Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dipped in Drama for Valentine's Day

There is a box heart-shaped box of chocolates on my bed this morning. So I will not be starting my diet today. Like everything else, Valentine's Day is a Family Affair around here.....big dinner planned for tonight and we go all tacky with the rose petals and the candles and the whole bit. Jeff is making eggplant Parmesan - we're having guests that include extended family and some of the Odyssey kids who spend the night here on Sundays - just a romantic little table set for 13.

When I was a teen Valentine's Day was associated with drama. Well, when I was a teen EVERY day was associated with drama. Flowers were delivered in school via the Student Council and everybody could see who had and who hadn't received flowers. When I was 15 there was a certain boy I liked and I had really hoped he'd send me a red carnation in class - but he didn't. Now girlfriends were a big part of the scheme of this whole drama-dipped arrangement and so we had all taken care of each other - nobody had to know that two of my flowers came from Ann and Kim (although I'm pretty sure everybody knew - this was a common practice). I also got flowers from a couple of boys that day, too, so my ass was covered. But none of the flowers were from The Boy I Had A Crush On.

When I got home, there were a dozen yellow roses waiting for me! A dozen! Also not from The Boy. They were from another boy who would have to be dealt with later. Then, just when all hope was lost and the day was winding down, another arrangement was delivered to my house - from ANOTHER boy and let me tell you, that situation was Very Awkward as it had come out of left field and believe me - there was NO WAY that was ever going down and so it just added to my stress. I cried and cried. The one boy I'd hoped would be my Valentine hadn't cared about me at all. And on top of it I had received flowers from boys I didn't like at all - and while it seems lovely to have received so many dang flowers? Really it just represented uncomfortable situations I couldn't avoid dealing with at some point. I really didn't like to hurt people's feelings.

I was thinking about how much I hated Valentine's Day when there was a small knock on my bedroom door. My mom brought in a tiny little bud vase with 3 tiny little pink roses in it. And it was from The Boy. They were the tiniest little roses I had ever seen in the tiniest little vase and I know now that it was way more than The Boy could afford to spend. I loved them. They were the first roses Jeff ever sent me. And here they are; flowers from 30 Years Ago Today:

So the other boys were dealt with and there was drama and quite frankly, I am glad my kids think Valentine's Day involves balloons from their dad and a table set for 13. They are missing the drama and that is fine with me.

Speaking of Valentine's Day, we saw the movie. The Valentine's Day movie. I feel like I fell for a scam. It was a horrible movie - one cliche after another - paraded before the audience via Big Names and Faces....all of whom looked uncomfortable in their pathetic lines. Honestly, did you see who all is in this movie? How did they convince them? There were times I was just like, "I can't believe this....." There were a couple of times Jeff laughed and I told him to stop.

"Why?" he asked.

"Because it wasn't funny," I said.

"Actually, that was a little funny."

"Not funny enough to make up for the rest of it. I feel taken advantage of. I feel cheap. I feel violated."

"Okay, I'll try not to laugh anymore."

It was the principle of the thing, you know? They made this movie with big stars with no regard for quality and every intention of marketing the hell out of it for this One Big Weekend showing so it would rake in the bucks on the Big Date Night of the Year and people would just be taken for their dough and then carelessly tossed aside like a cheap date. Happy Valentine's Day Stupid Movie People - and Thanks for Nothing! God. I can't believe I fell for it.

Enough whining on Valentine's Day. Would you believe that I had a second vacation after the vacation described in the previous post? I did!
Jeff had to work in Corpus Christi so we went with him. We do this every so often. Not too often. We have to give him time to kind of forget some incidents before we try to slip in for another gig....The Boy needs time for it all to fade....Because trips with the kids are never ho hum. With the children in tow we alternate between being really really happy and having a lot of fun and being really really miserable and wanting to kill ourselves. There is no in between.

Because Jeff was working we (duh) took his van. His van is a mini. It seats exactly 7. We are exactly 7 but one of us is 17 and one of us is 15 and then two of us are in booster seats and the one left over doesn't ride well with others and really needs his own bench seat. So sticking us all in the mini-van for any length of time is not fun. Add to that the fact that Jeff is on the phone the entire time....trying to act normal and hold normal conversations and keep the van on the road while basically all hell is breaking lose just millimeters behind his head and you can just picture a pressure cooker on wheels because that is what we are. We try to placate with electronics so we have cords and wires running from the front all the way to the back where people are plugged into games, movies, and ipods - but it really only makes things worse.

Camille was watching a Nancy Drew movie. Jasper did not want to watch Nancy Drew. He was sitting next to Camille. He felt he was being forced, against his will, to watch Nancy Drew. No amount of explaining could get him to understand that he could merely turn his head and quit watching. "I can HEAR it!!" he screamed. "And I can SEE it!!"

"How?" I yelled back. I couldn't hear anything. Because right behind me, Jules was watching Lord of the Rings.

"Turn it off! Turn it off! Turn it off!" yelled Jasper repeatedly while Camille yelled, "Be quiet! Be quiet! Be quiet!" and Jules cranked up the volume on Lord of the Rings. The big kids complained about the antics of the younger 3...they couldn't even hear their ipods - it was awesome. And then Jeff's phone rang and he yelled, "Shut up! It's my boss!" and he answered the phone only nobody shut up because nobody heard him and I tossed sugar in the form of a Sonic mint at Jasper, hoping to subdue him in the way that throwing raw meat to an alligator might buy a person some time, but he was so enraged over Nancy Drew he couldn't even comprehend that the object that had landed in his lap was indeed sugar and not a ticking time bomb so he THREW IT BACK AS HARD AS HE COULD and it whizzed past Jeff's ear and smashed into the windshield in front of him and honest to God it sounded like the windshield cracked and this made Jeff jump and his eyes got real big because he also thought it might be a ticking time bomb because what else could it be and it did indeed appear as if someone in the back seat was trying to kill him while he was on the phone with his boss and this made me laugh and then I couldn't stop laughing because it was so important that I not be laughing at that moment and I tend to react to stress by doing the worst possible thing for that particular circumstance. I heard Jeff meekly say, "Yeah, got the family with me."

And that was just the drive up.

I won't bore you with all the details - just the highlights. Ellie decided to come at the last minute and she made it known that she had only come for the food since we were going to be dining out. She didn't want any of us to be under the mistaken impression that she wanted to spend time with us. She proved her point by refusing to accompany us to the pool and by curling up on a bench in the Texas State Aquarium and GOING TO SLEEP. "God - you've seen all these fish before! They're the same fish as last time! Why are you people so excited over this??"

The aquarium was mostly empty and the rest of us had a lovely time. We went to Jeff's favorite Japanese restaurant for dinner - where he is treated like a rock star. Jeff travels so much that he has more friends in other cities than he has in his own. They were so excited that he brought his big family and everyone was shaking his hand and congratulating him on bringing the family and it was all very exciting. People love Jeff. Even airport people and airport people are notoriously cranky. Whenever I fly with Jeff it is, "Hey Jeff!" from the gate attendants, baggage handlers, flight attendants, rental car people....It's like he's Norm on Cheers. Anyway, the name of the restaurant is Ichiban and it does serve some delicious food and our kids go all whacko over sushi and seaweed salad so they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. It is a little funny to go there because when Jasper was first learning to use the potty and all that entailed - he occasionally failed to wipe properly and this resulted in what he called "itchy bum" and so yeah - we crack up over eating at Ichiban. What can I say? Being surrounded by little people for over 17 years has eroded my maturity level.

On the second evening I had to leave the kids at the hotel while I drove to pick up Jeff at a nearby hospital. It was pouring down rain. It was rush hour. And I didn't know where I was going. I hate being lost and I am lost all the time and it erodes my self-confidence and I deal with the erosion by being a Bitch While Lost. Jeff was trying to give me directions on the phone and it wasn't going too well. Did I mention it was pouring down rain and there was a ton of traffic? At a certain point I displayed my displeasure over the situation by doing what came naturally under the circumstances, which was to blame it all on Jeff via lots of yelling and the occasional curse word. At which point he informed me that I was on speaker phone and everyone in the hospital was listening to me. Sweet, right?

When I finally got to the hospital he got in the car and I attacked him for having put me on speaker phone because I was still riding the This-is-All-Your-Fault-Express. And Jeff said, "Well, maybe you shouldn't talk to someone in private any differently than you would if you had an audience and then you wouldn't find yourself in this embarrassing situation." Okay, people. I know you're thinking that is all reasonable and everything but THIS BOY HAS BEEN MARRIED TO ME FOR 24 YEARS. Did he really think he could put me on speaker phone? Really? What did he think the odds were that I wasn't going to drop the F-Bomb while lost in the rain in the traffic while trying to get to the hospital via his hairbrained directions? See? Do you see my point? He should have known better. I just talked myself back onto the express train. Sheesh. Oh well. Jeff is slightly twisted and thought the whole thing was hilarious and he also really enjoys sympathy and I'm sure he got it from the nurses in the room so all worked out fine in the end.

We arrived back at the hotel during Happy Hour and found our two boys saddled up to the bar with a bunch of businessmen two-fisted drinking Shirley Temples. That was a sight for sore eyes. Then we headed to the island to our favorite Italian restaurant, Island Italian. This place is a little hole in the wall and it has been there forever and the food is awesome and we had an adorable waiter named Tyler. Even Ellie enjoyed herself. It was all short-lived, though. L.O.N.G. night ahead.

Let me set the scene. We had a suite. I was in bed with Jasper. Jeff was in bed with Camille. Joel was on the fold-out couch. Jules was under the fold-out couch (he likes small spaces). Ellie was on the floor. Jules has a little problem that when he eats and drinks too much he tends to throw up. He'd knocked down 5 or 6 Shirley Temples with extra cherries, a couple of pounds of popcorn and goldfish, and then fettuccine alfredo and dessert. So at 1:30 he walks into our room and says, "I dreamed I was throwing up." Well, that was quite a coincidence seeing as how he was half asleep and covered in vomit. Jeff tried to play possum but only briefly. The clean-up to settle down period covered about an hour. 30 minutes later, Jasper fell out of bed. This was traumatic. About 30 minutes after he settled down, Camille sat up in bed and said, "I was dreaming that I peed...." and Jeff whipped her up and out of his bed - not mine - ha! at an impressive speed. About 30 minutes after we settled down from that, Jeff's alarm clock went off.

"I'm so glad you guys came with me," he said. "Because when y'all aren't with me I'm just here all by myself."

You know what? He was serious. And that's why he's still My Valentine after all these years. I got the sweeter end of the deal, believe me.

Signing Off as a Chocolate-Breath Sardine Mama


  1. You made me laugh out loud on this one ;} Great writing!

  2. I'm laughing, too.
    Now I have to admit having fewer children, but the similarities are quite eerie other than that one little thing.


  3. This post is exactly why I love you! There's something for everyone: teen-drama, romance, humor, horror and bodily fluids. Awesome.

  4. OH MY GOODNESS. You crack me up every time I read here. Nobody tells Big Family Tales like you do. Nobody!

    Sounds like it was an awesome trip :)