College Boy, High School Girl

It’s been 35 days, or 5 weeks. It already seems like forever. He checks in regularly – at least insofar as I hear from him every few days but not in a predictable way.

He has an on-campus job in, of all things, GROUNDS KEEPING. This is the same kid who mowed the lawn here no more than, twice.  He’s never weed-wacked anything. He doesn’t weed. And, he will be the one getting up at the ass-crack of dawn to clear snow from the sidewalks while everyone else is still sleeping. (To his credit, he has done this at home, though not before noon.)

He’s being courted by a fraternity and asked my thoughts on it. This has actually been an ongoing conversation. Todd, never “that” type of guy, didn’t even consider joining one. The “Dad,” who never even went to college, thinks it’s stupid. And then there’s me.

I do belong to a national sorority. It was a no-brainer for me, at a small college where I started – where nearly everyone went Greek. I explained to him my reservations about him pledging from a mother’s perspective, given all the media attention to bad behavior and some recent deaths in fraternities attributed to hazing. I explained that while you’re pledging, they essentially “own” your time – if a brother calls you up and says get over here and clean my toilet, you damn well better get over there. Make sure these are good guys. Make sure they share the same values. (Turns out he already learned all this on his own by asking them questions.)

They like him and really want him to join. Of COURSE they do. I reminded him about how intoxicating it is to be pursued by someone. He reminds them of an alum, he said, and told me he was blown away when he saw a picture.*

I mentioned more practical considerations, like financial and time commitment. And then I launched into all the good things. The camaraderie, support, having purpose through philanthropy, and of course the fun. How these men will be his brothers for life. Thirty years later, and I would trust my sisters with my life. No reservations. But I made sure to emphasize that it’s not the only choice, and it’s certainly not for everyone. (See? The Gemini speaks.)

He’s tasted alcohol. He’s been babysitter to his puking roommate, in a bathroom for two hours, the details such as vomit everywhere and calling for backup he left out but shared with his dad. This is the same kid who bolted out of the room like his ass was on fire when his sister went all exorcist at the other end of the couch. He doesn’t have the “stomach” for it, all the more notable since he never left his roommate’s side.

And, he is his mother’s son. Vodka straight is not what I’d recommend, and yet that is how he prefers it. Jeezus lord – I told him to mix it with something and make sure he’s guzzling plenty of water too. He said he does drink a lot of water. He’s had Jack Daniels. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Although he says beer still tastes like piss, which is par for the college course.

He’s trying to ignore hometown drama. Some of his friends here have accused him of being “too good” since he’s in college now, and it pisses him off. He acknowledged that they miss him and might be feeling abandoned because he’s not coming home on weekends, but they’re being ignorant about it. He consistently amazes me with his ability to see things and yet remain steadfast to his goals.

Academically, he’s doing fine. Learning how to manage his time, after saving all his homework and then spending ten hours on a Sunday. He called me on Monday to bitch about Spanish, how it’s total bullshit and I don’t want to take [expletive] classes that have nothing to do with my major. Haven’t we all felt that way? But in life, my love, there are things you’re going to have to do to achieve your goals. And sometimes in a JOB, you’re going to have to do things you really don’t want to do.

I saw him three weeks ago, because he needed his SS card to start his job and I had it. I realize that it was too soon, but it was necessary and I brought him some other things he’d forgotten. Plus, because he’s my baby boy, I brought him chicken from Royal Farms (he can’t get it there) and some Otterbein’s cookies.

What a thrill to sit across a table from him and see him. He had so much to share and he will never know how good it felt to be with him, even for an hour. It took all of my self-restraint not to reach out and grab him. I said, let me just look at you for a minute, before he got out of the car. He said, Mom, I’m fine. I think he thought I was going to cry. I totally wasn’t. I was fine. And I was ready for me to leave too.

~~~~~

High school is underway and in full force at day 24 … she’s got upperclassmen friends and plans for Homecoming. She got off the bus one day, talking-shouting at me about what kind of dress she needs for Homecoming and how she wants to get her hair done. The dress is already purchased and is hanging in the closet, picture day is tomorrow, and the yearbook email has arrived with the “lowest price ever” of $60. Which, seriously, IS the lowest I’ve seen in 5 years. O’s was $90. Good God, this girl is going to cost me a fortune.

She’s compared the Homecoming dress to the Prom dress and how they are NOT the same, and all I’m thinking is I sincerely hope no one asks her to the prom this year. She’s hoping someone will ask her to homecoming but that’s unlikely since she shot the poor kid down last year and I can’t even believe I’m talking about this because she’s only 14 and why do we have to live in drama all the time?

She’s got to be the most opinionated teenage girl ever. She knows Everything. Including stuff she doesn’t know but insists she does anyway. It’s maddening. Where did she learn to be so judge-y?? Oh wait – that apple didn’t fall far from the tree either. Not THIS tree, THAT tree. This one’s shorts are too short, that one is rude, [pick any random person] is wrong-wrong-wrong, O shouldn’t be drinking, his roommate is a bad influence, so-and-so doesn’t manage her diabetes very well, why are you having wine again?

Academics – in the midst of all the teenage noise – are going well for her so far. She continued Chinese studies for the first week – whined about how hard it was this year and how terrible the teacher was, and marched her tiny ass down to the guidance counselor and requested and was transferred to Spanish 1. At least she channels some of her moxie for useful things.

I am impressed and proud of how she has transitioned to young adulthood in the last several weeks. She manages her homework without being monitored, she gets herself up in the morning and is ready to go, and – the biggest one of all – she is managing her diabetes all by herself. She is changing her pump sets out By Herself. Completely. I am  mostly a spectator, and a constant nag to fill in her logbook (a work in progress).

How am I doing? These have been dreaded milestones for years – but I am feeling stable and not emotional about it. I’m not feeling the sadness in missing O. Probably because I’m constantly distracted by V’s whiplash brand of in-your-face moods, judgements, and admonitions.

Someone send me a forbidden cocktail.

 

*Being a bit nosy myself, I googled the fraternity and his college and found a pic of a group of guys and – as I looked closely – there he was. The alum who resembles O, and goddamn it IS uncanny.

 

 

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To Veruca, On Love

*Update: After posting, I realized there was something else to say. See at end of post.*

It took me a very long time to see love without rose-colored glasses. Don’t get me wrong – love is, as Shakespeare said, a many-splendored thing. I was enamored with love long before it was returned.

I liked a LOT of boys. I ended up “going with” (what we called it in middle school) two that I previously had zero awareness of before I heard they liked me. Lesson in caution: when a boy you’ve hardly noticed turns up in pursuit of you – proceed with caution. Not that you can’t fall in love with him, but it can be fairly intoxicating to be adored by someone.

To that end, beware the boy who pursues you when you’re already involved with someone else. It is one thing to love someone from afar, respecting the relationship you have with another, and it is quite another to make plain to everyone who will listen that he wants to be with you. Further, strategically placing himself where he is most likely to see you, and you him, fermenting a possible triangle which I assure you will not end well (see aforementioned “intoxication” above). If he doesn’t respect your relationship with another, how will he respect any he might have with you?

Leaving one boy for another is quite common and, even if you disguise it with a need to exit a “bad situation,” you have barely enough time to breathe and/or heal the wounds of the previous while you’re embarking on the next. Also guaranteed not to end well.

If you’re just leaving because boy #2 looks way better than boy #1, STILL. Give yourself time. You can’t recognize true love if you keep jumping from one pond to another without time to reflect.

Relationships that are always full of drama are not “real love.” If “we’re always fighting” is part of your relationship, it’s not a healthy relationship. And it doesn’t matter who is bringing the drama. If it’s him, it’s not good. If it’s you, you need to stop and take a good hard look at why. You will benefit and grow from an introspective look at yourself.

Your first real love may very well be the love that will define your expectations for every love that follows, good or bad. Or not. Not everyone’s first love is life-altering. But many first loves will lay the groundwork for every relationship you ever have, and you may subconsciously measure every subsequent relationship against that first, intense love. You may chase every relationship you have, unknowingly trying to recapture the same feelings, emotions, and physical reactions. No matter what, no matter how tempting, be aware – not to mold every relationship into the one that was your foundation. You will fail.

Instead, learn from that first love. Learn how it feels to be loved. Learn how you felt to give love. Learn how it felt to be treated by this person. Did you feel good, or did you feel uneasy? What characteristics did he have that you valued? Which would you choose to avoid? Learn how it felt when that love ended. Were you amicable? Was it ugly? How did you conduct yourself? Did you give yourself enough time to reflect and heal? (These are all relevant questions in every relationship.)

Beware the Rebound. The “rebound” is a relationship you find yourself in soon after a breakup. This person makes you feel good when you’ve been really sad and down. That’s great. Except, it’s not love. (See the aforementioned “intoxication.”) Which also means, you’ve had no time to heal.

Beware of the exotic. Exotic, as defined in the dictionary, is “of foreign origin or character; not native.” Accents are sexy. What is foreign is sometimes intoxicatingly attractive. What I want you to know is, don’t get stoopid over some guy with a foreign accent. It’s not romantic. He’s not different. He will treat you the same as any other guy you meet, maybe better, or maybe not as well. Just keep perspective and have self-respect. If you don’t, you will drown in that gorgeous Italian accent. Or Latino. Or English. Or Afrikaans. Or some form of  Asian.

Never, Ever, pursue a friend of an ex. If he’s good guy, he won’t go out with you. He may like you, but there’s a guy code (as there is a girl code) and that will preclude any attraction you may have to each other. As it should be. If he doesn’t care that you’re his best friend’s ex, you best be prepared to wonder why and what kind of friend he really is. Either way, if scoring you outranks his friendship with [your ex], that’s a serious character flaw.

Next: Long distance relationships are tough. That’s not to say they can’t work out, but be realistic about this distance and the amount of time apart. And more importantly, what are the boundaries of a long-distance relationship, and what are the guidelines? Be realistic in your expectations, and see how they line up with his.

Don’t give yourself up to someone who won’t commit to you. This can look like not calling you like he said he would to excusing an ex-girlfriend showing up, to blowing off your date, to openly flirting with other girls in front of you. He’s “just not that into you.” And don’t you DARE take that shit personal – it’s his flaw, not yours.

“Bad boys” can be intoxicating themselves – but be prepared to lose your heart and soul to this guy. It’s not going to end well for you if he’s drinking and doing drugs regularly. And – this should go without saying – ANY boy who lays a hand on you is abusive and you need to walk, no – RUN, away fast. “I’m sorry” is a lie you will regret believing. And, while we’re on the subject, verbal abuse IS abuse and no less of a crime.

Now for the icky part and I’ll make it quick: Sex is something you will consider sooner or later. I hope you would come talk to me about it, but you might not and that’s okay. Don’t let anyone, even a long-time boyfriend, pressure you into something you don’t want/aren’t ready for. But know that for you, sharing that will change you forever in ways you won’t understand until you’re much older.

To wrap this up before you’ve had enough – guys with girlfriends are OFF LIMITS. Have respect for yourself (and your fellow woman). And older guys are usually no different than boys your age. They aren’t always wiser or more sophisticated and, let’s face it, if he’s 10 years older that’s just gross.*

Finally, you deserve to be loved and treated with respect and reverence. Expect it and you will get it from those who deserve you, and the rest will fade away. Never, Ever settle for less. Never, ever, settle.

Update: I would be remiss to tell you that when you find someone worthy, love with your whole heart. Do not be afraid to love, or to lose love. Sometimes love doesn’t always end the way you want it to, but that is no reason not to try, when it feels right. You will most definitely not get through life unscathed by love, but to quote another famous writer – Alfred Lord Tennyson –  ” tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” It’s all part of the journey, my love, and I will see you through it all.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

                        ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

 

 

 

*This is actually directly from a comment she once made about older guys. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with a 10-year age difference. I’m not against it. I do, however, believe that this difference is felt more acutely and may be harder to overcome, the younger two people are.

 

Remember

The unspeakable has happened. Tuesday morning, while I watched the Today Show with O nursing in my lap, two airplanes were hijacked and deliberately flown into the Twin Towers. I saw the second plane hit live on television, as they were already covering the first crash and all you could see of it was smoke billowing out of the first tower. Then out of the corner of the screen came the second plane, crashing into the other tower with a tremendous flash of light and smoke and orange flame. Matt Lauer and Katie Couric were reporting live on the first impact, on the phone with witnesses describing what they saw, when the second impact occurred. It was absolutely unbelievable.

Hundreds of rescue workers, firefighters, and police officers rushed to the scene as people fled the two towers, both aflame as monstrous clouds of smoke filled the air. And, as we continued to watch, one tower and then the other collapsed in what seemed like slow motion in a huge pile of ash and rubble. The streets below were blackened as the sun of what was otherwise a beautiful September morning was snuffed out and replaced with thick smoke and millions of paper and ash fell like gray blizzard. I sat incredulous, my heart pounding, fearful for the city I loved and the thousands who surely lost their lives. Many escaped, but many more lost their lives.

There were cell phone calls from people still trapped in the rubble, begging to be found. I think five or six have been pulled out alive so far – one, a fireman who had made it to the 82nd floor when it collapsed. His survival is an absolute miracle. Another man who was in Tower 2 heard the explosion and saw the smoke from the first tower and heard an announcement that the fire was contained to Tower 1 and they could all return to their offices. He chose to leave Tower 2 anyway.

Many others received calls from loved ones who were trapped, saying they couldn’t get out and that they loved them. Still others were jumping out of windows from top floors, some in pairs and hand-in-hand. Think about that. Imagine jumping out of your second story bedroom window in a fire… what would you break? Would you survive? Now multiply that exponentially… these people jumped from 80+ floors.

News outlets captured that footage. And I cannot imagine what went through those folks’ minds when they made a primal decision. Those news outlets were later criticized for televising the sight, and sound, of bodies hitting cars on the streets below. One newspaper printed a large photo of a man falling head first to his death. There are no words to adequately describe any of this.

Family members of passengers on the two hijacked planes received calls saying goodbye, before they were cut off. There were two other hijacked planes – one crashed into the Pentagon and the other crashed in rural Pennsylvania. Apparently the passengers on that plane, having heard from loved ones on the ground about the previous crashes, tried to overcome the terrorists, thus ending in a fiery crash in PA. Government officials are certain the intended target was the White House.

This is the single most horrifying thing I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. It has been compared to the attack on Pearl Harbor. I’ve cried intermittently when O was sleeping or otherwise engaged; it’s all so scary and so unbelievable, and we’re all wondering what’s next? The Twin Towers that defined the New York City skyline, the towers I looked to on my way into the Holland Tunnel as I arrived for school or some other excursion, are gone. Our sense of security – shattered.

All of television is covering these events, engraving the images of horror and destruction into my mind. As I watch my infant son sleeping peacefully on my lap, I am grateful for now that he is too young and oblivious to this attack on America that has halted ALL air traffic in the United States. That night I held him close to me in the darkness of my bedroom, staring at the stars in the eerily quiet night sky, the news drifting to my ears from the TV in the living room. Outside, on the balcony, I hear… nothing. Nothing at all breaks the impossible, deafening silence of the night.

We have not had a reprieve from the constant images. It’s been steady and continuous for 52 hours now. The downtown looks like a war zone. The Stock Exchange is closed. All national sporting events have been postponed. The city itself was shut down Tuesday in the aftermath – no one was getting in or out. The bridges and tunnels were closed in both directions and all rail service, above and below ground, was halted. Thousands of people walked home to Brooklyn and Queens, over the bridges, on foot.

Locally, the King of Prussia Mall was closed and security was tightened at “the highest level” at all nuclear power plants – including our own Limerick generating station, which is scary because we’re less than 15 minutes away.

A third building collapsed – 7 World Trade Center – due to damage from the Twin Towers and uncontrolled fires. Two others are reported to be in danger of collapse.

Friday morning

Raining. Rescuers and volunteers continue to work around the clock, searching inch-by-excruciating-inch for survivors, as they uncover bodies and in some cases only parts of bodies. The rain has turned the rubble into something like the consistency of oatmeal, or quicksand, complicating efforts. We continue to be bombarded non-stop by images of the attacks, the aftermath, and of family members fearfully clutching photos of loved ones they haven’t heard from since Tuesday morning. It’s painful to watch, devastating to behold. Estimates have 4,763 missing.

The news outlets continue to dominate the airwaves, alternating back and forth between local and national anchors, with absolutely no other news unrelated to the terrorist attacks. There have been NO COMMERCIALS – at all – since Tuesday morning before this tragedy. No other programming.

No one has come forward to claim responsibility and, though he has categorically denied any involvement, Osama bin Laden has applauded the acts. Afghanistan, whose citizens were captured on video celebrating the mass destruction, is known to harbor terrorists including bin Laden. This is beginning to sound like the dawn of a new war.

I am frightened. I am angry. I laid down beside my son and watched him sleep, feeling helpless that I could neither explain to him nor protect him from any of this happening again. How can I? It’s scary to think of another war – afraid to watch my son grow up in a world full of such chaos and uncertainty. Afraid of losing friends, family, even myself. How do we move forward after this?

 

2,974 victims died in the initial attacks. More than 1,400 rescue workers have since died from cancers and other conditions caused by the aforementioned exposure to toxins in the dust (asbestos, lead, mercury) from the collapsed buildings.

No one survived at or above the impact in the North Tower – 1,402 people. In the South Tower, 614 died at/above the level of impact; 18 survived by using stairwell A.

125 died at the Pentagon.

245 died on the four airplanes (not counting the hijackers).

 

 

 

 

The Girls Take Cape May, 2019

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Mom, Veruca, and I took our annual girls’ trip to the shore. Mom picked V up at her dad’s and drove here to pick me up (not exactly on the way but Moses was staying with Todd). I was the last one ready and mom was literally threatening to get in the car with V and start driving away. There’s a lot that goes into travel with V – making sure we have all the usual diabetes supplies in spades PLUS those we never use, just in case, like glucagon (rescue med) and syringes and backup insulin for pump failure.

We were less than a mile in and V’s hard case was sliding around in the back. I told mom to pull over and I got out to fix it. She couldn’t find the button to open the trunk. She was pressing the door locks and I had to tell her that was not it. So she got out of the car with me and opened the trunk and V’s suitcase came flying out and landed at my feet, which I totally called before I had even gotten out of the car.

We returned this year to the Marquis de Lafayette, this time in a suite with kitchen and living room with a pull-out couch that V commandeered the minute we arrived after several minutes of me insisting I would sleep there and she could have my bed. The battle to have one’s own space is real.

Our traditional first night dinner is always at Godmother’s – a lovely Italian eatery in a cozy old Victorian house. We stopped at the liquor store for wine first, where these two women rudely stepped in front of me in every.damn.aisle. and I bit my tongue because – first night on vacation and because – vacation. But OMG, it was SO HARD.

What we ordered: Caesar salads and clams casino, mozzarella fritti, fettuccine alfredo, vegetable risotto with lump crab, and good old-fashioned ravioli. For dessert: chocolate gelato. We took tiramisu and a citrus sponge cake to go. Everything, as always, was delicious. V must have looked really dehydrated, as her water glass was kept filled by the busboy, who would ask her if she wanted more water after circling the dining room.

After dinner we returned to the hotel where V and I met up with another T1D-mom (and family) I’ve been Facebook friends with since the MOD Squad debacle several years ago – we live not days away but several hours from each other and this was the first time we were in the same state, if not the same town. How serendipitous! It truly made my day. I’d swear she and I are spawn of the same dragon, and I know how weird that sounds and I’m glad I didn’t say it before we met so she wouldn’t have changed her mind about meeting me.

The Barefoot Bar at the hotel had live music that evening and as V & I paid our bill and prepared to go back to the room, I looked up and saw mom dancing on the balcony like she was at Woodstock. Oddly enough the room smelled a lot like Woodstock too, when we got inside. I said something mildly sarcastic to her and she actually sssshushed me.

Day 2

The first full day we spent by the pool on a picture perfect day, the sun nodding in and out of the clouds and a beautiful breeze that kept us cool. The hotel has changed since last year – we now have wrist bands to wear at the pool to identify us as guests and we’re each allowed only one towel (mom- WTF? We can’t have more than one towel?). The restaurant no longer has the breakfast buffet and, while probably not the money machine it once was, I enjoyed the nearly-empty dining room and the old-school waitress who treated us like family.

Mom left soon after lunchtime to nap and V and I decided to hit the mall for shopping. Our location is ideal as we can walk to the Washington Street Mall, which is a quaint stretch of brick and paved closed street with shops and places to eat. I found a Cape May hoodie and then we walked to Fralinger’s for fudge (peanut butter and vanilla) and taffy, which you can choose by the flavor. I bought Todd his favorites: molasses, peanut butter, and vanilla, so he can’t say I wasn’t thinking about him.

We had planned dinner at the YB again this year – the restaurant V randomly picked as we walked back from the Kiwanis flag folding ceremony last year. She again ordered the jalapeno mac and cheese poppers. Mom ordered the Greek Salad (real Greek salad) and a crab cake with a lemon parsley aioli. I nibbled on her salad and ordered the yellowfin tuna with watermelon salsa and spicy soba noodles. We three shared the truffle French fries – which, btw, are exceptionally enhanced by dipping them into the lemon parsley aioli. Again, everything was fabulous. The soba noodles were a bit more tender (okay, swollen) than I like them, having absorbed, too much, the dressing. Still – YB remains one of Cape May’s finest. Highly recommend.

Day 3

Woke at the ass-crack of dawn (5 a.m.) and could not fall back to sleep. I gave up trying and went to watch the sun rise from our balcony, which – surprisingly – is THE noisiest place to be at dawn. The hotel sits at such an angle that a full view of the sunrise is obscured by the building and, since it’s on Beach Avenue as all “oceanfronts” are, this means the trash and recycling crew are shouting at one another over the din of the waves and delivery trucks and street cleaners. At 6 A.M. It’s the one thing I love more about OCMD. Oceanfront is just that. The only roar you hear is the roar of the ocean.

Breakfast at the Mad Batter. Another old Victorian home converted into a restaurant. Line down the street for tables, so we choose to eat at a counter overlooking the bar, which was just fine. Crab and eggs benedict for mom, monstrous pancakes for V, and an omelet for me. Fresh-squeezed orange juice and people watching. And then this woman walked by us and the expression on her face changed dramatically/ambiguously and she reached out for mom and my mom simultaneously reached for her and they both exclaimed. At that point I knew this was a non-violent encounter and soon discovered mom catered for her and they knew each other quite well. (Hey – one never knows.)

Tuesday night’s dinner was at the Harbor View Restaurant, which came highly recommended from a friend. It’s between Cape May and the bridge to Wildwood. It was a late dinner – we were seated in the upstairs dining room with panoramic views of the water and sky. Mom ordered a Ketel rocks and I ordered a cabernet.

Another beyond-noshing tour ensued: two orders of steamed clams in garlic and white wine, clams casino (what IS this obsession with this 70s classic?), Seafood Fra Diavlo (mom), Linguine with clams (V), and Crab Cakes with mash (me).  The Crab Cakes came out as balls and I impulsively picked them up and held them chest level and my mom cackled out loud. And took my picture. The waitress assured us it wasn’t the first time someone had done this. We laughed our asses off and Veruca was pissed, which only became funnier as we drove home cracking jokes about balls and the Nav system’s directions (“turn left NOW!”) and she didn’t talk to us the rest of the night.

She quickly stalked off the elevator when we landed on our floor and stormed down the hall, mom and I still sniggling, and I turned to mom and said, I feel like the two bad children and mom is mad at us. The words barely escaped my lips and mom was howling again, which made my own hysteria worse and my bladder threatened to betray me in the worst imaginable way, and in my favorite capri jeans. Which, would have been divine justice in V’s eyes, but thankfully I made it in time.

And then mom made me call the restaurant because she thought she’d left her retainer on the table and, while we’re on hold, I spy the case ON THE BEDSIDE TABLE. So she hung up. And now they’ve got MY number marked as crazy drunk lady.

Day 4

Last day in Cape May. We were up relatively early and mom sent me downstairs to exchange our three “cards” for three towels and place them on our lounge chairs. It is a cutthroat scene poolside every morning to get your seats. The man who manages the pool area smiled broadly at me and said good morning, and continued to do the same throughout the day and asked me how I’m doing honey. I could have chosen to be creeped out by his enthusiasm and attention, but I’m 50 now and I’ll take it. So thank you, creepyhappy pool guy.

Went back upstairs to the room to eat leftovers for breakfast and noticed from the window that some woman had sat down on MY towel and lounge chair. What the hell is wrong with people? Like a tiger charging an antelope, I gathered my shit and raced downstairs to give her what for. Creepyhappy pool guy, who had literally just seen me not 20 minutes before, said good morning and how are you today? AGAIN. Which is good because it gave me time to breathe and his enthusiasm was enough to slow down the freight train heading for pool chair number 8. I approached her and smiled. She was older than she appeared from the balcony and now I’m feeling like an asshole while still letting her know these chairs were reserved, which she didn’t know. She didn’t know why the towels were already on some of the chairs, and was sorry. And I’m still an over-reactive asshole.

We had calamari and chicken tacos poolside with Painkillers – a delightful tropical drink made with Pusser’s Rum (yes, really), pineapple and orange juices and coconut milk, topped with a dusting of nutmeg. Later, I called Todd from the bar as I ordered a drink, glancing over my shoulder at V who was glaring at me in her nasty judgy way because I was having a drink in the afternoon. I smiled at her and turned my back.

Later, she and I went for a stroll down Washington Street to the Emlen Physick estate – the location of the haunted tour we were taking later that evening. We snapped some photos along the way and stopped at Dog Days of Cape May for puppy treats. V had a low of 47 so we popped into a candy store for butterscotch candies, and ended up having a quick lunch together at Delaney’s, where they were rocking to the 80s music of my youth which was great until Parents Just Don’t Understand started and I just lost it. V thought I was nuts and all I could think of was my teen summers in Wildwood.

This post is way longer than I intended, so I apologize. I try to keep them as close to 1000 to 1200 words to avoid being boring and self-indulgent.

We ended our vacation with breakfast across the street at Alethea’s, on the porch inside The Inn at Cape May. Mom had Lobster Benedict, V had Texas French Toast, and I ordered an omelet with cheddar, spinach, peppers, and onion. It was excellent. Another not-to-miss for breakfast in Cape May.