Wednesday Morning Wood

Posted by Wood | Wednesday, May 30, 2007 |

For the Memorial Day weekend, Dutch and I set only one goal: to sleep under a different roof from Juniper for the first time in her life.

Originally we wanted to go to New York or Chicago, but in the end we decided not to put that many miles between us and what we were pretty sure was going to be a screaming, hysterical toddler and a grandmother who figured she knew better than we did how to put our kid down for the night. The last time one of her grandmothers attempted to put her to bed, Dutch ended up driving home from my 10th-year high school reunion to find my mother bouncing Juniper on a yoga ball and sweating like Robin Williams at a Russian Schvitz. So we decided to play it safe and stay close to where Juniper would be sleeping---only about eleven miles away. It was more of a theoretical than real vacation.

After dropping Juniper off with my mom, we drove down the Blue Star highway to Saugatuck, a small vacation town on the Kalamazoo River with quaint shops and three bed and breakfasts for every winter resident of the town. We didn't stay in any of them. The ones that weren't all booked for the weekend were $300 a night and promised lovely rooms filled with carefully-chosen antiques and orange marmalade handmade by the cross-dressing septuagenarians who ran the place. I used to be a cocktail waitress in Saugatuck, and never have I seen so many men who looked like Nathan Lane (as the "mom") from The Birdcage and Robin Williams' hairy-armed Mrs. Doubtfire out on dates.

Instead of a B & B, we stayed here:

It was a few miles out of town situated between two trailer parks. Even though Dutch is a cheap bastard who loves just about anything from the 1950s, he was so skeeved out by the looks of this place that he made me get out of the car and peer into the windows of one of the rooms before agreeing to spend the night there. He kept muttering, "Alfred Hitchcock sure did ruin these little motels for everyone. They should have formed an organization and sued his fat British ass."

After convincing him that it wasn't Norman Bates but a nice Indian family at the front desk, we checked in. Then we drove back into town to have dinner. Here's how things went:

6:45: Enter Hoopdee Scootee. Walk around the store, gazing at penis shaped pasta and pink flamingo necklaces and ties made entirely out of rhinestones. Tell Dutch how much I loved this store in junior high, and how naughty I felt walking around it, but how it was always the first place my friends and I went. We bought a birthday card for Dutch's slightly-homophobic dad featuring about ten guys and their naked butts.

7:10: Walk all two streets of Saugatuck, scrutinizing the menu of every single restaurant. This is something Dutch and I have done whenever we traveled. We walked around the entire city of Rome looking at restaurant menus before we found one that satisfied him. It used to drive me crazy, but it happens so infrequently now that we have Juniper that I almost found it endearing. The one place we agreed on had an hour wait, so we put our names on the list and walked the two streets for another hour.

8:02: After being seated in the restaurant, we notice that our table has a tiny cup of crayons on it, and this makes us miss Juniper. Wonder aloud why we left her in the first place. Sappily agree how sweet she is. We order beers and dinner, and I check my cell phone every few minutes to see if I have service in the restaurant. I don't. Wonder continuously if my mom is trying to call.

9:00: Finish dinner, go outside where I finally have cell phone service again. The phone notifies me of a new voicemail. I listen to the message -- it's my mom, she sounds exhausted. She asks us to come home.

9:01: Call my mom. She says Juniper is "very distraught" and has been asking for us for 45 minutes, beginning when my mom tried to get her to go to bed. I ask her what she's doing now, since I can't hear any crying, and my mom says she's sitting with them watching Emeril. I have my mom put Juniper on the phone, and she says: "Hi Mama! What are you doing?" without a trace of tears or sadness in her voice. "Mom," I say, "Try again. She is fine. You're getting played. I'll call back in a half an hour."

9:05: Talk with Dutch about what my mom should do. He develops elaborate theories and strategies and encourages me to call my mom and tell her about them. I don't. We wait and walk and stew by the river and pass what seems like hundreds of little kids in strollers with their parents. Why didn't we just bring our little kid with us? Agree we should have gone someplace where toddlers are forbidden. Like a strip club. Or a gay bar. We end up in the bar where I used to work. They scrutinize our IDs. That makes the whole night worthwhile.

10:00: My mom calls again. Juniper is now asleep. After a boring Iron Chef re-run, she asked to go to bed, and fell asleep right away.

10:01: The night is young! Our kid is finally sleeping! Time for the all-night party to begin! We get in the car and drive to the liquor store. Remembering my love of blue drinks, I take a fancy to this and insist we bring it back to the hotel:

10:45: Take three sips, gag. Fall asleep a few minutes later.

9:17 a.m., the next day: Dutch wakes me up to tell me how late we slept. Success! Maybe next time we'll drive all twenty miles up to Grand Haven.