Chapter Two -- In Which We Arrive at the Hotel
And without Glennie, my life would be boring.
Our hotel was situated on Gun Lake, and after an hour or so of driving (so that puts us at approximately 2:04, right? Remember, timing is veryvery important) we found ourselves in the hotel lobby, where mom got her first burst of freak mojo on. Mom had the green-shirted youngsters behind the desk all confused, because, you see, Mom knows which rooms each of our families should be in better than the hotel staff. Glennie took out her pages of notes and began reciting room numbers, confirmation numbers, numbers of family members and various irrelevant numbers that could have been combination locks, shoe sizes or phone numbers, we're not really sure. Within minutes, four young ladies in the green shirts were standing two-by-two, some of them nodding, others gaping, trying to understand why the hell checking in four rooms just became more complicated than fixing defective foam on the space shuttle. When one green shirt asked for the names of the people for each room, in case phone calls came in for them, I knew the worst was yet to come. Poor things. They couldn't predict the mayhem that would result from trying to organize this, when CLEARLY the woman with the boufant standing before them is the one who makes the demands. When mother couldn't remember my last name (Mr. Wheeze and I have only been married 14 years, so it hasn't quite sunk in yet that I'm no longer 'one of hers') and the innocent green-shirted young woman put one brother's wife's name with the other brother, causing Glennie to have 'the horrors' over the thought of her children having in-law affairs with each other; the seventeen of us all looming in the small lobby; the children, restless; the shriek level accelerating rapidly, I stepped in.
"I could fill out the form for you, and then you'd be rid of us." I suggested to green shirt.
"No, uh, that's okay..." she said. Damn that rule-follower. I handed her my Family Itinerary which has all our names (first, middle and last), confirmation numbers assigned, and room numbers on it. (What, your family doesn't have a four page itinerary when you travel together? How do you stay organized?)
"You realize this doesn't end here, right?" I shouted above the din. "Next comes the family photo."
With all the rooms and names sorted at last, Glennie assigned a green shirt to follow us outside immediately to take our picture. The family gathered up our luggage, knowing that even suggesting we all dump our shit in our rooms first was out of the question. Glennie and her seven pillows (yes, seven) bounced people out of her way so she could be in front, our fearless leader. Once outside, she places us in front of some very pretty flowers which will not show up in the photo, adjusted our hands to rest in various positions that supposedly looked casual and loving, and pulled the green shirt (holding her by the wrist) to the top of a grassy hill, where she stood, uncertainly, in such a way that her camera angle would make us all appear to be little people standing on a dirty sidewalk. But we know better than to speak. Mother, hollering "SMILE!!!" with a plastered smile on her own face, began to count to three on behalf of the quaking green shirt, because obviously she wouldn't know to do that herself when SHE feels we are ready. Then mother says to the green shirt, through her clenched smile, "And don't shake the camera! Last year the girl shook the camera and we all came out fuzzy."
"So we had her killed," I said.
A few clicks later, and the Hopelessly Stupid Green Shirted Imbecile says, "Would you like to try another pose now?"
The crowd roared its objections at this horrendous offense, and Mom punched Dad, at the same time refusing to take the camera from the Imbecile who is holding it out to her, as a means to keep her from bolting, obviously waiting for Dad to get his wallet out and give the green shirt a dollar.
Every time, they do this. The punch, the dollar tip. And every time, the desk employee refuses politely as his or her mother has taught him to do. Or as the hotel manager instructed. And every time, my dear mother thinks this is a great game, the object of which is to argue loudly, then chase after the deskie, over hill, through parking lot and down the hallway, trying to find the most unique orifice or clothing gap in which to shove the dollar. It makes me wonder about her secret life in strip clubs, she's just that good at forcing dollar bills (and newspaper clippings, and things she's ripped out of magazines at the dentist's office, and crumbly windmill cookies, and church bulletins, and ... ah, but I digress) on people.
"Please," we beg. "Please, just take the dollar. Please. There is no other option." You idiot. Do you not see? Have you not heard? The Glennie has come. Accept her. Do her bidding. And you shall live.