Friday, May 29, 2009

"Well, at least it can't get any worse than this..." what I was thinking yesterday as I dashed for shelter from a downpour, the sudden storm cutting our visit to the botanical gardens short.

Rewind a little.

Woke up yesterday morning, MIL still not talking to me (or husband for that matter) but has decided we will all go to the gardens, a 50-minute drive away. Decide to head out immediately as storms are in the forecast for late afternoon. The cursing and muttering under the breath begins even before we settle into the car, followed by railing about needing to stop for gas, despite the fact that the needle read well over a quarter of a tank. We stop for gas about halfway there. During the stop, Her Highness decides she also needs a snack, and, apparently forgetting her speech 3 days earlier about never eating fried foods, demands we stop at the Golden Arches. The car now filled with the scent of burgers and fries, we continue the final 25 minutes to our destination.

The man at the desk is friendly and politely pretends not to notice the bickering. We set out for the gardens, which, predictably, are a Huge Disappointment to MIL (although I quite like the honeysuckle, magnolias, and decorative fountains). The clouds begin thickening overhead right as she finds something she likes (and I use "like" in a lukewarm sense)- Canadian geese. She sets off across a clearing to chase them with her camera, shooting looks and insults as the rest of us warn that geese are not friendly. I mention that we should hurry; the sky is growing increasingly dark. No acknowledgment. Finally she returns from her goose photo safari and I mention again that we should hurry, to which MIL irritably announces "If we get wet, we get wet. Who cares."

All right. She has complained about every single thing so far this week, including how dirty the ocean water is, how hot it is, the swarms of flies that are seemingly invisible to everyone else, the air conditioning being too cold, the air conditioning being too hot, the Southern accents of everyone here, FIL "burning" dinner.... the list goes on. And on and on and on.

But if she is OK with getting drenched, which looks inevitable, then I decide to leave her to it and make a mad dash back to the visitors' center with husband following. The bottom falls out of the skies about a hundred feet from shelter, and we are pretty wet when we arrive. After we have wiped down with paper towels from the bathroom and refreshed the Band-Aid for the ripe blister on my foot, they arrive at the visitors' center. I simply stand aside and make way, and bite my tongue to stop myself from saying anything, even as the cursing grows louder from the direction of the bathroom. The nice man at the front desk from before tries to make light-hearted conversation about the storm sneaking up, and husband obliges. Fifteen minutes later I find myself in the front seat of the car, MIL in back while FIL and husband arrange umbrella and towels in the trunk.

"Well, this has been one HELL of a vacation," she says, her voice dripping with contempt.

I bite my tongue again.

Fast forward four hours after we get back to the beach house. Husband and I have just returned from generously buying take-out for everyone, and notice the car is a little hard to steer. The battery light also comes on. As the car is going on ten years old, we assume that the battery needs to be replaced, and it needs more power steering fluid. Back at the house, husband decides to check the levels, only to find that the serpentine belt has been completely shredded.

FIL allows us to take his car the fifteen miles into town to the auto parts store to get a replacement belt and a tool with which to do the replacing. We buy it, get home, and realize they gave us the wrong belt. Go all the way back into town to exchange for the proper belt, then stop by my uncle's house and ask him what he knows about this kind of thing. He offers to come over and do it. By 11:00 pm, the car still has no belt. We are in need of either a different tool, or a tow to the nearest garage. FIL offers to take us the following morning to a different auto supply store for the tool.

Fast forward to this morning. MIL refuses to let FIL take husband into town because she wants to leave.

Fast forward to now. Being stranded on this island is looking increasingly likely as I listen to MIL slam things around downstairs. I am staying up here until she is gone, having a breakfast of Cheet-os which are left over from last night.

After all of the things I have been thinking this week, right now I am at a loss for words.

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