Weekend From Hell, or at Least Purgatory

Okay, so it can’t compare with David Seitzinger’s woes, but this weekend is still going to stand out at one of my least favorite for a while...

It all started with such promise; Pam and the girls — along with my visiting father-in-law — had gone down to Virginia Beach on Friday, leaving me here alone (just getting my father-in-law to leave is cause for jubilation — he means well, but...). The plan was that I would attend an off-to-school party for Julia Ames, take care of the cats for one more evening, then follow them down to my mother-in-law’s on Saturday morning. Of course, this meant I’d have to drive the aforementioned father-in-law’s minivan (since, not having any back seats, it couldn’t have fit the kids), but no big deal, right? It’s Virginia Beach — three, four hours tops. Okay, so the van’s A/C is broken, but how bad could it be?

Try eight-and-a-half hours bad. With the alternate routes socked in just as badly as I-95. Of course, I didn’t have my map with me, being in someone else’s car... and it’s Virginia Beach, for crying out loud — I’ve driven it dozens of times, if not hundreds. Little did I know. And to add insult to injury, when it really counted, I couldn’t even get off to get water, a need that became more and more pronounced as the day wore on.

Finally, after phoning ahead for alternate route suggestions, I managed to get off at Route 30 — normally an hour-and-a-half South, but five hours after I’d started this time around. Sopping wet, and literally dizzy from dehydration, I staggered into a 7-Eleven and picked up some Nectar of the Gods. At least nominally replenished, I continued on my way — through one of the worst rainstorms I’ve ever driven through. Sheer determination kept me from making the otherwise sensible choice to pull over, but I was slowed to a five-mile-per-hour crawl.

So much for Saturday.

Sunday was supposed to be my “beach day,” but my daughter’s having been stung by a jellyfish the preceding day made her reluctant to go back. Not that it mattered — the weather was lousy. Sticking around the house wasn’t too appealing an option, as Pam had spent all the preceding day stuck in the middle of the long-running battle between her parents, and was desperate to get out. So we ended up spending the afternoon at the Children’s Museum of Virginia in Portsmouth; a lot of fun for the kids, but nothing particularly enlightening for the adults. Then it was back to playing middleman (or more like staying out of the way while Pam played middleman... or middlewoman...) between the in-laws.

Monday morning meant packing back up and keeping an eye on the aforementioned father-in-law as he raided mother-in-law’s attic for a few boxes of items he’d left, and then we were back on the road, exhausted but at least moving at a decent clip.

And then we got home to find our back yard covered with mushrooms and our satellite receiver on the fritz. So chalk up another two hours on the phone with tech support (you know it’s bad when you stump regular tech support, and they have to pass you up the ladder), only to find out that the receiver’s dead, and long-since out of warranty. So I’m stuck with shelling out for a new receiver — excuse me, a refurbished receiver, since they don’t make our model anymore.

All right, there were a couple of bright spots (technological, naturally) in all of this. A brand-new iPod made the trip down slightly more bearable. And in the end, I was able to finagle an upgrade to the receiver at a substantially reduced rate (and without committing to a higher monthly subscriber fee).

But I’m still gonna have to pull all those mushrooms...

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