September 30, 2010

The Best Worst Vacation Ever

When I was in middle school, I experienced the best worst vacation ever. I went with one of my best friends and his family to the Cheeka Lodge in the Florida Keys. It had everything: tennis courts, a golf course, a swimming pool, and it was located right on the water!

The first day was great. My friend, Phil, and I wandered the premises, scoping out what we wanted to do. We swam in the pool, played a little tennis, had a great lunch, and got excited about testing his new water skis on the boat the next day. We decided to spend the afternoon snorkeling.

Now, at this point in the story, we made a decision I really can't explain or defend. We stepped outside and surveyed the scene. Before us lay two bodies of water: the beautiful azure ocean, warm and inviting, and a bog-swamp slush pond that, looking back, clearly wasn't made for swimming.

Somehow, we ended up in the sludge pond. As we paddled around, resort guests stared at us like we were nuts, but our middle school brains really didn't think much of it. There was nothing to see through our masks.

It was kinda cool, I guess. After we swam, we decided to play a little golf. When we got out on the course, I was feeling fine, but Phil started to get a little queasy. We couldn't figure out why.

Phil started feeling worse and worse, so we headed back to the hotel. It was time for dinner and his family was getting ready to head out the door. I did what any good friend would do. I joined his family for some grub and left Phil groaning in hotel room.

When we got back to the hotel, Phil was looking a little green. He had spent the evening running between his bed and the bathroom. I got into my bed for the night and offered him some words of sympathy and encouragement.

Phil couldn't sleep, on account of all the vomiting, so after a while we decided to turn on the t.v. There was bad news.

"Phil, I had no idea you liked Princess Diana," I replied.

"I don't, but my mom does. Have you seen her haircut?"

I didn't really know what Princess Diana looked like, so I was puzzled.

"My mom adores her and modeled her hairstyle after Diana's. She's going to be devastated."

From that moment on, every time anyone mentioned Princess Diana, I could only picture Phil's mom with a crown on. Anyway, Phil was right about one thing. His mom was beside herself. She could hardly say a word at breakfast, she was so upset. Phil was still vomiting and his mom was in mourning, so his dad, brother, sister, and I decided the only logical thing to do was to break in Phil's new water skis on the boat. They worked great.

That evening, on the trip home, Phil was still feeling very ill. He sat in the car complaining. He's probably the best complainer I know. I loved it when Phil got mad at something because it was always hilarious. When we pulled over to get him some over-the-counter medicine to settle his stomach, he launched into a Phil-quality rant.

Phil loved coke!

That made him feel a little better for the rest of the trip home. The next day, I learned that Phil was admitted to the hospital. Apparently several days straight of vomiting will do that to you. In fact, he ended up staying for almost an entire week, something he is very proud of to this day.

Apparently, one night in the hospital Phil was woken at about 3:00 am to some strange noises. He turned over to see that his mom had turned on the live broadcast of Princess Diana's funeral.

They never quite figured out what kind of coffin virus he picked up in that cesspool, but the moral of the story here is pretty clear. When faced with the option of swimming in a bacteria infested sludge pond...try to keep your mouth closed.

September 24, 2010

Oink! Oink! Oink!

In the sixth grade, our teachers got the bright idea to change the class trip from a visit to an awesome city, to a trek out into the backwoods of central Florida. We were all pretty bummed when we learned that we were going to stay at some rustic hippie conservationist camp that barely passed the state health inspection test.

I can only imagine what the conservative parents of our private prep school thought about having their kids brainwashed in some bog-swamp cult camp with radical ideas about recycling, chemical free soap, free-trade coffee, and the benefits of a bartering system. I doubt it went over well, considering some of the experiences I'd had interacting with my classmates' parents in their homes.

Despite the complaints, into the woods we went! We learned how to use a compass. We learned how to identify indigenous flora and fauna. We learned that our parents' money came from the devil who disguises himself as capitalism. It was really something.

The most interesting part of each day always came around meal time. They served us cafeteria style camp slop with a side of conservationist berating. What bothered us wasn't so much the guilt ridden lessons about wasting food. It was really their delivery. The first night, after we had all gone through the cafeteria line, selected our food, and finished eating, the staff asked us all to scrape everything we hadn't finished off our plates into a bucket that sat next to a scale. We immediately knew this wouldn't be good.

They pulled up a poor, unsuspecting sixth-grader from a table near the front, and before she could fully process what was happening, they put big glasses and a pig snout on her face, as well as a curly tail around her waist. Then they began singing.

I'll never forget that tune: Pig, pig, pig, pigetty, OINK! OINK! OINK! To this day, as I am doing chores, grocery shopping, or driving in the car, I'll realize this tune is looping through my head.

At each meal, they continued this fulmination, selecting a new victim to harangue. Then, they would weigh our waste and encourage us to get the weight down more and more each meal. Apparently, public humiliation worked, because the bucket of slop got lighter and lighter. They kept pumping us up for our final dinner weigh-in, going on and on about how low it was going to be.

Each meal, it went over a little worse with us than it had the meal before. Our waste weight may have been lessening, but so was our patience.

Finally, by the last night, we decided to band together. Word spread throughout the cafeteria to take as much food as possible and to eat as little of it as we could. We scraped our plates into the bucket. Finally the staff leader excitedly headed to the front to weigh the uneaten food. "This is going to be our least wasteful meal yet! You all are on the road to being conscious of the environment! Let's see how we did!" She went to lift the bucket.

We had wasted more food than ever before. It was a mammoth amount. Her face fell as we all began chanting, "Pig! Pig! Pig! Pigetty! OINK! OINK! OINK!"

It may have felt like a victory, but really, in this scenario, everyone loses.
Except me, of course, because I got to blog about it.