In keeping with my birthday week theme, here is the tale of the day I turned a whole decade old.
That summer, my parents, sister and two grandparents all packed it up Griswold style and drove cross country. Note: my parents are teachers, so they have the summers off, and they decided this would be the an education we would never forget. They were right…..but for reasons they didn’t envision.
On my birthday, we were in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. A lovely town for skiing I hear, but dead of summer? Not so much. I was greeted by an arbor of antler horns, which totally creeped me out, and my poor kid sister thought they belonged to all of Santa’s reindeer…so she cried incessantly, and thus my birthday began.
We decided to go eat at a local diner. When we finished, my sister pitched a hissy fit because she wanted more dessert. I had to go to the bathroom. I told my parents this, then went on. When I was gone, my sister got louder. They scurried her to the car and went on to find a hotel.
I came out of the bathroom, ready to go and couldn’t find my family. I went to the parking lot to see if they are there. They are not. At this point, I realize I’m all alone. The only person I know? Our waitress, who was probably all of 20 at the time, named Lucille.
I walked into the restaurant, reconciling the fact that I have been left behind….on…my…birthday. This is well before cell phones and internet were standard. And, of course, I had no idea what hotel they were going to choose. I walked up to Lucille and tugged on her apron, big tears spilling down my freckled cheeks.
Lucille: Yes honey?
Me: Can I stay with you tonight?
Lucille: Er…um. What? she says with a slightly flushed face
Me: My family left me….and I don’t know anyone else here.
Lucille: On your birthday!?! she had generously brought me cake and sung to me just moments earlier
Me: Yeah… guess so. sniff sniff snub
Lucille: Where are they?
Me: I don’t know….
Lucille puts her hand on my shoulder and leads me to a booth.
Lucille: There there…. let me get you some chocolate milk. Does that sound good?
Me:(crying big crocodile tears) Yes, please, ma’am.
While Lucille was gone, I began contemplating how I would make it home. I envisioned calling my other grandmother, who was miffed that she wasn’t on said trip and being relegated to spending my summer in her house, shucking corn. I laid my head down on the table and sobbed.
THERE YOU ARE!!!!!!
I was flooded with joy, tinged with anger – it was my mom!
Me: MOM!! You came back for me!
Mom:She flew to me, tears flowing, hugging me tight…Sweetie did you think we’d left for good?
Me: Well….yeah. snub snub
Lucille: returns with my chocolate milk, shoots my mom an evil look
Then she stands beside me like a protective mama hen.
Mom: All I can say is I’m sorry. Your sister….
Me: IT’S MY BIRTHDAY! YOU LEFT ME! I DON’T CARE! I say as I dramatically throw my head back down on the table
Mom: I’ll buy you anything you want.
Mom: Please honey….
Me: I want my OWN hotel room tonight….and tomorrow. ALONE.
Mom let me feel justified for a minute as I sat there with my new friend, Lucille, and sipped my chocolate milk as slow as possible. I did get my own room that night, though it adjoined my parents and the door remained open the whole time between us. But, I was free from the flailing arms of my sister and had my own TV. I spread out like a princess, and slept like a rock. And my mom? Paranoid. Never let me out of her sight again, even as a teen…and even now as an adult. I can count on one had how many times in my adult life I’ve been cleared to go to the bathroom, buffet line or dressing room without mom coming too. Mom’s even worse with my poor sister.
I am certain that Wyoming is a lovely state, but this tale, bloggies, is why I can never return. I get a little panic flutter when I think about it….although I do wonder what ever happened to sweet Lucille. I like to imagine she won the lottery, has an amazing husband and three great kids…and that she named one after me.
The upside to this story, aside from the fact that my parents came back, is that it provides me with endless fodder for winning arguments.
My sister doesn’t get her way?
I say: Well, at least no one left you for dead….ON YOUR BIRTHDAY.
Mom gets mad at something I did?
I say: Well, at least I didn’t LEAVE YOU, on your birthday, with strangers…clear across the country!
There really isn’t any retort to top that in my family. Used sparingly and at the right times? I can ride that gem forever.
Here’s to you Lucille….wherever you are,