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Disregarding the line between fantasy and reality

Let me tell you the story about how I was a teenage hussy.

No, wait, that’s not right. What was I? Oh, a teenaged girl who had unrealistic expectations of life thanks to all the fiction books she read. If someone had told me that the shit I read in books was only loosely based on real life then I wouldn’t have this story to tell, and frankly, this story is embarrassing as all hell.

My father and stepmother took us kids to Disney World when I was 14. Because the most traveling I had ever done was a few road trips to Montana, I was excited to fly on a plane and visit a time zone THREE! WHOLE! HOURS! ahead of ours. So I consulted my well traveled friend, Wild Waves, on how to pack my clothes with minimal wrinkles (roll ’em up!) and borrowed her Broadway Dress from her for the night we visited Pleasure Island.

Pleasure Island, if you’re not familiar with it, was a part of Disney World where the grown ups can play. Night clubs, shopping, dining, and a New Year’s Eve celebration every night, all named after that place in Pinnochio where all the little boys party all the time then turn into jackasses. For some reason, my dad thought it was a great idea to take a 10 and 14 year old there, but I didn’t give a thought to how the visit might be inappropriate. I was jacked, because I might find my first boyfriend!

Now, let me explain something about 14 year old me. I read. A lot. And my favorite books? The Babysitters Club books. (Nerd alert: I have every single book from the series. DON’T JUDGE ME.) Do you know what happens every time the Babysitters go on vacation? They find luv. Since this was a group of girls just a year or so younger than I was, do you know what I thought would happen? I’d find some guy my age or just a little older, fall in love, we’d stay in touch until we went to the same college and he waited for me and we got married and had little babies and told our cute story of how we met. Because, you know, stuff like that happens.

The night we went to Pleasure Island, I put on Wild Wave’s dress, carefully applied the makeup I either had with me or borrowed from my stepsister, and then wrote my name and the phone number for our hotel room on 2 pieces of paper and tucked them away in my purse to hand out to my lucky future mate. I didn’t meet anyone, obviously, but in the course of the night I lost one of those pieces of paper. As a result, this happened:

The phone rings at 2 AM, my older stepsister answers the phone groggily. “Hello?” She listens for a moment and hands the phone to my younger sister. “Hand this to your sister.”

My 10 year old sister grabs the phone sleepily. “Hello?” She almost immediately hands the phone over to me. “It’s for you.”

My heart pounds. Who is calling me?

“Is this Ava?”


“Hey, this is Mark.” GASP! He sounded like an older boy!

“Hi. How did you get this number?”

“I found it on the ground at Pleasure Island.” OH MY GOD HE DID NOT. IT’S FATE. IT’S DESTINY.

“Oh.” So smooth. How do I not have a string of suitors lined up to take me out on my first date?

“So you wanna meet up?” Wow, already?

“I can’t, I’m sleeping.”

“Night time isn’t for sleeping, it’s for playing. Let’s go somewhere.” Wait. He might be more than an older boy…

“Uh, I don’t think my dad will let me…”

“So your dad won’t let you outside of the mo?”

“The what?”

“The mo? The motel?”

“Uhhh. No. I’m not really old enough to go out by myself.”

“Bring him with you. We can ditch him later. Or bring one of the ladies I talked to before you.” It’s entirely possible this guy had no idea he was talking to a 14 year old. And it’s also entirely possible I was beginning to freak out.

“I really can’t, I’ll get in a lot of trouble.” Because, you know, I wasn’t already going to be in trouble.

“Oh, come on. Live a little.”

Now, I did what any rational human being would do. I set up a fake meeting with him. I told him to meet me at Typhoon Lagoon tomorrow at 3 PM by the big wave pool. I told him to look for a girl with blonde hair, which was kind of true, and a black bikini with white daisies on it, which was not true. I had a black 1 piece with a giant daisy on the front. You know, something you would expect a 11-14 year old to be wearing. But he didn’t know that, so he enthusiastically agreed.

Needless to say, we did not meet up the next day. My family and I were at Typhoon Lagoon the next day and indeed, I was at the wave pool around 3. But this guy wasn’t looking for me. He was looking for a blonde hottie in a skimpy bathing suit with the confidence to throw her phone number around, not a shrimpy, flat chested girl with braces who relied on books about girls who were stuck in the 8th grade for 12 years for romantic advice. Oddly enough, as I was walking to get something to drink around 3:45 a group of what appeared to be college age guys walked past me, jostling a guy in the middle. “Man, you can’t be waiting around all day for some girl you ain’t never met!”

Late that night, I got another phone call. My sisters passed the phone on to me as they had the night before and I gotta say, Mark was NOT happy. He was stood up! He had every right to be! I don’t remember much of this last phone conversation, but it boiled down to me being a tease and a bitch for standing him up in front of his brother and friends…and that’s when my dad came in, summoned by my older stepsister, and took the phone.

“Do you know who you’re calling?”

A pause.

“She’s FOURTEEN. How did you get this number?”

Another pause, and a glare. “I suggest you lose it.” He slammed the phone down. That was it. No tongue lashing, no grounding, nothing. He simply told us to go back to sleep, stalked back into his room, and closed the door. Hard.

The lesson I took from this: don’t take your phone number to Pleasure Island and if you do, make sure it doesn’t fall out of your purse. The lesson I should have learned?

Don’t model your life on girls who are frozen in time in the eighth grade.


Beating my wall against a head

Trying to plan a weekend getaway with Monsieur Stoic is so frustrating that I think I’d rather spend an entire day trying to keep Cult Leader quiet. It would probably be less trouble, in fact. Stoic has an addiction to saving money, and will do whatever he can to keep from spending it if he doesn’t have to. This comes in handy, like that time we bought a house for half price, or the time the car dealership lost money on the brand new car we bought from them, or when we’re out of Frosted Flakes, which is the only cereal all 4 of us can and will eat, and 200 boxes of it magically showed up at our doorstep. But he will stay in a hovel before he stays in a semi nice hotel if it means paying an 20 bucks less. We will stay an hour and a half away from our destination if it means an extra $50 in his pocket.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m cheap as fuck when it comes to some things. That toothpaste tube? You’d better not throw that away until your fingers are blistered trying to get that last dab out. You’re using a spatula to scrape out every last glob of mayonnaise, so help me god. Don’t throw out those carrot peels, because I can totally use them when I make a chicken stock. Are you really running the dishwasher like that? You better fill it up to capacity, or I’ll shove you in there to take up space.

But I also understand that sometimes, you’re going to have to pay a little bit more for some things. Like clothes. I’ve stopped shopping for clothes the way he shops for clothes because Old Navy shirts are shit and only last about a year and Target jeans either smell funny or fit funny. No, now I’ll spend $20 on a shirt that will last 2 years unless the monsters decide that rubbing their greasy fingerprints on it is a great way to start the day, and why not end it with stretching out Mommy’s shirt until it’s no longer recognizable? And you know what else? You probably shouldn’t cut corners on things that hold a baby’s shit unless you like running your washer 40 times a day.

Vacations are the same way. No, I don’t want to stay in some fussy luxury hotel (although that time the bestie and I got a mansion for the price of a studio because the studio was a falsely advertised piece of shit was pretty rad) or sleep in a water bed made from seal tears. But I also don’t want to sleep on a bed where a hooker was killed, and I don’t want to worry about getting shivved when getting ice.

Right now, we’re looking to go away for the weekend of our anniversary. We’ll have been together for 5 years on the 22nd, so we’re celebrating that shit. Anyone who puts up with me for 5 years straight deserves a goddamn trophy. And honestly, I deserve a vacation for dealing with him for half a decade. Surprisingly, we have sitters lined up for Future Cult Leader AND Evil Genius–at the same time!–so all we need to do is plan. He doesn’t want to fly anywhere (even though he has a gajillion frequent flyer miles and could spare some for a mini trip for us) and I don’t really want to go to Lincoln City even though it’s cheap because frankly, I’m sick of it. I’ve been going there for the last 29 years, it’s getting old, whatever.

We settled on a road trip, but a road trip to where? I suggested the 11 hour drive to the Redwood Forest, which he vetoed because hotels in the area are too expensive. I vetoed Crater Lake because the nearest hotels are an hour and a half away, and I’m not staying in some podunk town 90 minutes away from our intended destination.

“We could drive down 101,” he suggested without choking.

Hmmm. I like that idea. I’ve always wanted to do it. So I came up with an itinerary that was reasonable and started looking for hotels. Three nights = three hotels, and we’ve found 2. I don’t know how familiar you are with Oregon’s North Coast, but it’s expeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeennnnnnnnnnnnnsive. Not as expensive as sleeping on a bed made from dodo feathers and woolly mammoth skin, but if you’re going to stay a weekend prepare to give an arm and about half your leg.

I am okay with staying at a hotel for 1 night at $100 ONE time. He is not. It’s way too much money for him to spend on one night, plus gas, plus food, and speaking of food I can count on eating dollar menu fast food during our trip to save money. I should start saving up for the gastric bypass surgery I’ll need.

We’re at an impasse. It’s his delicate financial sensibilities versus my desire to explore the always beautiful Oregon coast as well as some new sexual positions we can’t try at home for fear of waking the kids. Hmmm. I wonder if there’s a position I could use as my ace in the hole.

So we could go home and not finish our Oregon Coast tour, which I refuse to consider, or we can keep looking for alternatives until it’s next Wednesday and we don’t have the last day of our trip planned.

At this rate, we may be sleeping in the car.