The other night, I asked my son to tell me his favorite memory from our recent vacation in The Happy House. It was a good one. We swam in the pool and the ocean. We visited with neighbors and spent a day at Magic Kingdom. We planted palm trees and went bike riding. We even had a dinner party where guests came over to watch Syracuse University
get crushed by the Wolverines in The Final Four.
“Sitting in my rocking chair and eating pie,” my son said.
Seriously. That was the highlight?
But then I remembered.
When my brother and I were young, we went on a family vacation to Florida with our parents. For weeks, they told us we were going to have the best vacation – ever.
After a long flight and what felt like an even longer drive, we made it to our hotel It was nighttime, and we were all exhausted, so my father left us in the car and went to check in at the front desk. After a while, he returned with a map, a compass, a walkie-talkie and a survival guide.
Not really, but it would have been nice if he’d had that stuff.
Because we walked in circles forever, trying to find The Nepa Hut.
Apparently, the clerk had given my father explicit instructions. We were supposed to walk down a path to where the crushed shells ended, take a left, then a right, being careful not to fall off the pier into the ocean. Eventually, we’d see a gecko sitting on a rock. Or something. I don’t really know.
What the guy at the front desk should have given us was a flashlight.
It was so freaking dark, we couldn’t find our damn room.
Dragging our bags behind us, we wandered back to the lighted lobby where my father confessed we were lost.
My mother must have caused a fuss because we ended up with a guide.
Once in the room, we started to unpack. Someone went to the bathroom.
I heard the flush.
And then I heard my father. “Oh no! he begged. “Omigosh! No!”
You guessed it. The crapper was overflowing. Water poured over the lip of the toilet, spilling onto the floor until the tiles were soaked.
Though my mother threw towels onto the tile floor, the icky water would not stop, and the carpet outside the bathroom door was soon drenched.
While my father dialed housekeeping, my mother chastised him for using too much toilet paper.
My brother and I couldn’t stop laughing. The poopie geyser in the bathroom? That was the best.
He and I danced around the ever-widening wet-spot as our father warned us to keep away from the bathroom door.
It’s one of my favorite vacation memories.
Memories are weird. If I think about it, I suppose it isn’t so much that I love the fact that our toilet overflowed. It’s more that my parents had set this expectation that our vacation was going to be totally awesome, and even when things didn’t go to plan, we found a way to make the most of it. I love the memory of all of us being together, flailing around, figuring things out, being perfectly imperfect with each other.
I suppose if my son forever remembers kicking back in a rocking chair eating a slice of raspberry pie, well, as the kids say, that’s the shit.
What is one of your weird vacation memories? What about memories involving toilets?
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