Last week I went on vacation (if any of my constituents are reading this, it was a working vacation!). I noticed right away that my vacations have changed over the years. When I was young my vacations were wild and decadent. I would just go somewhere and hang out nude for a week, although this did prove embarrassing when I went to the Smithsonian.

Even after I first got married, I took Jen to the most romantic spots in the world, or at least the most romantic spots in the world that I could afford (Laundromats mostly). However, the fact that we now have kids, coupled with the fact that my current career doesn’t lend itself to newspaper pictures of me drinking whiskey from a jock strap, means that my vacations are somewhat more tame.

Last week we packed up the kids (who were initially somewhat resistant to being “packed”) and a dozen Speedo’s ®, and went to my father-in-law’s (Bob) retirement community in Florida to party down. Here is my trip diary.

Day 1 –

The flight goes well. People on the plane seemed to like my sense of humor, particularly my frequent shouts of “HOLY JESUS, WE’RE GOING DOWN!!!”

Arriving at “Heaven’s Lobby,” Bob’s retirement development, it appears the average age is 107. Bob’s neighbor, Ida, does look a lot like Britney Spears, if Britney had been born in 1871.

Dinner the first night is very good. It’s a seafood buffet with the best Shrimp and Lobsters in Florida. It would probably have been even better if it weren’t fed to us intravenously.

Day 2

I wake up at 6:00 and rise to greet the dawn. Then I decide I’d rather rise to greet noon and I go back to bed.

The whole family goes to the pool where we meet some of the locals. I learn that everyone has some interesting fact about themselves to share. I learn that Milton, at 84, is a President of the “Whippersnappers Club” (people under 96 are eligible). Rose Goldfarb collects old cigarette lighters, and Bob’s neighbor Ida is a member of “Islamic Jihad.”

Early in the evening I go to play tennis, but the courts are packed, mostly with people receiving CPR. So I tag along with the Bird Watcher’s Club. Heaven’s Lobby makes it easy for the bird watchers, in that the birds are all stuffed and thus don’t move. Still, the sighting of even an inert “Yellow-Bellied Sap Sucker” is enough to get everyone excited.

Day 3 –

I dropped by an early morning Thai Chi class, but after getting into several fist fights, I opted to just take a long walk on the beach to explore my inner-self. When you have an outer-self like mine, you are encouraged to explore your inner-self as much as possible.

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of introspecting while hungry. So my mind kept wandering. Here are some samples of my deep thoughts:

“If man is the mere sum of his achievements, and all achievements are
fleeting and illusory, then…man, I’d love a corn dog ’bout now.”

“Our anger is a manifestation of our own imperfection rather than
a reaction to….clam strips!!”
“Are not all Gods really the same cry for knowledge? Whether its Buddha
or Allah or…JESUS I need some fried cheese. Where the hell does
a person get some damn fried cheese on this Peninsula??”

Day 4

Heaven’s Lobby puts on a show each year. This year it was an original called “Methuselah is Jail Bait” starring Chuck Woolery. Tempting as this was, I convinced Jen to skip the noon matinee and head on down to the beach.

Any rock afficionado will know that it was on Venice Beach that Jim Morrison sang “Moonlight Drive” to Ray Manzerick, which led to the formation of the Doors. This wasn’t Venice Beach; however, as an homage, I wanted to recreate that moment with Jen. So I was Jim Morrison, and Jen was Ray Manzerick. We improvised the famous meeting. It worked out really well. Here is how we created it.

ME (Jim) Hey Brother Ray.

Jen (Ray) Can we go to the car?

ME (Jim)
I’ve been writing songs man.

Jen (Ray)
I’m hot, I’m sunburned, and I want to go back
to the house!

ME (Jim)
Let’s fly to the moon
let’s swim to the tide
penetrate the evening
that the city sleeps to hide.

Jen (Ray)
Are you done yet? You’re a grown man
for God’s sake?

ME (Jim)
So Ray, do you have any dubeage?

Jen (Ray)
Ok, I’m going back. You can come with
me or stay here, whatever.

ME (Jim)
Ok man, that sounds good. Let’s form that

I think we came pretty darn close to recreating that magic moment.

Day 5

Time to go home. Despite everything, I’m going to miss Heaven’s Lobby. The palm trees, the stuffed birds, the daily 40% mortality rate, the excellent nightly mosh pit (I’m just kidding, the moshing wasn’t actually very good), sharing memories of Calvin Coolidge, chugging Ensure ® like there was no tomorrow, beggin Jen to kill me “for the love of God”–I’m going to miss all of it.

Who knows, maybe next year we can do it all again. If we do, I hope to see my little Jihadi Ida one more time. I’m sending her a postcard urging her to hold off on claiming her 72 virgins for another year.

Dutch Larooo