Jon Dawson: A Fourth filled with friends, roofwork and the itus
Tax Deduction #2 delivers some bad news. / Photo courtesy of Amnesty International
While many of you were hurdling towards the coast on Thursday, all the while dodging errant fireworks flung skyward by a legion of party dudes full of Pabst and middle-aged malaise, we headed the other way.
A year or so back I wrote about my experience serving as best man at my friend Correai Moore's wedding to the lovely Reah. The entire experience was a positive one, and to be honest it was more like a vacation for The Wife and I, temporarily free from those meddling children of ours.
Honestly, our Tax Deductions are constantly pelting us with questions such as "what's for supper?", "can we have something to play with other than a stick?" and "why do we have to pay rent when other kids don't?"
In an effort to pull our two daughters out of the doldrums — they've been a bit pouty ever since being tasked with re-shingling the roof — I suggested we visit Correai and Reah in Apex. They seemed excited by the idea of a road trip, even with the caveat they'd have to pull a double shift on the roof the following day.
On the way to Apex, we stopped off at the Whirligig Park in Wilson. Due to the holiday, it was a ghost town. Having the entire park to ourselves was a bit surreal, especially with all the whirligigs- a-whirlin'.
After the Whirligig Park, we invaded a few rummage shops and a Salvation Army store (jealous?) and even stumbled into an antique auction. A few pieces of furniture brought in a paltry sum, but it was a "Where's The Beef?" T-shirt signed by K.D. Lang that elicited the big bucks.
Once we left Wilson for Apex, I noticed our 14-year-old bent over as if she was looking for loose change in the foot of the car — which was pointless as I'd just done it before we stopped at the gas station.
"Are you OK, sweetie?" I asked.
"I'm fine," she said. "Just resting."
I immediately flashed back to my summers in a tobacco field: the heat, the heavy sticks of wet tobacco and the constant threat of a snake dropping down from the rafters. I also remembered showering up after work, playing basketball till dark and watching David Letterman at 12:30 a.m.
Witnessing my beloved TD#1 taking a knee after enduring a grueling 40 minutes in an air-conditioned car, my first thought was to make her ride on the roof. But then I realized she may be in charge of my care if I ever reach the age of decrepitude, so I stood mute.
Once we made it to Apex, Correai and Reah greeted us at the door with their puppy Jazzy. It was great to see Correai had successfully made the transition from loner apartment dweller to suburbanite.
You have to remember folks, a man living in his own in an apartment is basically the dictator of a small country. When he moves to the suburbs, even something as routine as changing the color of your shutters requires the signatures of three neighbors, a letter from the governor and — in some cases — the blessing of a priest.
While Reah, The Wife and the TDs conversated about girly stuff, I joined Correai outside while he grilled some burgers and dogs.
I'm proud to report that marriage suits him well, as he appears happier now than he ever has in the 20-plus years I've known him. When I was a busboy at The Beef Barn restaurant and he worked at a nearby Food Lion, it wasn't uncommon for us to meet up after work and consume anything that had been accidentally overcooked that night.
The total absence of utensils didn't deter us. We were barbarians.
Fast-forward a few decades and we're both able to grill out and afford utensils. What a country.
We had a great time relaxing with Correai and Reah, who did an admirable job teaching me how to keep score in tennis while we watched Wimbledon coverage.
I live so far out in the sticks, we used to play a tennis/dodge ball hybrid on the road, with the yellow line being the net. If you managed to hit the other person with the ball, you'd earn a point. If you had to dive in a ditch last minute to avoid an oncoming vehicle, you'd get a redo.
I haven't had a soft drink or anything containing processed sugar for about a month, so you can imagine the rush I felt when Correai presented me with a bottle of all-natural Reed's ginger ale to go with my hamburger. There were also chips and Cheese Doodles for the kids, but I felt the need to have some also to make sure they were safe for the kids.
Admittedly, there's no excuse for my decision to go back for seconds on everything, but I've been eating like a grasshopper for a month, so back off.
During the drive home, we encountered storms of Biblical proportions. While I and other sane motorists slowed down to around 35 mph, I actually witnessed other drivers pulling over and stopping on I-40. Usually, the maniacs who frequent that interstate wouldn't slow down for an active lava flow, but something about this storm brought out the rational human in them.
We landed in Bucklesberry around 5 p.m., and after several hours of driving and an itus-inducing, life-affirming meal, I decided to take a short nap before going out to my office to get a little work done.
When I awoke at 9 p.m., my family seemed glad that's I'd finally regained consciousness. Apparently, they'd sent the youngest one into my room every half-hour to poke me with a stick to make sure I was still breathing.
I guess they really do care.
Jon Dawson's humor columns are published weekly by NeuseNews.com. Contact Jon at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.jondawson.com.