Traveling is a challenge no matter who you are, especially with a five-year old. I have discovered the key to going on any vacation. Douglas Adams, writer of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, had it right when he wrote…
“A towel, [The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”
But in our case it was a roll of paper towels, a box of baby wipes, and, of course, facial tissues that proved to be invaluable. All of the afore-mentioned items are incredibly useful for: cleaning up messes such as puke, masking the scent of unpleasant odors such as puke, removing unwanted snot and other bodily functions from orifices, warding off small children, waving for help on the highway of life, praying in uber Catholic churches, and other such useful uses.
Over the weekend, Saturday to Wednesday, we took a family vacation, my mom, son, and myself, to Branson, Missouri. From where we live, it is roughly 10 hours in the car through the Ozark Mountains from our house. If you know nothing about Branson, like me, it’s like Gatlinburg for old people. Theres a mini golf, arcade, race car track, and church on every corner. The churches as we came into town grew exponentially and became more and more elaborate. There are dozens upon dozens of theatres, a show for everyone, and a timeshare seminar from which to get tickets for the shows.
If you don’t know what a timeshare is, consider yourself lucky. They are prepurchased vacations. basically you own the right to use a hotel, condo, or cabin at a hotel or resort. timeshares are notorious for being more high pressure than a balding used car salesman.
It was in a timeshare seminar that we met Stephanie. She was tall, super skinny, and way too enthusiastic. Stephanie literally clapped like a seal every time we said something remotely amusing. Mom and I consider ourselves pretty amusing, so Stephanie did a lot of clapping. We found out that Stephanie was an artist and was crazy strict about what she ate, which is probably why she only wore a size two and was able to wear white pants with any degree of sincerity.
We went into the seminar with preconceived notions of what to expect. We expected to eat our free lunch, be talked at about the exciting experience of owning a timeshare at this resort, and then taken on a tour. After which, they would ask us if we wanted to purchase, we would graciously say no, and they’d give us our goodies (the only reason that we sat through the whole experience). Then we would leave.
Stephanie had lunch with us; which weirded me out. She stared at me, a lot, while we ate. She tried to get us to relax with her to make us more receptive about purchasing their product. I could just about count all of the persuasive techniques that they used on us, I’ve taught them in English classes when we wrote persuasive essays. It was text-book. They appealed to our sense of family, aesthetic, urgency, and logic. They tried to convince us it was too good to pass over and my mom, in turn, schooled them; it was beautiful. They looked at my mom and said, “What about her (pointing at me) and Liam. What about their futures; you won’t be around forever.” I knew that Stephanie was sunk at this point because A.) my mom doesn’t like to be called old and B.) we are very strong, independent women who don’t take shit from anyone and they weren’t going to tell my mom how to vacation.
Lesser willed people would have caved long before she did. My husband would have pulled out his checkbook long before. He has no will power when it comes to high pressured pitches. At the beginning of the seminar, Stephanie had outlined the costs of the typical cost of a vacation during a lifetime. The second to the last offer that they proposed to my mom was 9600; which is no small chunk of change. But what they glossed over was all of the maintainance fees and getaway fees and other typical vacation fees. Which mom tallied up and showed Stephanie that it was almost exactly the same amount of money that she had tallied up for the cost of the timeshare. The look on Stephanie’s face was priceless, she knew she had been had.
After four hours, two and a half hours longer than they promised us, we left with our tickets to go see “Amazing Pets,” a voucher for dinner and a hotel stay in another of their resorts, and a headache.