Summer vacation, there’s nothing quite like it. In fact, it seems like only yesterday we were piling into my mom-van, in pursuit of a quaint Rhode Island beach town that upon arrival, revealed itself to be none other than the pit of hell. Horror, shock, that sinking feeling we’d be wading through a sea of hypodermic needles and tampons on the beach/playground — check, check and triple check, they all made the list last August.
So when my husband announced this year that there was no money left in the budget for basically everything from toilet paper to driveable “family-friendly” destinations that just happen to have a “Hey kids, there’s a” Hooters and beachy little drug cartel stationed right around the corner, I was silently relieved. I was quietly grateful. I, Lesley Kirschner was just fine … until Merwin Meadows closed.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Aren’t there some alternate locations for me to humiliate myself in front of the other mothers while my almost-three-year-old screams like he’s being skinned alive all in the name of wearing his birthday suit?
Maybe. But whispering in his ear that I’d take him to Scoops if he just put on his diaper “so we could (expletive implied) leave already,” then having him announce (loudly) to all of the pretty mothers with quiet, diapered children that he was getting a twist with sprinkles cause he’s “really good at yelling” sure did put a cherry on my Sunday.
So when the news hit me a couple of Fridays ago, like goose poop on my doorstep, that I’d have to find another venue for my future nudist to entertain not only himself but all the other unsuspecting pond dwellers, I tried to process this latest parental tragedy. How would I survive? How would my son survive? How much goose poop is safe to ingest? (I actually googled it). Is E coli really that bad for you? Why do all of the other moms on the playground hate me?
“We have to get out of here,” I said to my husband one night over an odd compilation of Chinese food leftovers.
“Why are you whispering?” He whispered back.
“Because … they might hear us.”
“The children, Jon. Try to keep up. We need a V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N. Just the two of us.”
“You realize I can spell, right?” my younger daughter said, waltzing into the kitchen.
That same night, a $1.2 billion winner would hit the lottery jackpot and let me tell you, we probably had a better shot (had we actually purchased tickets) of buying the farm and possibly the entire town of Wilton than finding anyone with a right mind in their head to take our two children overnight. So it was decided. “They’ll just come with us.”
There are few things that might compare to going on “vacation” with my children … bikini waxing, watching kids I don’t know perform in a dance recital, watching kids I do know perform in a dance recital, sitting in Synagogue with my in-laws on the High Holidays. This is the stuff painful, lasting memories are made of, good people of Wilton.
But spending hours stuck on the highway to hell so we might “enjoy” close to $500 a night on a long weekend in Newport seemed “insane,” Jon said, a few days later. “Completely insane. Can’t you find somewhere cheaper?”
Like finding no line outside Rise Doughnuts, I thought to myself then sighed and spent the next 72 hours fine-tooth combing every Airbnb, Vrbo, hotel, motel, even motorhome in the Newport area, and yes, I assure you, I left no stone unturned … except for one, apparently.
I was half asleep/half pretending to be asleep, so my son would maybe, possibly, never … he was never going to stop obsessing over my Bandaid boobs, when my husband walked in beaming from ear to ear that he’d found a place for us to stay, “well under budget and really close to Newport. It’s called (insert pit of hell-town from last year’s trip with my parents). Isn’t that great?”
Sometimes I really feel sorry for Jon and sometimes I want to take him to get a bikini wax just for the sheer pain of it. But at that moment, I have to be honest, I could not even form the words. I mean, I had words. They were in there, somewhere but…
“What’s wrong with you?” he asked. “Are you… are you crying?”
“I think we need to start playing the lottery, Jon. I mean (sniff, sniff), like we need to commit to it … we need to sit down (snivel) and come up with some really solid numbers, winning numbers, Jon, and we need (snivel, snivel, sniff) to play them, every week. We need to be all in, Jon. Jon? Are you even listening? Are you even hearing what I’m saying right now?”
“Oh, I’m hearing you alright.”
He shut the light and I sniffed and sniveled some more and the next thing I knew, we were on a beach and not just any beach, a beautiful beach with white sand and glistening waters, complete with immaculate cabanas and lounge chairs, umbrella drinks and not even a hint of E Coli as far as the eye could see. My son was diapered and not screaming. My daughter was wearing a G-rated, age-appropriate swimsuit and my husband was not telling me to stay well under budget because we were swimming in cash, floating in it as it ebbed in with the tide, slipping through our fingers and toes because “We won,” I said, wading through a sea of Benjamins, wrapping my arms around my husband as hundreds of little show children surrounded us, dancing and prancing in their tutus, honking like geese. A shofar blew somewhere in the distance, the dance recital continued and my in-laws washed ashore, yelling at us to hurry up and get to the Hooters before the drug cartel took the last good table and all the Hamentashen and then someone grabbed my arm, shaking me. “Les. Lesley. Wake up,” Jon managed.
“Is it gluten-free?
“What? What are you talking about?”
“The Hamentashen, is it gluten free?”
“Jesus. Purim’s not till March. Go back to sleep.”
But I couldn’t, and not because I couldn’t quite shake the image of my father-in-law in a hot pink bikini, but because, suddenly, I had this very intense craving for Hamentashen but where would one find that at two in the morning on a Thursday, and in August?
Honestly, you’d have better luck finding a not-too-shabby, (umbrella drinks included) last-minute deal somewhere really pretty, somewhere right on the water and well under budget, somewhere close to the beach, close to Newport.
“I booked it,” I told Jon the next morning, displaying the receipt on my phone for his perusal. “I booked it and we’re going and it was fate, Jon… fate. And okay, fine, it’s just for a few days and sure, would I have liked to go for longer? Um, does vacation start with a V? But so what? So what if we had to pay in full and so what if it’s non-refundable? The important thing is that we’re going and I guess it was meant to be and if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be, Jon. Right? Jon? Jon?”
“Isn’t this the exact same place you guys stayed last year?”
I grabbed the phone. Horror, shock, that sinking feeling we’d be wading once again through a sea of hypodermic needles and tampons on the beach/playground.
He sighed, shrugged and wrapped his arms around me. “Yeah. I guess you really cooked your goose (poop) on that one. By the way, was I dreaming or did you ask me for Hamentashen last night?”
Columnist Lesley Kirschner grew up quiet, in the woods, and devoid of siblings so her hobbies quickly became reading, writing, and talking to inanimate objects. She also spent a considerable amount of time doing voice-overs for her dolls and watching too much daytime television–channel 3, sometimes channel 8, if the weather was good and the antenna wasn’t acting up. She was in attendance at school, graduated from a very much not notable college not worth mentioning, and was transplanted to Wilton with her husband, Ambler Farm‘s Farmer Jonathan and their (baby makes) three children almost a decade ago. Although she never quite found her calling in life, other than perhaps the doll voice-overs, which in hindsight were eerily convincing, she’s happy to try her hand at writing and is thankful for the support and community she found on Facebook’s Buy Nothing Wilton. Lesley realizes while this is all very exciting, she’s not winning a Pulitzer so she’ll wrap it up and be quiet. She’s had a lot of practice.