At the end of July, we began vacationing in the era of social distancing. For our first trip, we were going to Hatteras Island in the Outer Banks with my family, and Hatteras is remote enough that distancing would not really be an issue, provided we avoided the Avon Food Lion on a weekend.
The pandemic created some challenges on the way down. North Carolina’s Covid numbers had recently spiked, leading localities in the state to take steps to contain the virus, like closing some rest areas and restrooms. Importantly, this was inconvenient to me, interfering with my God-given right to drink 64 ounces of coffee during the drive and then stop to pee every forty-five minutes.
In addition to questions about how to manage bladder pain during interstate travel, other questions arose during the trip.
What did I just eat?
In our family, ‘What did I eat?” is asked much less frequently the question than “How can I eat all of this good food before anyone else has a chance to?”
Some days though, there is enough good food that even the most ambitious consumer has to gameplan an eating strategy. On Monday, we had cake after dinner, and some of the kids basically substituted cake for dinner. On Tuesday, we were holding our traditional ice cream sundae night to avoid taking a dozen children into an ice cream store, an approach we have adopted whether or not there is a pandemic, and we were on the lookout for kids who were trying a second round of dessert sans dinner. When part of Kyle’s dinner, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, disappeared a little too quickly, his parents called him over and asked him where the sandwich had gone. Knowing that the actual answer would prove unsatisfactory to his parents, Kyle played for time with these responses:
- What peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
- What did it look like?
- What kind of sandwich?
- Where did you put it?
Finally, Kyle conceded that it was possible he had thrown the sandwich into the trash can, and he was told to search for it. When he couldn’t locate the sandwich, realizing that this meant that the evidence of his dinner malfeasance was nonexistent, he reported that he had not, after all, thrown it away.
In addition to the great sandwich mystery, Tabby had questions when she saw the brand of ice cream we were serving for the sundaes.
She was immediately suspicious that we were trying to serve her ice cream made for a pet rather than human ice cream made by Pet. I suppose we must have scarred Tabby with some kind of food trickery in the past, because even seeing us eat the ice cream right in front of her wasn’t enough to convince her that this was ice cream meant for consumption by people. At first I thought. “Wow, that’s crazy, thinking we would have dog ice cream just sitting around,” and then I saw what her mother had brought.
In my household, we avoid ice cream confusion by letting the the dog tear apart local wildife instead of consuming pet-specific desserts.
When will the rain end?
On Wednesday, we awoke to bad news and good news. The bad news was that it was raining. The good news was that Alex guaranteed us that the storms would end by 10am.
Noon rolled around and the rain was showing no signs of subsiding. The internet connection at the beach house was through a DSL, which apparently provides decent speeds only when five or fewer people on Hatteras Island are online simultaneously. During the rain, there were far more people than that online, and entertaining the nine children was becoming more of a challenge. But the rain couldn’t last THAT much longer, right?
That was bad news, but it wasn’t catastrophic. Societal norms and the scaffolding of civilization should hold.
Am I using this trendy insult correctly?
In the past few months, one epithet that has caught on through social media is “Karen.” A Karen is an out-of-touch, entitled, typically middle-aged white woman. Several of the kids on the beach trip thought that Laura was a Karen because Laura was “demanding.”
The kids had missed important nuances in the definition of a Karen. Laura wasn’t being a Karen when she demanded that the kids clean up the living area in the beach house by throwing away the 157 partially consumed water bottles and sodas or when she required that they put sheets on the beds of the rental house rather than sleeping directly on the mattresses like savages. Karens are demanding in a self-centered and entitled way.
There was a misuse of a similar insult earlier in the year, when McKenna responded to some request I made of her with, “Ok Boomer.” When I asked her why she said that to me, she said, “You’re old, and ‘Ok Boomer’ is what you say to old people.”
Again, the children had missed some of the nuance behind “Ok Boomer,” such as that it should be directed toward someone actually born during the Baby Boom. Like Dede and Poppi.
Can I ever use this fishing rod again?
The kids found the beach trip to be so exciting that they didn’t want to stop for anything, including to go to the bathroom. For them, North Carolina’s coronavirus restroom closures were no problem, as they just held on until giving birth to a gatorade-bottle-sized turd in one of the beach house toilets. Just in case there was any doubt about whether this would clog the toilet, they would then pile half a roll of toilet paper on top of the megladon log. When we discovered such a clog after sundae night, the emergency unclogging team was scrambled to address the crisis. Time was precious.
After several types of plunger had no impact on the clog, alternate approaches had to be tried. We didn’t have a toilet augur handy, so we fell back on a tool we did have in the house – part of a fishing rod.
Even the fishing rod method was ineffective. Eventually, a line of adults who would try to unclog the toilet formed. It was kind of like the King Arthur legend about how all of the knights lined up to try to pull the sword from the stone.
The fishing rod augur was less effective than we had hoped, so we started pouring bleach into the toilet. Katy’s habit of keeping a variety of pet products helped, and we added doggy doo dissolver to the mix. Eventually, the logjam, as it were, was broken.
And whatever happened to the favorite fishing rod?