Sixteen years ago, my father and then girlfriend Pat (I like to call her DOOM) invited the entire family down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We went down a day late, as I had to work. Dwain, Bud and myself-we put our suitcases in the Jeep at 5 a.m. Poor Bud sitting in the back, for all 10 hours of the trip. We were hopelessly lost in Washington, but used to my husband’s utter helplessness with directions, I drank beer and laughed at the absurdity.
It wasn’t just the Elkins/Hoffman/Malinowski clan gathering at the bi-level vacation house in the dunes, au contraire-Pat and her four perfect children AND their children were said to be coming as well. Dwain and I anticipated the vacation with utter dread, and the only reason we participated at all was so I could spend time with my father, who was quite ill at the time.
The drive was harrowing. As we arrived at the house, I saw my siblings coming toward us-not to greet us, mind you, but to run. To run for their very lives, as they knew with utter certainty that I was about to BLOW MY TOP. You see, DOOM had miscounted the number of bedrooms, and it appeared that Bud, my husband and myself would have to sleep ON A PULL OUT COUCH IN THE KITCHEN.
While my siblings partied on the beach, I went directly to my father.
“Are you SERIOUS?” “Where is she, let me at her,” and UNFUCKINGBELIEVABLE were a few of the comments I spat. Dwain, who had assessed the situation in a matter of seconds, headed for the beach. I poured a gin martini and sat on the deck with my father, who was so heavy hearted, so upset on what would be his very last vacation.
“Daddy, it’s not your fault, really. I guess we would have stayed at a hotel if we had a head’s up, but it is what it is,” I stammered. Meanwhile, at the beach, my husband was busy telling my brother and sister off in seven different languages, which helped…..a little.
Realizing that part of the problem was hormones, I took a hot shower and emerged stronger, calmer if you will. What happened next is legend in the Elkins family-and if you weren’t there, well, you might have trouble believing the pure insanity that followed. When the gang returned, they found my father and I on said deck, drinking what had to be our fifth martini. The following story is true, and it is with incredulity that I write, not sanguine acceptance.
At some point in the evening, I ended up at the tippy top of the Widow’s Walk, screaming at my sister. Over the years I had held a few things in, and for whatever reason, her ass was GRASS in my book. I don’t remember what I said, but I can imagine. My brother tried to calm me, but I had unleased a momentum that was only stopped by the State Police, and here’s where it gets good.
My husband was at the bar downstairs, with my father. He heard a knock on the door, and before he could answer it, two state cops-guns at the ready-demanded to know where the screaming was coming from. They had received more than a few complaints. As the Keystone Cops looked through the home, my father, now drunk as the proverbial skunk, sat watching television-he had no idea that a circus was enfolding in front of him and to this day, I think he knew alright. I also think he didn’t want to deal with it.
So, they find me on the fifth floor deck, and immediately go to arrest me. Balking, my brother pleaded with them. “Just a family argument,” he begged.
“Ma’am, do you know your voice could be heard at headquarters, five miles away?,” one of them asked me.
Before I could answer, my brother rushed me down to the living room and put me to bed. When I awoke the next day, things were a blur, but no one and I mean NO ONE was talking to me.
The moral of the story? Speak your peace. Don’t let things fester. And for the love of God, keep your voice down when all hell breaks loose.