You acted all negative at breakfast, making everything heavy and chore-like. You were like this: Where is my coffee? Is there one thing on this menu that is not fried? What’s wrong with Grandma? Do people in rural America have like super strong hearts that don’t get all plugged up and clogged? Grandma is healthy and strong, why did she stay at the motel? Where’s my coffee? I can’t believe that Grandma stayed in bed.
Your wife was like this: Honey, relax. This is our vacation. You should make the most of it. Your mother is just resting. We can bring some food back to the motel for her.
Your youngest daughter was like this: Pancakes aren’t fried, Daddy.
You rolled your eyes at her and sighed.
Your older daughters were like this: Gosh, Dad, chill out!
You were tapping your fork against the plastic tablecloth and stacking the artificial sweeteners and going on and on like this. You didn’t stop. You put the sweeteners away and you said the coffee was stale and that you were going to walk down Main Street and check on the van.
You were like this: Even if the van is running and ready, and we get there by the end of the day, there will only be enough time for the girls to dip their toes in the ocean before we’ll have to pack everything up and head home.
You put on your Braves cap and tromped through the crowded diner, past everyone eating fried food and laughing. You stepped out into the blizzard with steam coming out of your ears and your mind full of complaints, like everything was serious and like you were the only one that could see that.
You were walking through the blizzard and getting your ankles wet and the thoughts in your head were like this: This sucks. This is my vacation, and it sucks. I didn’t spend the past year in a windowless office to sit out a blizzard and eat lousy fried food in some podunk town.
You found the body shop and you were shocked to see the garage door open to the elements and half a dozen guys sitting around, drinking Cokes. Snow was blowing in at them, melting and making puddles. You looked down and saw magenta rainbows swirling around in the puddles and you got all bent out of shape about it. You looked at your van and saw its innards strewn about in the puddles and on the tables.
You were like this: What the hell am I paying you for?
The guys sitting around, drinking Cokes were like this: You’re not paying us for anything right now; we’re waiting for your part.
You shook your head thinking you were talking to a bunch of idiots, and you were like this: You could at least close the door.
They told you that they’d never seen a blizzard before, but you just threw your hands at them and went back out into the blizzard. You were retracing your steps, getting wet up to your knees, and you were like this in your head: I didn’t spend the past year in a windowless office to sit out a blizzard and eat lousy fried food in some podunk town. This sucks. This is my vacation, and it sucks.
You slid back into the booth with your family and you saw that your eggs were cold and you said that you had only been gone for thirty seconds and you decided right then and there that the eggs must’ve been cold when the waitress brought them to you. You said this like it was the most obvious thing in the world, but your family was totally silent, like they didn’t believe you, so you grabbed your plate and got up from the table and marched to the bar and waited for the waitress.
You were like this when you saw her: These eggs are cold.
She wouldn’t take responsibility for the cold eggs so you didn’t leave a tip, but you saw your wife leave a tip and you decided to confront her on the way back to the motel.
You were like this to your wife: Why did you leave a tip?
She just shook her head. You could tell she was trying to be sensitive to you and attentive to your gripes, but she just kept quiet, like she didn’t know what to say.
She held the Styrofoam to-go box of waffles in her hands and was eventually like this: Did I make the wrong choice? Does your mother even like waffles?
You didn’t answer her question. You just kept turning around and pointing to your three girls, marching shoulder to shoulder with their heads down and their underdressed arms crossed. You pointed at the white specks melting on their heads and you used them as an example of how much everything about the vacation was sucking.
You went on and on, pointing back and saying how bad it was, but your wife was like this: The girls are having fun. They’ve never seen a blizzard before.
She told you to look at their faces and see how they were smiling and giggling right then and there, which got you all worked up and made it impossible for you to prove your point. You were barmy inside and your feet were cold and everything around you was painted white.
You were quiet and angry when you slid the metal key into the lock at your motel room door, listening to its smooth clicks. You were about to say something about key cards and the Stone Age but when you opened the door and looked in your room, you were shocked and disgusted and you couldn’t believe what you were seeing. Your mother was there, jumping naked on the bed. She was holding her breasts in her hands and bouncing around in circles with a big smile on her wrinkled face. The girls busted their guts and started shouting out to Grandma. Your wife started sucking air in a gasping guffaw. Grandma started laughing along with them. Then she started singing some old song, something she sang to you when you were young. This made you start laughing, but it was like you didn’t even decide to do it, it was just there, coming out of you like a long hiccup. Everyone got up on the bed and started jumping in circles around Grandma, and you were like this: Girls, we are going to the ocean.