• Mauris euismod rhoncus tortor

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Grin and bear it

One of my favourite parts of the holiday was the hiring of a log cabin in the woods for a weekend. Rhianon and Christian left both their daughter and their dog with sitters and came for a weekend of drinking. I’m not one to rant and rave about my drinking exploits, but this was a hilarious weekend and one worth reciting.

Christian keenly packed a huge cool box for the weekend. What would one need for a weekend in the woods? Food? Water? Don’t be absurd. Beer and rum, that’s what.

Gareth and I went up to the mountains a day early to go mountain biking and tobogganing. To summarize, the biking was amazing: serene lakes, blissful sunshine and a lesson in bunny hopping (I was a natural. After that I wasn’t even scared to scale some bumps in the road that were AT LEAST a few inches big). The tobogganing was painfully slow, mosquito ridden, it rained on us and I was stuck within ear shot of the world’s worst family, painfully utilizing the world’s worst parenting skills, parenting the world’s most annoying brats. And it was expensive.

Nevermind, we got to the bottom and decided to make our way to the cabin before dinner so we knew where it was while we still had daylight on our side.

So we drove to the road in question without much ado. As we arrived at Covered Bridge Road, Gareth realised he’d left the instructions behind and we had no phone to contact the woman.

I think it was number 100 and something, he says confidently as we drive along. No, he says as we draw nearer, 400 and something. Definitely. As we approach the 400s, Gareth turns into every – single – driveway and declares that he has found our lodge.

It’s this one, it’s definitely this one, he says, jumping out of the car to go and find the key. The woman had told him she’d left the key under a chair on the porch. Every house in America has a chair on it’s porch, so you can imagine my despair as, in a country full of red necks with guns and a willingness to shoot, Gareth ran up to a dozen different houses and had a good nose about on their front porch.

Even if he found a key it wouldn’t mean we’d found our lodge and I can just picture us settling down to a nice hot cocoa as a surprised Jim Bob and his shotgun return home from a day of killing bears and eating beef jerky.

Luckily, the house we eventually settled upon did not seem to be occupied by a Jim Bob and the next day we were joined by Rhianon and Christian. Christian's got really big guns so I knew that once we were with him he could wrestle Jim Bob to the floor and we'd be declared victors of the lodge.

All too aware of the amount of booze Christian planned to consume, we set about playing an intrinsic drinking game commonly known as Cheat.

Each time you failed, you had to have a shot of Ameretto, until that ran out and we moved on to rum. I’d like to point out at this stage that Gareth and Christian were drinking Michelob LITE on the side of the shots, while Rhianon and I were on the rum.

Cheat came to an end and we tried 21 – a game where you go round in a circle counting up to 21. Sounds simple, until you add a torrent of ridiculous rules and a litre of rum.

Pretty soon, Christian was leaving a little something for the bears by throwing up everything he’d eaten for the last month in the back garden, Gareth was beating his sister up with a shoe and we were planning a walk in the woods to see if we could make the evening a little more memorable by having an encounter with some bears.

Gareth spent all the next day throwing up while Rhianon and I remained triumphant – not only did we drink more than the boys but we kept it down.

The next day we went for a walk in another strange town and found ourselves on a tour of a themed hotel. I desperately wanted to stay in the cinema suite (50ft plasma screen, watchable from a hot tub, private bar, giant bed, private bar, private bar, private bar) until Christian witnessed a guest complaining of getting tics in her neck while staying in the Camping suite and we realised a cheesy themed hotel probably wasn’t the most hygienic place to lay our heads. To be able to actually see all the seamen stains would be, as Gareth put it, a DNA inspector’s field day.

So we took a rain check, as they say over there, and drove home, via, just to make my weekend complete, a thai restaurant. Heaven. Heaven in a thai curry bowl.
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Mystic Meg

Strolling along the streets of BumMeQuick (or Umgunquik. Or something), arm in arm, the sun setting, we were a picture of romance… But as lovely as that sounds, it wasn’t enough for me. PALM READER! I screamed as I saw the overpriced gypsy waiting to rid me of my cash. See you later Gareth! I’m off to talk about me for half an hour!

Turned out mystic meg was actually a palm and face reader, much to my excitement. So for $30 I settled down for my reading.

Skeptical Gareth had been allowed in, she obviously didn’t sense his complete disbelief at her abilities, and sat beside me. I wanted him there so he could see how right she could be without even knowing me, and perhaps after this he could be a bit less cynical and a bit more into palm readings and things. Maybe.

Laying my hands in front of her, she got to work.

You like your job…but you sometimes hate it. Good work Sherlock. Carry on.

Sometimes, you are strong for others. Sometimes, you feel weak, she said, looking up at me for approval.

There is something holding you back from reaching your potential at work. You want to achieve great things but you aren’t in the right job yet.

So, I’m 25 and walked in here a bit drunk and therefore assertively – and somehow she’s concluded that I’m not in the right job yet but have the potential to do something– how the devil did she know?

I was beginning to lose faith. I could see Gareth was bored as hell and was already forming his barrage of criticism for when we left. I so didn’t want him to be right, I love this kind of thing, but the woman was ridiculous.

You are worried about one of your parents, she continued.

No, not at all, I replied. They’re alright.

Don’t worry about them. They are okay, and are good for each other, they have a strong relationship.

By this time I couldn’t be bothered to tell her that my parents were in fact no longer an item.

Your hands are telling me you have no faith, she says, looking at me with worry. Well, at least my hands have got something right. Yes, that’s right, the lines on my hands tell no lies – I don’t believe in god.

But, she stutters, where do you think we came from? Evolution, I say proudly.

EVOLUTION? She nearly faints. That’s it, I’ve done it now, I’ve insulted the reader of my future. Does she have the power to change my future too? Will she put a spell on me?

No. Instead she boots me out after five minutes of a reading, ushering words about how I have to find faith to find my way. As we shuffle out I, for the first time, see all the god paraphernalia adorning her walls. Whoops. Insulted the palm reader. Good job.

But you haven’t even looked at my face yet! I exclaimed as she began to pack away hurriedly.

You have a strong jaw line, she dismisses, clearly done with me. I didn’t think to ask for money money back, I just skedaddled, my tail between my legs.

Gareth just smiled. He didn’t have to say ‘you see, Kim? It’s all a load of rubbish and I told you it was and you just wasted $30 on it.’ He didn’t have to. His smile said it all.
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The Mile High Club

Oh dear. Why wasn’t I blessed with hand writing you can read the next day? Or the next week? As I stare at the many pages of notes I made on my holiday with a blank blink, I’m having trouble deciphering the codes and abbreviations which I no doubt at the time thought were ingenious and would be no bother to interpret at a later date. What the hell does z wiggle wiggle ts mean? Probably something like ‘and then we scaled the mountain, the clouds dense and the thunder close, unsure of our future we drove on into the eye of the storm, people screaming, crying, running in the opposite direction all around us, but we had no fear because our friend had recently met Jack Bauer himself and we had a lot to live up to…’ but who knows. Whatever sonorous marvels I may have penned is never to be known. It’s just z wiggle wiggle ts now and forever more.

I shall have to work from memory.

Gareth and I have just returned from America. It was wonderful. We did so much that I felt like we were away for months, and I wish we were. We really did climb a mountain, a mile-high mountain no less. (Ok, in a car. Our car climbed the mountain. We listened to the tour CD and looked out of the window) We visited all sorts of peculiar towns and beaches. We went to Canada. We ate in posh restaurants and a few not so posh. In one, you were encouraged to throw monkey nuts on the floor. We ate a lot of food. That’s basically all we did – eat. If Gareth and I moved to America I reckon it’d only take us a month to start looking like someone had stuck a pump in us and blown up the balloon. The special K diet was out the window, the eat-whatever-Gareth-does diet was passed through the window of every drive-by we drove by. It was great.

To my alarm, random strangers in America just start talking to each other while waiting for a train. Imagine! When I recognise people on my commute, I just pray we’ll all keep our eyes down and no one will speak because I don’t want to have to spend every morning speaking to people.

On our train ride into Boston a mother was telling her young son about her home town, York. A woman passing through turns in delight and says ‘I used to teach in York!’ to which the other woman engages enthusiastically about the Class of ’86 until they exhaust all similarities and the passing woman continues on her way. If that had happened to me, in England, I’d have given her a startled look for deeming herself worthy of joining in my conversation, mumbled a response and then slagged her off for her friendliness.

Everyone is so enthusiastic over here – the shoppers and shop keeps. It’s tiring. Rhianon, Gareth’s sister and my tour guide, poses the notion that it is all superficial and that if you ever try and get some real customer service, you’ll end up tearing your hair out.. which, a week or so later, we were to find out all too painfully… but to tell that story would be to jump to the end of the trip, which would not be at all chronological and would get me in all sorts of a muddle so for now I’ll just affirm that yes, the customer service was terrible and had Gareth on the phone to Continental airlines for over an hour, (I’ve got a new name for Continental Airlines…I’ll give you a clue, you just exchange the first vowel for another vowel) while he tried to alter our flight plan, to no avail.

I, in support, ate my dinner. But I felt his pain.

Whoops, just told the story. Nevermind, it wasn’t that exciting anyway. I’ll move on to something riveting now. Mile high mountains and bear wrestling, that sort of thing.
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