How do I sum up such a whirlwind vacation? With a super-long, extensive post complete with pictures, that’s how.
First of all, the drive down to North Carolina took us a little under 14 hours. With a pregnant wife, a 2-year-old and a dog that ain’t half bad. At least the kid could pee in his diaper, but the wife had to stop quite a bit due to the parasite in her stomach wreaking havoc on her bladder. Will was very well behaved all things considered. The only time I got a headache was driving through the D.C. area.
Will likes tractors, cranes and other heavy equipment. And when I say he “likes” them, I mean he nearly craps his pants and shrieks with supersonic excitement at the mere sight of them. So when we drove through the Beltway that is under construction, his head nearly exploded. There were fucking excavators, cranes and bulldozers every 10 feet. And Will wasn’t just content with the scene as a whole. That would’ve been to easy (and quiet). Instead, he took joy in each and every piece of equipment. I’m not kidding. It was like Groundhog Day in the backseat.
“CRANE, DADA, CRANE!!!!”
Over and over again, he shrieked this for 20 miles through the construction zone of our nation’s capital. Thanks a lot Obama. The only thing your federal stimulus funds are increasing is my gigantic migraine from listening to my son’s shrill voice.
When we got to North Carolina we enjoyed six whole days of being with our good friends Vic and Alicia, not to mention my awesome godson Victor III. Our time there was actually a great learning experience in a variety of ways. First of all, it started to prepare me for having two kids in the house. Will and Vic love each other, but they also fought like cats and dogs. The house was FULL of toys, but the only one they wanted to play with was whatever toy the other one had in his hand at any given moment. I felt like I was refereeing constantly, including the two of them taking cheap shots at each other the whole week. One one hand it was really great to watch Will interact with someone his own age, but on the other hand I am openly questioning my sanity for having another kid.
Being around them for nearly a week also allowed me to do something I’m VERY interested in, which is observe how other dads parent. Unfortunately for me, all I found out is I have a lot of work to do. Simply put, Vic is the kind of dad I wish I could be. Vic is a southern guy who joined the military and he parents efficiently, effectively but also compassionately. My godson is potty trained already before the age of 3. He says “yes ma’am” and “yes sir.” He feeds the dog and helps with chores. And when he does get out of hand, Vic reels him in with ease.
Plus Vic is a man’s man and does textbook dad stuff. He fixes everything around the house. He has a cool motorcycle. He works on cars. He builds stuff. Meanwhile I can’t fix anything, I don’t know a tailpipe from a piston and my son listens to me about as much as my wife does. Which can only be classified as “not much.”
However, Vic did help me earn some man points last week.
First of all we went “muddin” in his old Jeep Wrangler. North Carolina has an abundance of off-road trails on which to ride, and we tore through some of them. It was fantastic. Way more fun than I could’ve ever imagined. Unfortunately I didn’t drive because…well…because I can’t drive a standard. So I guess any man points I might’ve earned were immediately subtracted.
But then Vic asked me to do something I thought I’d never do: go to the firing range.
Yup, yours truly — the liberal Massachusetts gun control advocate — shot a firearm for the first time. And you know what? IT WAS FUCKING GREAT!! Vic may be southern, but he’s an impeccably responsible gun owner. So we ran through gun safety before ever stepping foot in the range. And when we did get there, I fired a .22 rifle which was like shooting a pellet gun. And I did really well, hitting the bulls-eye on several occasions. But then we tried out Vic’s newest weapon: a .357 Mag Pug.
The gun shoots .38 ammo as well as .357. And let’s just say it has much more of a kick. I shot the .38 rounds first and was very surprised at the kick. You have to understand, all I know about shooting guns is what I’ve seen in movies. So imagine my surprise when I had to deal with a VERY loud bang, a flash and then gun nearly jumping out of my hands. But I soon got into a groove and I hit the bulls-eye once. But then we switched to the .357 rounds and oh my sweet god was that different. First of all it was deafening. Second, that sucker has some kick to it. I didn’t do too well with that one because I started anticipating the kickback, but I still did OK all things considered.
I don’t often admit that I was wrong, but I was wrong. Shooting a gun responsibly is a lot of fun and now I want one. Call it gun fever if you want, but that shit is addicting.
When we got to Baltimore on Saturday morning I was wicked excited to see my brother Nate and his fiance, as well as my brother-in-law and his wife. Nate and Melissa took us to a place called Port Discovery, which is a hands-on science and activity center for kids. It also features a 3-story climbing structure that Will tore through like a tornado.
On Sunday we went to Camden Yards to see the Red Sox take on the Baltimore Orioles. We were with my father-in-law, his girlfriend Donna, her son James, and my brother- and sister-in-law. Will really liked it at first.
However, his attention span was less than two innings and the next 90 minutes consisted of trying to corral him in his seat, walking around the concourse and trying to protect the poor woman in front of him from his fists and feet. In short, it was ugly and exhausting. I ended up asking my brother to come pick him up early so I didn’t have a total meltdown. But if you don’t have a crazed toddler to deal with, Camden Yards is one helluva place to watch a game.
But the best part of my vacation, hands down, was when my brother asked me to be his best man.
I didn’t expect it and I would have totally understood him asking someone else. After all, he wasn’t my best man four years ago (although in hindsight I should’ve had two best men, something I deeply regret) and he’s got a ton of friends. But even though Nate and I have always been fairly close, I didn’t really understand how great he is until a few years ago when I realized he’d eventually be leaving to go to Baltimore to be with Melissa. Once Will came along, Nate made a personal vow to be the best uncle any kid has ever had. And he’s not only succeeding, he’s surpassing that goal.
That’s why I’m thrilled I have the opportunity to be best man and try to show him how much I love him and appreciate all he’s done. From planning the bachelor party to delivering a speech at the wedding (which I’ve already been writing for months in my head), I couldn’t be more excited or honored about his wedding next March.
So there you have it. I hung out with old friends, shot a gun, saw some baseball and was asked to be best man all in the same week. Not too shabby at all. And the cherry on top of my vacation sundae is that in a few hours I’ll be riding into Boston with my dad to attend Game 3 of the NBA Finals, to watch the Celtics kick the holy hell out of the hated LA Lakers.
I’m one lucky bastard. GO CELTICS!!