Heather and I sprung out of bed at 4am, crammed my car full of luggage, and drove out to my parents’ house, where we found my family milling around the kitchen, tired and crabby. We piled into the big purple minivan, left our coats in the car at the airport, and hopped on a plane. Since coffee rates much higher than vacation on my priorities list, Heather and I were almost the last to board the plane, and found ourselves seated in the very back row. I like to make an entrance.
Any extended time spent with my family is always, um, entertaining. My mom seems a little freaked out over the fact that we’re all now adults and she can’t take care of us like she used to, so she overcompensates. She was convinced I was going to starve to death on the 2-1/2 hour flight to Orlando because I couldn’t eat the breakfast sandwich they were giving everyone else, so she brought half the contents of her kitchen along as sustenance. Every time I looked at her, she was pushing a baggie of food in my direction. Halfway through the flight, she started fidgeting, and announced, “I’m bored.” Heather replied, “I’m going to have you sedated.”
Each time the pilot got on the radio to tell us our cruising altitude or arrival time or to apologize for the unexpected turbulence over Kentuckinois, we wondered if maybe there was something wrong. He was slurring a lot. But everything seemed fine until we tried to reach the Earth again, and then almost died. I watched about a hundred miles of runway rush past before the plane even touched down, and then he slammed on the plane-brakes (or whatever) and we all went lurching forward, convinced the plane was going to pitch over its front end and land us all right in a ditch full of alligators. All the passengers were laughing that hysterical laugh you employ to keep from screaming, “Sweet Jesus, we’re all going to die!” At least, that’s what I was doing. But, seriously, it’s really hard to try to convince your girlfriend, who is terrified of flying in the first place, that she has nothing to worry about when you know you just barely got out of that one alive.
The airport in Orlando is top-notch because it prominently features a Starbucks and a monorail. We monorailed, then shuttled our way to Thrifty Rent-A-Car, where the guy behind the counter was so condescending and evil that it was all I could do to not leap the counter and strangle his sorry ass out of its tortured, pleasureless existence. It’s one thing to be an asshole to me, because I’ll give it right back. But my parents? That’s cause for a smackdown.
I ended up driving a Nissan Sentra, which was clearly the better of the two cars, sad as that may seem. My dad was driving a Hyundai Something. Our first stop was my brother’s house (Scott, the Forgotten Ripley), where he lives with my sister-in-law, Ali, my niece, Kaitie, and two cats I can’t tell apart.
i have eye herpes!
proof jenni was here.
After lunch, the rest of the family headed to the Disney resort where we were spending one night before taking up residence in our rental condo, and Heather and I headed to the Atlantic Ocean.
We took the most direct route, which brought us to Cape Canaveral, and then Cocoa Beach. Since we were unprepared for chillin’ on the beach, we stopped to buy a towel at Ron Jon’s, which is apparently the original store, as if we cared. They would have been happy to sell us a towel with the Ron Jon’s logo on it for the rock-bottom price of $22. We declined and went to the crappy beach shop across the street (the kind with the stinky aquarium full of hermit crabs), and bought an ugly blue towel embroidered with ‘Cocoa Beach’ in pastels for $12. It was the beach souvenir we never wanted, but it would do.
I had the good fortune of parking right in front of a natural foods ice-cream shop that wanted to sell me a sugar-free frozen yogurt sundae, which was awesome, because that’s exactly what I wanted to buy. We headed to the beach with our yogurt, laid out the towel, and sat down to watch the ocean. Heather fed the menacing seagulls raisins, and I watched the cruise ships heading out to sea. She presented her plans for Epcot II, which will feature all the countries America doesn’t like, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. We discussed the awesome food they’ll serve there, and arrived at the startling conclusion that we hate all the countries with flatbreads. It’s chilling.
And so was the ocean, dammit. OK, it was January. I picked through shells on the beach, and found myself a whole sand dollar, which later broke apart in my bag. Sigh.
We stopped at a little Cuban cafe for plaintains and Cuban coffee, then headed back to Orlando. We met up with my family having dinner at Disney’s Pop Century resort. The place was bizarre; each of the buildings is named and decorated to correlate with a decade starting with the 1950s. The 1990s building, the one in which we were staying, had giant cellphones on the corners of the building (set to dial 407-W-DISNEY, of course), and huge CDs. The 1980s building had Pac Man across the top. Each of the structures also had various catchphrases from each era in giant letters atop them: ours had ‘You go, girl!’, ‘Y2K’, ‘Yo’, and other such painful reminiscences.
We went up to our room to change. Stephanie noted that even the bathroom wallpaper had a subliminal Mickey pattern hidden in it. Scary. Ali showed up and we piled in the sexymobile to drive over to Pleasure Island, conveniently located near the West End of Downtown Disney. No, I am not joking about Pleasure Island, either. It’s really called that, and I was hoping it would live up to its name. It’s the 21+ section with all the nightclubs, and we were going there to party with Ali’s Disney coworkers.
There wasn’t much going on there at 10pm. We went into one bar and waited fruitlessly for the single functioning air hockey table, listening to a really bad Disney punk cover band. Stephanie ordered a drink that came in a red plastic bucket. The bartender dissed me for ordering a Diet Coke. I know it seems inconceivable for someone to have fun at a Disney nightclub and not be stupid drunk, but, dude. Whatever.
We decided to try another club, so we headed to Mannequin’s. It turned out to be the techno club, complete with rotating dance floor and strobe lights. It was great, and it was crawling with superhot, supergay boys. You can’t have everything, I guess. So we rotated our way slowly around the club about a million times, dancing like a bunch of white girls and having a lot of fun. After a couple drinks, we even managed to lure Heather out onto the floor. Stephanie was in hysterics because every time we got near one of the few obviously un-gay boys in a grey sweater, he would whip out the thumbs-up in our direction.
After a while, Ali’s friends showed up and we decided to go to another club, called Motion. It was pop/hip-hop, packed full of sweaty dancing college students. I was a little disappointed about the lack of rotating floor and dry ice, but it was fun anyway, watching all the girls in the hootchie getup, and the series of about ten different guys I saw staring down Ali’s shirt.
On the way out, a guy came up to bum a cigarette off Heather, and managed to tell us in the first two minutes that he made 100k a year selling timeshares. Ha. We wandered around, and Ali bought a Jello shot in a giant syringe. She was struggling to, uh, inject it, so a girl came up to help, saying, “Suck and push at the same time, that’s how to do it. Suck and push. Teeth aren’t necessary.” So we yelled, “Suck and push!!” to help her along. At one end of Pleasure Island, a cover band called Kabang(!) was playing the greatest hits of the 90s, among others. We stood in the street and danced along with Nirvana, the Violent Femmes, and ‘Sweet Home Alabama’. Some kids formed a three-person mosh pit in front of the stage. One of the guys in the band was wearing vinyl pants. It was hard to tear ourselves away from Kabang(!), but somehow we managed to make it back to the resort, and sleep.