Sunday morning, we’re up at the break of dawn. An ungodly hour. Actually, Rose got up first because she actually had to be presentable for her job. The rest of us could just roll out of bed, throw on a t-shirt and shorts and go. We were out of the room and on the road by eight. I have to say, the hotel had enforced valet parking, which struck me as odd. Kel said it’s pretty common around there, but I’d never seen it before. Anyway, we went through the McDonald’s drivethru for breakfast. None of us go to Mickey D’s very often, but they are everywhere. We had our own Three Stooges moment with trying to figure out what everyone wanted, but we eventually got our order straight.
Can I let you in on a little secret? I love McDonald’s sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit. I know! It’s so bad for me, but it tastes soooo good. I washed it down with a hazelnut iced decaf latte with skim milk, which was yummy, too. Of course, the breakfast sat in a lump in my stomach for a good two hours, but it was so worth it.
Kel and I chatted as Rose read, Irish Dancer did her puzzle book, and I’m assuming Punk Girl listened to her music. She was way in the back, so she might as well have been in Siberia as far as I was concerned.
Like a true OCD child, Irish Dancer couldn’t skip a puzzle once she started it (I sympathize), and she was asking us for help now and then. One of the puzzles had the theme of rhyming colors (yellow fellow, for example), which is when I went on my own OCD kick. The clue was something like icy metal (cold gold was the right response). I started tossing out ice words like frigid and gelid. Then, I got stuck on gelid and started rhyming to see if I could come up with a color that rhymed with it.
I couldn’t, but I refused to stop. Kel and I joke that she is ADHD child and I am OCD child, so she was telling me to get over it and move on while I doggedly kept at it. It manifests in the way we listen to music. I don’t do random. I hate random. I listen to my music in a certain order (and I have been known to listen to one song over and over again for hours), and she likes her randomness. Anyway, every few minutes I would start up again, and she would roll her eyes and say, “OH MY GOD!” It cracked me the fuck up. I have to admit that after awhile, I was doing it more to tweak Kel than because of my OCD issues. And, just to give you some insight into my mind, gelid and tangerine are close to rhyming to me. Same with magenta and gelid. Anyway, I finally hit upon shallot and gelid. Kel said, “Shallot isn’t a color!” I said wickedly, “It isn’t?” She said quickly, “Oh, yes, it is. It’s an oniony color!” Anytime after that I tried to start rhyming again, she would say, “Shallot gelid. That’s your answer.”
Time flew as we joked our way across Virginia and North Carolina. At one point, one of the answers to Irish Dancer’s puzzle was ‘flaccid’. Both Kel and I remarked that we had only heard that word in one context–addressing limp penii. I said that Flaccid Cock would be a good name for a band, and Irish Dancer said with an incredulous look on her face, “No it wouldn’t!” I have to explain something about Irish Dancer. She is not really of this world. She has an air of innocence about her that is completely natural and utterly captivating. She gets easily embarrassed, but not offended by sexual innuendo, so it’s fun to poke at her sometimes. Watching her face as it goes from bewilderment to intense concentration to embarrassed giggling was a hoot. Anyway, after she said, “No it wouldn’t!” I poked at her by saying that I could write a rock song called Flaccid Cock. So this dear child said, “I bet you five dollars you couldn’t write that song.”
I just looked at her in amazement. She thought I, the queen of smut, couldn’t write a song about a flaccid cock? Kel groaned and said, “Have you MET Minna, child?” And it was on. I dashed off the first verse, and Irish Dancer read it, giggled, and handed me three dollars (all she had). When I pointed out the bet was for five bucks, she pointed out that I hadn’t written the whole song. I dashed out another verse (the best one, by the way. The first and third verses are OK, but the second one is stellar), and I got one more buck. I finished up the song, but I have yet to see my last dollar. Irish Dancer! You still owe me a buck.
We made really good time back to Rose’s home. I hugged her fiercely, so glad to have met her. All my worries about offending her were for naught. She was as warm and generous to me as was her sister. Oh, wait. I have to mention that she was talking to her perspective patients on the phone, one who was a little old lady, and I had to laugh because Rose was “Yes, Ma’am”ing all over the place. Southern politeness at its finest! Anyway, after we dropped her off, we went back to Kel’s place. Soccer Boy had finished the puzzle and reset it, so I had to start over. I brought it upstairs to Kel’s workroom so we could chat as she worked on the pictures from the concert. Irish Dancer hung out with us as did Soccer Boy. Sunday was the last full day I would be in NC, and the cracks were beginning to show. Soccer Boy joked that if I didn’t finish the puzzle, I would have to stay in NC. After that, though, he suggested that he write how to reset the puzzle so I could take it on the plane. After glaring at him, I said it was a good idea.
A little bit later, Bear came home. Kel had told me the epic story about how he had run into a fellow geocacher, and said geocacher said, “OMG! It’s the Triad Legend, Bear Oak Druid.” Of course, once I heard that, I knew exactly how I was going to greet Bear. When he strode into the room (and I do mean strode. He’s nicknamed Bear for a reason). I jumped up from my seat and rushed over to Bear and gushed, “Oh my GOD! It’s the Triad Legend, Bear Oak Druid! May I shake your hand?” Bear started laughing and shaking his head and saying, “No, no, no, I’m not a legend.” I persisted and got to shake his hand. That broke the ice and then it was all cool and casual after that.
I also got to meet Tank, the kid’s cousin (son of Rose). He was funny as hell. I tried to push him over, but I couldn’t. He’s also immense. He plays soccer as well. Kel bust out the photo albums during the weekend, and one pic that had me laughing hysterically was of Punk Girl wearing a Ricky Martin t-shirt (he came out as gay. Are you shocked? I am so surprised!). It was her first concert, apparently, and she was proud to wear the shirt. When Punk Girl and Tank came inside for a snack (they had been playing badminton outside, which is the bane of my existence), I said innocently to Punk Girl, “Hey. What’s the first concert you went to?” She got a hunted look on her face and said, “Why?” I opened the album and showed her the picture, and she flipped. It was so damn funny. I started singing Livin’ La Vida Loca, and she informed us that we both sucked.
Then, Kel and I made a run to the grocery store for dinner. She asked what I wanted, and I said, “Alan Rickman!” See, I told you Alan Rickman made an appearance that weekend! I kept repeating that I wanted Alan Rickman, which earned me the Mom Glare from Kel. I finally relented and said, “Lasagna”, but there was not enough time for that. I said anything pasta and cheesy (though I am allergic to both). Kel made a penne (little penis) pasta dish with a vodka cream sauce with rotisserie chicken that was yum yum yummy!
Oh, wait. Earlier, I finally, after six hours of working on it, solved the goddamn fucking puzzle! Woo-hoo! It was such a relief to get that off my chest (and mind). I will never touch that puzzle again because if I do, I will have to finish it again.
An aside: I am listening to The Rachel Maddow Show. I love Sherrod Brown’s voice. Yum yum yum. Anyway, after dinner, we all just chilled. I hung with Kel and Bear for a bit before going downstairs to pack and watch some sports. Bear came down for a bit, and we chatted about the sports news of the day. Since I was leaving at ungodly o’clock the next morning, I went upstairs to say goodbye to the kids. Note, Soccer Boy asked me earlier if I liked riddles (I do), and he fired one off at me. Irish Dancer looked it up for me, and I gave Soccer Boy the answer. He said I cheated, and he said he thought I had more ethics than that. So, for the riddles he gave me, I promised that I would solve them on my own with no outside help. Otherwise, I would declare that I had given up, and then it would be OK for me to look up the answer.
It was hard to say goodbye to the kids. I had a private moment with each one, promising that I would see them again. It’s strange that I came to care about them so strongly, indeed, to love them, in the space of a weekend. Granted, we had an online relationship before I flew out there, but still. They’re like nieces and a nephew to me, and I feel very protective of them.
I would like to interject for a moment here. Kel has a blog (and it’s linked to the left of here) called “Confessions of a Lousy Mom”. She called it that because she’s been told often that she is a lousy mom. To which I can most emphatically say, “Bullshit.” I’m not bleeping out the expletive because I feel it so deeply. What I took away from the weekend with Kel’s family (besides a rocking good time) is how happy Kel’s family is. Again, it’s not airy-fairy, pie-in-the-sky Leave it to Beaver kind of happy. It’s not arid and stagy and traditional in the least. It’s messy and loud and shouty at times and filled with anger, despair, love, pain, sorrow, and joy. In other words, her family is alive.
I have commented frequently about my own family, my nuclear one and my brother’s family. In my nuclear family, there was a heavy emphasis on propriety and appearances. If you looked at our family from the outside, you would have thought we had it all. Nice home in a good neighborhood, two parents, two kids, happy happy, joy joy. We weren’t allowed to raise our voices to our parents, and I can’t remember telling my mother anything of any importance. I knew by the time I was in my mid-twenties that my family would not want to know anything about my life, so I never tell them anything. My brother, who is my ride to the airport for all my jaunts, never asks me where I’m going or what I did (when I return). If you were to describe my real life to my family, they wouldn’t recognize me. In fact, they most likely would not like me.
That point was hammered home again and again as I watched Kel and her kids. They like spending time together. Kel and Bear have made it a point that if one of them has an event, they all have an event. Therefore, when Soccer Boy has a game, everyone who’s available goes (there are some reasonable exceptions, of course). I can’t help but compare that to my childhood. My brother hasn’t been to any of my performances, and he didn’t go to my graduations, either. My father hasn’t been to my performances, either (not that I necessarily wanted him there). We may have been a family, nominally, but we certainly didn’t support each other.
Kel’s family is full of quirk (duh. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have felt so comfortable withe them). The kids have not have the easiest time of it because they are all different from their peers. As I have mentioned, the two girls both were homeschooled for high school and started community college early. Soccer Boy decided to go to public school, but he’ll be graduating early as well. They are all respectful kids who know which line not to cross. They are funny, bright, warm, and loving kids as well.
So, to anyone who’s ever said that Kel is a lousy mom, I would like to say most eloquently, “Bite me.” I left her house being very impressed by her kids (as well as by her, Bear, and Rose, too).
Monday morning, we got up at four and headed for the airport. It was low-key as Kel and I chatted about desultory things. I couldn’t help marveling about how at ease I felt with her and her family, despite that only being our first in-person meeting. I left NC knowing that I would see Kel and her family again. I don’t doubt it, and it’s an odd feeling for me.
Thank you, Kel, for welcoming me into your family and into your home. I had a blast with you guys, and I shall not forget it any time soon.
P.S. All the songs except the last, My Medea, were performed at the concert. I included the last because it’s my theme song.
*Obviously, no snow here. Or in NC. But, I am hoping because it’s been chilly. We might have one more, one last snowfall!