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6:51 a.m. - 2005-06-22


While we haven't spoken to the parents/neighbors yet (they're practically living at the local hospital for the next 4-6 weeks with their newborn son), there is a big blue ribbon on the mailbox which I interpret as a sign that baby Matthew has made it past the crucial 48 hours.

As I said, he's in the hospital for several more weeks until he gets healthy enough to come home.

Thanks to all those who put the baby in their prayers. It's much appreciated not just by me, but by his parents as well.

Sooooo ... the vacation ...

It started off two Saturdays ago as we pulled out of the driveway at 6 a.m. with me getting a whopping 3 hours of sleep for a nine-hour drive.

Naturally, since this was a vacation with the in-laws, the in-laws were all late getting to our first meeting point ... a gas station on the side of the interstate.

An hour after we first got there, the in-laws pulled up in their pimped-out fly ride and we hit the road.

I learned one interesting fact about my in-laws in the first couple of hours of the trip.

These people LOVE LOVE LOVE rest areas.

Personally, I don't understand the fascination unless you're a trucker trolling for rest stop trollops.

But there we were, frequenting every rest stop along this 600 mile trek.

I think it was about the fifth rest area in a two-hour period when I saddled up to my brother-in-law and good-naturedly said "You guys piss more than diabetics at a keg party."

He just looked at me.

For all I know he's diabetic and was shitfaced at the time.

We finally got to our destination 13 hours after leaving home.

The family reunion we went to was held in what is primarily a retirement community.

You wouldn't know this until you drive through the gate and the smell of scorching hot dumpsters full of used Depends hits your nostrils.

Then ... the fact that there's shuffleboard areas on every corner pretty much gives it away ... you've entered the Valley of the Curmudgeons(TM).

We show up at one of Susie's uncles house and it's chock full of dead people or people teetering on the brink of death. They handed us small mirrors as we walked in so if we tried to engage someone in conversation, we could hold the mirror under the person's nostrils first to make sure they were breathing.

IMMEDIATELY I am accosted by total strangers who have a burning desire to hug me.

I am not a hugger.

Especially when being hugged by total strangers.

So here I am in the kitchen, going through the hugging receiving line, being careful not to crush any brittle, calcium-deficient bones while hugging people and being told their names which were frankly going in one ear and out the other because I'M TIRED, PEOPLE.

Andrew, who had been cooped up in a car seat for a large portion of the day, had unlimited amounts of energy due to the vast amounts of candy he had been eating while confined to said seat.

So Andrew is now in a big, open home and is flying through it at rapid speeds while yelling "DIT!DIT!DIT!DIT!DIT!DIT!DIT!DIT!DIT!DIT!DIT!"

I'm thinking he thought he was a helicopter missing a blade or something. I was too tired to ask.

So I hug all 60 people, snatch Andrew as he's zooming past me and we go outside to the deck.



By the time I had hugged every single person, pretended to commit their name to my limited memory bank and explained my relationship to the family, it was nearly 10:00.

I spotted Susie inside entertaining a group of invalids with some interpretive dance and tried to catch her eye. She looked at me and I pointed at my watch and then cocked my head on my hands which were resting on my shoulder to signify "Time for bed".

She obviously thought it meant "Do that dance from 'Flashdance' honey!" as she picked up the pace and started jogging furiously in place as the old folks clapped their hands with no rhythm whatsoever.

Finally, I got the wife in a snug headlock, forced my brother-in-law to quit entertaining his group with bawdy limericks and we went to search for our vacation rental home for the next week.

That took an hour because apparently retired people don't need street signs in their neighborhoods. They just say "Turn at the small shuffleboard court, go three streets down and then take a sharp right at the large shuffleboard court. Don't get lost because even though I have a cell phone, I can't figure out how to turn the dadblasted thing on yet."

We found our rental, a nice place overlooking a lake. Great view. Could go fishing right off our deck. That is, if you're into eating carp, which ... I've been told ... feeds primarily on various types of feces.

Needless to say ... we didn't go fishing.

Sunday was spent playing more shuffleboard than I've ever played in my life.


I think I understand why old folks like shuffleboard so much now. It doesn't require much physical exertion and the cheerleaders are pretty hot if you don't mind them confined to wheelchairs and oxygen tanks.

That night, we sang karaoke.

I'm not sure if you people have ever actually seen a great-grandmother surrounded by her teenage great-grandchildren try to sing "Baby Got Back" while fighting desperately to keep her dentures in, but lemme tell ya ... it's a hoot. Hoot City, my friend.

Those were the first two days.

Five more days to go.

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