I have no fear of hell. I lost that fear at around age 12. That’s when I was stuck for one long, rainy week, with my family in a Cox Camper at a campground in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Nothing could be worse than that…
My Father never would accept the fact that we were really a group of people with nothing in common.
Well, except shopping. Well, not even that. He hated to shop. The other 3 of us loved it…Like I said we really were a group of people with nothing in common except genetics.
In other words, we were a typical, dysfunctional American Family of that era.
My Father always had the best of intentions. He came from a screwed up family and could not accept the fact that he had another one. He used to say: “I’m going to make you people act like a goddamn family whether you like it or not.”
He never could accept the fact that we all preferred to take our dinners on TV trays in our own rooms than to be together. We all had our own TV’s and it was so much nicer to enjoy our dinners alone.
And safer. You never knew when someone would hit a land mind at the dinner table and war would break out again. No, three out of the four of us understood, the less time together the better.
Let me be clear: This was not the situation we face today where parents are their children’s “friends”. I can’t imagine how this has come about. We knew our parents were the enemy and treated them as such.
We all thought he had lost his mind the day that he came home with a brand new pop up camper and actually expected us to use it.
My Father, being my Father, did not warn anyone of this in advance. He just showed up with this thing and with every camping accessory you could imagine. And informed us we were all going camping whether we liked it or not.
He obviously did not think this through. By this point, my Mother had developed her life long love affair with air conditioning and could not imagine being anywhere that did not have it. Especially “outdoors”.
I had been a complete failure at Boy Scouts. I got all the equipment, uniforms, etc within about six months and once the shopping part was over, I had no interest in it whatsoever. Why go outside when I could be in my room reading or watching TV?
My sister was always more game for these things than anyone else, but I think even she had reservations. She would not have her own room…
My Father also seemed to have forgotten that camping and “outside” is dirty. He never could tolerate dirty children or messy adults. That means we had to change clothes multiple times a day and take as many clothes for a weekend camping trip as most families took for a month in Europe.
Especially, since I was going through a phase where I preferred to wear tennis whites everywhere.
For a week at the beach, he actually thought my Mother should go to the laundromat and figure out how to do laundry– something she never would have thought to do at home. My Grandmother came over to do that or we did our own. Whenever my Father clamped down and made my Mother try to do the laundry at home herself, she usually just washed something red with his white shirts and underwear and then he would leave her alone for a while…It was cheaper and easier to send stuff out and pay my Grandmother to come do the rest.
Anyway, so off we went to Myrtle Beach. A place I have hated ever since…
We got there and got all setup with the camper opened, various tarps and outside things put out and had time to explore the campground.
There was a pavilion for the teenagers and, of course, I wanted to go there. My Mother absolutely forbade it. She said this was a campground and therefore, it had to be full of White Trash waiting to hook us on drugs. I pointed out that we were staying at this campground, but she failed to recognize my logic.
She had an amazing fear of drugs. Maybe it was the times…She thought there were all kinds of people just waiting to hook us on marijuana or heroin and get us to join the Manson Family. She would say things, out of the blue, like: “You know, if you take drugs, you’ll lose your mind and pull your eyeballs out and eat them and be blind forever, don’t you? I read a story about that in Reader’s Digest. It’s true….”
This is amazing in that she never met a prescription drug that she didn’t love…but that was different.
Basically, she only thought it was safe for us to socialize with people whose parent’s, and preferably Grandparent’s, she or my Father knew. Little did she know where that would lead, but that’s another post…
Anyway by day two it started to rain and continued to do so all week.
This was before there was a lot to do at Myrtle Beach. No Malls, No shows. No nothing. Just beach, the Pavilion, tacky shops like the Gay Dolphin (and no, it was not a bar…) and restaurants.
By day three, we were all fit to be tied. My mother just read magazines and muttered about how nice the air-conditioned hotels they normally stayed in would be. My sister was hyper. I was pissed because we only had one TV and they refused to let me watch the network premiere of “Georgy Girl”- which I knew I could have watched in my room at home.
My father finally just got a bottle of bourbon and drank himself to sleep.
This is basically how the rest of the trip played out. And several more.
My Father did not give up easily, but even he eventually realized: “This was not a good idea.”
But it did leave us with some unforgettable memories.
Just not the ones he had in mind…