Answer: NOT LONG ENOUGH. Question: So how long were you gone, Mrs. Linklater?
I went down to the Jersey Shore to hang with my college roomie and her family during their annual "you can't believe it until you've seen it" gathering.
The two week event was shortened to a mere ten days this year. So only 22 people showed up. A comparatively small crowd considering that 40 is not an unheard of number for dinner. Amazing what two and three houses can hold. The inflatable mattress industry owes them a big thank you.
Despite my advanced age, I'm treated as an extra daughter and pretty much get tossed around like a member of the crowd, which can range in age from 92 to the latest baby. Many of the females are named Euphemia. This tradition got started a long time ago and its origins are fuzzy. The good news is that anyone named Euphemia is always called something else, like Peggy or Bonnie. Normal names. Although we used to call my old roomie, Euph, from time to time.
Meanwhile, there's a female baby due this fall and it will NOT, I repeat, NOT be named Euphemia. Sometimes traditions go down hard. With a loud voice.
There were celebrations almost every night. Multiple birthdays, a college graduation, and a baby shower. Candle wax quickly became a condiment. Leftover cake turned into an hors d'oeuvres.
I wrote a 13th birthday haiku for one of the kids. And bad limericks for a new dad to be. And I created a Collitch Diploma for the new graduate, who hasn't actually graduated yet. But you hate to pass up a chance to party.
One of the brothers-in-law is a chief medical resident in Chicago, so we created a special "Office Hours of the Medicustus Doctoralis" sign for him to hang, since everybody asks him about their aches and pains the moment he walks in the door.
A computer room gets set up for those of us who like to say we're on vacation, but keep on working. This time, instead of getting up early and working all morning every day, or flying out and back for a meeting somewhere, which has happened three times, I managed to put everything on hold for once. Except for printing out the bad poems and fake diplomas, etc. Dial up was our only connection, so some people were sending proposals and reports out at night because dial up meant it was going to take a good six hours.
I put my journal on hiatus, too. That was hard -- giving up an addiction for ten days. I haven't written or read any entries in so long my email is about to explode. My guilt, too. It'll pass.
Down at the shore, everyone pitches in. I mixed up quadruple batches of chocolate chip cookies several times. With and without nuts. Then some with pecans. And some with macadamia nuts. And one special batch with nuts and without chips. I drew the line at white chocolate anything. White chocolate is an oxymoron. Chocolate comes in one color, brown. White is not chocolate.
The best is dipping the cookies right out of the oven into Cool Whip.
Somebody goes to the bakery at 7:00 AM for crumb cake. I used to ride a bike into town at 6:45 so I could be first in line to get two boxes before it was gone. Then I discovered they made another batch that was ready at 8:00. After a couple of summers, I just slept in.
Early morning includes a group that goes running or walking before the eating begins. This is usually a sorry attempt to pre-empt any calories that follow.
Sometimes we ALL go to Uncle Bill's, a popular local restaurant, for pancakes and omelettes. That takes an hour to coordinate. Should we take three or four cars? Is anyone going to ride a bike? Often someone who slept in gets left behind and pouts for the rest of the day.
Generally, everyone just wanders over to one of the houses for whatever's being made by whoever feels like cooking. Breakfast tends to be cholesterol rich and health-free. With cereal and yogurt chasers. And a dose of the New York Times.
Lunch is whatever you can find in the fridge after walking the one block back from the beach. The seagulls are so brazen they will go into your mouth after food if you aren't careful, so no picnics on the sand.
Up at the house, there's leftovers, which are better the next day anyway. Later, we take turns cooking dinner. [Except this year, I just kept baking cookies.] Jersey corn and tomatoes are almost a nightly staple. So are melon and pies, especially fruit and key lime. Lots of grilling, too.
This is a family of former high school and college competitors in tennis and football. And a couple of really good golfers who married into it. So sports activities include many rounds of golf, tennis, beach paddle, throwing a football around, and family games that come in boxes.
Cranium was big this year -- with huge teams competing at the top of our lungs for hours at night. "CLUB CRANIUM!!!!! YAY!! [Stomping and clapping that continues for about a minute]" We had lots of do overs because of alleged ties. "I said it first!" "I said it first!" "Do over."
This year we also watched 35-year old slides many nights after dinner. Just enough to get folks yawning. Or stunned into silence. See people with hair who lost it. See people who were thin who got fat. See people with husbands they divorced. I saw myself in about four different wigs, very short skirts, indescribable shoes, and often looking like a model. NOT ANYMORE!!!!!!!!! Who's that? Mrs. Linklater. No-o-o-o-o!! You're kidding!!!
I also went down to Cape May, the charming tourist infested quaint as schitt town about twenty minutes away. There's a linen store called Cheeks, where I like to load up on outfits for the year. I was never sure whether Cheeks stood for those round pink things on your face, a really big booty or what, until I looked in the phone book for an address. There I discovered a whole bunch of people named, of all things, CHEEKS.Who knew?
After ten days, most of us left the beach for North Jersey in the rain from Hurricane Charlie. Some headed for Philadelphia airport. Other's drove to Williamsburg for more vacation.
I spent the entire next day trying to get out of Newark. My 10:19 AM plane was finally cancelled after three hours of getting on and off. Then my substitute plane ride that was supposed to leave at 3:25 didn't board until after 4:00. And didn't take off until after five. And didn't get to the gate at O'Hare until around 7:00, which would be 8:00 PM at the beach, sorry, in Jersey, it's the shore.
Ah, back to real life.