So that night, as my parents and grandparents started to do that yawning and stretching thing, and all of the signs of impending bedtime, I started thinking…. Uhm, my grandparents may have had two extra bedrooms, but only one of them actually had a bed in it. The only other option was the floor of the second bedroom or the 1960s couch… I chose the second bedroom. A pallet of blankets was made up. As I laid down I realized… there was absolutely no padding between the very, very thin carpet (leave it to my grandparents to get builder’s basic) and the concrete foundation. To this day I have a bad back and I’m pretty sure it came from sleeping on that floor.
The next day I woke up feeling like every bone in my body had settled at a right angle in the middle. I got up slowly, cracking my back, and wandered into the living room to find out when my parents could take me to go see my friends. I was informed by my mom that it was family time. In other words, “if I have to suffer, so do you.” I was beginning to think I had vastly overestimated this vacation. My only consolation was that my older sister, who lived and worked not far from where my grandparents lived, was being forced to spend the time with on too. I inwardly cackled with glee that she would have to suffer too.
My sister was more clever than I had counted on, however. That night, she slipped out after dinner, claiming that she had to “work.” I glumly went in to play my snake-eating-apples game. When that finally got too boring, I walked slowly out to the living room – not wanting to, but having nothing else to do. In the living room I found Mafia asleep in his Laz-E-Boy, and my parents sunk into the 30 year old sofa. Jeopardy! was playing on TV.
“Hey, mom and dad,” I whispered. They turned to me. “Seinfeld should be on.”
Realizing I was right, my dad got up and turned the TV to the right channel (Mafia was clutching the remote control in his hands). Soon we were laughing and, of course, it woke up Mafia.
“You need to learn stuff,” he grumbled. With that, he punched buttons on the remote and turned it back to Jeopardy! He promptly fell back asleep.
My parents and I looked at each other, dumbfounded. Not quite sure what to do, my dad got out his laptop and took it into the breakfast room. Upon hearing the familiar “Welcome! You’ve got mail!” (Hey, it was 1997, that was normal) of his hooking up the Internet, I jumped up and said, “OH I know a fun game we can play! You have to download it though.” My dad quickly agreed. As I punched in the right URL, my mother joined us. The download window popped up. It estimated twelve minutes to download.
The game was the only thing going for us, so we watched the progress as it downloaded. 11 min 50 sec…. 11 min 45 sec… 11 min 39 sec… The seconds slowly ticked by… 11 min 32 sec… 11 min 28 sec… The three of us huddled around the laptop, staring at the screen like it was the last morsel of food on a desert we were all stranded on. The final Jeopardy! Theme song played in the background. “Do do do do, do do do. Do do do do Dop! Dodododo, do do do do, do do do. Dop, do do do, do do do.”
It reached five minutes! We were in the homestretch!
Wait, it still says five minutes.
Still five minutes…
It’s stuck on five minutes…
YOUR CONNECTION HAS BEEN LOST.
“NO!” We all shouted at the screen in silence. Our hope all lost, we stared at the screen in silence.
“I’m going to look at Christmas lights,” my dad announced, bolting out of his chair.
I’m coming too,” my mom and I followed. Grabbing our coats and quickly tossing them on, we hurried to the front door. Just as we were about to reach it, the dreaded creature jumped out in front of us, blocking our path.
“Where are you going?” Wino asked in her perpetually chipper voice.
Frozen, we looked at her in terror. My dad spoke first. “Uh… we’re going to look at Christmas lights.”
“Oh, give me a second, I’ll go with you.”
“NO! Uh, no, that’s ok, you don’t have to. We won’t be long anyway.” With that, we slipped past her, out the door, into the cold December air, and practically dove into the care. As we drove to the other side of town, which unfortunately took about five minutes, we grumbled about what a miserable idea this vacation had been. When we got back thirty minutes later, I headed straight to bed. At that point, the rock-hard floor was a welcome friend.