Monday, May 26, 2008

Summer is approaching

It wouldn't be the end of May if I wasn't telling stories from my annual Memorial Day family reunion (2007, 2006, 2005)

If you'll indulge me I'll recap a few issues I was facing at the last reunion. I pissed off some woman by screwing up my duties as flag raiser. Some woman pissed me off by not letting me write my own nametag, acting like this was my first reunion instead my 25th or so, and attempting to move the reunion from, not only it's traditional location in the Norway gym, but it's traditional date. A certain someone broke my cousin's finger in the annual basketball game.

So, cut to this year. Staying at my grandpa's place is always a bit of an adventure because his dog absolutely runs the place so it's not exactly clean. During the time I was there the dog ate leftover steak, watermelon, eggs, and bacon spread over dog food. Of course this is probably fair since in the last 2 years or so my grandpa has accidentally fed the dog tainted Chinese dog food, pulled out in front of a pickup truck on the highway with the dog in the front seat, and shot her through the neck with a 22 rifle. They based the movie "Unbreakable" on my grandpa and his dog.

Because of this and the lack of beds a few lucky ones are chosen to spend the night at one of the many luxurious hotels in NC Kansas. There's the Super 8, the Best Western, and the Plaza Motel. This year grandpa was in charge of making the reservations so he went on down to the Plaza and plunked down $42 in cash for a room. Hmm, it doesn't necessarily have the national reputation of the Super 8 but it was going to be good enough for us.

My dad and I went to go get the keys around 9 or so and pull into this sprawling complex with a glowing sign that says "Mot l". There are probably 35 rooms or so all arranged in two single lines that meet in a "V" shape with a massive courtyard that is completely overgrown. There are about 5 cars in the parking lot all squeezed onto one side away from the front desk area that is an office of some sort attached to a tiny brick house. As we approach the office we see a man stretching his arms high over his head as he enters the office from what is apparently his living room and my dad says, "well, looks like Norman Bates is home."

The man is wearing a green sleeveless t-shirt with several holes around the neck and armpit areas. He has a fu-manchu mustache that is slightly obscured by the 3 days of beard growth surrounding it. The stench of cigarettes is overpowering as soon as we enter the room. An ancient TV blares "Hogan's Heroes" from the corner and possibly one of the original PCs ever made sat on a desk along one of the walls. The man steps up behind the wood-paneled desk and asks if he can help us in a voice that can only be described as Kermit the Frog-esque but only if he smoked three packs a day to get that really raspy quality. So, we tell the froggy raspy gravelly voiced man that we have a reservation for that night and show him the receipt that says we'll be staying in room 27.

The man stares at the receipt for what seems to be an awkwardly long period of time before my dad interrupts the silence, "it says the room number is 27."
"Oh." Long pause again as he stares at the receipt and his book again.
"OK, here are your keys."

We turn to leave and are almost at the door when I hear the voice again quietly behind me. I'm trying to decide if this is just something from "Hogan's Heroes" or not and do I dare turn around to find out? I hear the voice again and turn around as my dad mumbles, "is he talking to us?"

"Are you with the O'Boynans?"
"Huh?" We walk back to the desk.
"Are you with the O'Boynans? My book says the O'Boynans have room 27."
I glance to where he is pointing and next to 27 penciled in neat writing is "O'Boynan 2."
We hand him the receipt again. "Well, this says 27 on it."
"Oh, I believe you I'm just trying to figure out the room situation...." and he trails off.
"Is there anyone in there now?"
"Can we have it?"
"OK, well, don't send anyone else there because we'll be there."
"Sure thing, won't be a problem."

As we head to the room we laugh about this guy and make a few more Norman Bates and "No Country for Old Men" jokes. We peak in the open window to check for O'Boynans. Finding none we enter the room and find it fine as far as cheap motel rooms go in that it actually has beds and a shower. We head back to the house to tell of our adventure. As my grandpa said, "well, the guy I talked to wasn't any jewel either."

My sister and I ended up being the lucky two chosen to brave the Plaza Mot l and return to find the door to room 27 wide open. Awesome. I'm pretty sure this is exactly how that one horror movie went. I peak around all of the corners fully expecting Javier Bardem to do horrible, horrible things to me but no one was there. Spooky. Fortunately no O'Boynan's barged in and no Norman Bates appeared as a silhouette in the window through the cheap ass curtains that let in way too much light.

Other than the disgusting smell, the uncomfortable, loud bed, the lack of shampoo or soap, and the creepy silence it wasn't half bad. There were only like 2 or 3 cig burns in my bedspread and 1 in the shower curtain. Not too bad for a non-smoking room, right? The sign on the door let us know that there really was no checkout policy other than leave the keys in the room and get the fuck out before 11 so that's what we did.

On our way to the cemetery we stopped at the old farm to cut some flowers only to discover that the metal barn door had been blown off by the windstorm the night before. This caused much consternation among people that weren't me.

Not much of note happened at the cemetery is that for like the 23rd year in a row I picked wrong for the weather. If I wear long pants it's 100 degrees by noon and I'm sweating to death. If I wear shorts and don't bring a jacket it's 55 with a howling wind (like today!). I wasn't asked to raise any flags up the flagpole and experienced a small amount of joy when my uncle pointed out that the West Virginia flag was upside down. Fuckups.

A major topic of conversation among the family happened to be my cousin's finger. Apparently the kid has already had one surgery and missed chunks of his senior year football and wrestling seasons but is still unable to bend it all the way meaning he's going in for another surgery soon. It was almost comical how many people brought this up to us.

Not much else happened really. Most of the troublemakers from last year weren't there which increased my enjoyment. Food was outstanding, a step up from a disappointing spread last year. The only thing that was too bad was our massive basketball game had dwindled down to a 3 on 3 affair. 2 cousins had broken bones, the old guys are getting too old. Plus, my 16 year old cousin died in a rock climbing accident over the summer and I think that kind of put a damper on some of it because he enjoyed it so much the year before. The good news is that I was moved from the old guys team that won last year to the young guys team that won this year. Pretty sure you can call me the Robert Horry of reunion basketball.

Anyway, thanks for indulging me this personal post that went way too long and wasn't really entertaining at all. I'm sure you'll have just as boring of one to read next May.

EDIT: I remembered something stunning I read in the local paper. They have a section on the comment page where people can call in and leave anonymous comments. I'll paraphrase one of them since I don't have the exact phrasing:
"I find that these things usually even out. For every innocent person executed there are hundreds that are guilty but never caught."

Umm, how does that even out at all? Well, sucks for you dead innocent guy, you're getting punished for all the guys that don't get caught. If that is truly "evening things out" I'm sure this guy won't mind volunteering to be the innocent man, right? Dumb.

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