I have a lot of problems.
One of my favorites is that I’m a closet “Type-A” I don’t have to be in charge, and I don’t have to plan everything down to the smallest detail (like my wife), but I do create a largely unattainable ideal of how things “should” go in my head. Inevitably, things don’t quite meet my expectations, and I get grumpy.
Wednesday night, Liv had requested the old camping favorite of “food wrapped in tin foil and cooked all together” for dinner. Since it was 85 by the time/temp sign outside of the credit union, I thought it’d be fun to bring the party to the beach. At Togue Pond, there are those little grills on pedestals. I figured we could cook dinner while we cooled off, and then enjoy a nice dinner al fresco.
In my head, the kids would be happily playing and splashing, I’d be recounting my day with the Mrs. in front of the grill, and probably a nice summertime soundtrack would be playing softly in the background.
I bought all the necessary ingredients for dinner, Beth put everything together, and we loaded up the van and took off. My friend Nicole had chided me for driving, in her estimation, 45 minutes to a swimming hole. I couldn’t believe it was that far, so I timed the drive. Unfortunately, I got behind some old man who’d never apparently driven in this century, and was frightened by the prospect of going over 28 mph at any given moment. Still, I made it from my house to the pond in 36 minutes. Ha!
That was the last thing that went even close to right.
While it was so hot and sticky in town you could hardly breathe, it was borderline gale force winds at the Pond. Seriously. All the tucked behind the point, shaded from the wind sites were taken, obviously, and we were stuck with one that may as well have been in a wind tunnel. Frustrating.
The kids headed off towards the Pond, stopping to ask if we’d be joining them (every 12 seconds). I turned the grill so that the fire box was at least partially out of the wind, and put in the whole bag of briquettes. Sadly, the cheap briquettes that I’d picked up at Hannaford were insuffienciently motivated to burn by the bag around them being set on fire. Not that I had an easy time getting the bag lit in hurricane force winds.
So, I found some papers in the car, shredded them, and stuffed them in amongst the still-black charcoal. I also put in some small twigs and pine needles. The best I could muster was a smoky smudge. I was further frustrated.
During our epic battle between man and nature, the kids had bailed on swimming, 20% because they were frustrated that Dad hadn’t joined them yet, and 80% because of the two-pound horseflies. You know, the only ones who can fly in such winds.
I changed into my trunks, and hopped in to play with the kids. Simultaneously, Jake wanted my full attention so we could frolic and play and have me put him on my shoulders, etc. Liv wanted to play pass with the football, and Gabe insisted that I give all of my attention to the spider he found on the shore. I tried to juggle my attention as best I could while continuously swatting at the battalion of HUGE horseflies that were trying to carry me off. My frustration level was climbing.
After no more than 15 minutes, we were all ready to give up on swimming. Beth had made no more headway than I had with the fire. Problem was, we had a public grill filled with poorly burned charcoal briquettes. Not the kind of thing you can just LEAVE for the next guy. Especially with parts of them still smoldering.
Beth had the great idea of drowning the fire, as is the forest rule. I poured three large buckets of water into the grill, making a black, soupy, foul-smelling mess. Of course, leaving this mess for the next guy isn’t exactly polite, either. So, we scraped it all into a few of our beach buckets and loaded it into the back of our van. Smells great, in case you’re wondering.
So, with a cooler full of raw meat and vegetables, wet kids who weren’t having any fun, three buckets full of soggy charcoal briquettes, a surprisingly calm and cool wife, and an increasingly pissed off dad, we began our trip home.
The kids immediately began bickering. I couldn’t even tell you what about. I hollered back for Jake to stop. Stop fighting? Stop hogging the device? Stop … I don’t know. I really don’t. I just remember that I hollered back and said, “Jake, Stop!”
His poorly timed response?
I slammed on the brakes, brought the car to a full and complete stop, and turned on him. I was working up for my best Dad-glare, and I was about to give him a huge piece of my mind. I looked him right in the eye.
Everybody was silent, and Jake muttered, in a half-whisper, “Whoa. Hold on.” He knew things were getting serious.
I couldn’t help it. I broke out laughing. Everyone did. We literally laughed until we cried. It was the most frustrating hour we’d spent together in a while. It doesn’t seem like much, I grant you, but it seriously was. It was so crappy.
We drove another 30+ minutes home, started the oven, and settled in to watch Rocky IV. On the way home, Gabe had requested we play Bill Conti’s classic, “Gonna Fly Now” from the Rocky soundtrack. It spurred interest in the film.
We snuggled together on the couch, cheered for Rocky, and eventually ate our tin-foil treats from TV trays. The kids went to bed with full bellies and smiles on their faces.
I guess all’s well that ends well; but my God, it was touch and go there for a minute.
It should have been easy. It was anything but.
This kind of thing ever happen to you?