Vacation Preparations, A Johnson Family Enterprise


So. I’m busy getting ready for my trip for vacation and a conundrum popped up right in my face. Who do I take with me? I have managed to collect quite a menagerie of inappropriate animals and they all want to go on vacation with me.

Usually, that’s not such a big deal because I usually drive when vacationing in the contiguous forty-eight. But this trip is too short to drive 4,000 miles round trip, so I was flying. As recently as a year ago, even taking my favorite animals wasn’t burdensome. Dixie has always been a good flier, as long as I seat her in the First Class cabin, and Squirt is happy doing most anything in my company. Except for Dixie’s smart mouth, she is fun on a trip, and the Squirt is such a trip that she is always fun.

When I planned for this year’s short vacation, I included Squirt but no other animals. Plans were made several months ago when my life was far more simple. Simpler? I think things were simpler. But last night we had a big gathering at dinner and Dixie decided to grace me with her presence.

“Well, well and well again,” I said, “to what do we owe the pleasure of your appearance at tonight’s meager family repost?” I hadn’t seen my ungrateful Golden Retriever for several weeks. She had told me she retired from my employment and had grown tired of me.

“Oh, I just stopped by to visit with the ladies of the manor, and they invited me to stay for dinner.”

Bitch. Dixie can be such a bitch.

I was staring hard at her face, searching for anything to give me traction for a smart comeback, when I noticed that her muzzle hair has gone to total gray, and her face seems to be thin, bony. I realized that Dixie has gotten old and I started tearing up. Big, hot tears seemed to jump from my eyes as the realization that age had finally caught up with the most wonderful dog who ever lived.

OK, stop it Mooner. Now is not the time for that.

This is a vacation story, and I was about to tell you that my plans to take the Squirt with me on a short trip. When Dixie heard about the trip she started bitching, and then all hell broke loose. So now, and due to familial devotions, the passenger list has grown to include: me (myself?), Squirt, Dixie, Eighty-three, Rush Limbaugh the pig, the ostrich Rick Perry, Gram and her best buddy P-cubed, SAC Ellen and Streaker Jones.

I just made arrangements to hire a tour bus with two drivers to haul this bunch on our trip, and Mother has taken the assignment to stock the coffers with food and beverage for the trip. Two drivers so we can drive straight through, and Mother because she insisted. When she offered the help, I asked her, “Why are you doing that, Mother, we can handle it.”

“I’m so glad to be rid of your grandmother I’d do most anything to help her out the door. Do you know she brought home some old man from a retirement facility?”

“I heard something about that, Mother.” You must be patient with Mother. Her brand of martyrdom needs simmer time to properly age. Would that be martyrism?

I waited a few beats before saying, “Was there something especially wrong with Gram bedding an old geezer? You seem stressed.”

After a few more beats, “Well, Mooner, did you know that poor man had to bring his own nurse and oxygen tanks?” Two, three and four, “What if he’d died while Gram had him chained to the wall?”

I started to say something that would sound supportive to a martyr when Mother found the words to support herself. “I’ll be miserable here all by myself, but cold loneliness is far better than the worry that your grandmother is going to sex some poor man to death in the bedroom just down the hall from my own.”

Ugh. Sounds like the passenger list just grew by one old geezer and attending nurse. I need a Carta Blanca beer.

Manana, y’all.

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