Eleven years is a long time to wait for a vacation. But, that’s the time that’s passed since my torso has last seen sun. No lie.
Too many of life’s hiccups prevented a real vacation, until now. But finally, finally, we embarked upon a trip to Marco Island, Fla., last week, and you know I had to prep like it’s a paying job. I simply couldn’t wait for our entire family to vacation together, to trade barbs over fancy drinks together, to get sun poisoning together, to throw up our bad shrimp together. You know, real quality time.
I made the reservations in March and I’d been fully packed for three weeks. I even bought extra underwear, so I didn’t have to disturb my suitcase to yank-out my parachute panties. I’m a planner, people!
I packed every SPF available to man, from 50 to 100. I needed 200, but they don’t make that. Apparently, we albinos are on our own and must layer our protection hourly or wear a burqa and caftan to the beach. I packed medication for every occasion, from arthritis to irritable bowel and every disease in between. I packed inhalers, Benadryl and Tums. Aloe and Solarcaine was an absolute must. Metamucil plus mustache depilatory. (I couldn’t look like Super Mario on Marco Island!)
I tucked in extra emergency items as well, like wet wipes and Preparation H. I’m no dummy. I packed carefully, planning each day in my mind and an outfit for every occasion: lying on the beach, inert, lying on the beach reading a book, lying on the beach napping after two Bahama Mamas, lying on the beach with a bucket next to me, post Bahama Mamas. I was set.
Here’s what Nancy packed: five t-shirts, two bathing suits and deodorant. No flip flops for him; he insisted his sturdy Nikes were the perfect footwear for the beach. Dear God, he may as well have been carrying a banner: NEPA Hillbilly Express. Next Stop: Marco Island.
And, we all can agree, the airport has become everyone’s most dreaded side dish. First, you sweat yourself into a frenzy as they weigh the luggage. Nothing over 40 pounds? What the hell! No one told me that! Nancy was beside himself because my suitcase clocked in at 42 lbs.; like myself, a few pounds over what was nationally acceptable.
He refused to pay the extra 25 dollars, so in the middle of the stupid airport, I had to yank-out some of my special contingency items. Out came the super-sized calamine, the XX-large beach cover-up (or car cover, whichever you prefer), the raft in the shape of Donny Osmond, and an emergency stash (12) of Snickers. (Protein). I’ve never seen a longer line of so many rolled eyes behind me in my entire life. (That’s not true. Kickball, 4th grade. I couldn’t kick.) Finally, we were of an acceptable weight and off we went to get felt-up by security.
My younger son, who is normally pretty sort-of smart, forgot he had a combo can opener/bottle opener/pseudo-weapon in his wallet and got yanked out of line. I was otherwise occupied getting to second base with my security agent. I think she should have bought me dinner first, by the way. Thank God they confiscated his wallet weaponry and sent him on his way. They gave me a harder time about my travel-sized suppositories.
Finally, upon arrival, I pranced to that beach in a bathing suit I haven’t worn since George W. was in office. I stayed there, reclined for five straight days, coming up for air every few hours to enjoy cocktails which, when all was said and done, cost as much as our monthly mortgage payment.
We laughed, we played, we bonded, I got brutally sunburned despite a combined sunscreening of SPF 550, I whined, I cried, I ate bad shrimp and I planned our return trip. Everything is better on the beach. Well, it would have been super-better with my Donny Osmond raft. I hope that ticket agent is enjoying some Puppy Love.
Maria Jiunta Heck, of West Pittston, is a mother of three and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life. Send Maria an email at [email protected]