Hand me the oars

By Mir
August 1, 2009

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.


  1. Half Assed Kitchen

    But you have wifi at your campsite?? Sweet!

  2. Newt

    Oh, the dreaded seafood restaurant. I became a vegetarian as a teenager and quickly discovered that seafood joints are the WORST for us veggies. Steakhouses have something on the menu that isn’t steak, but seafood places really stick to their theme cuisine with the tenacity of…what’s the proper metaphor? Crabs, maybe (either variety). Hope Chickadee’s embarrassment about her brother is a temporary phase brought on by rain and soggy pizza.

    Enjoy the rest of your trip. Sending sunny thoughts!

  3. Heather

    I think you guys would be ridiculously fun to play Apples to Apples with ;)

  4. Jennifer

    Sorry about the rain, but the story was fab, as always!

  5. Nicki

    Well, if they have an aquarium in this town, don’t do it. For some reason, seeing the fish in their natural form always inspires me to want sushi afterward. Does that make me a bad person?

    Enjoy what’s left of your camping trip!

  6. Grace

    Camping in the rain is the worst! Sorry the weather isn’t cooperating with you.

    That being said, I really love it that Monkey got up and did his own dance. Chickadee may think that’s embarrassing for the next 5-7 years, but then she will realize it is AWESOME.

  7. Megan

    Ah Otto, it’s so very, very true. BUT embrace the true meaning of the girly teenage years: the opportunity to embarrass (or threaten to) your teen every. single. day. Honestly, we started with “how about we volunteer to chaperone your school dance! Wearing Hawaiian shirts! And shorts! With black socks! and! SANDALS!” which produced such wonderful shrieks of terror that things have just escalated since then. Seriously, this is an opportunity not to be missed. Besides, it’s the only possible way to maintain a little ground on the young person who will be creating drama out of nothing for the next half a decade.

  8. Kemi

    I have a cheesatarian, too. Two of them, actually.

    So glad to know they aren’t alone…

  9. Anita Tedaldi Doberman

    I’ve never been camping (I know shame on me!) but I grew up in Rome, can that redeem me?
    Awesome that Monkey did his own dance :)

    I really enjoyed our chat at blogher – I hope to be by your neck of the weeds in the near future.

    BTW tried to follow you on Twitter but couldn’t for some reason –

    Mil wife with the five daughters

  10. Sharon

    Welcome to my world of wet weather. I hope tomorrow is better. In Maine we are two inches shy of having the wettest summer on record. Personally I’d rather not break that record. I’d like to salvage some of our summer with typical August weather, usually our best summer month. I can hope, can’t I?

  11. Patricia

    You totally need to camp where ever there is a drought.

    This could be your newest skill. Rainmaking – literally.

  12. Aimee

    *snort* Nicki’s comment made me think of the Legal Seafood they opened directly ACROSS from the New England Aquarium. I always suspected that it was some sort of disciplinary threat for the fish. “You! Charlie! Get in line, or we’re sending you over to Legal…”

  13. PandaWriter

    Newt said:

    “Steakhouses have something on the menu that isn’t steak, but seafood places really stick to their theme cuisine with the tenacity of…what’s the proper metaphor?”

    …like a barnacle on the hull of a ship?

  14. Heather @ critterchronicles

    Ha! Yes, actually we’ve been to the Denver aquarium several times, and there’s a restaurant right in there with a huge wall of glass and fish (and other edibles?) on the other side. I’m not a seafood eater myself, but I noticed that on the menu there was a very large assortment of some of the varieties we saw when walking through. Kinda like walking up to the seafood counter at the grocery store, pointing in the lobster tank and saying, “Hey steam that one for me, huh?”

    Of course, now we live in Okinawa, where we’ve got the second largest aquarium in the world (after Atlanta). It also happens to be the sushi capital of the world…

  15. Brigitte

    Oh, Nicki, if you are bad, then I am too! Fish/seafood critters in their natural, alive form make me hungry too. Ooh, I think lobster is on sale close by . .

    And Otto: be afraid. Be very afraid. Also, I like Megan’s advice above!

  16. JennyM

    Mmmmm, bacon cheese grits.

  17. Colleen

    Mmmmm, I love Joe’s Crab Shack. It’s been forever since we’ve been there. Like you, we tend to lean towards Mexican or Chili’s for those nights we don’t want to cook. If you camp over by Lake Lanier, there are some reeaaaally good seafood places.

    Oh, and yeah, I’ve been dreading teenage daughter years and mine is only about to turn 6.

  18. Ruth

    We have a Joe’s here in the ‘burg and, to tell you the truth, I think we need Monkey here to show them how it’s done. Maybe they’re burned out or maybe they’re just embarrassed teenaged girls. I don’t know.

  19. Katie in MA

    Seafood, reading, key lime pie and board games? Sounds like the PERFECT vacation to me!!!

  20. Scottsdale Girl

    Story: (that I MIGHT have told here before) When I was 16 we went to a VERY FANCY restaurant (me, little bro, mom and mom’s boyfriend) as we were being seated I notice my little bro heading toward the seat that was being pulled out by the waiter for me. In an effort to save MYSELF SO MUCH EMBARRASMENT by HIM SITTING THERE I raced in front of him and slammed my purse into the silverware and knocked it LOUDLY off the table.

    So yeah. Who is emabarrased???

    Get ready Mir and Otto. Get ready.

  21. Debbi

    LOL!! Just got back from Maine and my little vegetarian did NOT appreciate me getting a whole lobster each night. I had to put a napkin over the body ;-) But it was soooooo tasty!!!

  22. mom, again

    Ha! Pie are Square!

    also, Otto, do indulge in purposefully embarrasing the teenage girl. She’ll be embarrased anyway, so you might as well enjoy the process.

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