With almost-sincere apologies to my spiritual mentor, Oprah.
Just like birthdays, most holidays, family reunions and how I behave when I've had too much beer, summer vacations are a time of reflection for me. (Just go with me on this, please.) A time of personal growth, where I confirm what I think I know, and appreciate new things I've learned.
Hanging out with my family for 24 hours a day, every day, for a full week tests my patience and theirs. But when I finished this most recent test of endurance, I came away with these 5 Things I Know For Sure:
1. When the restaurant hostess asks, "Do you have a smoking preference?" and you respond with, "Yes. Marlboro Lights," be prepared for no one to laugh. You expect laughter, and the silent vacuum that exists immediately after you finish speaking is deafening. Expect it. Embrace it. This too will pass.
2. Sharing a bathroom stall with your three-year-old son may be an emotionally bonding experience, but it can occasionally be hazardous to your personal hygiene. I have two tips: (A) While sharing the toilet, stand arm-to-arm with one another, not on opposite sides of the toilet, and (B) Always carry wet towellettes--anti-bacterial ones, if you can find 'em.
3. Mall clowns named "Spunky" are really mean-spirited, hateful farts who put on make-up for tips.
4. Always confirm with the lady braiding hair at pool-side how many $3 braids she is gonna put in your daughter's hair before going upstairs to use the bathroom. It is now my understanding that by the time you can get back to pool-side, the hair-braid-lady can have as many as 30 braids in her hair. (Cha-ching.)
5. Vacationing with in-laws is fun and interesting, despite what people often say. This is especially true if, while on said vacation, your in-laws discover you write a blog and ask for the address so they can check it out when they get home. (Big wave and a smile to John and Sherry.)
Man, am I relaxed...