Sunday, July 5, 2015

Bad vacation? Maybe. But upon further review. . .

From today's TIMES and NEWS-STAR

Lots of people vacationing this weekend. Toledo Bend. Disney. Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. And the tank-topped, tattooed crown jewel of the gulf coast, The Redneck Riviera.

Others are just out for the day. Bistineau. Caney. Claiborne or D’Arbonne. Country clubbing it maybe.

And most are having a great time.

But some, those great unwashed, those fortune-forsaken huddled masses yearning to breathe free – preferably in the safety of their own homes --  are on the Vacation From “The Bad Place,” as we used to call it back in Vacation Bible School.

These are vacations like a hospital stay is a vacation. Flat tires, lost luggage, sunburn, sickness, unruly relatives, depressing weather and unforgiveable lines that stretch from where they are to Morehouse Parish.

And you’re paying for every second of it.

These people can’t wait to un-vacation and get back to work, just so they can take a break.

One of the world’s great north Louisiana couples went on a family “vacation” in south Texas last month. Highly and joyfully anticipated.
I can’t tell you their names because that would be indiscreet. (Alice. And Mark.) Since they have not knocked off a fruit stand lately or been arrested for fraud or even gotten a parking ticket, they possibly deserved better.

But when did the Vacation Gods ever play favorites?

Alice filed this report from the road to her Sunday school class in mid-week. Alice did the writing because Mark was unable to write. Or read. Or eat. Or think too straight. I read her email and could almost see the little white flag waving.

“May 27, 2015 – Vacation update.

“Has poured down so lakes and pounds on ranch are overflowing. Thunderstorms so no fishing.

“Mark developed toothache.

“Went to dentist and car got stuck in mud. Had to be towed out by tractor.

“First dentist sent us to Austin for root canal. Tooth is fractured, so sent to oral surgeon. Will have tooth extracted tomorrow.

“Mark is zoned out on pain meds and can barely open his mouth to eat.”

(And then here is my favorite part…)

“But we are glad to have this great family time.”

HA! Of course you can’t tell for sure in an email, but it’s easy to read it like sarcasm. Like Mrs. Lincoln writing to say that “other than that, I really enjoyed the play.”

Here is her second note.

“May 28, 2015 -- Hopefully our adventure is over. Mark has earned a milkshake after this.”

The class teacher who received the note and forwarded it to the class tagged onto its bottom, “Please pray for Mark and Alice as they head home on Sunday.” I suspect everyone did. Hard. And finished with, “Lord, please don’t let any of that happen to me on vacation. If I’m going to get a toothache at Six Flags and if my son is going to vomit on my new shirt while we ride Judge Roy Scream, please make my car not start and all my credit cards get stolen before we leave.”

I saw Mark back at church the next week. All smiles. I told him their vacation had read like an episode of “Survivor.”

But he lit up like the family Christmas tree. He doesn’t laugh loud, he just smiles big, and he put his hands in his pockets and shrugged as if that were the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard, and said there was nothing to it, not really, that it was so great just seeing everybody, just being with everybody again, toothache or not, rain or not, car stuck in the mud or not. He and Alice had a ball. Can’t wait to go back, he said, still behind that big satisfied smile.

It wasn’t tough luck. Just part of that adventure. And that sounds like our kind of vacation.