Ever since I was a kid, I could never quite explain my dad to people. Then, one day I saw a movie and it changed the rest of my life. I saw Clark Griswold in the movie Vacation. It was not only the first time I was actually able to show others a small glimpse of who my dad is but also, the first time I was able to appreciate his sense of humor without being directly affected by it.
I am the youngest of four kids. Every year my family would pile into a van and road trip to somewhere across the U.S. One time, we drove 30 hrs to Washington D.C. If we would stop to sleep, it was normally in a motel-one room with two beds. The only requirement was, wherever we slept had to have a pool-even if the pool was dirty, covered in leaves or not filled up all the way.
Clark: Why aren’t we flying? Because getting there is half the fun. You know that.
Our most recent family vacation was a month ago. With my sisters, brothers-in-law, brother, nieces, nephew and parents, thirteen of us set out in a caravan to St. Louis, Nashville and Memphis. My dad does most of the planning on these trips and when things don’t go down as planned, well it gets a little intense.
Ellen: You set standards that no family activity can live up to.
Clark: When have I ever done that?
Ellen: Parties, weddings, anniversaries, funerals, holidays…
Clark: Goodnight Ellen
Ellen: Vacations, graduations…
We were in Nashville during the Country Music Awards. No, we did not plan it on purpose. Which means there were a ton more people than normal and my dad was not about to miss out on any of the fun. We spent most of our time on Broadway Street (which is a cleaner version of Bourbon Street in New Orleans.)
With all the excitement, my dad decided to book an extra night. We thought this was a good idea at first, but spending three nights on Broadway Street with my sisters who couldn’t drink, and four kids, two nights ended up being more than enough. My siblings nominated me to share the news with my dad; that we think we should head to Memphis in the morning instead of staying the extra night.
The situation was similar to when the Clark’s family decided they didn’t want to go to Wally World anymore. I put in ( )s around what my dad added to it…
Clark (aka my dad): I think you’re all f—-d in the head. We’re (at) the f—–g fun park [Nashville] and you want to bail out. Well I’ll tell you something. This is no longer a vacation. It’s a quest. It’s a quest for fun. I’m gonna have fun and you’re gonna have fun. We’re all gonna have so much f—–g fun we’ll need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles. You’ll be whistling ‘Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah’ out of you’re assholes!
Yep, it went something like that. Nonetheless, we headed to Memphis in the morning and spent the rest of the trip on Beale Street (which is a cross between Bourbon Street and Broadway Street.) The kids loved it. Until they didn’t love it anymore. Luckily, they couldn’t tell the difference between the drunk people and the crack addicts. Eventually, we had to divert from Beale Street so the kids could have a little quieter place to eat. We settled on a restaurant a block off of Beale St. It had a few less people but the waitresses’ all wore tiny crop tops and mini kilts. Everyone was happy.
(I have a point I promise.) To be continued…