We were in Wal-Mart picking up some last minute things for our trip to the Bahamas. My wife, Trixie, and our youngest daughter, Sugar, were checking out the sun screens and tanning oils. I was checking out the women’s underwear. I normally don’t check out women’s underwear, unless it is a special occasion or something. I actually bought Trixie underwear once for Christmas. I will never do that again. Ever. She was quite upset. I have since learned that it is not proper to give your wife underwear for Christmas, even if they may serve a dual purpose. I have also learned that it is required for husbands and fathers not only to accept this gift, but to pretend to be both happy and surprised about the annual Yule Tide gift of underwear. I stood up on the double standard soapbox about that once. I will never do that again either.
We were taking the trip with Trixie’s brother, Tommy, his girlfriend Lucy, and two of his teenage sons: Blake, 14, and Justin, 15. In the planning stages of our trip, I bet everyone that if we actually went I would wear a purple Speedo on the beach. I was certain we would never go. We hadn’t been able to get together for the past three Christmases because we could never figure out which family should have Christmas. We live a half a mile from each other. There was no way we would ever be able to get this trip together. It was the safest bet I could have ever made. That was the last bet I have ever made.
We were leaving in a few hours. And to make matters worse, Wal-Mart did not have a single Speedo. Wal-Mart had faux fur covered showerheads, but they did not sell purple Speedos. For some reason, that surprised me. Trixie was relieved that I would not be wearing a purple Speedo on the beach. She should have known better. I needed to come up with a Plan B. Plan B hit me as soon I walked by the women’s underwear aisle. The only difference between a man’s Speedo and women’s underwear is just a little more room if you think about it. I have had many Plan B’s worse than this Plan B. So while Trixie and Sugar were off getting the sun screen, I bought the finest pair of XXXL purple cheetah print ladies panties that Wal-Mart had in stock. They were a wee bit sassier than I would have liked, but they would fill in for a purple Speedo just fine. Everyone would be surprised. I was sure of that.
Six hours later we made it through the airport security and were walking through the terminal at 4 am; me, Trixie, Sugar, Uncle Tommy, Lucy, Blake, and Justin. I was walking in front of everyone else, carrying Trixie and Sugar’s carryon bags, searching for a comfortable place to fall down so I could have a heart attack. Behind me I heard my nephew Justin whisper to Trixie.
“Aunt Trixie,” he said to her, “We might have a problem.”
“What’s the matter Justin?” Trixie whispered back.
“I’ll only tell you if you promise not to tell my Dad ok?”
“Ok Justin. What’s the matter?”
“You promise you won’t tell my Dad?
“I promise, Justin. What’s the matter?”
“I have a bag of weed in my pocket. Will they check for that at customs in the Bahamas?”
“You what?! I can’t believe you would be so stupid! How did you just make it through Security? “What are you thinking Justin? You are going to get us all sent to a Caribbean prison!”
Justin started laughing, “I was just kidding Aunt Trixie.”
I smiled to myself. He had played that well. I liked the kid’s style. As he dropped back to tell everyone else about his conversation with Aunt Trixie, she caught up to me.
“Did you hear that?” she said to me.
“Yep,” I said.
“Thank God he was kidding.” We could hear everyone laughing as Justin told his story to the rest of our group behind us.
“How do you know he was kidding?”
“Because he said so honey.”
“Oh Yea? And you believe him?” I said as we arrived at the departure gate and sat down among the other passengers. Trixie’s face started to turn red and she said, “You think he really has pot?”
“I dunno. We will find out at Customs I suppose. Let’s get a cup of coffee.”
“Coffee? Oh my God! Are you kidding me? Forget coffee I need a drink.”
Blake sat down next to her.
“Here you go Aunt Trixie.” he said.
“What is that Blake?”
“A drink. You said you needed a drink”
“That’s not a drink, that’s a Red Bull.”
“I mixed it with vodka. It is a drink.”
Trixie’s face started to turn purple. “Are you serious? You’re 14 years old!” she said.
“Don’t tell Dad!” Blake said and started laughing. “Psych Aunt Trixie!”
“Tommy! Blake has vodka in his Red Bull,” Trixie yelled across the terminal. I just sat back, listened, and watched the faces of the other passengers waiting to board the flight. Uncle Tommy yelled back, “Blake, how many times do I have to tell you not to mix vodka with Red Bull. It is 4 o’clock in the morning. You mix vodka with orange juice in the morning.”
Trixie’s head rolled back against the back of her seat, her eyes closed, her face purple, looking up at the ceiling. She was praying. The boys were laughing. Sugar was texting God only knows who at four in the morning. Lucy was pleading with the boys to settle down. The other passengers were all looking anywhere but at us, pretending that we were not there. And I just smiled. Because I realized right then and right there, that this may be the best vacation I have had in a long time. I hadn’t seen it coming, but here it was. A boy’s vacation. It was about time. Trixie lifted her head and opened her eyes. She saw me smiling. “Oh no,” she said, “You have a purple Speedo in your luggage, don’t you?” I was still smiling when I answered, honestly I might add, “Nope.”
The next afternoon we were standing in line at one of the slides in the Atlantis Resort water park. Sugar was pretending not to notice the boys looking at her in her bikini. I was replying to each stare with my most brutal Tony Soprano ‘whatsamatteryou’ glare. It was working well too. I was glad it was working because we had to climb almost five stories of stone stairs to get to the top of the slide and I was still trying to breathe. Trixie was next to me trying to breathe too. Justin and Sugar were in line in front of us. In front of him were Uncle Tommy and Lucy. And in front of them was an ample bottomed young woman and her boyfriend. Her ample bottom was trying to be covered by a completely un-ample yellow bikini bottom. The bikini bottom was strained to the max. Justin said to me, “Uncle Tony, do you see that?”
“Of course.” I said.
“How can you see that Uncle Tony? You are not even looking.”
Just then a bumble bee landed on her strained yellow bikini bottom. It wiggled a little bit and settled in for the long haul, I suppose. Justin looked at me in horror. Some other people in line noticed too. They started to wonder out loud what to do. One of the wives whispered to her husband and shoved him over to the ample bottomed girl. He tapped her on her shoulder and said, “Miss, I don’t quite know how to tell you this, but there is a bee on your bottom. Don’t move.” It was right after that when all Hell broke loose. She did not move, but everyone around her did. They started waving at the bee. They started yelling at the bee. One lady even bent down and started blowing on the bee. The bee was not moving. Who could blame the bee, really?
No one seemed to know how to resolve this issue. I did. “Stop! Everyone stop. Stand back,” I yelled, as I stepped forward. To my surprise everyone did just that. That worked out well too, because you could hear my hand smack that girl’s over ample rump clear across the water park.
Trixie just covered her eyes and started shaking her head. Uncle Tommy and Lucy turned and started walking the other way like they had never seen me before. The people around us just gasped, if they made any noise at all. The yellow bikini girl turned to me and said, “Thank you.” Her boyfriend shook my hand and he thanked me too. The bee, lying on the ground, had died with a smile on its little bee face.
Justin just stared at me in amazement for a second. He shook his head and said, “Uncle Tony that was the most amazing thing I have even seen in my life. You just smacked a girl’s butt that you have never seen before, and not only that, but she thanked you. Oh my God! You can still see your hand print on her butt!”
Trixie was staring at me but spoke to Justin when she said, “Yea Justin, that was amazing all right.”
“Hey Aunt Trixie? You know why they call this slide the Shark Slide?
“Because we slide through a pool of sharks!”
“Perfect,” she said. “Just perfect. It can’t get much worse. Can it?”
Trixie was almost right. It was indeed perfect and it would also get much worse.
I had taken almost a week of ridicule for backing out on my pledge to wear a purple Speedo on the beach. This was the last day of our trip. We all sat on the beach, in lounge chairs. Everyone was talking about their favorite parts of our trip as we all looked out over the crystal blue water of the Caribbean. The beach was packed with tourists.
Justin said, “This would have been the perfect trip if Uncle Tony hadn’t backed out on his bet. The bee thing? How do you ever top that one?”
Everyone but Trixie agreed with Justin.
I just smiled in my straw tourist hat, stood up, dropped my swim trunks to the sand revealing the finest pair of purple cheetah print ladies underwear that Wal-Mart had in stock and said, “Well, let’s make this the perfect vacation, then, shall we?”
“I knew it. I knew it,” Trixie said, covering her face with her beach towel.
Our group was howling as I walked down the beach to the water. Someone mentioned that it was not a purple Speedo. When I replied that I could not find a pair and that what I was wearing was women’s underwear, they turned raucous.
Mothers started running around the beach gathering their children. Fathers covered the eyes of their little ones. People either looked away or just gawked like they were watching a train wreck happen right before their eyes. Everyone in the water got out of the water for some reason. And I stood there at the edge of the crystal blue Caribbean in purple cheetah print ladies underwear and nothing else but a straw hat. I felt like a king surveying his kingdom.
Then it began to dawn on everyone around us that this was a joke. And they started laughing too. It hit me right out of the blue that for almost an entire week all that we had done was laugh. That is what had made this the most perfectly perfect vacation. We laughed at ourselves. We laughed at other people. We laughed for no reason at all. That day, on that beach, people we had never met before, and would likely never meet again, were laughing at us laughing at me in my cheetah print purple ladies underwear. Sometimes all we need to do is laugh. Laugh loud, Laugh often.
That is all.