Saturday, July 4, 2009

For You, Mom

Back when I was young, skinny and not disappointed with the rest of the world, my family and I used to go on vacation annually, somewhere on the East coast where the Atlantic ocean nipped into the state and was kept back by the intracoastal waterway. In these many harbor towns, fishing villages actually, we would appear like loud guests to a party, my brother and I still fighting from the backseat, my mother lighting another cigarette, and my father oblivious to it all except for the promise ahead of motoring his boat through the canals and into the ocean, the wind blowing back his hair and an ice cold beer never far from his fingertips.

We would pile out and immediately begin our assessment of the setup: pool...check, good, working A/C...check, other kids staying there...check. These were just the minimum requirements. If we were really lucky, there was a gameroom and restaurant/snackbar on premises. More often than not, the motel (yes, that's M-otel, we rarely stayed anywhere that had more than 2 floors) room would have a small kitchenette so that my mother could perform gymnastics while preparing a meal. I could see the disappointment on her face as she inventoried the pitiful kitchen setup: 2 old saucepans, a dirty baking sheet, percolator and a tiny, almost doll-like stove. A few cracked plates, mismatched glasses and silverware would round out the inventory. At least the refrigerator would be clean, the previous occupant only used it to keep beer cold. Usually the smell of sulfur from the water would permeate the place and we had to open the windows a while to air it out. But, all in all, the place would be clean and the cable worked on the TV.

Not long after we arrived, my brother and I would venture out to the pool. Usually, we would jump right in and I remember one time, being shocked that the water was not our beloved chlorinated spring water but some hideous, warm-like bathwater, SALT water pool. That meant no opening eyes under water and always feeling a little sticky and/or smelly. That was the worst pool, ever. Sometimes, there would be other kids there and before long, we were usually playing along with them. I remember when we were about 12 or 13 and there was a cute girl there. We spent most of the time showing off for her or just following her around. Eventually she came and talked to us. As usual, it was my brother she was interested in. Damn his blonde hair and perfect smile! I would usually shuffle away, dragging my hideous carcass with me and go inside and watch TV. Most of the day, it was just my brother and my mom and me. Dad was gone since 6:00 that morning and would be back around 1:00 or 2:00 only to take a nap until about 4:00 or 5:00 and then park himself in front of the TV with a beer. Sometimes he would come out to the pool and show off for us. His cannonball's into the deep end were legendary. And eventually, Mom would come out as well and so for a few hours, before dinnertime, it was just our little family together.