Example: Bob spent so much at REI on camping equipment, he had to dumpster dive for his entire vacation to Jellystone National Park.
Can you use vacation poor in a sentence?
Example: Bob spent so much at REI on camping equipment, he had to dumpster dive for his entire vacation to Jellystone National Park.
Can you use vacation poor in a sentence?
The Go-Go’s released “Vacation” on June 26, 1982. It peaked at #8 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and immediately became a favorite track for summer playlists. “Vacation” was also the first cassette single released, and I.R.S. Records trademarked “cassingle.” (I can still remember holding the cassingle for “Vacation” in my hands at Wal-Mart and making the decision to pass on it, since I already owned the album. I could kick myself now.)
The song had been brought to the band by Kathy Valentine, who had replaced Margot Olaverria in early 1981. According to rhythm guitarist Jane Wiedlin, Valentine had originally written the song when she was a member of the Textones. The band liked the song, but there was no chorus, so Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey, lead guitarist/keyboard player, worked with Valentine to finish the song and–in Wiedlin’s words–go-go-fy it.
The music video shows the band sitting on their luggage in a stylized airport, appearing bored as Belinda Carlisle sings, and eventually playing their instruments. Intercut with this footage, the band members appear to be waterskiing in formation with elaborate costumes, in a homage to Florida theme parks of the ‘50s. After the success of their first album, Beauty and the Beat, I.R.S. Records set a $50,000 budget for the “Vacation” video, which was filmed on an A&M sound stage. According to rhythm guitarist Jane Wiedlin, the band got bored about eight hours into the 14-hour shoot and started drinking. By the time the waterski shots were filmed, the band was “really looped.”
I remember my older sister Vicki coming into my bedroom late one night during the Summer of ’82. Knowing that I was a huge Go-Go’s fan, she told me that Eagle 97 was playing their new album, Vacation, in full on the radio. I quickly turned on my stereo and put a blank cassette in the tape deck and hit play. (It sounds so primitive, now!) I managed to tape the last half of “Beatnik Beach,” which was followed by the last song of the album, “Worlds Away.” I played those that tape over and over until I saved up enough money to buy the record. As it turned out, I bought the record at Wal-Mart the day before I started high school. I played it over and over and over and over while I cleaned my bedroom. I know it wasn’t successful as Beauty and the Beat, but Vacation remains my favorite Go-Go’s album. Perhaps it’s because it’s just the right mix of songs, or maybe it just brings back memories of the rite of passage of entering high school. I don’t know. Whenever I hear the first few notes of “Vacation” and think of the music video, it always takes me back to that day … and I smile.
I also remember catching a Spanish version of “Vacation” while tuning the radio in my sister’s car one day. I don’t think it was actually Belinda Carlisle singing it, but the music sounded similar. I never have found it again.
What are your memories of “Vacation” by the Go-Go’s?
Whenever I go to the beach and peer out into the ocean, I often heat John Williams’ “Theme from Jaws.” Humans are both fascinated and fearful of apes predators, yet our chances of dying from a shark attack are 1 in 250 million. So to put your mind at ease, here are the top ten ways you’re more likely to die at the beach than from a shark attack:
01. Your child forgets where he buried you in the sand while you were sleeping.
02. Sautéed to death in tanning oil.
03. Knocked in head by multiple surfboards when someone shouts “Hey, Woody!” to a gaggle of surfers walking by you.
04. Choked to death on a Popsicle stick.
05. Chest hair catches fire when you lean over to light the portable grill.
06. Held beneath the surface of the ocean until you drown by juvenile delinquent dolphins as an initiation to join an aquatic mammal gang.
07. Plastic shrapnel from the the exploding beach ball that you were blowing up becomes lodged in your brain.
08. The 98 lb. weakling that you tortured on the beach as a teenager returns for revenge and he has hired a personal trainer and taken lots of steroids.
09. Cardiac arrest after you reach your bikini/Speedo watching threshold.
10. You spontaneously develop a fatal allergy to sand.
The whole point of my friend Tim coming along on the trip was so that I wouldn’t have to drive the entire 825 miles from Atlanta to Burleson by myself. It’s a 13-hour shot down Interstate 20, and my butt is usually numb by Meridian, MS.
I had recently purchased a used 1995 Miata, and I had sold my 1991 Geo Storm to my parents, so I needed to drive my old car home to Texas. Since Tim had once lived in Dallas, too, I figured that he might enjoy seeing some old friends. When Tim agreed, I thought my problems were over, but they were just beginning.
We left at 6:00 a.m., so that we could arrive in Dallas to have dinner with a mutual friend. I had loaded up the CD changer with a mixture of music to keep us entertained and awake on the trip: rock, alternative, disco, dance, techno, and jazz. However, Tim brought some CDs of his own, and insisted that I hear a new song by a singer named Ricky Martin, entitled “Livin’ La Vida Loca.” Looking back, it foreshadowed a much longer drive than I had imagined.
We stopped in Meridian, MS for an early lunch, and to give my blood a chance to return to my behind. The trip was off to a great start. Tim and I were having fun reminiscing about our hilarious adventures in Dallas. I should have taken note at how many of those memories were much funnier in hindsight than at the time they were occurring, as well as how many began with a phone call in the middle of the night that began with Tim asking, “Jef, what are you doing?”
After lunch I let Tim slip behind the wheel, and I leaned the passenger seat back for a nap. The last thing I remembered before I fell asleep was the CD changer flipping to the disco CD and Tim saying, “I’m going to take the next exit and use the restroom.”
When I woke up a few hours later, my body felt so relaxed and refreshed from both my nap and knowing that we she only be a few hours from our destination. I opened my eyes and saw a pelican sitting on a post beside the highway. I guess my mind was still dulled from sleep, because it took me a moment to question why a pelican would be so far inland. Then a sign whizzed by that read: SWAMP TOUR. I sat up. I never recalled seeing a sign for a swamp tour on my previous trips home. Before I could say anything to Tim, we drove out onto a long bridge that extended over one of the biggest bodies of water I had ever seen. That’s when I saw the sign that read: NEW ORLEANS 11 MI.
“Tim, what are we doing in New Orleans?” I said. “That’s not on on the way to Dallas!”“You know, I wondered why New Orleans was getting closer …”
I fell back into the seat and moaned. How could this have happened to me? I had planned so well! “Tim, you’ve driven between Atlanta and Dallas at least 20 times since I’ve known you. How could you possibly get lost?”
“It’s Donna Summer’s fault,” Tim said. “I guess I must have taken the wrong highway after I stopped at that gas station,” he said. “As I got on the ramp, I was searching for that Donna Summer song, so I could play it again. I like the way it goes duh-duh-duh-duh-duh duh-duh-duh-duh-duh at the beginning.”
In my head, I calculated the time it must have taken to drive from I-20 down to the coast. “Did it ever occur to you that the scenery looked different?” I asked.
“Well, I was enjoying singing along with the radio so much,” Tim said. “You really do have wonderful taste in music, especially–”
By the time I managed to stop and ask for directions, I discovered that the 13-hour drive had now been extended by eight hours. I tried not to be angry with Tim as we drove in silence along I-10 W, then connected to I-49 N, but I could not comprehend how this could have happened. Now, I would end up driving hours more than if I had just driven myself.
“Where are we?” Tim asked.
“Somewhere in rural Louisiana,” I said.
“You’re not taking me out in the middle of nowhere to hand me over to the Ku Klux Klan and watch them lynch me, are you?”
I sighed. “No, right now I would probably want to hang you myself, but that’s not going to accomplish anything.”
“Do you want me to dr–”
“No!” I turned on the radio and the gentle sounds of jazz filled the car. By the time we stopped for dinner outside of Shreveport, I was able to laugh about the situation a bit. I also decided that we were close enough to Dallas that there was no way that Tim could get lost.
Tim reached for the CD changer. “Where is that disco CD?”
“I’ll find it for you,” I said, putting his hand back on the steering wheel. “Just keep your eyes on the road.”
I settled back into my seat. I was exhausted, but I didn’t dare fall asleep. I had this eerie feeling that once the left shoe had dropped, it wouldn’t be long before the remaining shoe did, as well.
The right shoe dropped about 90 minutes later just outside of Longview, TX. As soon as I saw the flashing blue lights behind us, I realized that Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” was playing again. I told Tim to pull over. Tim kept on driving, his hands white-knuckled on the steering wheel, while he stared into the rear-view mirror.
“Tim, pull over!”
“Jef, I am a little black man in the middle of nowhere in the South! This is how we disappear!” I had never been confronted with this side of my friend before. I didn’t know what else to do, so I slapped him across the face. Tim let out a yelp and braked, while I grabbed the wheel.
We managed to pull over on the side of the road without wrecking the car. Tim fidgeted in the seat. As we heard the highway patrol car stop behind us and the door open, Tim turned to me and whispered, “Please tell everyone to remember me laughing, never the tears.”
“Relax,” I said. “The highway patrolman is black.”
“That’s even worse,” Tim hissed.
“Because they’re always trying to look good in front of the white cops,” Tim said.
Before I could argue with Tim, the highway patrolman was beside us and asked for Tim’s driver’s license. As Tim made a great show of looking for his ID, I now understood what that this was really about.
“Where’s your driver’s license,” I whispered.
“You know, officer, I think I may have left my ID at the club last weekend,” Tim said.
I rubbed my temples. Why would anyone knowingly agree to help someone drive a car 800 miles across three states if he knew he didn’t have a driver’s license, let alone speed!
I snapped out of my self-pity, though, when I heard Tim’s voice getting louder. He was arguing with a cop. My mind raced ahead and pictured Tim grabbing the officer’s pistol, followed by them struggling left, right, left, before the gun went off and shot me between the eyes. I realized that the patrol car probably had a video camera in it, and the last few minutes of my life would end up on COPS. I decided that I was not ready to die in an effort to promote bad television.
I leaned across Tim. “Officer, I apologize. I didn’t realize that my friend didn’t have his driver’s license, or I would have never let him drive. We’re on our way to drop my car off to my parents outside of Forth Worth. Obviously, I’ll take it from here.”
A few minutes later, after I managed to talk the highway patrolman out of giving Tim a ticket, I counted up the hours in my head that I had actually ended up driving with Tim helping me: 17 hours. That was four more hours than if I had just driven myself.
“Can we hear that Donna Summer song again?” Tim asked.
“No,” I said, brushing his hands away from the radio. By this point, I was pretty sure that Donna Summer shared the blame, too.
Ten years ago, Jeff, Reid, Laura, and I flew to Australia. It was a dream vacation for me, because I’d always felt an inexplicable affinity for the people and the country. I thought that perhaps I’d lived there in a past life, but as it turned out, I lived as a traveling minstrel in Medieval France (which I have no interest in, but that’s another story).
Out trip hit a snag on September 11, 2001. We were originally supposed to fly from Atlanta to Los Angeles, then catch a 1:00 p.m. flight on Ansett Airlines to Australia and land in the evening. We anticipated getting a good night’s sleep, and awakening refreshed to see the city. However, due in part to the worldwide grounding of planes after the terrorist attacks, Ansett Airlines went belly up. Our travel agent managed to book us on a Qantas flight, but it didn’t leave until midnight. Suddenly, we changed from having an hour to board an international flight to having a 12-hour layover. We discussed whether or not it would be safe to continue with our plans. Did anyone want to back out? We unanimously decided that we didn’t want to live our lives in fear. If we died on our way to Australia, at least we were going somewhere we wanted to go.
In case you’ve ever wondered how long it takes to fly form L.A. to Sydney, it’s 17 hours. They feed you a lot and you can watch lots of movies. I opted to stay awake for the first meal, then took a sleeping aid. I slept great for most of the flight, although Reed and Jeff said that I’m quite active while I sleep. Evidently, I punched a few people in the face as I moved around suddenly. At one point, I shot my arm in the air and left it, as if I had just been declared the winner in a boxing match. I woke up a few hours before we landed and felt refreshed; the others were dragging.
Even though we lost half a day in Sydney, we managed to visit the Royal Botanic Gardens, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Manly Beach, Circular Quay, and the Rocks. One of the highlights was climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which offers a spectacular view of the city. After we had booked the climb, we found out that Laura and Reed weren’t crazy about heights. They both, however, did a remarkable job and were glad they did it.
In Sydney, Laura began using a tag line that we would hear throughout the rest of the trip: “You know, I was thinking …” Meanwhile, Reed went for his morning constitution and was approached by a prostitute. This seemed to astonish him the same way visitors to Yellowstone National Park react to a bear sighting.
On our final night in Sydney, we had dinner down at Circular Quay and hailed a taxi back to our hotel. We climbed in, and before Laura closed her door, the taxi lurched forward. To say the driver put the pedal to the floor is an understatement. Looking out the window, the stars in the night sky changed from points of light to streaks of white–it was just like the jump to hyper space in Star Wars. This was when we made another discovery about Laura: When she’s frightened, she curses like a sailor, especially when the vehicle she’s in is airborn. Somehow, I managed to fall asleep in the cab; Jeff told me I probably fainted from fear.
We flew to Cairns next, so we could visit the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. It was at this point that a great debate started between Jeff and me. Jeff said that the “r” in Cairns is pronounced subtlely; I told him it was silent. (He had also told me that there was no such word as Aboriginese, only Aboriginal people, which later led to an unfortunate scuffle between me and security in the National Portrait Gallery when I took a picture of a card under a painting that used the word Aboriginese. Again, that’s another story.) I asked a few locals about whether the “r” was pronounced, and they looked at me like I was mental.
As it turns out, I must resemble what foreigners visualize as Australian, because I had several people approach me and ask suck questions as:
Does the water really go down the drain in the opposite direction in the Southern Hemisphere?
Is it true that all Australians are extremely fond of ABBA?
How do Australians celebrate Halloween?
I was surprised to discover that Halloween is a new concept to Australians. I assumed that all children around the world went trick-or-treating on October 31. Sadly, it’s not the case for Aussie children, although dressing up and attending Halloween parties is becoming more popular with adults. We celebrated Halloween by eating some elaborate Halloween suckers that my neighbor, also named Jeff, had sent with me for us.
While in Cairns, we had a great dinner at Fish Lips. (I think Laura was doing a night dive that night with some Scottish boys she had met, because I don’t remember her being there.) I ate bugs, which are similar to crab, but look like the facehugger from the Alien movies. The owner gave us some free shots and sat down and chatted with us for a while.
The Great Barrier Reef was fantastic. I wished that I had learned to dive before the trip, though, because whenever I’d swim to the bottom of the ocean, I’d start to take a picture, then bob up to the surface. Jeff and I splurged on a helicopter ride above the Great Barrier Reef. The trip almost ended there for me when I nearly walked into the helicopter’s rotor.
We also visited the Daintree Rainforest. If you go there, don’t touch anything. Everything will kill you, or produce a sting that lasts for days and will make you beg others to shoot you. The flowers are very pretty, though.
Alice Springs was next on our trip, which I have already written about here. We spent three days camping in the Outback with some Europeans, who not only eat sandwiches open-faced, but also with a knife and fork. We visited the Olgas, Uluru (AKA Ayer’s Rock), and King’s Canyon. Our bus broke down in the middle of the Outback, where there is nothing. Laura and Reid led us all in a singalong. I learned that although some Europeans can’t speak a word of English, they do know every word to the theme song from Gilligan’s Island, among other American TV shows.
While we were in Australia, Kylie Minogue had just released “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.” None of my group knew who she was. I, however, had been a club kid of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, so I did. This was before her American comeback a few months later. No matter where we went, you heard the hypnotic beat of that song followed by Kylie’s voice coming from radios. The music video played on TVs. Ms. Minogue smiled back from the cover of every women’s magazine at the checkout lanes. Kylie Minogue was like bacteria–she was EVERYWHERE.
Our travels took us to Melbourne next. Although our travel agent had advised us that we were arriving the night before the Melbourne Cup, a Thoroughbred horse race where the nation truly comes to a stop. What she had failed to do was arrange transportation from the airport to our hotel, which was an hour outside the city. We managed to rent a car, but arrived near midnight. We had never eaten dinner, so we were starved. We were overjoyed when the night clerk offered to whip something up for us in the closed restaurant. The after hours menu was limited; it was actually just chips, which is Australian for french fries. Beverage options were limited, too. While everyone else had beer with their chips–XXXX and Victoria Bitter (V.B.) being their favorites–I opted for wine. Unknowingly, I chose a dessert wine. Have you ever had a dessert wine with french fries? Well, it put me off sweet wines for the rest of my life.
Laura and Reed begged off our car trip up the Great Ocean Road to see some limestone stacks called the Twelve Apostles, so they could sleep late. It was a beautiful drive and the Twelve Apostles were magnificent. We were gone all-day and didn’t catch up with Reed and Laura until the next morning, when we learned that Reed and Laura had gone into Melbourne on public transportation. At some point, Reed returned to the hotel to do laundry while Laura went off with a crack-addicted prostitute to listen to live music or something.
We took a train to Canberra, Australia’s capital. It was interested to see Oz from a different perspective, the backs of houses with laundry drying on the clotheslines. We found out about mid-way that the train doesn’t actually go all the way to Canberra, so we boarded a bus for the rest of the journey.
The travel agent had tried to talk us out of Canberra, but Reed, Laura, and Jeff had all worked in government and were interested in seeing Parliament House. Had we known that there were so many interesting places in Canberra, we would have scheduled more time there. In addition to the National Portrait Gallery and Parliament House, we also visited the Australian War Memorial, which was very moving. Our less touristy wanderings led us to Target for cold medication for Reed, and a local movie theater where we saw Lantana. I bought a Mars bar at the concession stand. When I bit into it, I noticed that it didn’t have any almonds in it and went back to the concession stand with my defective candy bar, where I discovered that Mars bars do not come with almonds in Australia. When we returned to hotel, we watched Lantana win Best Picture at the AFI Awards on television.
When morning came, we boarded a small plane that flew us back to Sydney. I use the word “flew” loosely. It’s one thing to experience turbulence; it’s another when the flight attendants throw their arms up in the air and scream. Anyway, we made it back safely.
I hated leaving Australia. I’ve visited many places I liked, but I always looked forward to returning home. I didn’t feel that way this time; I wanted to stay. I almost cried when we boarded the plane for L.A., and I’m not easily brought to tears. I’d love to return to Australia one day, but until then, whenever I long to remember those two weeks, I slip Kylie Minogue’s Fever CD into my stereo. As soon as I hear the first view hypnotic beats, I’m in Australia again and Kylie is EVERYWHERE, just like bacteria.
While on a road trip this weekend, I was reminded of the many family vacations of my youth. I recalled one trip when I was quite young–five or six, I guess–and my father, mother, and older sister were traveling in our big-ass station wagon with our camper in-tow. We were somewhere in Arizona or New Mexico, driving with the windows cracked.
On this trip I had taken a little firefighter doll that my mother talked me into buying at K-Mart. I had wanted something else, but she pointed out this little fireman who came with a little fire truck and fire house and itty bitty ax and made me want it with a desire no five-year-old should ever experience.
Anyway, we had been driving for a few hours and I was in the doldrums of boredom. As I stared at the permanently splayed legs of my firefighter, I noticed that my passenger-side window would fit perfectly between. I carefully placed the fireman onto the glass, then removed my hand. He remained in place, buffeted by the wind. I smiled, then turned my attention to another toy. A moment later I glanced up to find a headless fireman straddling the glass.
I shrieked, as only a small child can. Needless to say, this startled my father and mother. Mother turned around and tried to figure out why I was in hysterics, while I choked on sobs. Finally, my mother noticed the headless doll on the glass and pieced together the story. My parents urged me to forget the doll, but I wanted that one. It was mine. I had bought it, and I had made a commitment to take care of it. Ultimately, this hinted at abandonment issues that would lead to many dumb decisions in my 20s, but I digress.
My mother sighed and put her hand on my father’s shoulder. “Ernie, you’re going to have to turn this thing around,” she said. “We have to go back for that little doll, or else we’re going to warp our son for life.”
My father gripped the steering wheel, his knuckles turning whited, and then cut a sharp turn and managed turn our station wagon and trailer around on a busy two-lane highway with just a slight gap to do so. It was one of those moments one reads about where parents rise to superhuman prowess for the sake of a child.
Driving back a few miles, my father pulled over. My mother got out of station wagon and dodged in and out of traffic, searching for the top of my tiny firefighter .
Eventually, she wandered back and tossed the top of my firefighter through the crack of the window. After she slipped back into the station wagon, she told me, “Don’t lose your head again, and roll up your window.”
I reattached the head and hugged my little fireman, fiercely. I considered telling my mother that he had been wearing a little fireman’s hat at the time his head flew off, but I decided not to push my luck.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be tan–not just slightly brown, but a deep, dark, Jamaican, sun-kissed tan. Instead, I was so fair-skinned and tow-headed that people I met would often check to see if my eyes were pink; I was often asked if I was an albino. My skin was so white that my older cousins affectionately referred to me as “The Marshmallow.” I was so frustrated by this that I would often wish that I could get so dark that if I ever walked across the border to Mexico, the border patrol agents would stop me on my way back into the country.
I was almost ten before my parents drove my older sister, Vicki, and I to Padre Island for a weekend beach vacation. We had been before when I was a toddler, but I didn’t remember it at all. For some reason, none of us thought to put any sun tan lotion on, so when we cleaned up after a day at the beach and went to dinner later, I noticed that my thighs really stung under my jeans. Jef, meet sunburn; sunburn, meet Jef!
You’d think I would have learned my lesson from that experience. A year later, however, I ended up receiving a second degree burn after a long day at the pull. Huge liquid-filled blisters popped up all over my back and shoulders.
The summer after my freshman year in high school, I decided I would get a tan. In fact, I had a “tan plan.” Since I knew my fair skin could only tolerate so much sun per day before it began to fry, I thought that I could go out for a few minutes every day, and work my way up to a lovely toasted marshmallow–not a blackened one. I marched out to the backyard and flung an old blanket out to lie on. I slathered coconut-scented sun tan lotion all over my body, slipped on a pair of old aviator sunglasses that I had inherited from my father, and turned on the radio.
Sunbathing doesn’t seem like it’s that hard, but it’s actually a lot of work. It’s not easy to lie under the sun, marinaded in oil, sweating under the blistering sun, and turn your mind off. Time crawls by. I kept checking to see if I had turned brown yet, then my watch. Hmm, only 15 seconds had passed.
I sang along with Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” Men Without Hats’ “The Safety Dance,” and Kajagoogoo’s “Too Shy.” Then I opened my eyes to check to see if I was tan yet. Nope , I was still a marshmallow. I wiped the sweat off, repositioned myself, tried to get comfortable.
When I was younger, I was not only white, I was also very, very skinny. To be specific, I must have looked like an emaciated skeleton whose bones had been white-washed by sunlight, and wearing a cheap pair of sunglasses that must have seemed as if I were impersonating the construction worker from The Village People. Over all, it wasn’t a good look for me.
After pushing my self-discipline to the test, I opened my eyes and discovered several buzzards circling above me. I was always astounded at how close we were to nature once we moved to the country. Then I noticed that the vultures seemed to be circling lower and lower … over my skinny white body that had not moved for about ten minutes. I immediately gathered the blanket, radio, and sunblock and went back inside.
Years later in the mid 90s, a friend gave me a one-month pass to a tanning salon for Christmas. Determined that this would be the year that I would be tan and fabulous, I went to the tanning salon every day, usually on my lunch hour. As I lay in the tanning bed, I would often wonder what people had actually laid in the tanning bed naked, the sweaty butt cheeks on the same glass I was now lying in my underwear. I’d return to work, smelling of baked flesh. At the end of the month, I had a definite tan line, but it was disappointing to discover that my deep, dark Jamaican sun-kissed tan after a month was where most people started out in winter. What was the point in putting so much effort into a tan line that didn’t show unless I were naked?
Little, I decided, and turned down my chance to renew my tanning parlor membership. I figured I could get some highlights and cut my losses.
Beverly and George Karowski drove from their home in Phoenix, AZ to the Kansas and Missouri border in anticipation of seeing the world’s biggest balls of twine with their own eyes. However, when they arrived, they found two raging fires and townsfolk consumed by their own hubris, greed, and shame.
There had always been a friendly rivalry between the small towns of Cornville, KS and Beaver’s Butt, MO. Over the years the high school football teams have traveled back and forth across the state line to play each other, with shouts of “Strip those Huskers naked!” from one side of the bleachers and “Lick those beavers!” yelled from the other side.
Ten years ago Ed Marsh, owner of Screws 2 Go Hardware in Cornfield joked with Fred Pitts, owner of Stuff Your Buck Taxidermy, playfully joked that Fred should build the world’s biggest ball of twine to attract tourism to Beaver’s Butt. However, when Pitts came into Screws 2 Go to buy every roll of twine that Marsh had on the shelves, Marsh worried that perhaps Cornfield was being left behind. He then placed an order for more twine.
Over the next six months, the the people of both towns worked day-and-night to wrap twine into balls. Cornfield stored their monstrosity, affectionately named Bertha, in the Cornfield High School Gym, while across the border, Pitts and his fellow citizens built their ball, dubbed Bubba, in the Beaver’s Butt Baptist Church Recreation Center.
Over the years, the competition got ugly. Minor vandalism and name calling ensued. Families on opposite sides of the border quit speaking to one another. It came to a head, though, at a business mixer when Pitts and Marsh came to blows next to the nacho bar. An independent auditor was called in to measure both balls of twine, who announced that Cornfield’s Bertha, at 12 feet and 12,450 lbs. was larger than Beaver’s Butt’s Bubba that only measured 11 feet and 11 inches and weighed a 12, 400 lbs.
Cornfield gloated by throwing a celebration on the anniversary of Pitts buying out Marsh’s twine and birthing Bubba. The Twine Ball Festival included a parade, a twine-a-thon, and twine races. That night, a Twine Ball was to be held, where the first Miss Twine Ball was scheduled to be crowned, then the good people of Cornfield would gather in the square to join hands and do the Dance of the Twine Ball, which they had been rehearsing for weeks.
Meanwhile, across the border, Pitts discovered that the independent auditor who had dubbed Cornfield the winner of the battle of the biggest balls of twine is actually a cousin of Marsh. Pitts and his buddies then measured Bubba themselves. His hands shook at Pitts’ Stanley measuring tape showed that Bubba was actually 12 feet and 2 inches. Racing across the border, Pitts and company found Bertha to measure only 11 feet and 10 inches. “The findings sparked something terrible inside me,” Pitts later said.
While most of Cornfield watched Lori Belkins crowned as the first Miss Twine Ball, Bertha mysteriously burst into flames. The whole town turned rushed outside to help, but they were unable to stop the flames before it reduced the biggest ball of twine into a smoldering tangle of ashes. Suspecting sabotage, the good people of Cornfield lit torches and marched to Beaver’s Butt, where they rolled Bubba to the center of town and set Bubba on fire in front of Pitt’s taxidermy store, where the deer heads and stuffed beavers’ glassy eyes reflected the sputtering flames that consumed Bubba.
When the Karowskis arrived, they found the people of Cornfield and Beaver’s Butt numb and trying to figure out how a bunch of twine drove them to such a vicious rivalry and turning their backs on one another. When Beverly went inside the motor home that she shares with George, she returned with wienies and marshmallows and passed them out to the children. Somehow, in burning hot dogs and toasting marshmallows, the citizens of both tiny towns brought laughter and friendship back.
Marsh and Pitts announced on Monday that the Cornfield and Beaver’s Butt will build another ball of twine on the border between both cities and burn it every year as a reminder of the lesson they learned.
Some of the happiest memories of my childhood are family vacations. In the early ‘70s, my mother was fascinated by Native American culture, which probably had something to do with my great-great-great grandmother having been a Cherokee Indian. We would often go to the Circle Drive-In in Waco, Texas on Saturday nights to see westerns with a sympathetic perspective of American Indians. I can still remember seeing Richard Harris suspended by hooks in his chest from the roof of a teepee, and how I left fingernail marks in the armrest of our station wagon, as the actor screamed and squirmed in pain. Good times!
Mama planned elaborate vacations to Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Arizona to visit the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park, museums with the personal effects of Buffalo Bill, and lots and lots of grazing Buffalo. In one instance, my mother’s bosom practically burst with pride for ancestors while she watched a traditional Native American woman sew beads onto a piece of buckskin. The moment was short-lived, however, when the woman stood up to take a smoke break and revealed track shoes with color-banded tube socks underneath her skirt.
My older sister, Vicki, and I were born four years apart. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a huge chasm between a six-year-old and a two-year-old. As I grew older, we would often bond on our family vacations. When Vicki was yelling for my mother to cut my hands off because I had inadvertently crossed the imaginary line that divided her side of the backseat from mine (which I remember being somewhat larger than my side of the seat), we would call a truce.
I can’t remember why, but my mother decided that she would order matching windbreakers for she and my father in yellow, and matching blue jackets for my sister and me. That was the year we visited the Grand Canyon for the first time. Somewhere along the way, I had decided that I needed a blue plastic back scratcher with a small hand on the end of it. When we arrived at the Grand Canyon, we walked to the railing and peered down to the gaping hole in the ground. Vicki held onto her granny glasses as she looked down into the abyss, and I was terrified that she was going to drop them.
At some point, Vicki noticed some other children staring at me with an expression of fear. She turned toward me and saw that I had stuck the blue back scratcher up the sleeve of my jacket, so that only the small blue hand stuck out where my own hand should have been. I casually reached up with my prosthesis and brushed my bangs out of my eyes and scratched my nose. The children screamed and ran away. My sister started laughing.
“Why did you stick that back scratcher up the sleeve of your jacket?” she asked.
I shrugged. “I guess I just wanted to see what would happen,” I said.
She took my fake hand in her own, and we walked back to the station wagon together, momentarily united in my odd behavior.
Over the years, I have continued to do things, just to see what would happen. I’ve told restaurant hostesses that my name was Cochise, while reserving a table. I’ve pretended to speak English with a bad French accent to baristas, so I could rattle off, “How yous say …” And I’ve faked an epileptic seizure in front of the high school janitor. I just wanted to see how people would react. Thankfully, I was able to stop the janitor from calling an ambulance. After a couple of cigarettes, he was okay and promised not to the school principal. Good times!