Spoiler: He doesn’t
By now that shouldn’t surprise you.
In preparing to write this final chapter I was looking through the myriad of pictures we took on our one day extravaganza to the world. Some are fantastic but as always many are simply sucktastic. In looking at a few of the worst I begin laughing as my eyes are drawn to the family portrait I have proudly displayed in the living room.
This past winter I dressed up the Anastasias and took them to the local Wal-Mart. We've not had a family portrait since BC was about 18 months old. GC grew up looking at this portrait in which she was not included. Did she care? No. But I did. It bothered me. I wanted a current one. Now if you have never done a Wal-Mart portrait before, I'll tell you, they are cheap. Insanely cheap. Like $1.98 for four million copies. The gimmick is, to get the cheap deal; you have to take your first approved picture as your “package.” Then you have to sit for 6 much more flattering pictures. And you have to pass on said pictures and take the first one. Since BC was very little I've been hitting this portrait studio hard. I love my cheap package.
Mr. A hates the whole scene. It drives him crazy. He doesn’t want to get dressed up to go to Wal-Mart. He doesn’t want to pose right next to the entrance doors like a Wal-Mart exhibit. Don’t tell him, but I'm starting to agree. But I love a good deal and we never did find my dignity, so we dressed up and went to Wal-Mart. The hardest part is waking up the drunken “photographer.”. Really, he’s just there to turn on the technological nightmare that will give up the "deal" (a horrible picture in the worst lighting available). We position ourselves so we can all see our heads. The “photographer” trips and accidentally takes the picture. We approve it from a distance. Six more pictures later, we're on our way. I'll be able to pick up this important piece of Anastasia heritage in two weeks. Mr. A glares at me as I insist on doing a little shopping. Dressed up. Why it is such a crime to be dressed up in Wal-Mart is a mystery to me?
Two weeks pass and I go to pick up the heirloom. I wake up the drunk dude again. He hands me the familiar envelope, but won’t take my money. “No, It’s free.”
Hmmm…I love free things
I don’t argue and walk away with my free envelope. I sit in my minivan and pull out one 8x10 picture of my precious family. There is a huge sticker that says
“Does Not Meet Quality Standards.”
The Anastasias did not meet Wal-Mart’s quality standards? They sell lead filled baby bibs. How bad could our picture be?
I peeled off the sticker. I could hardly breathe from the laughing. This picture may not be up to Wal-Mart’s standards, but it was right up my ally. We're all looking in different directions, like we were viewing a four ring circus. BC is behind us standing on two Styrofoam bricks; he's in the process of falling off and has a look of terror on his face. I'm trying to use a new trick I saw on Oprah, if you lean your face into the camera, you look like Cameron Diaz. (Didn’t work but I'm almost positive that trick recreated the face I made when I woke up during my colonoscopy ).
GC is sitting on my lap and is looking off to the distance, no where near the camera. And Mr. A was obviously trying to anger me in a uniquely male passive aggressive type of way. He has a lazy eye which he controls most of the time (unless he's tired or drinking). Well, in the picture, he let his eyes slide, making him look like the lucky soul that can watch two rings of the circus at once. To top it all off, we're off center. The Standards Commission at Wal-Mart believed this horror show needed to be super glued to a thick block of cardboard because that would make it…better…somehow???
Was the store trying to save us from ourselves? If Wal-Mart really wanted to maintain their non-Anastasia family standards, they should've glued the cardboard to the front. I know the chances of getting Mr. A dressed up in Wal-Mart again are very unlikely. I'd have to put up with him showing up for the “portrait” in a wife beater and boxers. And he would do the eye trick, again. Once he laid his eye on this train wreck (and dragged the lazy eye over so he could focus) he'd make me keep it as reminder of the evils of portrait taking.
So I took a steak knife, hacked the “special” cardboard off the back and stuffed that sucker in a cheap lead and mercury-filled Wal-Mart frame (that apparently did meet quality standards) and placed it prominently in my living room. I explain to any visitors that the picture was snapped as Wal-Mart exploded and that's why we were so disoriented (except for Mr. A who had simply been drinking….with the photographer).
I did not find my dignity in Wal-Mart.
Soon after the cat climbing up Mr. A’s back incident, Mr. Atried to kill me. No one blames him, but I'm still angry. When celebrating our first Christmas together, Mr. A wanted classy, simple decorations. I wanted gaudy, abnormally large, light up Santa heads. Mr. A then used the illegal tactic of scaring the crap out of me to get his way.
Him: “Looks like somebody beheaded a giant glowing Santa.”
He knows I hate anything that is disembodied from its body. (I also hate skeletons. I was afraid of my own body for months after my mother told me I had a skeleton inside me.)
So we got classy. Or what we thought was classy at 23. In Wal-Mart (and we know how high their standards are).
But, as a special present, to be romantic, Mr. A put a very homely Santa, that was made of plastic shells, that I'd brought from my parents’ house on our new front door. This door (to our apartment) was solid metal. Right next to the door was a horrible halogen lamp that Mr. A dragged from his college apartment. It was ugly, but still worked. I guess lamps don’t have to be classy in Mr. A’s world.
But they can be deadly.
Well King Friday, the poopy footed cat, always made a mad dash for the door when opened.
Mr. A told me to go look at the front door. Ahh, a surprise from my brand new husband. I opened the door to look and King Friday tried to run. I put my hand out delicately to stop her and gently grazed the college lamp with my other hand on the door. An electric current raced through my body. I had created some sort of path for the electricity that usually lit up his hideous lamp. What happens when you plug in Mrs. A?
She screams. The loudest scream in the world. And she pees her pants a little. Now our apartment door was directly opposite our neighbors’ metal front door. (They'd never plugged themselves into it as far as we know)
You remember our neighbors? They were laying in their bed all nicey nice when an almost naked Mr. A tried to put his fist through the bathroom wall and screamed at the top of HIS lungs when the cat climbed him like a tree? Well, turns out Mrs. A can scream louder.
As the current pulsed off, I collapsed and crawled into the living room.
Where was my shockingly romantic husband? Well, he was in the kitchen running as fast as he can while staying in one place, Flintstones style. By the time he got to me I was crying. He was sure someone had tried to kill me. He was also in his boxer shorts.
Him: “Are you ok? What happened?!!!The neighbors are going to come to the door and check this out! Is it okay if I put my pants on? Should I call an ambulance?”
I stare at him. He's in his boxers. Again. Did he hang up the Santa in his boxers? Shell Santa deserves more respect than that. I tell him to get dressed. I'm not going to die. Mr. A puts his pants on (It took several years of training to get him to wear pants at home. And by training I mean helping me into an ambulance on various occasions in the middle of the night.).
Now, I know everyone feels bad for our neighbors, but they made it all up to us when we had a dinner party. After one glass of wine, the husband became screamingly drunk and began telling us about his affair (in front of the wife) and that he was picking up our cordless phone conversations on his handheld scanner and he liked listening in…. Weird. Weirder than cats and lamps.
I did not find my dignity with the lamp.
But who cares about dignity when you can see the Fudge!!
The Anastasias are in front of the candy store, my secret head mission, and I shout out “How about the candy store?” to Mr. A. Now, Mr. A is in exit mode, he can see the glow from the parking lot lights. He knows my head mission could ruin us. He sees that by some Mickey miracle, the gates are not crowded. By farting around in the candy store, we could squander this miracle and wind up with the squishalisous nightmare escaping the Kingdom.
Mr. A looks at me with doubt and suspicion. I silently reenact the lamp electrocution fixing my face in a reminder of the terror and angst I suffered. I play dirty for fudge and he relents.
I'm in the candy store. And the pick your own Fudge line is outrageous. The Jiggler is pulsating in anticipation of its favorite treat. A dilemma. The kids are picking out reasonable prepackaged treats. The cashier line is almost empty.
An answer is stacked close by. The prepackaged Fudge, promising it's made daily, in an insanely expensive collector’s tin. Almost double the price of the pick your own fudge.
God I love the sound of that. Screw “Pick your own apples or strawberries”. Pick Your Own Fudge!!!! Fresh from the vine or the butter vat.
I pick out a tin. Knife to enable the sucking included. We pay…a lot… for the stuff and head out. We take one glance at Main Street, which is lined with millions of people awaiting the fireworks. We dump a naked stroller at the stroller curtain. And we leave the park. We get on a reasonable two monorail wait line. We get on the resort monorail, thinking it would be faster to board. It wasn’t, but it afforded us more time to enjoy the fireworks from the monorail. We had great seats and watched the exploding magic above my house. We took a deep breath.
We were out. There was no stopping us now. We weren’t smooshed. The window of escape we had hoped for was there even with the fudge stop. We boarded the tram and the kids were thrilled with their last “ride” all the way back to Dopey.
The kids were asleep as soon as the minivan doors closed and I had a knife in my hand before we were off property.
An hour and half and we're back to the scene of the crime, the cockroach bite. We tucked the kids in bed and showered up. My parents had sprayed for “palmetto” bugs when they came home earlier that night. We never did see another of Mr. A’s little friends for the remainder of our visit. The next morning we piled up our plastic Mickey bags full of the things we had to have. We always save the bags and use them months later. Like a special treat. It's hard to throw Mickey away.
We headed to the Cracker Bear by my mother’s for lunch. The kids were very fond of getting a toy and a meal, so we went to a lot of Cracker Bears on this vacation. We sat at a huge table with many extra peg in the hole games. We all muddled through the frustrating, embarrassing game. I look at my mother. She has one peg left. I watch her do it again.
Me -“Sweet Mother of Fudge Woman! Are you doing that on purpose?”
Surprised blue eyes look back.
Her-“Of course, ever since I learned the trick I can get one or two pegs left”
Me-“Care to clue me in Mom?”
Her-“Well, you point a point of the triangle towards you, and bring all the pegs towards you”
I try it. Two pegs. Try it again. Two pegs.
All the years of shame and head hanging, and mom had the answer.
See you thought this trip report was just a lot of crazy talk about my butt and farts and poop. But you have now learned a wonderful tip, which will make you look smarter! You are Welcome!
So we drive home at the end of our vacation. It's always tough to leave, because we have a rip roaring ball with my parents. And also with my in-laws. We have so much fun with all of them. My dream is to have us all live closer to each other.
Of course, we had reservations for a hotel on the way back (actually we had reservations at just about every hotel on I-95). We gave Pedro the finger he deserves for being a pitiful reminder of what we left. Have you ever seen anyone with a “South of the Boarder” bumper sticker? I can’t make sense of it. Bizarre.
The kids watch movies, Mr. A and I fill out a notebook for a trip report. (Like I would ever write a trip report about one day? How boring would that be?)
We're almost home. When I have to pee. I had the unfortunate timing of having a huge drink just before we hit “The dead zone” There are no potties for about 45 minutes. Mr. A and the kids are fine on their peeometers. But I am not. I have to go. My eyes are getting bigger and my whining is getting louder.
Mr. A remembers a creepy 7-11 next to a liquor store (why does he know about this place?) It's our last hope before flat fields and no stores for at least another 20 minutes. We pull in. I can’t move. From all the pee. Mr. A runs in and out. Too quick for good news.
Him- “It’s broken”
We move onto plan B.
I was really avoiding thinking about plan B.
Me-“I'm just going to have to go in the kids’ potty.”
We have an emergency potty in the Stow n’ Go for when GC was being potty trained. I pull it out along with the dusty old emergency diaper.
Emergency toddler potty has a teeny weenie hole.
I lined the potty with the diaper and climbed in the back. I made room on the floor.
I assumed the position.
Me- “Get us out of this parking lot so I can have some dignity”
Now, on a good day, I get stage fright. If a public bathroom is stone cold quiet with others in it, I can’t do my business. I need a little noise or something. Or a shock. Or a good laugh.
Perched on a potty in the back of my minivan with my whole family staring at me was too much.
Mr. A is driving around looking for a more private place. I think he is trying to dethrone me. He just can’t resist throwing me around.
I'm telling myself that the windows are tinted and no one can see me. But I know the truth. On a sunny day everyone can see you just fine.
Mr. A pulls over in front of an “abandoned” house. We all look as if on cue into the house. A good ten people are gathered on the sun porch, looking at us looking at them. I give a little wave.
I scream- “What are you doing?”
Mr. A speeds away from the house “Trying to find your dignity!”
The laughing does an old bladder good and I use the teeny potty. By the time I get everything cleaned up and crawl to the front, We are getting close to home. Our one day visit to the parks over. It left us wanting more, and enjoying what we did get to do.
So that's it friends! How many chapters did I drag out my one day? This should be illegal. I must confess, I was surprised some of the things I wrote didn’t get me kicked off of my beloved Dis boards. Thank you so much for reading.