Monday, September 14, 2009

A Galveston Birthday trip

I put this in 'cause I like Penguins.

MARK’S ARTICLE – September 14, 2009
“It turns mean at sundown”

Last Monday the Plilers and Hayters took another birthday trip. Birthdays don’t let up. Eventually they will, but right now they’re constant. Like phone calls at suppertime. Maybe not that frequent.

Maintaining our Birthday Day Trip Tradition (the ol’ BDTT), requires four trips a year. Four trips that demand we get home before sundown. Any longer than that and there are going to be fights. After ten hours with me, people get surly. Lose control. Turn into gooberheads. Mean gooberheads.

Even Kay. When we’re alone she’s okay. But, put the Plilers in the mix and Kay’s swinging away like the others. No explanation.

This time, to cut down on any rude behavior, it was decided we combine two birthdays into one. That would eliminate one occasion for fisticuffs. It was Virginia’s idea.

It was easy to figure out which birthdays would be combined. Kay and I were born two weeks apart. Kay was born on the birthday of the bombing of Hiroshima. I was born on the birthday of Benjamin Harrison. He was our 23rd President. I had to look that up. Regardless, all three births and the one bombing took place in place in August.

August is a bad month. I’m not telling you anything there. Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but August is a hot month. It’s a continuation of July, only hotter. It’s the month that puts the kabash on any grass left in yard. It’s the month when sweat pours and TV programming stinks. It’s the month that school starts. And, it’s the month Benjamin Harrison was born. Enough said.

So, in light of August’s well-earned bad reputation and of the potential for the rude behavior previously mentioned, it was decided we celebrate both August birthdays on one day in September. It was genius.

I would’ve wholeheartedly agreed to put off our birthdays till December. Birthday, Smurfday! Let’s move on, people. I’ve got too much joy to spread to get upset about birthdays.

Of course, right off the bat, we had trouble agreeing on a place for the trip. Kay wanted to go someplace we’d never been. She couldn’t think of one, ‘cause we’ve been everywhere, man. Across the burning sand… Ah, forget it.

I suggested we go somewhere we hadn’t been in ten years. Obviously, I was referring to the IMAX at Moody Gardens. I love 3-D movies on big screens. They’re so much better than 2-D movies on tiny screens. And, get this, on Monday they had a one o’clock showing of “Wild Ocean.” Wow! It’s an ocean and it’s wild. I’m there.

Unfortunately, Kay wanted to see the 11:00 showing of “Dolphins and Whales.” Not wild enough. Plus, I knew it was impossible for the Hayters and Plilers to eat breakfast out, fight traffic and make it to Galveston before eleven. We would hafta get up at four. Too many morning routines. I don’t care to talk about it.

To pacify Kay, I suggested that after the IMAX we could take the ferry to Bolivar and survey the damage Ike had done to Crystal Beach. Crystal Beach is were we used to rent a beach home for the weekend. We had a blast there. We needed to return to see what was left.

With the itinerary set, we got up Monday morning and headed for I-HOP, where they were just starting out a Football Celebration menu. Get this, they offered stuffed French toast in the shape of a football, sitting atop a sea of blueberry syrupy stuff. You can stuff anything with a fluffy whipped cream and I’ll eat it. Even a football. Oh, and I-HOP puts the coffeepot right on the table. It sounds wilder the more times I say it. Right on the table!

So, after we pigged out, we headed for Galveston. Oh, before shoving off, Freeman turned around and gave Kay and me our $15 to spend. You see, the birthday people get $15 to spend on something they wouldn’t ordinarily get. Something frivolously fun.

But, and it’s a big BUT, we’re not supposed to get the money until we decide on what we’re gonna buy with it. Hey, it reads right there in the Handbook of Traditions. So, I said, “No, Freeman. You see, we’re s’posed—“ That’s when Virginia said, “Hey, just take the money, Mark. We don’t wanna hear it.” What a rudebousky!

Well, we made it to Moody Gardens at 12:45. I was proud as could be. Freeman and I ran to the ticket office, while Kay and Virginia sat at a picnic table and tried to explain to an overly friendly grackle that they had no food. According to them, the bird practically sat in Kay’s purse.

When Freeman and I got to the ticket booth, we were told that the 1:00 showing of “Wild Ocean” was cancelled due to a power outage. We could wait around till 3:00 if we wanted. No one wanted. We feared the grackle had friends.

So, we then went to lunch at an overpriced seafood restaurant (that’s so redundant). I came out in tears. Fortunately, I still had the $15 Freeman gave me.

Then we ferried over to Bolivar and saw… well, it was sad what we saw. The Gulf had moved so much closer to the highway. All of the beachfront homes we remembered were now gone. Homes that had been a good distance from the shore were now beachfront. And, the beach was, well, not all that inviting.

The little café where we always ate breakfast was gone. I don’t mean in ruins. I mean it was no longer there. There was not a place that had not in some way been altered by the storm. None that we saw. It was a sad visit.

All in all, it turned out to be one disappointing trip. No IMAX, way expensive seafood, Crystal Beach not even a shadow of itself. And, Kay and I ended up not spending our birthday money.

Just so you’ll know, I’m saving mine for the Dollar Store. I’m buying a bunch of stuff I wouldn’t normally get. Peanuts from China, a box of Spiderman pencils, a tire pressure gage that whistles… stuff like that.

Either that or I’ll go back to IHOP for more football French Toast. And, coffee. They set the pot right there on the table. That’s wilder than wild.



  1. I'll bet the beach house we rented is no longer standing. Tragic! We have many wonderful memories from there.

  2. What a sad article, Moke. I almost cried. Of course it was good, just sad.
    Suggestion... at the next birthday gathering ya have with the Pliler's, the 4 of ya go eat a nice dinner, then find a playground that has some really cool things to play on, like hangin' bars and slides that curl and a merry-go-round and of course swings, and then play until you can't play any more. After that, gather at the swings and talk about the good times when you were kids - no bad stuff, just the good times.