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Vacation. I believe that’s what it’s called. Just back from one. The beach kind.

I don’t like the beach. But my kids love it. Not much of a dilemma when it comes to your kids. You just go and make the best of it. And I did. If you can’t enjoy yourself watching your kids smile from ear to ear for a week straight, it’s probably time for a med check.

One of my problems with the beach is that it’s far away. For Scrantonians, anything further than Wilkes-Barre is far away. And we booked the dreaded Saturday to Saturday thing. Half the east coast would be heading to the same place as me. What’s supposed to take 4.5 hours took 7. The car was packed so tight my rear window was obstructed by a boogie board. The kids were hungry. They were thirsty. They had to pee. Where we there yet? What road are we on again? What state are we in? Didn’t I just pay a toll? I swear I paid the same guy. Maybe we’re driving in circles? But all works out in the end. A GPS is, after the Ipod, man’s greatest invention. Just follow it blindly, like someone in an Orwell novel. Maps? Ha! Maps are bourgeoise. A GPS device might seem like it’s making fun of your driving, but it always gets you there.

So we arrived. The good part about taking hours longer than anticipated was that our room would be ready. Only it wasn’t. Your room is never ready. They always act like they’re surprised you actually showed up. How long does it take to make a bed and run a sweeper anyway? Five hours should be sufficient. The lobby is now filled with sweating masses of people, all miserable and wanting nothing more than to be given a room key so they can start drinking. The line stretches out the door into the parking lot. Kids sprawl on couches in the lobby, whining incessantly. But it’s vacation….a “quest for fun” as Chevy Chase once called it. so nobody snaps. All is kept in good order, and eventually we drag our gear up to our room, immediately realizing that the place is dreadfully short of elevators. You hit the button and can run across the street and grab a pizza before the door opens. At one point a little kid had a mini-fit in front of the open door and by the time his father had calmed him, the door had closed. Nobody said anything. We were all so battered there were no words. Things had to get better.

And of course they did. You settle in. You learn the lay of the land. Where the food is. Where the drink is. Where the shopping is. You learn to treat money as an irritant. If you actually consider how much you’re being gouged, you’d be eating Ramen noodles all week. And you can’t have that. So, ATM machine anyone?

The beach. Water was fine. Waves a good size. It’s very crowded but you carve out your little space and wonder why you’re the only one having trouble with your umbrella. Kids love the water. Maybe too much. I’m a nervous wreck. I keep looking for fins. Can’t help it. Some punk kid is wearing a “Jaws” t-shirt. Thanks kid. But I’m out there, getting tossed around like a piece of wood. People are sorta staring at me ’cause I wear my Chuck Taylors in the water. But I think they’re just jealous they didn’t think of it first. I’m not gouging myself on sharp shells. And those water socks look kinda gay on a guy. I see a lady running the shore line wearing a “ain’t no party like a Scranton party” t-shirt and call to her but she either doesn’t hear me or ignores me ’cause I’m wearing Chuck Taylors in the water. Whatever.

Loads of states represented in the parking lot. Two stand out. Hawaii. What the hell? And Kentucky. The KY license plate said “where we love our children”. Hmmph. That’s a bit….er…insulting to the rest of us no?

Temps hovered in the mid 90s all week. At night they dropped to the mid 80s. Not a hint of rain. Not even clouds. The heat was unrelenting….and us pasty faced Scrantonians soon looked like undercooked steaks. My nose actually fell off but luckily there was a new one underneath it. I’m home 24 hours and sand is still pouring out of my sneakers. I’m sore in body parts I can’t identify. I don’t really walk anymore. I shulffle. Like someone using an invisible walker. But I knew this is temporary. In a few days, I’ll be all rested up from vacation and need another one.

I actually miss it. The sound of the sea. The salt air. The seagulls. The look on my girls faces when they fleece me out of  yet more money. They know there’s nothing I would not do for them…..and they proceed accordingly.

The ride home was much easier. We left very early to beat traffic, and the girls immediately went to sleep. They awoke around Wilkes-Barre.

“Almost home” I said.

And I meant it. Wow, I guess it changed me.

In a bit…


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