Ah, summer. The time to mow the grass, grow a tomato or two and take off on a vacation hopefully to someplace more exotic than the Wisconsin Dells. I love taking a vacation just about anywhere, although family vacations when our sons were growing up weren’t without a challenge or two or ten thousand.
One of our more memorable family vacations occurred the year my husband, Mark, and I decided to drive to Sioux Falls, South Dakota for the weekend. I can’t quite remember why we chose Sioux Falls other than the fact that it was within driving distance and we had never been there. We went in the winter and the drive was highlighted by who could spot the biggest snow drift before anyone else.
Winter probably isn’t the ideal time to visit Sioux Falls. It was bitterly cold and the wind swept the four of us down the streets with an avenging kind of force that make our hometown in Minnesota seem almost tropical. Everyone’s eyes and noses ran and no one could agree on what they wanted for dinner.
After much heated discussion, we finally agreed on carry-out pizza and returned to our hotel room for an evening of food, swimming and checking out the local telephone book to see if anyone in town had the same last name we did (no one did). Our sons fell asleep around nine and shortly thereafter my husband’s and my trouble began.
A little history is needed here. I have absolutely no self control and my husband has the ability to make me laugh at the most inappropriate of times and he delights in doing it. When we were in college, he used to make me laugh so hard during lectures that the professor would stop lecturing and ask me if I was all right. He has done this to me at church, school concerts and any other place where it is guaranteed that I will humiliate myself. The night we spent in Sioux Falls he was on a roll and I was, as usual, giggling to beat the band.
Now, mind you that there were two small children in the room, children who always slept soundly through their mother’s laff fests so I don’t think that I was yukking it up too loudly but apparently I was because a little after ten o’clock there was a sharp rap on the hotel room door.
Mark and I looked at each other. “Who can that be?” Mark asked. “Room service?”
“We didn’t order anything,” I pointed out.
The knock came again, harder and more loudly so Mark answered it. Standing in the hallway were two of Sioux Falls’ finest. Mark’s eyebrows instantly shot up toward the ceiling. “May I help you, officers?” he asked.
“There’s been a complaint of noise coming from your room,” one of the policemen said in a stern voice reminiscent of George C. Scott playing Patton.
“Is there a domestic issue going on?” asked the second officer, a burly dead ringer for Ed Asner.
“What? A domestic issue?” Mark’s voice rose to panic level. “What are you talking about? I never hit my wife!”
The two police officers exchanged skeptical glances. “May we talk to your wife?” the Ed Asner lookalike requested.
“Honey, there are two police officers here who want to talk to you,” Mark called across the room to where I was huddled on top of one of the queen sized beds.
I joined the little group at the doorway, my last giggle drying up in my throat. Both officers looked me up and down, undoubtedly taking in the mascara smudged underneath my eyes, my unkempt hair and traces of pizza sauce on my T-shirt. I was not a confidence inspiring sight by a long shot.
“Everything all right here, ma’am?” George C. Scott asked in a most solicitous tone.
For a very brief moment the temptation to get even with Mr. Make Me Laugh Even at Funerals was strong indeed but fortunately for Mark my sense of wifely devotion overrode my desire for revenge. “Yes!” I brightly assured him. “My husband never hits me!”
After a few more questions, the officers finally must have decided that we were just a couple of good-natured kooks and left.
“Well,” Mark said as he bolted the door behind them, “apparently no one in the state of South Dakota has a sense of humor.”
Our oldest son woke up. “Could you two keep it down?” he requested. “I’m trying to sleep.”
Taking his advice, Mark and I kept our mouths shut and our laughter stifled until we were safely back in Minnesota where joie de vivre is slightly more acceptable.