but stay near or at home.  But I’m not sure what to call what my family did.  Was it a poor-cation?  Country-cation?  Not to be confused with countrification which is what my Daddy is trying to do to me.  Whatever you called it we would travel to a relative’s home and like houseguests in Downton Abbey days, we’d stay at least a fortnight, if not a fortnight squared.  Sleeping 8 kids to a pallet in the living room floor.  Trying to stay quiet lest you be beaten into submission; stifling giggles that were persistent only because we weren’t supposed to giggle; never rooted in anything actually humorous. 

Payton has never known the joys of floor sleeping, her vacations always involve an upgraded suite at a Marriott as my guv’ment job affords travel point accumulation at a rate far above my income level, y’all.  Left to my own dollars spent, I would be platinum only at Motel 6 or at the very least Super 8, who probably base their levels of appreciation for patrons on something like lunch meats.  If that were true, I’d like to think I’d be black forest ham, hand sliced in the deli.  Truth be told I’m so cheap when it comes to spending on myself I’d probably be clearance priced hogshead cheese.

                We trailed behind Her Highness who, like other members of the royal family, does not carry cash.  Although she has more purses, bags both messenger and hobo and wristlets than a shoplifting ingénue, she never seems to carry anything on her person that would cause her to have access to necessities such as sunglasses, lip balm, snacks.  Her mother is there for that with her giant bag.  We’re like a double Butler system sponsored by Coach.  We’ve butled (?) throughout many ports of call, New Orleans, Colorado, LA, San Francisco, Hawaii, and New England.  She has stated the desire to go to Minneapolis and the Mall of America, but I feel that I, or at the very least, my wallet wouldn’t survive that particular destination, intrepid though I may seem.

                Trying to be the host with the most and attempting to cater to all whims, both ridiculous and carb-heavy, I juggled all house guests (including permanent ones) like the over-caffeinated clown we saw at Pier 39 on the Bay.  Remember that I hate clowns?  Well I really, really hated this one and not just because he thought that his seersucker pants were “ridiculous”.  It was almost enough to keep me from enjoying the bag of mini donuts that I had to myself for approximately 3.2 seconds before it was descended upon my Her Highness, who had become hungered as apparently posing for a caricature is hard work, y’all.  She shared my pilfered treats with Chad who was ravenous as I suppose mooning over a 6’ tall 25 year-old looking but 16 year-old acting young lady is also hard work.  Kids these days don’t know a thing about real work, said my inner old lady. 

                Of course, there are those in the Boomer generation who reside in my home who feel they should be rewarded for waking up and mass producing afghans at a rate that is the envy of the Japanese auto industry with a chocolate shake ‘this big’, moving his hands about three feet apart.  So, I guess it’s not a Millenial thing; it’s a thing for people who are used to being waited on hand and foot.  And that’s where this lovely Wal-Mart idea will come into play.  I can give my Daddy his heart’s desire, well, those desires that reside within The Mart which, truth be told, covers everything on his list except Harley Davidson motorcycles.  And I never have to leave the comfort of my home.  Now I just have to convince them yarn is a foodstuff.


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