Often, when people tell me about their vacations, my eyes glaze over, my mind wanders, and I think thoughts like, “Wow, if only this conversation could be put in pill-form, insomnia would be cured forever.” Therefore, I will do my best to keep this discussion about some of the highlights of my recent West Coast getaway brief and hopefully, not too dreadfully dull.
This past weekend, I was in the San Francisco Bay Area visiting my family. As a fatalist considering my 83-year-old father’s many later life ailments — three heart attacks, prostate cancer, and the latest, a second hernia, it occurred to me that before he is felled by a piece of errant space junk falling out of the sky, it would behoove me to visit him for Father’s Day, and so I did. Even though he was quieter than usual, I attributed that to the discomfort he must have been suffering from the aforementioned hernia coupled with the mind numbing monologue that my brother, Axel, delivered about his two cats, Sidd(hartha) and Boo. My sister Dovima’s dog, Thurber, the resident cat-hater, took Axel-matters into his own paws. He would periodically jump on Axel, forcing my brother to give the far more popular canine, attention on demand. How I love that dog!
Back in 1994, Dovima produced a grandchild, Sweetpea, who I suspect my father finds more interesting than tales of Sidd and Boo, if only because she is pretty tight lipped these days. Now that my niece is 15 going on 16, she is in a sullen stage that I personally recall can last well past 40, but unlike Axel’s cats, at least my niece is non-allergenic. When Sweetpea is compelled to engage in conversation, the sounds emitted are showing signs of intelligent life. I am hopeful that when she enters college, we’ll resume conversation, even if she steers it in the direction of what she should do to avoid turning her life into a sinkhole of failure like mine, and I steer it more in the direction of what she plans to do about me when I enter my dotage. I feel very optimistic about the future of my rapport with Sweetpea.
As for Dovima, and my brother-in-law, Chuck, they were their usual affable selves. Dovima chauffeured me to and from SFO at ridiculous hours and Chuck watched several YouTube videos with me shot by Ry, the beekeeping and chicken raising son of my best friend from college, BatPat. Note to BatPat, Chuck wants a jar of Ry’s honey whenever he and Rick (Ry’s dad) get around to canning it or bottling it or however they plan to package it when it’s ready to go on the market.
Whenever I visit my family, they know that I must make time for BatPat, the woman who is closest to me next to Dovima. In recent years when I’ve visited, BatPat and I have been attending winery tours in the Napa Valley, but since this past visit was confined to just the weekend, we only had time for an idyllic dinner at Scoma’s in Sausalito where she shared her latest Lame Adventure since we last got together in December.
My dear friend’s lame adventure concerned a middle of the night escapade orchestrated by her husband and son with a bee hive, a car sunk in mud, and a dangerous bee sting that required her daughter, Ra, coming to her dad and brother’s rescue. Everyone avoided notifying BatPat about this ordeal because everyone was afraid that she would detonate if she were aware of this lunacy. (It did remind me of knuckleheaded antics worthy of my pal from New Jersey, Martini Max.) So, BatPat slept soundly through what could have been a monumental family tragedy had her fast-acting daughter not saved the day. As annoyed as she was about her husband and son trying to ditch a swarm of bees in a mud flat in the midnight hour, she was very proud of Ra.
Afterward, we returned to BatPat’s house that I’ve renamed “Green Acres” in honor of her son’s back yard beekeeping and chicken farming. Rick, her husband, a guy I’ve known as long as BatPat, was waiting for us. He accessed for me a bevy of simultaneously repulsive and compelling videos on YouTube of the survivalist Bear Grylls eating bugs, larvae and dead zebra carcass in the more fetid than great outdoors. As Bear downs his stomach-turning eats, never once does he say, “Tastes like chicken.”
Overall, it was a lovely weekend away from Gotham City with family and friends.