This weekend I took Amtrak to the town of Hudson, New York to hang out with my family. I can pretty much sum up Hudson for you by transcribing their welcome sign: "Welcome to Hudson: Home of the Hudson Valley High School Girls' Bowling Team." I think it captures the bleak, downtrodden, yet sweetly hopeful essence of all the small towns in the Catskills. A once-popular vacation destination - think Dirty Dancing - the Catskills fell on hard times with the rise of popular summer alternatives like Disneyland, Caribbean cruises, staycations, Valium, and divorce. My dad, for reasons yet unknown, loves the Catskills without irony, so as a kid I spent endless listless summer weekends there in our mobile home, which sits immobile year-round on blocks in a lakeside campground near Hudson. This is all exactly as depressing as it sounds.

My whole family seems to embrace it however, so upon arrival I was greeted by aunts, uncles, and cousins, and their kids, spouses, boyfriends, ex-wives, and ex-kids. There were approximately 37 people staying in a 40x10 ft trailer in 95 degree weather. Upon my arrival my mom told me I'd be sleeping on the kitchen table and handed me a rolled up hand towel to use as a pillow. White trash, what?

The big excitement of the vacation was that there was a beaver living in the lake. My dad saw him at 6am one morning and ran inside to wake up my mother, who rushed outside because she'd never seen a beaver. My uncle spent hours staring into the lake with binoculars. My cousin's kids shrieked hysterically when they spotted a ripple in the lake's placid surface. At one point my cousin's husband stalked the lake's perimeter and reported back that the beaver was surprisingly small and lived in a nest of twigs. All were riveted by tales of his adventures.

The other constant of the weekend was that people kept bringing me meat without any kind of provocation. The second I arrived my father handed me a whole rotisserie chicken covered in salt. Twenty minutes later my aunt insisted on giving me her half-eaten cheeseburger. An hour later someone slipped a plate of Spam under the bathroom door while I was showering. It was creepy but endearing.

Nothing drives home the realization that you are a lame adult like trying to have a conversation with children. Desperately seeking common ground, I asked my preteen cousin if he liked Twilight, and he looked at me like I had asked him if he had a crush on Hitler. I thought I was on solid footing with the 7-year-old because we got in an electric shock fight at my uncle's funeral a few months back, but our chumminess was long forgotten when teenage boy cousins were around. At least my Aunt Peggy still thinks I'm cool! She asked me about the fashionable cocktails that young people drink nowadays. And a drew a total blank. What are they? Are Tom Collins still hip? Please help. I have failed these people in so many ways.

Speaking of Aunt Peggy, she provided my favorite moment of the weekend when we were in church. My dad left for the bathroom during Mass. About five minutes later, Aunt Peggy started whispering furiously at my beleaguered Uncle Bob, who wandered off in the direction of the bathroom. "Your dad's stuck in there and banging to get out," Aunt Peggy confided in response to my quizzical look. I did not hear any banging, and it seemed unlikely that my 63-year-old father would get so panicky and incapable when faced with a locked door that he would interrupt Mass, but I took her word for it. Uncle Bob returned a minute later and reported that my father was fine and just doing his business. The "banging" turned out to be the priest knocking against the microphone during his sermon.

The weekend drew to a languid close, and my cousins packed up their meat products and bathing suits and fishing rods and children and set home towards Long Island. At some point a neighbor informed us that the beaver was actually a muskrat, which was disappointing for everyone. I choose to believe it was a beaver though, if only because there is strength in hope. It's a lesson the Hudson Valley High School Girls' Bowling team taught me.
Enhanced by Zemanta


Hannah said...

Wow. You make us Jews looks downright, NORMAL. My husband and I DID once get a large package of random meat in the mail once. Being from Brooklyn, I figured it was a gift from the Mafia for something one of us had done, and I sat down to think of who I might have accidentally "wacked" that week. But no, it turns out that my sister in law was sending meat. To this day, I still don't know why. Meat: the strangest gift of all.

Maroid Rage said...

That's awesome. I'm going to start sending anonymous meat to my enemies.

Post a Comment

MapleStory Private Servers Top Blogs