A visit from my parents is unlike any other experience in the world. The event, which I liken to any of your favorite natural disasters – tsunami, hurricane, tornado, is preceeded by several (hundred) phone calls clarifying directions, and asking if I want any of the old broken down things they just found in the attic. This particular visit occured during their Spring migration north, from Florida back to Connecticut. If you felt the rumbling of the entire Eastern Seaboard all last week, well, that was them. Feel my pain. Feel their wrath.
Over the years, I’ve developed a very sophisticated formula to determine when it is time to leave my parents house or when it is time for them to leave mine. The formula is: 48 hours minus the time in their presence equals hours left to go.
After the intial hug and kiss are exchanged, their SUV starts exploding. First to come out is the cooler, contents of which include tiny bits of salsa in the bottom of an oversized jar, leftover restaurant food from four nights earlier and milk. Other things that jump out of the cooler resemble their once, fresh, former self. When no one is looking, I toss the rotting produce into the garbage. It’s very difficult to do this in front of parents who routinely said to me growing up, “No, Velvet. Eat around the mold.” If they catch me, my pleas of “You don’t have to live like you are in the Great Depression anymore” fall on deaf ears and they threaten to strip me of my, our, last name. “You are not one of us” my father seethes through a mouthful of rotting banana. 47 1/2 hours to go.
The next thing to come out of their SUV is usually a bag with my name on it. It has a plethora of free marketing items pilfered from various businesses during their winter in Florida. I am now the proud owner of 18 letter openers that say “Bob’s Insurance” as well as three cup holders from “Palm Beach Nissan,” four of those gripping jar openers from “A-1 Title Services,” two first aid kits from “Palm Beach Medical Center,” and several travel size tubes of KY from “Asian Nights Massage Parlor.” It’s interesting that my parents will constantly tell you that they are “so busy” and they “don’t have time” to do something, yet, the collection of all these items from various businesses must really be a job in itself. Now I know exactly what they are so busy with. “Honey, today Bob’s Insurance is having a grand re-opening. We should go down there and get some stuff.” 47 hours to go.
Now, since my brother was already here this weekend, my parents booked a hotel. They stayed at the Omni Shoreham on Rock Creek Park. Please let me tell you something: This is not an Omni Shoreham kind of crowd. We are talking a Comfort Inn, Motel 6, free gooey donut breakfast in the lobby before 10 a.m. type of family. But my brother found a fabulously cheap rate on the internet which rivaled any other option, and they decided to stay there for two nights. 46 hours 54 minutes to go.
Since their SUV was so overpacked for this, well, all of their trips, there was no room for my brother and I to accompany them to the hotel to check in. (My entire family suffers from a disease called “Packus Rattis Itis” and they are physically incapable of throwing anything away – it causes them to break out in hives and hospitalization becomes inevitable.) So, I supplied the directions and we stayed at my place awaiting their return. When they did make it back to Dupont Circle, we parked their car in front of my building where I was told it would stay for the weekend. Why, you ask? Because it costs money to park at the Omni, and well, we can’t be having any of that. So Mom and Dad made friends with the metro this weekend. 45 hours to go.
When we all came back upstairs to my place, Dad asked for a bag of ice. I gave it to him without really thinking to ask why or what happened. Sometimes you just learn that the details aren’t really important. However, the story eventually came out later. As they were checking in to the Omni, the bellhop tried to grab for Dad’s bag (you know, the bag marked with the logo for “Connecticut HVAC; 24 hour service!”) Dad, not wanting to have to part with any additional dollars swung the bag in the opposite direction from the bellhop, lost his balance and fell down the stairs. How’s that for making a grand entrance into the Omni Grand Lobby? 44 hours, 58 minutes to go.
So we’re back at my place on Friday night and all goes relatively smoothly for a few hours. There’s t.v. watching, dinner eating, metro system explaining. My brother and I decided to just take them back on the metro so they didn’t end up in Anacostia. We got back into the hotel, reenacted dad’s falling down the stairs incident, and made our way to their room. We found the keycards wouldn’t work. Mom speculated if they were at the right room. Dad wasn’t sure. My brother called the front desk and asked. They confirmed (after I stuck the card into most of the doors in the hall) that we were in fact, at the right room, and they would send someone up right away. I asked, “Is it possible that after the lobby incident, they just don’t want you here and they are trying to tell you to get out?” 41 hours to go.
Security arrived to let us into the room. He said, “Oh here’s the problem, you left the do not disturb sign on the door. That’s why the keys don’t work.” My dad said, “Really?” Security man said, “Heh heh, no sir, I’m just kidding.” At this point you had to wonder how these people who could be fooled by that comment, can navigate their way up and down the east coast. Kind of makes you scared to drive on the same road with them, doesn’t it? 40 hours 48 minutes to go.
So we’re in the room now, checking things out. They have a great view of Rock Creek Park, as well as the not-yet-opened pool. Mom busts out of nowhere with, “Did they say that the minibar was complimentary?” We all looked at her and I said, “I don’t think the words ‘mini bar’ and ‘complimentary’ ever occur in the same sentence.” Again, see above comment. How is it that these two can navigate the east coast? 40 hours to go.
Saturday comes. Starts off humid, potential rain stays at bay. Mom and Dad come over and we all eat breakfast. They bring coffee, and 114 sugar packets marked “McDonalds.” (Thanks for that, next cake I make I’ll be tearing sugar packets for hours.) We eat, drink coffee, watch t.v., read the paper, and plan to go see the Cherry Blossoms. While I would prefer a cab, you just don’t do those things in the Velvet family, or again, you would be stripped of your last name. Metro it is and it’s basically a disaster from Metro Center. The crowds, the lines, the rednecks. It was all too much for me to bear. 24 hours to go.
An entire loop around the Tidal Basin later and we metroed our way back to civilization. Laying around my apartment, waiting until dinner time, we all watched t.v., surfed the internet and read more of the paper. We were eating dinner with my neighbor Abby and her parents. I think dinner went off without a hitch, we put Mom and Dad back on the metro and walked back to my place. Abby’s dad said, “I like them. I don’t know why you call them ‘Gloom and Doom.'” Sigh, it’s a nickname well earned. Trust me. 16 hours to go.
My brother stayed over with me. At some ridiculous hour, a bunch of guys started jackhammering the street. Gotta love Dupont. My brother got up to close the window and said, “Hey! Mom and Dad are down there already. Damn!” They came upstairs and it was only then that I realized the clocks jumped ahead overnight. Fucking awesome. 5 hours to go. 4 hours to go.
We were so close. SO CLOSE! The weekend was going to have been a breeze. Dad started packing the car with the things that they had strewn across my tiny apartment. When we went down, he couldn’t find a bag in the car and started bitching about my mother being a packrat. Uh, yeah. Not like he never goes to the store, finds a good sale, and buys enough of said sale item to last three lifetimes, but I digress. I yell up to the open window to ask mom where this alleged bag is that my dad is looking for. She says she’ll come down. Dad quickly slams the door to the SUV and we start to walk back to the front door of my building. 1 hour to go.
Mom comes out the front door. I said, “Forget it, you can find the bag when you unpack.” She says, “Why did you tell me to come down here?” I have NO IDEA what happened from this point forward, but there was screaming, there were F-words yelled at high decibals in the front of my building and it got ugly. I quickly buzzed the door and said, “Get in. Come on.” We got in the elevator. Fighting continues until Abby and David jump in the elevator too. Mom and Dad turn from screaming to that, “Oh, hi guys!” with the big happy face. Remember when you were little and your mom would be yelling at you, then the phone rang? And she would pick it up and say in a totally different and nice voice, “Hello?” Yeah, that. 45 minutes to go.
Back in my apartment, fighting resumes. Holy hell, the yelling was so loud the dogs were cowering under the coffee table. These units are pretty soundproof except for the front doors. Anything can be heard through the front door into the hallways. It’s ridiculous. So, my neighbors got hear the following. (20 minutes to go, by the way.)
Mom: “FUCK YOU YOU SON OF A BITCH! YOU ARE SUCH AN ASSHOLE!”
Mom: “DON’T TELL ME TO SHUT UP YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE! FUCK YOU!!!!”
We walk them down to their car. Pack them up, shut the door, and they drive off. I look at my brother and say, “Is it too soon to high five you?” And he said, “They came, they destroyed, they left.”
Zero hours, zero minutes to go. Until the next time.