Friday, January 4, 2019

Putting the BREAK in Spring Break

Worst Spring Break ever!
And I'm not even talking about my failed college attempts at trying to have fun over spring break either. No, this unfortunate adventure occurred well into my adult years. I got some explainin' to do...

First, a little background: for as long as I can remember, my dad was in a wheelchair, a victim of Multiple Sclerosis. Yet it never kept him down. For many years, my parents were "snow-birds," fleeing to the warmth of Florida during the cold, Kansas winter months.

So I grabbed my wife and daughter on their various spring breaks (respectively from work and school) and had the lame-brained idea of visiting my parents at Daytona Beach! Fun in the sun! Except...

The minute we arrived, I knew we were in trouble. The streets were jam-packed with partying kids ("Get outta the way, you damn punk kids!") and bikers ("Excuse me, sir, please allow me to get out of your way."). 

The first night at our hotel, kids were screaming up and down the hallway all night long. A very hammered girl, drink in hand, knocked on our door. 

In a slurred voice, she says, "Hey, can I talk to Ricky?"

"Sorry, you have the wrong room," I replied.

"No, this is the room number Ricky gave me." She looks over my shoulder, puts a foot forward. Sips from her cocktail.

"No, I'm sorry, but you're wrong. I'm here with my wife and daughter."

"C'mon." She rolls her eyes. "Quit jacking around. Let me talk to Ricky."

Desperate now, hoping my wife will get out of the shower, I grab my young daughter, thrust her forward as a visual cue since the drunk girl won't listen to reason. "See!" I point toward my daughter.

Finally, she believed me.

That was our first night. As it turns out, our last night in Florida as well.
The next day, we gear up and go to some small-time, local, cheesy water park. The star attraction? A dolphin who paints pictures (kinda) with his flipper.

On the way out, my mom falls down on the sidewalk. Off we go to the emergency room! She'd broken her leg. As we pushed both of my incapacitated parents out of the hospital in wheelchairs (quite a parade), I knew it was a sudden end to Spring Break, 2004!

What to do next? Clearly, we couldn't leave my parents alone in Florida like that. Plans were formulated. My wife and daughter managed to get my mom on a plane and take her home. I, on the other hand, had to drive my dad from Florida to Kansas. Horrors!

In a way it was a good thing. I sorta reconnected with him (even though he told the same stories. A lot.). I also realized the courage the man had, how he kept going in the face of adversity, every day confronting new challenges to his wheelchair-bound life. But what a giant. He never let his situation drag him down. And even though he's been gone for several years, I still applaud the way he embraced life.

Finally, exhausted, we arrived home where the pampering continued for a while.

But, wait, there's a happy ending to the misery! The cheesy water park--in way of apology for their crappy sidewalks--sent my mom an autographed "painting" from Blippo, their star dolphin!

Speaking of horrors originating from Kansas, give a look-see to my first short horror collection, Twisted Tales from Tornado Alley, just up around the Twilight Zone and next door to October Country. 

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