Saturday, May 26, 2012

Not without my daughter(s)...

True story. Other than the odd sip of wine here and there, I have not drank in about three years. Not for any specific reason, other than when I drink, I want to smoke. Like, to the point if no one has a cigarette, I attempt to light anything in my reach and smoke it. Kitchen tables aren't safe when I'm in the mood to smoke. It's my worst vice. So in my attempts to give that habit up for good, I avoid drinking. This saves me from smoking like I'm training for the next Iron Lung competition.

But hey, clearly less drinking over the years hasn't made me any smarter. Recently, my sister and I took our Mom on a hot holiday to Spain. The last time I went to Spain, we almost drowned and lost our son to the Mediterranean Sea. Click here for that lovely episode. So this time, my goal was to relax, behave, act know, just be like a regular person who doesn't do stupid things. For the most part, it was absolutely idyllic....walks on the beach, lounging in the sun, trips to Morocco, excursions to wee villages up in the hills. And then? It's almost like I can't help myself. Enter completely moronic behaviour consisting of blissfully passing out in a tiny bathroom stall right in front of my Mom. Hey, if you haven't drank in over three years, why not pull the plug right in front of your Mother? I'm smart like NASA scientist sometimes. And then I got to spend the remainder of our trip trying to convince her that I'm not a raging alcoholic. Good times, proud, proud moments. I should note here that years ago, back in my glory days, I was no slouch at consuming alcoholic beverages. My husband called me the Vodka Queen; I could consume approximately one ounce per 10 pounds of body weight. So 13, 14, 15 drinks during the course of a night (the latter being at the height of my bloat during university days), was not out of the question.

To summarize, it went as follows...I've broken it down in point form, simply because it's the only humane way to tackle this:
  1. During one of our last nights in Spain, we decide to head out with some lovely friends for a fancy supper at a local steak house.
  2. Indulge in first vodka in three years at nearby pub whilst waiting for said steak house to open.
  3. Find out that said steak house does not open until 7:00 pm, so indulge in second vodka in three years, in under ten minutes.
  4. By this point, I have forgotten that most European countries do not measure their drinks in ounces, rather they free-pour vodka to within inches of the top of your glass, leaving you with the awkward task of drinking straight vodka to make room for the 7-UP.
  5. Once the third vodka arrives, I completely forget about the 7-UP.
  6. Walk over to the steak house, third vodka in hand, and enjoy a decadent meal, dessert and WINE. Over the course of the next two hours, commence completely disastrous downward spiral as my body attempts to sort out large injection of alcohol into bloodstream.
  7. Body didn't sort anything out very well.
  8. At some point, my liver failed to absorb the overflow of alcohol, thus affecting my brain's ability to effectively monitor my actions. Results vary from person to person, but the corresponding behavioural malfunctions tend to manifest themselves rather quickly, particularly when there are no chicken wings lying around to help soak up the excess alcohol. Some gain the (frightfully horrific) ability to tell the same joke over and over, oblivious to the fact that are the only person laughing. Others experience delusions of grandeur, becoming convinced they are God's gift to the opposite sex, while suppressing (or not) an overwhelming urge to strip off all their clothes. As the liver takes a knee and surrenders, the brain tries to save itself by sending a signal to the stomach to empty its contents. If this order fails, the colon may start to cramp, resulting in painful spasms in the lower abdominal area in at attempt to bring the body back to its senses.
  9. Of course, some brains and bodies respond more creatively than others. Mine responded with a primal instinct as old as time. Like a large wounded animal, I dragged myself off to a dark corner to die.
  10. Unfortunately the dark corner was actually the bathroom back at the pub - a little hole in the wall just big enough for a toilet and a sink. And apparently the carcass of a large mammal waiting to die. Truly, I was a magnificent piece of wasted art.
  11. Many bathroom lights in Europe are on a sensor, so after a few minutes, they shut off. They were on just long enough for me to get settled on the floor, then lights out.
  12. I woke to the sounds of someone screaming; apparently some poor lady had wandered in to use the bathroom. As she opened the door (I had lacked the required mental strength to lock it...) the light automatically popped back on, and there I was, sitting on the floor, leaning up against the wall, getting some much needed shut-eye. Needless to say, I scared the shit right out of her.
  13. Next thing I know, I'm being ushered out by my Mom and our friend, who kindly drove the both of us back to our house. He was going to go back to collect daughter #2, plus my Mom's mobility scooter.
  14. Did I mention I was wearing my Olympic sweater? It looks real enough that I was stopped on multiple occasions to sign autographs. My Mom actually told three guys that my sister and I were retired triathletes. We now stayed home to raise our children. We had to Google triathletes to make sure we knew what that meant in case we were pressed for more details. We didn't even know how to spell triathletes whilst attempting to Google it. At any rate, I'm thinking after the bathroom episode, word has spread throughout European countries not to be overly concerned about competing against Canadian athletes in the upcoming Summer Games. Because of me, athletes throughout the world have breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Here's what I found out the next day:
  1. Turns out, mobility scooter will not fit in the back of a car, even when folded.
  2. Rather than leave Mom's mobility scooter sitting at the bar, my sister decided to saddle up and beast it home.
  3. Our friends wrapped her with a large maroon scarf to keep her warm and off she went. Full speed. A loping house cat would be twice as fast.
  4. It's important to note here that at the time, my sister was officially blind in one eye. My Dad, along with three of my siblings, suffer from a degenerative disease of the cornea. When their eye has an attack, which it will do a few times a year, it starts to leak, resulting in a burning and throbbing sensation. The cornea starts to rip, and it feels like someone is stabbing a needle in your eye. The solution is to put a special form of contact in that acts as a cover for your eye while it heals. In the meantime, it's extremely painful, not to mention the eye is super-sensitive to any light. What to do? Wear big-ass sunglasses 24 hours a day. Even when it's completely dark outside. Even when, pardon me, especially when, you're driving a mobility scooter home at top speed through the streets of Spain at 2:00 in the morning. Did I mention a cat would lap you whilst going top-speed on said mobility scooter?
  5. I made my sister show me what she had been wearing on the way home, because when she was telling me this the next day, I thought it was the most hilarious thing I'd ever heard. This tends to be the case when you're still hammered. She looked like a modern-day version of Amelia Earhart...that, or a Basque (masked) terrorist, with her scarf wrapped firmly from midsection to cheekbone.
  6. She told me at one point, she had gotten lost and followed a vehicle into the dark corners of a parking lot. It likely wasn't so much that she got lost, rather she couldn't really see shit. She was like a lost baby deer mesmerized by the glow of headlights. Or in this case, tail lights. It didn't help that the battery was running low on the mobility scooter, so her headlights had gone out. When she approached the car from behind, and realized she had turned the wrong way, everyone seemed to momentarily panic. The car abruptly screeched to a halt beside another vehicle, at which point my sister assumed she had just blown the cover on some sort of late-night drug deal. She pulled a u-turn with the mobility scooter - as angrily as one can with a mobility scooter - to stir up a cloud of dust for cover, and started heading back off in the opposite direction. I tell you, this story just kept getting better and better. I told her they likely took one look at her in their rear view mirror and thought she was a diligent member of the neighbourhood Crime Stoppers division. That, or an insurgent from a local terrorist group. Or quite simply, someone who had gone completely bat-shit and was not to be tangled with. Really, who in their right mind would be ripping through dark alleys on a mobility scooter, pulling hoopers at 2:00 in the morning, wearing dark sunglasses, wrapped head to waist in a maroon scarf? A crazy person, that's who.
  7. By this point in the story, I was wailing with tears, I repeat WAILING. I was laughing so hard that I could hardly stand up. Just when I thought I couldn't take anymore, my sister leaned in and whispered, "It gets better. I think I crashed the mobility scooter. I'm really scared to go look at it." Be still my weakened bladder, for I couldn't take any more.
  8. Upon inspection of mobility scooter, we noticed that part of the floorboard on the one side was completely smashed off. As best of she could remember, she thought she flew off a curb after completely missing the pedestrian ramp to go onto the street. She vaguely remembered something that sounded like a glass being smashed on the pavement. In hindsight, she believed it was likely the sound of plastic floorboard being demolished. She felt the need to add: "I was going so fast. No doubt it got destroyed when I popped that curb. My God. I thought our days of immense stupidity were long behind us. Clearly we've still got some juice left in us." 
  9. At this point, my Mom inserted a comment into the conversation that went as follows: "You're the mother of small children. You shouldn't be drinking like that!" I asked her if she was referring to her youngest daughter, drinking and driving a mobility scooter, and that yes, I agreed that it was very naughty behaviour. She just glared at both of us, then added: "I'm 72 years old for heaven's sake. You two should be taking care of me." Fair point.
  10. I pointed out that it was likely the heavy wine sauce that was served with my steak that put me over the edge. That, or food poisoning. I told her I'd be looking into it and launching a complaint against the restaurant. I told her we were all just lucky to be alive. She gave me a look that did not convey unadulterated joy at my existence.
  11. I then told my Mom the great news. She now had appropriate material to pen a memoir, titled, "Not without my daughters", as essentially she had saved our lives. To which my sister then pointed out it should really be called, "Not without my one daughter", as she was left to drive home blind, pissed as a rat, on a mobility scooter. My Mom said had she known that daughter #2 wasn't getting a ride home with the scooter, she would have walked back herself to drive the both of them home. She would have shoved daughter #2 into front basket on scooter had it been required.
  12. All of these dazzling visuals were killing me. Unfortunately, I had to pull myself together rather quickly as we had booked a cab for that morning to give us a tour of the Spanish countryside. It took everything in my power to act normal that entire morning. The cab driver spent an inordinate amount of time pointing out monuments that bad been erected throughout the hills...when people experienced a religious sighting, they erected monuments to mark the spot. I told him that was really cool because I had also experienced a religious sighting the night before, for I believe I caught a glimpse of the other side, so I should likely head back to the bathroom stall to erect a monument. Upon hearing this, Mom glared, Sister fell apart, Jesus wept.
  13. We ended up paying approximately $200 in damages for the mobility scooter. That right there is money well spent. When asked what happened, we told the rental agency that we weren't entirely certain what had happened. (Which is the truth, really...let's not split hairs.) We said it could have been this or it could have been that - we mentioned that Mom had been hit by a car while driving the scooter, so it could have happened then. Incidentally, she did get hit by a car earlier in the week...tapped would be a more apt descriptor...but that's a whole other story and this is already getting long. As my sister was recounting the events of said car accident to the guy at the rental desk (while intentionally leaving out ALL details of the wreckage derby home from the bar), my Mom had to walk away. I pretended to be grossly absorbed with the foliage of a nearby plant. I couldn't contain myself. I had to hide my face. As my sister continued to describe the collision in delightful detail, I could hear him gasping, tsk tsking and saying he was so happy that our Mom was alright. He then asked if we happened to get the plate number of the car who hit Mom, and she said, "No, sadly not. We were far too distraught."
  14. Moral of the story? I can't think of one. But let me tell you this - the memories of our trip will keep me entertained well into my twilight years.
I'll leave you with some photos that capture some of the highlights of our trip. Enjoy. xo
In Gibraltar, waiting for ferry into Africa. Thanks to my awesome ROOTS jacket,
I was asked by other passengers what Olympic sport I was competing in...
that, or simply because I look like an athlete. Clearly.


So I showed them...
at least my Mom thought it was funny.


Landing in Morocco, ready to tour the city...

Canadian athletes are rarely seen without their Pringles...


When Mom told us that her and Dad had ridden a camel back
in 1980 when they came to Morocco, we decided we just had to do it!


Then I wasn't listening when he told me to hold on tight,
and damn near fell off the back of the camel.


Camel is smiling,  giving me the sly-eye as if to say:
"Hehe...finally getting rid of this loser."


Sister looking much more relaxed and athletic on camel.


This guy on the right asking me, "What sport is that? I've never heard of it."


They were apparently going to pipe a snake out of this Puma bag.
I didn't stick around long enough to find out. Jesus.
That's the stuff nightmares are made of...

Gateway from Africa to Spain, looking across the Strait of Gibraltar...


The streets of Morocco...


Mom and I about to dine on unidentified meat skewers...
that's sheer terror in my eyes.

There are just so many things wrong with this photo...
I wouldn't even know where to start.

Clearly, I'm even telling myself to stop dancing already...the clapping
and cheering got me all worked up like a whirling dervish.
That lady in green was egging me on like Satan. She was positive I was an Olympian.
Let me tell you, she could shake things I wouldn't even know how to start shaking.

Three little buddies walking through the streets of Morocco...


That's happiness to see me, right?


My Mom's had a few hip replacements, yet she could
do the stairs better than me. What am I saying...this is
me training for an upcoming triathlon. Always, always training.
Mom and I waiting for the magnificent display of Persian rugs...

We made it out of Morocco in one piece. Barely. I tell you, when you hit those
back streets and they see tourists, they are on you in an instant. My sister said that at one point,
she lost the group, got cornered in a back alley, and came out the proud owner
of three camel carvings. As I was mocking her on the way back to the bus,
this crowd of people approached me, and one man asked me to hold this mirror for him.
Just for a moment, he said. He then disappeared, I was left holding this mirror, and one
of his minions was harassing me for money for the mirror. It caused quite the stir. When my sister went
ahead with my Mom to get away from the crowd, she looked back at me and said I looked
like Jesus being followed by his group of Apostles. That's under the grand assumption
that Jesus would ever be caught dead carrying an art deco gold mirror.
The one passenger was laughing so hard about the mirror incident, that he took
a picture of me holding it, with his reflection in said mirror. I'm not entirely certain
if he was laughing at me, or with me. The former, I suspect.
There was a storm brewing on the ferry ride back to Spain. The boat was heaving,
as were many of the passengers. Mom had to hold onto the rail pretty tight for this photo!
I'll take a wild guess that the Altantic Ocean is riddled with partial dental plates and hair pieces.
Back to the scene of the'll notice the two blue pieces of plastic lying on the sidewalk.
So, yes, we were able to retrieve a vast majority of the missing pieces of the mobility scooter, but alas,
Elmer's Glue could not put Humpty back together again.
Showing me how she went flying off the curb...after this reenactment,
I had to sit down and take a break for a few hours. It was all too much.


Sister taking a photo of me on the beach. She missed the lower half of me,
plus most of the actual beach. But hey, she was blind.


Enjoying a laugh with Mom about all the events of the week.
She really is a great sport. Mercifully, her love for me is unconditional.

As is mine for her...even with the
odd attempt to push her over ledges.
Figuratively and literally.


How's that for a view every morning,
enjoying a coffee along the beach?


Mom and sister up in the village of Mijas,
overlooking the city of Fuengirola down below...


Down in Marbella, where the rich and famous come to play.
This is the Spanish city where the likes of
Sean Connery and Antonio Banderas have homes.
We just go to take pictures of their yachts and finger their Ferraris.


Morning after vodka food poisoning incident.
Looking for a place to get sick in the bushes...
Kidding. Ahem.


Two of my favourite people in the whole, wide world...


Statue near a little monastery high in the hills...erected due to religious sighting? Likely.


Reflecting on my own religious sighting from the night before...
that, and wondering how many more autographs I'd be asked to sign
prior to departure back to Canada. My wrist was starting to ache.


Cornelia said...

Looks like you guys had an awesome trip! Your mom looks great! Something you will always remember. Your writing is always hilarious and true. Just like how I remember you! Can't wait for mom's memoirs!

K :) said...

A great story to complement what sounds like a fantastic trip. I'd totally be the person left holding the mirror.

Anonymous said...

Janita, not judging, but is that a cigarette in your hand in the third photo?!?! Just saying....

Jenny V said...

I love this photo story...what an incredible trip to be able to take! Looks like so much fun. :)

Laura said...

Thanks for sharing the laughter and tears

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