It’s almost time to head back to school, because here in the south we believe in bacon, grits, and sending our children out to get some learnin’ when it’s still 100 degrees outside. This summer—while vastly superior to last summer in terms of sheer volume of travel—has had a lot of travel but precious little time for just the four of us to have a family getaway. So we decided to do one last camping trip this weekend.
So that’s what we’re doing.
And it’s been pouring ever since.
It’s rained so hard and so much, that even Otto (motto: “It’s just a little bit of rain! Let’s fire up the grill!”) didn’t want to bother either grilling the meal we’d planned or repurposing it as something we could prepare on our tiny camper stovetop or in the wee little oven. He declared, last night, that we needed to flee the campsite and go out to dinner.
Needless to say, that was Very Exciting.
We don’t eat out very often during the school year—although the truth is that summer has made us lazy and we’ve eaten out more than usual—and we tend towards cheap Mexican when we do dine out. (Mexican is easy when feeding an omnivore, a cheesatarian, a vegetarian, and one wheat-free person.) Yesterday, though, we decided to get all WILD AND CRAZY and we went to a seafood place.
We don’t have a Joe’s Crab Shack at home, so I was perhaps unprepared for having to explain to the children why the “MY WAITRESS GAVE ME CRABS” t-shirts were amusing. Ahem.
Otto and I both opted for giant VATS of crab legs (honestly, mine came in a galvanized bucket and I immediately felt like Augustus Gloop), Monkey got some popcorn shrimp, and Chickadee was able to get soggy pizza off of the kids’ menu. For perhaps the first time since she stopped eating meat, I actually felt embarrassed about what I was eating in front of my daughter. There is just no way to eat crab legs without looking like you’re ripping it apart with your bare hands. (Possibly because it requires ripping it apart with your bare hands….) To atone for my gluttony and cruelty to bottom-feeders, we let the kids order key lime pie for dessert.
The pieces of pie were approximately 5″ square. No lie. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen my children not finish dessert.
Once every half hour or so (and crab legs take a long time to eat, so we had the unparalleled joy of witnessing it THREE TIMES), the lights go off and a strobe light begins to throw off multi-colored chasers and I have an epileptic seizure. Oh, wait. I’m not actually epileptic. So I don’t have a seizure, I just get nauseous, and then all of the waitresses line up and DANCE.
The first time they did it, Monkey wanted to dance with them. They were doing some sort of line dance, and other kids were joining in, so we said Sure, have at it.
He got up from our booth, surveyed the rest of the line, and commenced with his own Monkey-version of The Robot, instead. It was kind of hilarious.
The second time they geared up to dance, we began quizzing Chickadee on what it would take to get her to get up and join in. This prompted a screed about how INCREDIBLY EMBARRASSING it had been when Monkey danced, and a promise to hide under the table if he dared to do so again.
“Let me get this straight,” I said. “Him dancing is ‘sooooo embarrassing,’ yet you’re walking around with an orange-and-pink streak in your hair, and that’s NOT embarrassing?”
“THIS,” my darling daughter said, with a flourish of a gesture towards her hair, “is TOTALLY AWESOME. While THAT,” she gestured to her brother, “is just embarrassing.”
Otto froze, mid-crab-leg-extraction, and gaped. “The next five to seven years with Teenager Girl just flashed before my eyes,” he said, “and now I am VERY FRIGHTENED.”
As we left the restaurant, it was pouring again, and we came back to our campsite and piled into the camper and retreated to our various corners with books. Because we know how to have a good time. And also because we were too stuffed with crab legs or pie to do anything else.
I woke up this morning to the sound of rain. I don’t know what we’re doing today, or how long before the camper starts to float downstream, but I do suspect that there are several hours of board games in my immediate future.