Saturday, July 02, 2005

July 2, 2005
Last Tuesday morning, after breakfast, I was sitting in the Yellowstone Lake Lodge lobby, staring into the fireplace when I heard someone behind me say in a measured, and clearly exasperated tone, "What’s-the-matter-now?” Without even turning around I knew it was a dad.

"I was just walking by," the young female voice whined, "and Cody went Waagh!"

Once again, no visual verification was necessary for me, a veteran of the Lost Cause, better known in abnormal psych textbooks as the "summer family vacation." Besides, to any parent of young adults, the scene was crystal clear: This totally innocent daughter wanted her brother Cody to be put to death and for the sake of the free world, the sooner the better

Of course, the dadster then tried the oldest and lamest trick in the book:“Were you doing anything to taunt him?”

“I wasn’t doing anything!”

They never are, and as long as they’re teenagers, they never will. Cop to it, that is.

When I shared this all-too-common and tragic incident with Kathy, she laughed as we recalled other poor, miserable family encounters we had witnessed in the park. The day before, as we waited for Old Faithful, a tall, thin girl named Emily (maybe 11), sitting in front of us, turned to her mother and said, "Mom, Gray is spitting on me."

"Were you doing anything to your brother?"
You know the answer.

Later that same day as we returned from a hike up to Misty Falls in the Lower Geyser section in a light sprinkle we met a couple on the edge of the boardwalk portion of the trail and the man said to me, "Is it worth going up there?" I told him it definitely was worth it, but as I walked by, I spied his two teenage girls lagging behind, with their coats over their heads, holding their noses with the most miserable expression on their faces one can imagine. "But not," I said turning back to the father, "with two of those," as I pointed at the young prisoners of war, forced to go on this inhumane Family Death March.

The look of disgust on their faces was priceless. Where is Amnesty International when you really need them? The father laughed, but the mom looked kind of miffed at me for pointing out the obvious (some mothers are perpetually in denial, you know, like mine).

Like milk, Kathy and I decided that family summer vacations have an expiration date. Kids, especially with the boy-girl sibling combo which we had, get very sour and rank just beyond the decade mark. For girls, according to Kathy, it curdles at about 11 or 12. Sometimes boys can last until 13, but by the teenage years everything the parents want to do and see “sucks” and about the only thing that can make your attitude challenged offspring happy is a mall drop-off and a credit card.

Deena and Thomas finally came out the other end of the Negativo Tunnel at about age 22. As proof, today Deena is joining Kathy and I and we are going on a road trip to Flag to see Tomcat’s favorite singer Phil Bunkman (I Hate You When You’re Pregnant) perform his swan song tonight at about 11.

Kathy and I will have ear plugs and be jacked up on espresso, but it just goes to prove that the family that stays out late together, still hits the wall from time to time.

"A father believes in heredity until his kids start acting like damn fools."
—Old Vaquero Saying

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