The other day, I dragged my sick self with my little wombat and my mother-in-law to the zoo. I thought it might be a good opportunity to sweat out some of the impurities while also appreciating the chance to smell some elephant dung.
I knew there was a bird show scheduled for 11am, so while we were standing and watching the new show-off polar bear (completely mesmerized by her), I realized we needed to haul ass over to the bird amphitheatre in order to get seats for the show. We barely made it in time…doors were closing. So, we slipped in and I scanned the audience for a place to sit.
When I saw a small space on the second concrete row of seating, I honed in just like a bird of prey latching onto a tasty morsel in the grass. I scooped my daughter up in my arms, yanked on my mother-in-law’s arm, and proceeded to LEAP OVER a large lady who sat in my way in order to claim the space as ours.
In typical fashion, I forgot all about personal space rules in my haste to WIN, and I also forgot that my toddler’s legs have grown a lot lately until her long flopping foot hit the large lady’s extra-extra-extra large soda cup which was sitting on the ground in front of her. So it was knocked and spilled and then pooled all over the ground in front of her feet. Immediately her gaggle of kids started stomping their feet in what I assumed to be Dr. Pepper.
As my embarrassed mother-in-law crept into the seats with me, I apologized to the soda queen and encouraged her to take two crumpled one-dollar bills so she could get three hundred and twenty-seven more ounces of Dr. Pepper following the show. Then I promptly let any guilt and embarrassment go.
I realize this personality trait of having very little shame in my game is probably a design flaw. I will be the first to admit it. And then I will blame it on my mother.
I know for a fact that I inherited my balls-out tendency from good old mom. I recall many instances of being mortified as a kid and teenager at her habit of waving off the rules and doing damn well what she pleased in order to get what she wanted.
Proof of guilt #1: Summer swimming adventures.
This was a curious phenomenon that occurred for many of my childhood summers, where mom would decide that she was going to create her own country club fun and take us along with her. Our first venue was the KOA campground just down the street from the Utah State Fairgrounds. A very classy place.
The KOA pool was a sad, smallish rectangle of water, located on a busy street and generally unused by the KOA campground inhabitants. So we pulled up every weekend in our huge blue Econoline van with friends and coolers and parked ourselves in half of the dilapidated lounge chairs that circled the pool. We stayed all day. We ate burritos from the next-door gas station for lunch and never wore sunscreen. The adults drank wine coolers and the kids drank pool water. It was awesome.
Then, after two summers of fun, a lock magically appeared on the gate to the KOA campground pool.
My mother was not deterred in the least.
During the winter, when money allowed, we spent a weekend night here and there at the Airport Hilton. Just for fun. They had a heated indoor pool and a cheap restaurant and free cable. We jumped on the beds and watched movies and played penny poker with my stepdad. I guess today you’d call this a “staycation”.
I think these overnight stays at the Airport Hilton were just a reconnaissance mission for my mom. She scoped out the grounds and realized there was much more fun to be had at the Airport Hilton than just an indoor pool. She hit the jackpot. The Hilton had an outdoor pool, a SportCourt, sidewalks for rollerskating, and a man-made lake with ducks and paddleboats. Score. A direct hit.
As soon as the snow melted and sunbathing weather was upon us, my mom loaded up the blue Econoline once more with the coolers and friends, as well as some extra additions like rafts, various pool toys, bikes, beach blankets, and tennis rackets. WE WERE PREPARED. You see?? Susie was ALL IN. Balls out, baby.
At this point I was old enough to be slightly embarrassed and questioned the legality of us converging on the Airport Hilton’s outdoor recreation areas like a pack of crazy gypsies. I forced my mother to call the Airport Hilton and ask if this was allowed. I felt bad for the lady who happened to answer the phone at the front desk, my mom just has this way about her. You can’t say no.
Susie: “Hi! We live here in Salt Lake City and come out to stay occasionally at your hotel. Our kids just love it! They love the pool! We love your restaurant! So, I was wondering if we came out to eat at your restaurant could the kids bring their bathing suits and swim for a little while? That wouldn’t be a problem, would it?”
The lady apparently said it was fine (I mean, she was probably like WHAT THE HELL DO I SAY TO THIS), so from then on out my mom would order a plate of nachos from the restaurant and drag them out to her lounge chair on the grass and let us all chow down. Then she would share a wine cooler with me to get me to stop bugging her with pesky questions about Airport Hilton policies.
Proof of Guilt #2: My one child pageant experience
When I was two or three, we were living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. My mom and dad took me to a local pool throughout the summer and my mom happened to see an announcement about a “Little Miss Fourth of July” pageant.
Susie must have decided to sign me up for the pageant since her seamstress mother lived in the same town. Because at that point, she had a vision and we were ALL IN. Here are some blurry pictures to prove it. You might be able to guess which child is me. Just guess.
Seriously. We need Charlie Sheen on the sidelines screaming “WINNING!!”, because nothing shouts out overachiever like a little girl in a red, white, and blue Besty Ross gown with a bonnet AND a drawstring pouch, bitches. I look at those pictures and imagine an obnoxious, Olympic-type croud of supporters chanting, “U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A!”.
Can we just stop right now and let me point out how much I hate that our citizens do that during Olympic events? It’s just…so self-important and SO embarrassing.
Anyway, it’s a good thing I wasn’t embarrassed at age three to show up for the pageant looking distinctly different from the other contestants. I mean, maybe even at that young of an age I knew deep down my costume had to give me a serious edge. Because I look at those pictures now and think, WHY DID THOSE GIRLS IN REGULAR BATHING SUITS EVEN SHOW UP???
I bet their moms hated Susie.
It’s a very common thing for me and my friends with children say, “I’m NEVER going to become my parents.” But we do. We totally do.
We have little choice in the matter, because at some point we find ourselves cooking the same pot roast, buying the same brand of margarine, sounding like them on the phone, calling our children the same pet names, and walking boldly into hotel pools in which we aren’t a paying guest while we are in dire need of a bikini wax.
Oh…and I’m also thinking about asking for a sewing machine for Christmas. Think of what I could win with THAT.