This is the final segment of a two-part series chronicling the wacky adventures of my extended family let loose in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and the resulting lessons I learned on the trip, which in Part 1 of this series comprised the following: Uncles are easy targets for vehicular homicide, and The Old snack a lot, especially when being driven hundreds of miles by a reluctant chauffeur.
The remaining insights gleaned during Family Vacation 2009 can be summarized thusly:
* Famous people are not, in fact, famous.
We played a game called "Time's Up" every night of vacation. The object of "Time's Up" is fairly simple: each team of two has to describe to each other the same 40 famous people, whose names are listed on individual cards, with one team member giving clues and one guessing. Subsequent rounds of the game require team members to describe/guess those same 40 names first using only one word plus pantomime and, lastly, using just pantomime. While Rounds 2 and 3 are definitely challenging, Round 1 is pretty straightforward.
It's not, however, if these so-called "famous" people aren't so famous after all, or at the very least are known only to the two eggheads among the twelve players. As mentioned, my father, Mr. Mr. Monopoly, and I are nerds, big juicy nerds marinating in our own nerdiness. When we're feeling frisky, we venture into geekdom, even. We were, for example, the only two people on the trip who felt the need to visit the Wright Brothers memorial and museum in Kitty Hawk, which kind of floored me; I mean, this narrow strip of hurricane bait we were visiting is famous for exactly two things: the lost colony of Roanoke (which, when all is said and done, is lost); and the site of the first manned flight. And yet we couldn't conjure up enough excitement for a "good for you" side trip amidst all the Jet Skiing and golfing and go karting and boogie boarding. And while I digress, my larger point remains: intellectual curiosity will get you everywhere, at least where "Time's Up" is concerned. Absent that, the game turns all wack-a-doodle, with, for instance, the following exchange between me and Uncle Little Eddie when the "Al Jolson" card came up:
ME: "OK, he starred in The Jazz Singer
! The first talkie! Uhh....wore blackface...'My Mammy [bad impersonation included]'!"
ULE: [Blank stare]
ME: [Looks at timer, gets creative] "OK, his first name is our dead uncle who looked like Squidward."
ME: "Yessssss!! OK, his last name rhymes with...uhhhh...the last name of my high school boyfriend!"
ULE: "You had a boyfriend in high school?"
ME: "The guy with the stutter!"
ULE: "Ohhhh, Eric Olson!" [Triumphant smile]
ME: [Three seconds left, desperate] "Right, but that's not whose name is on the card!
ULE: [As timer runs out] "I got it -- Al Molson!!"
Other games were highlighted by my mother, Mr. Monopoly, describing "Strom Thurmond" to Gross Uncle Gary not
as "Racist old senator from South Carolina who ran for President as a Dixiecrat in 1948" but as "What it's called when it's thundering plus the Yankee who died in a plane crash!" And then she argued that we should accept GUG's answer of "Stormin' Thurman Munson."
She also, another night, came up with this gem for "Ed Sullivan" in Round 2 (only a single one-word clue allowed for each card): "Gepetto Pepetto." And then, to my dazed and confused father who was her unfortunate partner that night, she actually roared, "Gepetto Pepetto! Come on!"
OK, (a) she meant "Topo Gigio," and (2) neither "Topo Gigio" nor "Gepetto Pepetto" is a one-word clue. Oh, and my so-called "husband" has no idea who Mary Baker Eddy is, even though for three years he lived two blocks from the Christian Science mother church in Boston.
They all should've come to the Wright Brothers museum.
* The Red Sox had a mini-implosion and Barack Obama wants to kill my mother, Mr. Monopoly.
Two TV stations that are never, ever on in my presence were staples during vacation: ESPN, because everybody else on the trip follows what I am told is the "great American pastime" of major league baseball, and FOX News, because my mother, Mr. Monopoly, got up earlier than everybody else and put it on. So I had to hear about the Great Red Sox Losing Streak of late July/early August, which included much mocking of NotClooney (who managed to develop a love of the Red Sox in his three years in Boston but not, apparently, a working knowledge of the landmarks that surrounded him). During the intense discussions about the breakdown of the Boston bullpen or whatever, my father and I, naturally, talked about the Wright Brothers. So all the ESPN wasn't so bad.
The FOX News was bad. The FOX folks spent the week telling my mother all about health care rationing and death panels and how Barack Obama wants to kill The Old. My mother, of course, believes this. So, for all the good it'll do me, I might as well repeat it for the cheap seats. Crazy Lady: Barack Obama does not want to kill you, or any of the rest of The Old. Barack Obama doesn't care if or when you die, and if you choose to begin your inevitable slide without any assistance with the multitudinous decisions you will face, he still won't care. He -- and all those Republicans who actually wrote the various provisions to which you refer -- would just like those who are interested in a little clarification to have access to it. That said, I will tell you one more thing, Crazy Lady: If "Obamacare" was all about the government making end-of-life decisions for you, why would I support it? I certainly don't want the government taking away my right to pull the plug on you.
* Spending "Shark Week" at the beach is kind of stupid.
So when my fellow travelers could tear themselves away from ESPN and FOX News, they invariably chose to put on The Discovery Channel to watch all the various "Shark Week" programming. As you know, I am deathly afraid of sharks, who live in great numbers in my basement (given its constant flooding, this is not a surprise), waiting until I am alone, vulnerable, and particularly fat and walrus-like (generally by March of every year) so that they can gobble me up while I do laundry -- all the while refusing to eat Jack Nicholson, Gene Simmons, and the Serial Killer who also live down there, waiting to kill me for their own nefarious personal reasons. I trace my fear of sharks to a 1976 vacation I went on with the very same Aunt Dora and Uncle Big Eddie who were on this Outer Banks trip some 30+ years later. That earlier vacation was to Lake George, where we stayed in a rather rustic cabin. Clearly in need of entertainment one night, AD and UBE put us kids in our jammies and bundled us into the car to
take us to a drive-in double feature of The Great Waldo Pepper
. They did not intend for us to watch those films, mind you; it was late, and they assumed we'd sleep through them. And anyway, even if we were awake for The Great Waldo Pepper
, we'd be bored to sleep long before Jaws
started. But, as evidenced by my current-day fascination with all things Wright Brothers, I clearly could never tear myself away from a story about some old-timey guy in a rudimentary flying machine, and so apparently sat riveted throughout The Great Waldo Pepper
, my adrenaline pumped by the time Jaws
started. Which I also watched all the way through, on an enormous drive-in movie scream, with all the blood-curdling screams emitted from a sound box right by my ear. And I was never the same. (Interestingly, though, I never developed an irrational fear of Robert Redford.)
So back in present day, it was beyond me why no one else in our group was uncomfortable watching "Shark Week" on a giant plasma TV, seeing these enormous, wicked creatures (don't bother telling me they don't have an agenda; I've heard all your propaganda, PETA people, and it's crap) literally fly out of the water and rip to shreds these adorable, innocent seals (who I find so heartbreakingly cute I actually refer to them as "Sea-Hobbes"), and then, the next day, go a-frolickin' in their domain! And then I thought of the old people in the back of the Camry that I drove at the very beginning of the trip, viciously going at the Doritos and corn chips, tearing at each other to get to the bags of snacks, and I got it: they're copacetic, sharks and The Old. The Old have nothing to fear from sharks. Detente among the like-minded.
You learn something new every vacation.