From the Mouths of Denver Nuggets….

From the Mouths of Denver Nuggets

Bob and I recently returned from a much-anticipated Denver vacation, a city long on the personal list of must-sees. I took copious notes during our adventures with the expectancy of using them for this post in some form. There’s benefits to letting travel exploits steep for a while before finding a “get,” the takeaway that offers more than a short-term imprint and witty anecdote. As higher-level impressions mature, in-the-moment notes can fill in the forgotten details and give the written experience a fuller, more deliberate flavor.

So I’m finding anew. In revisiting our Rocky Mountain excursion and the annotations compiled, some of the convergence between my memory and the marginalia is surprisingly and vividly pedestrian. Sure I remember the beauty of Central Colorado’s vast, open spaces. I treasure the weeklong breach with low-carb dieting that resulted in the best cinnamon roll, bison steak and avocado toast (and here I never knew this was a thing) experiences imaginable. And I’ll never fail to recall the full feelings of contentment that accompanied relaxing with Bob each night on the hotel balcony, watching life happen in the street below our feet.

But this elucidation is the one inspiring the keystrokes, jotted on Day 3:

“Once again I’m reminded that given the choice, I prefer conversation with small children over adults. Their stories are more real, interesting and they actually care if you’re paying attention.”

The catalyst for this observation was a visit to the home of Bob’s maternal cousin and her husband, a warm and welcoming couple with trio of little urchins: three year-old Lilah, and two-month old twin boys named Jack and Hank. A most adorable party. The first trait I noticed and admired in Lilah was her wariness of strangers. It would be inaccurate to label it fear. It’s more of a side eye with an unspoken, “Impress me if you can. I’ll wait. It’s my house and I’ve got all day.” I have a lot of respect for those who come into this world with the preternatural knowledge that people are soul-crushingly boring.

Anyway Lilah’s standoffishness presented a challenge I was more than willing to accept. I started to inquire about her life, noting via her baseball coach father that she’d acted as his assistant that day. She immediately perked up and informed me:

“One of the players had one arm.”

So many questions but I didn’t want to smother the precarious momentum I was building. So I turned to dad and asked for clarification. It seems one of the young baseballers had recently broken an appendage, thus showing up to practice with “one arm.” In a reporter’s quest for facts, I reduced Lilah’s whimsical if no less accurate account to the mundane. Lesson learned and for the rest of the visit, I surrendered and went with the toddler flow. It was a good decision, for I was treated to a variety of utterances like the following:

“If you don’t want me to climb the fence, why are you standing on it?”

“You can’t walk through my house unless I say.”

“I like having my feet in the air.”

Each question and observation struck me as more progressively sensible than the one previous. The backyard fence was constructed with latticework, and Bob’s diminutive cousin was in fact standing on one of the rungs while conversing with a neighbor. The expressed unfairness of Lilah’s own forbidden climb seemed entirely rational. Likewise the aversion to having unapproved guests tromp through the home, as well highlighting the arbitrariness in demanding feet remain on the ground. By the time Bob and I prepared to say our goodbyes, Lilah had become my spiritual guru. The enlightened id.

I met a variety of engaging adults during our Southwestern travels, including members of Bob’s family and a gaggle of absolutely darling hipsters (a satire-free phrase I never thought I’d write). But it’s the assured skepticism of Lilah, so reminiscent of the sassy armor I wore at her age before the work of growing up dulled its shine, which sticks. I don’t need to be a parent or a child myself to appreciate the unvarnished, joyous truth offered by conversations with the wee. They’re my people.

Vacation Becky: The Return of the Honey Badger (August 22, 2011)

 

 

honey-badger-dont-care

Vacation Becky is a hell of a lot more fun than Real Life Becky. Ask anyone. Real Life Becky is a bundle of nerves and self-consciousness, confined by typically artificial bonds of to-do lists, worries, overzealous exercising, dietary constraints and fears of aging. Vacation Becky is the absolute antithesis of all that. She is a honey badger (see NFSW video clip above) who does what she wants, worries about no consequence and is the type of bon vivant that typically adds to the entertainment of any group gathering.

I was reminded of how much I enjoy my vacation self, so unlike the real me, this past weekend on a friendly group camping trip to scenic Shelbyville, Illinois – population 5,000. What can a group of citified gal pals and gay men get up to in the still, unmolested country? Quite a lot as it turns out. And as the normally-reticent-come-yes-girl ringleader, I left a certain CoCo Chanel/Anna Nicole Smith imprint of white trash glamour that South Central Illinois will not soon forget.

It all began with breadsticks drowning in a lake of butter and covered in rock salt, not unlike the kind you might find on a Midwestern highway in the depths of January. This was the conclusion of a late Friday afternoon dinner with my traveling companion Laura. As she marveled at the delicious grotesqueness of my wish for more carbs to soak up the excess butter pond, she remarked that this sort of culinary abandon seemed outside of character. This is the moment when I acquainted her with Vacation Becky, and warned her that there was a lot more to follow.

We arrived late Friday evening at our cabin in the woods (for neither Vacation nor Real Life Becky do roughing it very well), to a raucous chorus of already inebriated whoops from the homosexual peanut gallery. We came ready to party with a trunk full of booze and chips (Ah Chili Cheese Fritos! How I love thee!). Picture bonfires, cocktails and inappropriate loud laughing well past the campground’s “quiet hour.”

Over the course of the weekend, Vacation Becky, as also known as CoCo/Anna, put boring Monday-Friday Becky in a headlock and engaged in the following:

 

    1. Wildly shameful flirting with brawny local teen boys.

 

    1. The purchase of a thrift store string bikini (Original tags on of course. Even Vacation Becky is a borderline germaphobe).

 

    1. The eating of newly procured pork rinds right there at the counter of Shelbyville’s local Family Dollar store.

 

    1. Jumping off a pontoon into lake water for the express purposes of peeing.

 

    1. Drinking a bottle and a half of wine on aforementioned pontoon, then passing out for a solid 30 minutes before reviving to finish the rest.

 

    1. Eating thinly vetted fried shrimp and coconut cake at a Sunday breakfast buffet.

 

  1. Looking eminently confident and sexy while engaging in all of the above.


Just who is this wild, adventurous minx who cares nothing for public opinion and how do I incorporate her into my weekday life? Or perhaps it’s better than she is only released from her cage for long weekends and holidays? Maybe Vacation Becky is most safely enjoyed in small doses.