When you drive over two thousand miles in a landcraft with six people, it is inevitable: eventually, someone is going to barf. My turn came early on, a near-miss in Stanbridge, when I spent sixteen hours in bed only half-successfully fighting off nausea. All I really did was re-direct it, but there’s no need to go into details.
It’s Oliver’s turn today, but we’ve all been there. He is napping on a blanket outside the door to the bathroom, so that what happened yesterday does not repeat itself.
Our first full day in Vermont, we hit a wall. Henry and Meredith attend the first day of Suzuki camp, while the rest of us stay behind in the log-cabin that could have been a set for The Great Outdoors. George is out in no time, Oliver naps three different times in four different venues, and Charlie crashes hard on the seventies-era La-Z-Boy in the kitchen-lounge. He is out for three hours.
He wakes up asking for water, which he drinks quickly, and already I can see him turning the color of Vermont. As usual, I do not act fast enough. He does not make it to the bathroom.
Now Oliver wakes up and pukes into the toilet—a Pyrrhic victory—and emerges proclaiming, “I feel awesome! I feel so great.” He returns to the couch, and his sickly, unbleached flour color returns.
The cabin is starting to feel besieged.
“No one is blowing anything out of anyone’s ass!” I want to declare, in defiance of the not entirely-vanquished threat of nausea/diarrhea.
There is no copy of The Great Outdoors in the case of DVDs in the living room, but there should be. There is plenty of other material to keep us entertained while we take turns convalescing. Now that I effectively have my children held captive, they have no choice but to give in and finally watch the entire Shrek trilogy in sequence, which they have inexplicably refused to watch until now.
At the coffee shop in Rochester, where I pop in to bogart the wifi signal for a few minutes, a man in a plaid shirt, cargo shorts, and Birkenstocks is complaining about his labrum. He has long dreadlocks down to the middle of his back, and is entirely bald on top. A single dread formed from the few strands above his forehead are woven together and swung around to the side, so that from the front it almost looks like he has a full head of hair. The style is Appalachian Hippie, but the comb-over technique is straight-up Southern Baptist.
He explains to his interlocutor (and his eavesdropper) what a labrum is.
“Welcome to the club,” the interlocutor says.
“Yeah, fifty,” the dreadlocked one replies.
Bewildered looks from dreadlocks and eavesdropper.
“Galactic radiation. I’ve been doing some research. Fukushima. Chernobyl. Three Mile Island. Studies have shown a marked increase in muscular discomfort levels since these events.”
They don’t tell you this in the WPA Guide to Vermont, but around here, Birkenstock-ed conspiracy theorists in dreadlocks delivering, in between sloppy spoon-fuls of Cherry Garcia, coffee-shop homilies about how your lower back pain is attributable to nuclear testing in the South Pacific, are not entirely fiction.
I don’t know what the culprit is in our traveling vomit festival, but “galactic radiation” sounds kind of awesome, so we’re going with that.
When in Vermont.