August 09, 2006

Internally Yours

There is a point in the summer of every East Ender (particularly those who hold local jobs) when the traffic, crowds and ostentatious scene become too much to bear. Although I have yet to reach this point (it's only the beginning of August), I eagerly accepted an invitation to take a vacation from my "vacation." It was time for me to relax.

But taking a vacation from vacation proves problematic. First, you must explain to your boss (in my case bosses) why you're missing work. "Rick, I'm going to catch a terrible case of whooping cough. So sorry I won't be able to make it into the office. How will you survive without me?!"

"Dear H., I will be unable to work in the store next week, as a customer will step on my toe with her Jack Roger stiletto limited edition. I will be in excruciating pain and will be bed-ridden for six days. You know how hard retail is on the feet. My sincerest apologies."

Next, you have to pray your friends will forgive you for leaving them in the lurch. "Sorry girls, my mom insists bar-hopping isn't a sport. She and I are traveling to a spa for six days for mother/daughter detox. You'll have to find another wing-woman. Good luck finding Mr. Right. Don't puke without me."

And so, with all these odds and ends straightened away, I was ready to venture outside the Hamptons into the real-world.

First stop, Sandusky, Ohio.

Sandusky? Who on Earth wants to go there, you might ask. Sandusky is the Roller Coaster Capital of the world and home to Cedar Point Amusement Park (not to be confused with our local Cedar Point Park — a camping site near my home in Northwest Woods. Ah, so that's why my dad consented to the excursion. He thought I was sojourning down the street . . . ).

I packed lightly since I planned to be away less than a week; a small suitcase with wheels would suffice. At 6 a.m., my friend picked me up, his SUV crowded with his aunt and four younger cousins. I swiftly realized my lean luggage was not so lean. The conundrum was remedied by stuffing my essential items into garbage bags, which got squished in back next to six pounds of cold-cuts (the food that was supposed to sustain us throughout the 10-hour trip — we stopped at McDonalds five times. That's once every two hours).

The long hours spent on the road were well-worth it. Cedar Point was amazing . . . until we got thrown out. Who knew officials were opposed to guests pilfering change from park fountains?

The trouble began when my friend developed a gambling addiction. He was playing an arcade game — the kind that is virtually impossible to win. The prize was a Zippo lighter — a highly desirable collector's piece, according to the Fountain Felon in question. After we exhausted our funds, we were faced with three options: beg, borrow or steal. In my defense, I may have been an accessory to the crime, but I was an unwitting accessory.

I suggested a reprieve from the game room and sat on the ledge of a fountain to glance at the park map. Seconds later, my buddy, desperate for dough, submerged his torso beneath the chlorinated water, where he began fishing for change. A barrage of bubbles emanated from his mouth and burst as they surfaced. His feet kicked the ground wildly. Was he drowning? Should I save him? His antics were noted by the Park Po, who rushed to the "victim's" aid. My friend emerged victorious, his hands filled with coins. Too bad they were confiscated by the bewildered authorities that were not about to let us off the hook. Despite our earnest apologies, we were escorted out of the park. Looks like stealing other people's wishes is not the best way to get your own wish granted. We may not have won a complimentary Zippo, but we did get out of jail free.

Soon, it was time to head home. Then, the cyclone hit. No, really it did! Just ask the citizens of Westchester. I swear, this was not another one of my brilliant excuses for missing work. This was an actual meteorological threat! In order to elude the storm, I was forced to spend one more day over the rainbow. Isn't it a shame vacations from vacations must come to an end?

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