I know how it must have looked to the underwhelmed outdoor mall kiosk vendors.
A boisterous early-thirties couple with excellently-defined tan lines bumbling their way through the establishment with heavy footfalls, giggling uncontrollably and carrying the faint scent of island rum.
Oh, fantastic, they observed. More drunk tourists.
I knew this because even in my heightened state of awesomeness, my keen ninja senses saw them willing themselves not to roll their eyes, especially when we slurred the following greeting to an unsuspecting swimwear clerk:
“I’m a mother of twins. I don’t want to look sexy anymore. I want to cover my butt. What do you have for that?”
“She just wants a sarong. Is that so wrong?”
Come on, bikini merchant, crack a smile. Can’t you see that we’re hilarious?
Besides, we don’t get out much, and if you walked a mile in our flip flops, you’d be lit up and hilarious tonight, too.
“Stupid rental car,” my wife growled.
“Huh?” I bumbled, snapping out of an exhausted daze. “I thought we liked the rental car.”
Having ventured to Maui with my parents, we’d rented a minivan that would comfortably fit the six of us and our fleet of Traveling Toddler Circus props. Even with the two extra adults there was still plenty of room. Compared to the 4-door sedan we usually cart the kids around in and into which certain strollers only fit one way (when inserted with ninja precision), it was a veritable vehicular vacation on top of our location vacation. In fact, it had inspired us to seek out a van of our own once we returned to Phoenix. Or so I thought as my wife suddenly slandered our steed’s good name.
“We do like it, except for this stupid speedometer. I have no idea how fast I’m going.”
Straightening up on the passenger side, I leaned towards my wife at the wheel to survey the dash. The numbers and gauges shone brightly up at us as we traversed the dark, sans-streetlight coastal road. On this particular night my parents were out on a date and my wife and I were headed back to the hotel with our passed-out munchkins. When it’s just the four of us, my wife usually opts to drive due to her propensity for motion sickness and a particularly vocal flair for back-seat driving. While many of my male peers might see this as gender-role sacrilege, I assure you, this is the optimal driving arrangement.
Examining the dashboard, I saw exactly what my wife was talking about. A digital gauge displayed her speed in kilometers per hour rather than miles per hour.
Avast, ye scurvy lubbers! As ye know, me crew set sail a fortnight ago in search of the Lost Treasure of a Freaking Break from Reality, rumored to be buried in the waters of the Hawaiian Isles.
Alas, while on this voyage, me crew and I be staying at a pirate timeshare on the island of Maui, and a loud plight fell upon the crew’s youngest male while his sister be napping, so I, as Captain, had to stifle this mutiny before it spread.
“Aarrrrgh you kidding me?” I growled softly, so as not to rouse the sleeping maiden. “Here be pirate stickers, Lad. Make your Captain a treasure map.”
The boy accepted the stickers with a toothy grin, as if to say, “Aye, Captain.”
“Aarrrrgh,” I muttered, this time victoriously. He be a good lad, methinks.
Returning to me swashbuckling practice (it be important to stay sharp, me hearties), I quickly be interrupted again.
I grimaced as the all-too-familiar sound of my daughter’s signature baby cuss-fests reverberated throughout the cabin of our 757. Her inflection was remarkably similar to a Ricky Ricardo Spanish flipout as she rattled off unintelligible rapid-fire syllables.
Typically, these soliloquies have me in stitches. The invariable final “BAH” and its emphatic arm thrust just kills me every time.
But here and now, all I could muster was a nervous smile at my wife across the aisle, who flashed a quick one back while wrestling our tiny squirming diva in her lap.
Since two lap kids aren’t allowed in the same three-seat half-row, my wife had elected to fly solo while my son and I sat on the other side with my parents. The plan was to take turns and rotate seats as necessary throughout the flight, but for now, with the “fasten seat belts” sign lit and the crew preparing for take-off, we were locked into this configuration. We had booked the flight to coincide with their naptime in hopes they would crash for a significant portion of it, but the TSA security shuffle and unfamiliar surroundings now had them simultaneously wired and tired. And grumpy as hell.
When the Twins were first born, a family friend who is a mother of three now-grown children once told me, “Now that you’re a parent of two, people are going to offer you help. A word of advice: let them.” Of course, the context for this was her generosity and my insisting it wasn’t necessary, but a lot has happened since then, and roughly a year later, I’m so on board. I don’t even glance at the mouths of gift horses.
I have no problem with strangers holding the door for me so I can shimmy the just-barely-narrow-enough double stroller through it. I willingly accept offers to cut ahead of one-item purchasers at grocery checkout in the event of Twin tantrums due to not letting them hold every single pack of gum on the register’s candy shelf. I truly appreciate the Babies “R” Us cashiers who are more than willing to accept a returned product even though it’s been opened and I don’t have the damned receipt because my son literally ate it–especially when this explanation is peppered with “Buddy, don’t poke that rattlesnake” and “Sweetie, where did you find that flame thrower? That’s dirty. Give it to Daddy.”
Thus, when my parents offered to take the Twins, my wife and me to Maui with them on vacation, I blurted “We accept!” and scrambled my wife and kids out to the car, gunning it down the road before my parents could change their minds or say they were joking.