As I mentioned in my previous post, we had a bit of a mini-break for the last five days. Having learned a thing or two from six previous instalments of ‘family weekend’ – mainly that five people inside one small house all day long is a bad idea – I was determined to find something for us to do on one of the days.
That day turned out to be Saturday. Valentine’s Day, oddly enough.
I polled the troops and determined we would drive to one-hour-away Canmore and pay a visit to their recreation facility, which boasts a swimming pool, climbing wall and public library. We’d leave early, spend a couple of hours in the car, a couple of hours at the Elevation Place and return in time to watch Ralph Macchio learn Pat Morita’s ways in The Karate Kid.
The boys were up early Saturday morning because I’d intimated we’d be hitting the road around 8. The professor made heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast and it was all going according to plan when I heard Percy say: ‘I don’t want any pancakes.’
It was, as they say, a red flag. A Johnson boy declining pancakes can only mean one of two things: (1) The pancakes are too healthy-tasting (i.e. with an overly obvious amount of flaxseed or almond meal or buckwheat flour) or (2) Illness.
Seeing as the professor had been the chef, I knew taste was not at issue, which left my barely awake brain with only one plausible option.
As Percy is a child who loves nothing more than asking for a ‘barf bowl’ to keep him company at night, despite never having used one, I considered this information with a grain of salt.
But he did look pale. And refused to eat.
I felt confident that riding in a car with a barfing child would not be a considerable improvement over spending the entire day chez nous, ‘Let’s just wait a bit and see how this plays out,’ I suggested to my peeps, who were rather aggrieved by my failure to stick to ‘the plan’.
Two hours later, having concluded that Percy was not at imminent risk of tossing his cookies, we climbed in the car and drove to Canmore.
With three pairs of eyes firmly affixed to the dashboard.
‘Don’t you think we should get gas?’ ‘What do those two orange lights mean?’ ‘What time will we get to Canmore?’ ‘How much longer till we get to Canmore?’ ‘This drive is taking forever.’
Together, the three have very nearly relieved me of the ‘need’ to serve as ‘co-pilot’ when the professor drives.
At precisely 11am, we arrived at the Elevation Place, forked over some money and split up at the changing rooms. It may be one of the only perks of being the lone female in a house of boy-men: the luxury of going to the changing rooms alone. Too bad I don’t enjoy swimming or wearing a bathing suit, otherwise I’d avail myself of this opportunity more than once every two years.
As we divvied up our belongings to ensure the professor had all of the boys’ swim stuff, we discovered a tiny error in our packing strategy, namely 2 towels for 5 people.
Apparently my carefree ‘everyone pack your own stuff’ approach had backfired.
With only myself to look after, I entered the pool area before any of the boys. Once reunited, we began what felt like the world’s slowest clock-watch, as we circuited from hot tub to lazy river and back again for precisely one hour.
During one of our hot tub respites, I noticed a young, seemingly childless couple enter the lazy river. Which, to be clear, is an oval-shaped lane of water with a current that propels you forward so you don’t have to swim.
Hence the term ‘lazy river’ I suppose.
‘Why would you come here if you don’t have kids,’ I wondered aloud. The professor and I were married for a long time before we had kids and the amount of times we set foot in an indoor pool during that time? Zero. The amount of times he said ‘how about for Valentine’s Day, we go hang out in a place where children are playing and crying and not adhering to society’s implicit bathroom etiquette?’ Zero.
And then, because it was Valentine’s Day, and I tend to recall slogans and bits of SNL skits at the oddest times, I said: ‘The Lazy River is for Lovahs.’
A nod to the 80’s ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ marketing campaign and the SNL skits with Rachel Dratch eating chicken in a hot tub with Will Ferrell and talking annoyingly about ‘my lovah’.
The joke made an appearance several more times over the course of the day.
After an hour had passed (how do people stay for more than that), when the Gort declared his fingers were so pruny they felt like they could crumble, and I felt nauseated from the heat of the hot tub and lack of food, we ventured back into the changing rooms, the boys grumbling over the towel to person ratio.
The professor volunteered to take our swim stuff back to the car, so we wouldn’t have to drag three backpacks with us when we tried out the climbing wall. In his absence, the boys and I ate cheesy buns and walnut bread from a German baker who’d conveniently set up shop in the atrium for the ‘Mountain Market’.
I’ve always thought of German baking as decidedly void of salt. And sugar. And flavor. The cheesy buns and walnut bread confirmed my longstanding hypothesis.
Many minutes passed and the professor had not yet returned. ‘Dad’s been gone for a long time,’ I noted as I reached for my phone. Two text messages and a missed call, I realized with a twinge of guilt.
It could mean only one thing: trouble. In the form of a very flat tire.
After testing out the climbing wall, the professor returned to the car to change the tire while the boys and I hung out in the library reading books.
‘The Library is for Lovahs.’
It was nearly dark by the time we got home. I popped corn and the boys popped the Karate Kid DVD into the player. It was slightly surreal to consider I was likely the same age as the Gort when I saw the movie for the first time. ‘I thought Ralph Macchio was the cutest boy ever,’ I told the boys. ‘Ew, that’s gross.’
We soaked in the wisdom of Mr. Miyagi (he and Tami Taylor should have written a joint self help book) and by the time the credits rolled, the boys were practicing their crane kicks.
Shortly thereafter, Percy made good on his threat and availed himself to the barf
bowl toilet. A child who tosses his cookies completely inside a receptacle is a welcome addition to any household.
A few hours later, having made public fun of a friend for watching a movie with a 31% rating on the tomatometer and complaining about how awful it was, I sat back, smugly, to watch the very acclaimed (81% on the tomatometer) Tracks.
A (now well known) Australian woman treks 1700 miles across the desert with 3 camels. She gets real dirty. She doesn’t like people. A photographer drives out to document her journey.The camels make weird braying noises. She ends up at the ocean.
As the professor put it, ‘I think I would have rather read the National Geographic article than watched this movie.’
The Desert is for Lovahs.