PAT McDERMOTT: summer holiday madness
People do crazy things when summer is on the way.
There’s the dispiriting troll through the shops in search of swimmers. Then holing up in a changing room the size of a phone booth but with oor to ceiling mirrors. Just in case you needed reminding that not only does your bum looks big in that – it looks big in everything!
I’m not my best in summer. I stick to bus seats and my eyes are bleary from the sunscreen I slap on. The “ ap ap” of thongs makes me a little crazy.
“You’re just jealous,” says the MOTH (The Man of the House) as he “ aps” past. He grew up on the North Coast of New South Wales with the sand, the sun and the sea.
He loves Vegemite, kangaroos, Holden cars and swims like a sh. I like peanut butter, maple syrup and not getting my hair wet.
I’ve developed a swimming style all my own. It’s part sedate breaststroke, part dog paddle. My children snort with laughter but my $140 “colour and cut” stays intact.
The number one crazy thing Australians do in summer is book a holiday house. We did this more than once because McDermotts are slow learners.
Why, I’d ask myself every year, would two sensible adults, ve children and a dog leave a comfortable home with a working washing machine and a big screen television and drive for hours to stay in a musty, overpriced holiday at?
“A fully-equipped musty, overpriced holiday at,” the MOTH corrected me.
Our ve children, one little friend and the “dog of the day” were distributed evenly between suitcases, beach toys, eskies, pillows, towels and the MOTH’s shing rod poking out a window. The MOTH had been hunting for Moby Dick every summer of our married life. He wasn’t going to stop now.
When packing the car I tried to be fair. Everyone was equally uncomfortable.
“Are we having fun yet?” a small voice asked as we backed down our driveway.
“A new record!” announced the MOTH, checking his watch.
“How much longer?” asked another whiny voice.
“Look for the big banana/merino/ prawn!” I’d say. “Then it will be another four hours!
“Make that eight hours,” said an older, wiser child.
When we did arrive, hot, rumpled and stiff, the holiday at was always everything the MOTH promised and more.
There was a dusty air conditioner in the only window with a water view, and four bedrooms with paper-thin walls. I saw at a glance that the sticky kitchen drawer held everything a family on holiday needed – one serrated grapefruit knife, one melon baller and one desiccated cockroach.
The MOTH went to see a man about a corkscrew. I checked out the vinyl sofa (takes a layer of skin off on a hot day), the stain on the carpet in the shape of Australia and the laundry. “One beach towel at a time” warned a sign on the washing machine.
The next day I trotted down to the corner coffee shop and met someone from the kids’ school. I wasn’t wearing a bra or make-up but she was. The bloke next door caught sh. The MOTH didn’t.
So why do we do it each year? Because it feels so good when it’s over that, sometimes the bliss lasts all the way to Easter.