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Griswolds had nothing on us during summer vacation | Reporter notes
Recently students concluded their final days of school and entered into the glorious phase of the year known as summer vacation.
Summer vacation is sort of like a really long period of ignorant bliss, where lucky children are able to forsake all academic responsibilities and engage in timeless juvenile rituals such as water-gun fights, chasing after ice cream trucks, and allegedly hitting a baseball signed by some old lady named Babe Ruth over the fence into the backyard of some blind guy with a beast - er, maybe I’ve mixed up certain memories.
I wish I had appreciated those months of freedom, especially the years before I had to spend sunny days grueling inside of a freezer at my local QFC or compressing my spine while lifting concrete onto some guy’s pickup truck at the Home Depot.
For my family, summer vacations usually involved two requisite Clark Griswold-inspired trips to see relatives in California and Utah. The drives were around 800 miles. My dad prided himself on being able to complete the entire trip in a single day. Add in a few bathroom breaks and pitstops and you have 15 hours, ladies and gentlemen. That’s 15 hours of driving with three young boys cramped in the back of an already packed 1990 Plymouth mini-van like sardines.
In those days, or at least in my family, there was little to entertain us young lads, aside from punching each other.
Remember, this was the 1990s. No iPads or Kindles. No in-car TVs. No wireless Internet (what’s the Internet?). No smart phones, or even dumb phones. Only the rich had portable phones, which were the size of a brick and came with a briefcase-size battery charger.
That’s right, children. There were portable video games, but we didn’t have any.
Oh, and forget the MP3, the iPod, or even the CD player. We were confined to our parents’ old Walkman and cassette tapes of oldies like Neil Diamond and the Beach Boys.
Limited to a tower of children’s books and an assortment of toys, we boys would sit and wait for the inevitable moment when one of us lost it.
We never knew what it was. The heat. The monotony of the road. The constant vibration of the engine. But something eventually would make one of us tic and start kicking and punching the other two, no matter how many times they got punched in response. Usually, it was the one placed in the middle of the seat with no side to lean on except someone’s shoulder.
The reason we fought so hard to maintain decorum and borderline civility in the van, was due to a promise our father made to buy us dessert at the end of the day when we were close to our destination. Actually, I think he phrased it more as a threat: Be good or else no ice cream.
Tip to the CIA: if you want to torture someone, don’t waterboard them. Just offer ice cream to everyone in the room except them. They’ll break like a piece of plywood.
Yet, even in those moments of despair watching my brothers lick their ice cream and grin at me, I would have savored even those moments if I had known the full meaning of the word “bills” and “taxes” and “making ends meet” and how they would come to haunt me like some crazy ex-girlfriend.
They say that youth is wasted on the young, and usually they’re referring to romance.
Summer vacation isn’t wasted on the young, just those who don’t appreciate it for what it will mean when they’re adults.
TJ Martinell is a reporter with the Reporter Newspaper group.