Vacation Surprises

November 4, 2008
By Lauren Pappas, Scarsdale, NY

Vacation Surprises

I was in the middle of social studies class during a particularly warm winter counting down the minutes until school let out for December break. It wasn’t that I didn’t like learning about the stock market crash, or the great depression, it was just the first time we were going away as a family since I was six. Weeks and weeks of careful planning went into making this trip flawless. My mother had recently bought a computer, and after realizing that you can’t type in whatever you want and add “.com” to get to a website she began making big strides in learning. Soon, the only questions asked in the house were ones like, “Lauren, how do you turn this thing on again?” and “why is this computer yelling at me! I don’t know what a default media browser is.” In time, she figured out how to successfully check her email and get to Google- sometimes. Later that day, I got home from school and tried to finish packing. I laid out my clothes for the next morning because we were getting in a cab at 5 am and I wanted to be ready. When my mother saw my outfit for the plane, a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt, she gave me the look. You know, that look of disapproval and skepticism that without saying anything she’s already said a thousand negative things. “When we get to Colorado it is going to be freezing! You have to wear a warmer outfit than that on the plane, Lauren.” She wasn’t yelling but I could tell this was going to be one of those arguments that I wasn’t going to win. She came back in with a large red and yellow knit sweater that looked like it was from 1942, and would only be worn to some sort of Christmas function. I didn’t want to start arguing already, so I didn’t say anything. Trying to ignore the minor problems of the day, I went to sleep excited for the trip to come.

The alarm went off at 4:45 promptly and I got up to change. I put on my jeans and the horrible sweater that felt like it weighed a thousand pounds. When I walked downstairs I avoided all mirrors by averting my eyes to different places. When my brother saw me he started laughing hysterically as he sat in the comfortable living room chair eating his cereal. He almost could not stop the milk from dripping out of his mouth as he taunted me. “You look like the Nightmare Before Christmas in human form.” He said as he shoved another spoonful of cheerios into his mouth. I didn’t know what to say in response and I got nervous as each second passed “Well your mom looks like the Nightmare Before Christmas!” I blurted out quickly. Before two seconds could pass I realized my mistake. “Are you serious?! We have the same mom, stupid” He said in a smug way because he knew he had made me look like an idiot. That was a cheap shot; he had ten more years of experience than I did and I had just watched Napoleon Dynamite the other day. Before I could run away my father came down and told us that he had finished putting the skis and snow clothes in the communal suitcase. My mother quickly followed and rushed us out of the house. She seemed on edge this morning, probably because we were about to get on a long plane ride. My mother HATED plane rides. Not just a general discomfort kind of feeling but a full on deep breathing, get the stewardess to calm her down, bring plane-safety books with her kind of hate. Everything was going ok for a while. Everyone seemed calm and when we boarded the plane no crying babies were present or people from school that I might have to awkwardly introduce to my family while wearing my particular outfit. The plane took off and I was listening to music when I felt my mother grab my hang. “Lauren, what was that noise, that does not sound normal, did you hear it?” “It’s probably just the engine, mom. Relax.” “No, no, no, I cannot relax. You know how I feel about noises, plus it probably ISNT the engine! I wish I had my computer right now, I would go to” “Mom you have to calm down, everything is fine and we already talked about this, 99% of the time the websites that you say are not going to be real.” I think she was ok for a while so I fell asleep and when I woke up we were landing and about to board a small jet that as going to take us from Denver to Vail.

I was sitting in the back next to a lady holding a small dog, my mom was in the front with my dad, having a panic attack about the turbulence that was already making her nervous though we hadn’t even taken off yet. The sweater was not working for me. It felt like a million degrees and I started sweating. There wasn’t enough room next to this lady and her dog so I couldn’t take it off. I hated sweating. In fact, I don’t think there was anything I hated more than sweating except for maybe small dogs biting my arm on cramped airplanes. I asked my brother across the row if he wanted to switch seats and he replied with, “maybe you should ask your mom if she wants to switch.” I did not response. A few minutes later I heard the lady say, “Uh oh.” Great, something bad was about to happen, just what I needed. I looked beside me and there was dog vomit all over the seat. Part of me was disgusted and part of me wished it could have gotten on my sweater just so that I would have an excuse to throw it out. The next 45 minutes were pure bliss; the smell of dog vomit was unbearably lingering in the air like the perfume section of a department store and I could hear my mother complaining from ten seats ahead.

When the ride was finally over it felt like a weight had been lifted. Not the weight of my unbearable sweater, but a weight none the less. I breathed in the clean Colorado air and for a second forgot about the bad things that had happened so far. We got into the airport and waited for our bags. We all got our personal luggage but were just waiting on the big black suitcase of all our ski clothes and other miscellaneous items. When it finally came my mother stopped us for a second because she wanted to get a pair of gloves from it. As the bag opened I saw a pair of neon green ski pants that had pink suspenders. I laughed and asked my mom if once we got on the mountain she was going to try to blind as many other skiers as possible. She replied with, “don’t be silly Lauren, those are your pants. I picked you up a new pair the other day, your old ones looked too small and these were on sale.” Obviously. Besides the time I tripped and fell in front of all the boys at the 7th grade dance, this was the worst day of my life. At this point I was profusely sweating. I could still smell dog vomit everywhere I went and now not only would I look like the Nightmare Before Christmas but the Nightmare Before Christmas on acid. I refused to talk to anyone in my in my family the whole ride to the hotel. When we passed a bunch of ski supply stores and my mother offered to take me to one later on and get a new pair of pants, I muttered and ‘okay’ but still wasn’t totally forgiving her yet. As we got closer and closer I could see the mountains and began to remember the reasons I was so excited to come on this vacation. The car freshener was helping to eliminate the smell of dog and I had gotten out of my Christmas outfit. I tried to forget about the day so far and was hopeful that the rest of the week would be less embarrassing.

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