The Norris clan annual vacation week at Swifts Beach in Wareham, MA is a slow torture for me. Although I enjoy visiting with the many cousins, aunts and uncles we only get to see but once a year, there is so much more to contend with.
Excessive drinking in the hot August sun on the beach, children swimming over their heads with little adult supervision, and dirty rental houses that are one step below camping is not my idea of fun. I find myself monitoring the toddlers allowed to wander freely near the ocean's edge and the little ones out in the surf while the parents imbibe, their backs to the ocean, laughing and carousing, not a care or concern about the offspring bobbing in the waves. After the beach fun, we are offered the use of an outdoor shower and a warm can of Bud Light as the kids, run barefoot from rental to rental, screaming and sucking on lollipops given by an overindulgent aunt. I try to calm my nerves and hope that no one falls and chokes until we corral our own and call it a night. My two cherubs cry, "Why do WE have to leave? Why can't WE stay over?" As we load them into the car, I cannot wait to escape to my clean, air conditioned home and relax knowing my kids are asleep in their freshly washed sheets, safe from harm. The problem is, that my husband has enjoyed this vacation since he was a child and my own children can't get enough of it.
Instead of renting a room within my mother in law's place (sharing only 2 bathrooms with 3 families: adults, toddlers, teenagers and everyone in between is awfully close for comfort) we decided to take day trips as Wareham is only a short 30 minute car ride away. I thought I might escape some of the drama and dirt that way. Unfortunately for me, I still had to endure some hardships.
After the beach on the first day, I needed to rinse the salt and sunscreen from our bodies before dinner. A quick outdoor shower was all that was required. Simple enough and welcome in the sticky, still heat at the cottage a few blocks away from the breeze at the edge of the ocean. I should have stayed covered with beach sand and salt.
I opened the door to the dank, dark roofed shower. I knew there would be mold since the sun could not possibly dry out the smelly interior. I reached in and hung up my beach towel, stiff with salt. There was a lot of undrained water from past showers, murky with shampoo residue and a red Solo cup floating in it from last night's party. At least there was a wooden platform so that my feet could remain clear of the sewage. O.k. there was some shower gel I could use, instead of the slimy bar soap left up on the shelf. "I can do this", I thought to myself, "at least I don't have to endure the windowless indoor bathroom with its perpetual poop smell." I held my breath and stepped in.
WHOOSH! The floor moved! I was suddenly surfing through the filthy, soapy water! WTF! Seriously, I expected a rat to swim by. Somehow I found it in me to remain balanced on the floating barge as not to fall in. I reached up to grab the filthy walls for balance, not knowing if I would ever get close to clean again after this horrific experience. How can people who are renting a house for a vacation week put up with this? Do these city people actually think this adds to the "Cape Cod Experience"? (Actually, Wareham isn't technically Cape Cod, but don't tell the Norris family, that.) And I thought the candy cigarettes that Rob's sister bought for the kids last year was bad! This shower surfing through waste water definitely tops the list.
I quickly rinsed off. (I was already in there, and was too afraid to "try out" another mildew and mouse dropping infested shower at this point.) I emerged from shower hell to my husband laughing at me. I shot him my "Don't you dare F with me" look. It was only Monday, we still had four more days to go and I was already plotting my own personal scheduling conflicts so that I would only have to endure minimal time in these less than savory conditions. My husband and children can stay here without me and enjoy the charm in roughing it but I know better. From now on after a day at Swifts beach, I'm taking a sponge bath.