Family trips are about standing around smiling for photos.
I don't do that.
I didn't get the true family trip experience.
What I did get is a fair amount of time sitting around with these people. This was the most forgettable part of the trip.
But surely I learned something about my family I didn't know before? Surely I bonded with them more than I could have at home...?
I did learn some stuff about Benjy, I guess. Or maybe I'd known it before, but forgot it because it'd been so long since seeing him.
One thing I learned is that he has a pretty good artistic sense.
When we were at Niagara Falls on the "Maid of the Mist
" boat ride, there was one priceless moment I noticed. There was a speaker on the boat with recorded tour info playing for the first few minutes of the ride- you know, boring dates and stuff. Halfway through, we reached the climax of the experience, being right next to the waterfall and getting totally drenched. And at that
precise moment, the speaker announced in that proud marketing voice, "Welcome to Niagara Falls!
" It was like a movie, where they hold off the opening title for a few minutes. Whoever had written that knew exactly
what people were coming for.
Well, I was surprised that Benjy noticed that, too. When he got off the boat, he mentioned it, so that's how I know.
Oh, and he's a smart photographer. He brought his camera everywhere, but as he put it, "I prefer not to set up my shots.
". Instead, he tries to take more natural
pictures of how everyone would have been standing anyway. I like that.
Benjy had this wacky idea, when we were in Detroit, of a variant of Ping Pong which even the little kids present could join in on. In this game, it didn't matter if the ball went completely off the table, so long as it was bouncing like a basketball. So the game environment included the entire room and everything/one in it. It was so chaotic, it reminded me of games Benjy used to make up when we lived in New Jersey. And it occured to me that games are more
fun when there aren't any rigid rules, and you just play
. That's something Benjy's always known.
My father really enjoyed the trip. Sure, it was hectic, but we got to do some stuff he loved. Namely, the International Spy Museum
. Though we really had to rush through that, it really sparked his imagination. He wouldn't stop talking about espionage for around two weeks after that. It was
a really fun museum.
In Chicago, my father played ping pong
with us. He hadn't played in around ten years. And he whipped
us at that game. Occasionally I see something like that, which reminds me that he's a very multi-talented guy. Most of the time, he's just running around doing things.
He and my mother had some nostalgic fun in Boston and Baltimore going to the places they lived and went to college. They both enjoyed that, though my father enjoyed it much more (You could see it on his face.).
In Baltimore we stopped by a couple who'd been good friends with my parents back then. And I learned the amusing anecdote that even back in college, my mother was trying to stay busy helping everyone else out. They called her "Mother Fallet". My mother didn't remember that, but it makes sense. She hasn't changed so
I don't think my mother knew what to do with herself on this trip. We were staying at hotels and other people's houses, where she couldn't do all the chores. And she doesn't know how to have fun. It was pretty sad seeing her sitting with me watching TV when there wasn't anything good on. She wasn't enjoying it, yet she was even watching the commercials because she just couldn't think of anything to do, what with the lack of political/social activities to volunteer for.
I'm pretty sure she enjoyed all the schmoozing she did, though. She generally likes that.
My sisters were, um, there
Miriam kept singing pop songs wherever we were, and I kept trying to get her to stop.
Dena kept criticizing me for being so weird, and I ignored her.