I embark for the airport at 12:45, hoping to tearfully reconcile with my family in time for a multiple-lavatory-trips-requiring lunch before we have to board our plane to Miami. My grandmother is turning 90 and we are surprising her and her I'm-really-old-and-a-Holocaust-survivor-I-dare-you-to-shock-me heart for the occasion. My aunt (she of Hermès belt purchasing fame) is in cahoots with my father, as he, my mother and my youngest brother are flying to Toronto to meet up with me so that we can arrive together and send the old bag (read: serene elderly lady) into a tizzy. The middle brother is hiking through Machu Pichu and has sent his regrets. As far as excuses, I feel this is pretty weak-sauce.
Upon arriving at customs, I observe that there are approximately 72,000 people waiting in roped-off cues to pass on through to the good ol' US of A. Fortunately, I am ushered along with about 10 people in front of me to the other side of the room where similar ropes have been set up. Unfortunately, this is only because they cannot physically shove any more travellers into the other side and thus we are now in line to get in line. Normally, this would perturb me, but my family has texted to say that they are waiting at a Tim Horton's on the other side of customs and I am trying my hardest to make sure that I do not have to join them. I also receive a text from my obese Hungarian father saying, "I don't think your [sic] ready...For this jelly."
I manage to clear customs 5 minutes before boarding is scheduled to commence and, upon realizing that my family is not holding courst at Canada's favourite coffee-urine fusion house, hurry my disproportionate ass down to the gate so that they do not panic. However, when I arrive I find that they are not there. Know who is? Two thirds of the Vancouver Whitecaps semi-pro soccer time. In any other situation the presence of professional athletes coupled with the absence of my family is ideal, but not so when faced with prospective of 3 days alone with family members averaging 81.333 years of age. Real calculation. I buy some shittastic pre-prepped sushi as the other passengers commence boarding. Why people insist on standing up to wait in a line 70 people deep only to then sit down again on a smelly cramped plane is beyond me. Also, beneath me. After taking out a mortgage to pay for the sushi, I turn and see the back of my father's side rolls just as the final boarding call is being made.
"Cutting it a bit close, aren't we?" I scream at them before hitting my little brother upside the head. "And never recite Destiny's Child lyrics to our father again. Kelly Rowlands is dead to me and you know it."
We have arrived at Miami International Airport and have just deplaned. My mother insisted on buying us all a round while in the air, plus an extra for herself after my father declined, being far too consumed with watching The Blind Side and crying like a little bitch while Sandra Bullock screamed at some big black football player who I suspect was Precious in drag. Between my mothers lush-flush and my fathers tear-streaked jowls, we are quite a sight marching our way down to baggage claim. Then, about 100 feet away, we see something silvery glinting in the fluorescent glare of an industrial pot light. My supposedly traveling brother is sitting there next to his huge backpack holding a sign coloured thickly with pencil. My mother loses her shit, her voice reaching pitches audible only to small dogs as she screams his name. Great. My place as the long-lost-son-returned has officially been usurped. What a dick.
We are sitting in a van outside my grandmother's Spanish-style bungalow in Miami Beach, debating on the best way to appropriately Punk her. (Sidenote: Black Magic is on the phone in the next cubicleright now, declaring to her friend in a decidedly not indoor voice how she can leave her three children, all under the age of 10, alone for up to 45 minutes at a time. Somebody needs to put this one out to pasture.) My father is the first to go in and we hear Hungarians screaming love at each other. After about thirty seconds, my jean-jacket-wearing upstanding lawyer of a mother gets out of the van like she is James Bond, crawling under parked cars and scaling walls to get to the front door, despite the drawn blinds and the fact that the Hungarians are deafening small children in Tallahassee. Once she is in, there is more assumed merriment, while my youngest brother and myself climb out of the van and he starts imitating my mother's highheeled highjinx a mere 30 seconds before, while I fall down and promptly pee myself on the freshly manicured lawn. We get to the door and throw it open to find my mom, dad, aunt, grandmother and her large-jugged Jamaican nurse all in a group hug. They turn around and grandmother makes with the tears as she laughs in disbelief that we and our mother have bothered to show up for little old her. My proposition of half a day's wages lost in travel time are largely ignored. My aunt, whose Vesuvian emotions are world renowned, is running around like a cocky Real Housewives of Miami Beach cast-off in Juicy Couture sweatpants, crowing about how amazing we all are for pulling the wool over the cataracted eyes of a nonagenarian when there is a final knock at the door. She stops dead (like the muscles in her botoxed forehead) in her tracks and stares at my father, the colour draining out of her face. I tell her it is most likely a noise complaint from the city of St. Louis, Missouri and she goes to investigate. She opens the door to see my brother standing there and her face collapses quicker than my standards after three mojitos. Loses. Her. Shit.
As it becomes evermore clear that this particular get together is not going to be centred around me, I go and chill of to the side with the nurse, Velma (or Whilemina. Who can tell through my aunt's Hungarian-Floridian accent?), and we watch the rest of them dance around like First Nations people at an Olympic opening ceremony. I like Velma a lot. She calls me Handsome and has gap between her two front teeth that is so large that I suspect it is the real gateway to Narnia. Her mouth was the Gap's flagship store. Madonna WISHES she had a gap like that; the comparison is like a side-by-side penis photo of Shaquille O'Neal and William Hung.
"Weel, ya rilleh mad an awl wumahn happay."
"Yes, I guess we did. Where's the Grey Goose?"
NEXT TIME: I discover that vodka and seafood is a match made in heaven; Dad is still fat; grandmother eats a pat of butter.