Friday, January 18, 2013

The Bait and Switch

It’s Finish The Sentence Friday again (see link at the bottom of the page) and this week’s sentence is  “The last time I went on vacation…”

But I’m cheating a tiny bit and adding a couple of explanatory phrases before I start my story “The last time I went on vacation with my entire immediate family AND my husband BEFORE we were married, things were a hilarious disaster.”

See, even though we’re all grown up and out on our own, my 2 brothers , their families, and I all go on an annual vacation with my parents.  The year in question, 2010,  Opie and I had been dating awhile, things were getting serious but we weren’t yet engaged.  Still, my parents liked him and decided to invite him along.

And who wouldn’t say yes to a free vacation—particularly since we were going to Jamaica?!  He made immediate arrangements to take off work for a week and a half and come with us.

What he didn’t realize was that this was a total bait and switch vacation.

We offered him Jamaica…but if you remember watching the news in 2010, you might remember a little story that started with the line “Over 40 Dead In The Streets of Kingston!”

And the thing about drug wars is that they really put the kibosh on my family’s vacation plans…my parents are unreasonably sensitive about taking their children and especially their grandchildren to a place where drug dealers are stalking each other in the streets.


So, where did we end up?

The Wisconsin Dells.

We offered Opie a fabulous trip to Jamaica and ended up in The Wisconsin Dells.

It’s a miracle he didn’t sue us for fraud.

And now let me turn my attention to our no-star accommodations.  My parents had asked friends and family about a good place to stay—unfortunately, the recommended place was booked solid.  So, they decided to get a place on the same street.  Thinking that it would be of similar quality.

It wasn’t.

This was the view from my room:

Which probably doesn’t seem that bad until you take a closer look and realize that yes, there is a dirty disgusting mattress leaning against the shed just a few feet from the playground.

There isn’t enough ewwww to express how gross that was.   A situation not helped by the fact that when my dad asked the front desk for an ice bucket, they gave him a small plastic bag.  And when my mom let the custodial staff know that the trash in her room was still full of junk from the previous guest, the guy actually said “There’s a dumpster out back,” like she was making an unreasonable request.

If you know my mom at all, you know she DID NOT haul the leftover trash out…and I’m pretty sure she made the guy cry.

But my family didn’t care that we weren’t in the place we had really wanted to be, we just cared that we were all together…we had a great time.  We went to waterparks, we went to amusement parks, we went out to eat…we even did the cheesy “everyone dresses in personalized matching t-shirts for a day” thing.

Don’t hate—I buy the t-shirts every year and the whole point is that it’s cheesy and kitsch and completely unlike anything any of us would wear in our real lives.

Then my parents decided to up the ante and convinced us we should have one of those Old Time Photos taken…you know, one where we all dress up in period costumes and pose in an appropriate background.

But my mom took me aside and awkwardly suggested that, since Opie and I weren’t married or even engaged yet that, maybe, you know….

“Don’t worry,” I assured her. “He knows it’s a family picture.  He’s not going to feel left out if he’s not included.”

And all would have been fine…except no one explained this to my 5 year old nephew.

While we were all bustling around the shop, he tugged on Opie’s sleeve and asked “Why aren’t you in the picture?”

And, because Opie had next to no experience with children, he decided the best course of action would be to just ignore the comment and go about his business.

Which, as anyone who has dealt with a 5 year old knows, only convinces the kid you are either a little stupid or a little deaf.  Seth tugged harder on his arm and shouted each word as a separate sentence “WHY. AREN’T. YOU. IN. THE. PICTURE?!”

And Opie fumbled around, mumbling about how it was a family picture, and he wasn’t family, and it wasn’t a big deal, he wasn’t upset.

But Seth waved that nonsense off…after all, he had already seen right to the heart of the matter and wanted to make sure that he cleared things up for poor, slow, Opie.  “If you would MARRY Aunt Kimberly,” he said.  “You could be in the picture!”

Then, when Opie—a little wild around the eyes—related the story to my brother and I, my brother patted him on the shoulder and said sweetly, “It’s so easy, a five year old figured it out.”

Which is when I kind of wished I was related to other people…because these are the kind of things that happen when you vacation with my family!
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Finish the Sentence Friday


  1. Kim, I loved it and your family sounds like a riot. Thanks seriously for sharing and linking up again. It is true that kids will just say it like it is and now with tow little one I can totally attest to that day and day out!!

    1. Thanks! I think Opie learned even more about kids that day than I did!

  2. LOLOL! That's awesome! I love this story! And the Dells - oh my. I always want to go there, but my husband resists. I love kitsch. We camped there once and I'm sure we'll be back as my kids get older. Water park capitol of the world!

    1. The water parks were awesome and the kids had so much fun; that made it fun for the rest of us!

  3. I had an experience like that. My now-husband and I had been living together for a year and he already carried a slip of paper in his wallet with the specs for my future engagement ring. His cousin (who's a year younger) brought some random girl to the family gathering (never seen before or since). They did a big family pic and I was banished to the sidelines with what's-her-name. 11 years later, I still seethe every time I look at that pic in Nana's living room.

    1. Ohh, that would irritate me too! We actually have the opposite problem with one big whole family picture including the random girl that my cousin was dating--hence my mom's awkward reaction.

  4. sounds like the only disadvantage of taking the family, it limits escape time!

  5. It cracks me up that after drug activity kills the Jamaica trip, where it's beautiful and warm and beachy, you ended up in the Dells, which are the exact opposite of Jamaica. While Wisconsin can be beautiful, it ain't no beach.
    I do love that you all do the cheesy touristy stuff on your vacations.

    1. The Dells was a beautiful spot but definitely no Jamaica! Ahhh well, someday!

  6. Ha - I really commend your family for making the best of those yucky accommodations. And that is very funny about the family photo session. I bet you and your husband laugh about that all the time! I think your family sounds great...(Oh and I'm here with the FTSF link-up)

    1. It' s definitely funny now...though it also definitely freaked Opie out at the time!

  7. Teehee! I half expected you to talk about the awkwardness of room sharing or something since you weren't married. I've been in that situation and boy is it UNcomfortable!

    I so want to go on vacation and make my family wear matching shirts. Their degree of mortification would make it that much funnier.

    Loved this post! Can't wait to read more!

    1. I could have written pages and pages about that--it was awkward!

  8. That's so funny! Had the photographer captured the look on Opie's face, what a keeper! Love it!

    1. I know--that would have been perfect!

  9. I'm wondering how long after this vacation did Opie propose? I was half expecting to see your period family pic at the bottom of the post with Opie down on one knee!

  10. Hah, that is funny. Kids are really good at cutting to the chase.