Umbrella Drinks

May your days be filled with umbrella drinks!

I endured the rest of the year with the promise of a week of hedonistic bliss. My parents instilled this hedonism by taking our family on a ten day vacation to the beach. The only way we afforded the luxury of ten days was to sleep on the ground in a tent.

My parents allowed us to take turns and bring a friend with us. Our tent slept twelve people. In actuality, it slept four people and gear. Our group tallied up to seven people with gear. It was like sleeping in a mosh pit.

We took everything on vacation tents, boogie boards, bikes, and a spotlight. We took everything except Ralph, our pet goldfish. Five million candle power was necessary to keep from tripping over the matrix of rope used to assemble our circus village. If the spot light was angled close to the ground, the high intensity illumination didn’t bother the other campers. Daylight at ankle height prevented sprains.

Our gear also included coolers full of food and enough clothes so Mom didn’t have to launder anything but towels. With three girls, a girlfriend, and a mud prone brother, there were a lot of suitcases, hairdryers, curling irons, and makeup since the reason to go on vacation was to find boys.

We learned that the most important gear to pack were tarps in neon blue. Tarps kept out rain that flooded tents. Imagine the headlines “ Five Kids, One with Gas and One on Loan, Spend Night in Hot Chevy Suburban.” The ensuing story, “the kids, with only enough cheesecloth for one window, didn’t dare open the other windows for ventilation due to voracious mosquitoes that would’ve feasted on their flesh like vultures on a dead antelope,” could’ve landed my parents in jail for child abuse.

My childhood family on vacation was what I called “down home”. Come spend some time down home gave a better vision than come spend some time with the people who looked like they’d lose your kid among the tarps.

From a kid’s point of view, those were the best vacations ever. Our parents were deemed the coolest by all our friends. As an adult, I wondered what in the hell did my parents think the definition of vacation was and just how much alcohol did they consume in those ten days?

Wanting to be cool parents too, we continued my childhood tradition and allowed our daughter to bring a friend on vacation. My husband and I were amazed that people lent us their child to keep our child entertained. As parents, we were laid back and open minded or lax depending on viewpoint. Our daughter’s friend’s parents followed convention. Explanation: They were more normal than us. Nonetheless, they trusted us not to have their child sleep in a car with smelly people or to get eaten alive by insects.

We promised we would protect their child with our lives. This meant we’d have to sleep in beds and not under a spotlighted tarp canopy.

My husband and I were no way pretentious on vacation, but we liked to rent a modest place where we didn’t have to share a toilet and shower with 300 people. My definition of hedonism didn’t include keeping food and alcohol in a cooler when there were appliances called refrigerators.

Our downfall, as parents with a loaner kid, was social media. While lounging on the beach, a man in a Speedo walked past. Speedo meant “look at me”. So we did in the watching a train wreck sort of way. Note: Speedos weren’t usually worn by body builders named Adonis, but by dentists named Frank.

The girls pushed it one step further and took pictures of Frank with their phones then shared the photos with all their friends. We chose not to confiscate the phones. In case of shark attack, we needed access to emergency personnel. Being responsible adults, our phones were dead.

I took the kids will be kids approach and said, “No more Frank photos. That’s not nice.” We prayed the photos wouldn’t go viral.

Vacations, to each his own, live and let live, and enjoy the umbrella drinks.


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