Aside from one day where it rained 12 inches in 9 hours and I was certain we were all going to float off to a faraway land, it’s been a great spring break here in Southeast Texas.
I took the nephews on a nature hike where we counted three snakes, two turtles, a hairy spider, a large bumble bee, seventeen wasps, eleventy-thousand mosquitoes and one alligator.
I’ve eaten all manner of treats from boudain balls to fried shrimp and oysters while somehow keeping my weight gain to a minimum. I’m looking forward to going to the South Texas State Fair tonight and eating my entire dinner on a stick, so that’s probably going to add a pound or seven.
My grandmother has made it her personal mission to addict my child to Cheetos, and now he toddles around asking for them by name. I’d be aggravated about the massive handfuls of orange twigs he’s consumed and the sticky dust that’s all over his clothes except that it’s too darn cute when he smiles at you and says “Cheeetoooooes?”
I’ve spent most afternoons with my nephews gallivanting around town and visiting the arcade, the bookstore and several parks. We went to get sno cones one afternoon and I learned a super fun new game called “Mustang.”
Mustang is sort of like Slug Bug, except instead of VW Beetles and punching, you scream out the name of any sports car you come across and get a point. Sometimes you play to ten, other times you keep going and high score wins.
“Chevy Camaro! One point!”
“Mustang GT! I have two points now!”
I did pretty well with older Chevys and Fords, but lost many points when it came to new models because to me, they all look like rectangles on wheels. This made me unhappy, because like the rest of my family, I’m insanely competitive. (More on this later.)
One afternoon we’re driving down the road and I spot a Corvette peeking out of a driveway. I yell “Corvette, red, 8 points! I’m ahead now!”
My nearly-nine-year-old nephew pops up over the seat.
“LIAR! That was a Cobalt.”
Oh no he di-int.
“I will turn this car around, I will TURN IT AROUND. And we will go back and if it is a Corvette you have to vacuum all the Cheetos out of my car,” I threatened. “Thou shalt not question the wisdom of The Jujie.”
So he’s all “Come at me bro,” and before he knows what hit him I’ve pulled a U-turn and am zipping back to the street we just passed.
He soon realizes he’s been bested and tries to crawfish out of it.
“How about if I win before we get home I don’t have to vacuum?” he offers.
I’m the second-best aunt in the world (Aunt Jan holding the title of course) so I agree.
Not that I’m going to let the little shit win though. Oh no. It’s game on for the rest of the day but although I give it my best effort, the importance of driving safely makes spotting cars difficult and I screw up several calls.
He beats me, and gets to watch as I vacuum out the car.
Later in the week I’m driving my sister around with us, and we’ve started a new round of Mustang.
A round I am not going to lose.
But of course, I end up behind because I’m driving and a mile from home, I began to get desperate.
“MUSTANG. RUST!” I call.
The car pulls nearer. I realize Mustangs don’t come in rust. I realize I’m an idiot and it’s a Dodge.
I try to correct my mistake, but my sister yells out first.
“DODGE! CHALLENGER!” she squawks.
We’re now about to pass the car. My sister and I can read the emblem on the grill. Our hearts skip a beat because we know we’ve really screwed the pooch.
My nephew’s face lights up. He leans in for the kill.
“CHAAAAARGERRRRRR!” he yells, Braveheart style.
The interior of the car erupts in a cacophony of laughter.
It’s my favorite music.
My grandfather is rather witty. He’s passed that gift on to many of us, so family gatherings are usually loud and full of laughter.
Wednesday nights around the tv are not lacking in giggles either.
He likes to watch “The Little People” and “The Little Couple” on The Learning Channel. But when he goes to turn on his show at the appointed time, instead it’s a special about the ever-so-fecund Duggars.
At 79, my grandfather is not a patient man. Well, he wasn’t particularly patient at 49, 59, or 69 either, but you get the picture. When things don’t go the way he expects them to, he gets a little grouchy.
He rattles the TV Guide in my face.
“You know what the problem with this thing is?” he grouses. “What it says in here is not what is happening on there.”
As he continues, his voice grows louder in indignation.
“It’s supposed to be the Little People but instead it’s a show about these SEX FIENDS!”
I don’t think it’s fair to qualify the noise I made right then as laughter. It was more like braying. Like a donkey.
Tomorrow I head to Houston with my cousin to hang with Aunt Jan. We’ve got massages scheduled and I’m sure we’ll be stimulating the economy at several outlet and dining establishments.
While I miss my husband, I am thankful for all the work he does and that he provides me with an opportunity to enjoy trips like these throughout the year. It means a lot to me that my son, although he grows up hundreds of miles away, is able to know his great-grandparents, grandmother, aunts, uncles and many, many cousins.
I’m sure one day my baby will grow up to appreciate this too. But for now, his undying gratitude belongs to the big plastic tub next to my grandmother’s chair.
The one that holds the Cheetos.