Destination: an Island Vacation!
"I really really really miss my Widdle Buster!"
Location: Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Time of Day: It's always "Happy Hour" here
Cast of Characters: Donnie and Frieda, Jenny and Denny, Mark & Anita....and the always present: Buster
It all began with a brilliant plan hatched by cousins Mark and Frieda, while knocking back shots of cold Petrone at a family pig roast. Frieda insisted over slurred words that we all needed and deserved a vacation, and that there is no better time to head off to the Caribbean, than when it is Winter here in New England. For one, it gets you out of the back-breaking chore of shoveling snow for a week; and even better...you get to come back home with a rich dark tan, braided and beaded hair, and a fistful of photos; all while passing out cute t-shirts that read, "My Friend Went To Puerto Plata and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt". Of course Frieda went tanning for three weeks prior to vacation in order to get a jump on her tan, so that she could be the "tanniest". She also had to get a manicure and pedicure before leaving and make a side trip to Old Navy to purchase a suitcase full of new sundresses with matching sandals...natch.
Things really went off without a hitch, but the "Bickersons" (aka: Donnie & Frieda) found something to bitch about all - along - the - way. "This plane better not be delayed!" "We had better be sitting together!" "Did you pack me enough underwear?" "I'm not paying for a meal on this damn plane!" "I don't want to sit in the middle seat!" "I miss Buster already!" "They had better take good care of my widdle Buster! He's really gonna miss us." And just as the flight attendant is giving the instructions to shut off all cell phones and electronic equipment, Donnie and Frieda are giving their cell phone wallpaper picture of widdle Buster last minute poochie smoochies, while choking back "bye-byes" to Buster and making promises to his widdle cunnin' picture, " Mommy and Daddy will be back Buster and we're gonna get our boy a present...awe......"
Puerto Plata really is just your average island vacation stop where locals try to bead your hair as you are getting off of the plane. A mariachi band with a tip bucket in front, starts playing a Bob Marley tune as soon as you walk through the door. Each cab looks more banged up than the one prior as you quickly lose all faith in making it to the Resort safely, and little children with practiced soulful eyes shove a snapped off hibiscus in your hand while begging for a dollar. If you're lucky, you have collected your luggage and found your tour guide before you have run out of one dollar bills and change, and with maybe only 2 or 3 half braids in your hair, carrying only one or two full bouquets of hibiscus in your arms, and having only 3 or 4 stray dogs following you. Of course, the dogs remind Donnie and Frieda of poor widdle Buster again and we have to hear how much "their boy" is probably standing at their front door back at home missing them already (FYI: It's only a 4 hour flight).
With room key and towel cards in hand, luggage put away neatly in the room, jeans and winter jackets replaced by bathing suits and cover-ups, we all meet at the lobby bar for pina coladas, Bahama mamas & papas, and whatever else the "drink of the day" is. With glass to mouth (okay...4th or 5th glass to mouth...all inclusive), we overhear people at the next table say, "Don't drink the pina coladas or the Bahama Mamas." What??? I'm on numero quatro and Mark's at the bar getting us numero cinco right now!!! It's called: The Puerto Plata Splatter! Drink too many drinks made with coconut milk and you'll spend half of your vacation on the toilet....great! This information got the "Bickersons" started all over again! "Someone should have told us about the coconut milk!" "This better not ruin our vacation!" "You only packed me seven pair of underwear!" But with a quick change over to Banana Mamas & Papas, Miami Vices, Amarettos on the Rocks, Presidente and Brahma Beers, we were back in business! No Problem Mon!
We signed up for the tours we would go on for the week. Frieda doesn't like heights. Donnie's not getting on a horse. Frieda gets claustrophobic so she's not putting on a snorkeling mask. And don't even think they're going on a zip line. WTF? So we signed up for a Catamaran/Snorkeling/Booze Cruise and a City Tour which includes a Cablecar Ride up a mountain, with Frieda vowing to close her eyes all the way up. The "Bickersons" complained about tipping our tour guides, tipping the maids, tipping the waitress who always remembered our drink order and consistantly brought the drinks to us, and complained about tipping the waiter who saved us a prefered table outside on the patio at every meal. (FYI: Frieda is a waitress by day, so you'd think she would understand tipping and the benefits that come from it). All day every day, we heard how the "Bickersons" missed their boy Buster and how poor widdle Buster probably thinks his Mommy and Daddy left him. How Friday nights are sub sandwich night and Buster gets his own sub. Donnie proudly tells our little group, "Daddy cuts up Buster's sub and he sits right there with his widdle tail wagging and looking at me with those pitiful eyes saying, 'I'm waiting for another piece Daddy'." Then Frieda chimes in with, "I did everything but gave birth to that dog." Then Donnie cuts in talking over Frieda, saying, "My boy follows me wherever I go. And he's so smart! I'll say, give Daddy a kiss Buster, and he doesn't just lick you, he practically takes the skin off your face licking you! I love that little guy." (And they both sigh in unison as they dreamily look off into space while watching their own mental slideshow of widdle Buster, in each of their own widdle doggie demented heads.)
This is how the week continued. The "Bickersons" would loudly complain if someone cut them in a food line. The "Bickersons" would bicker with each other if they thought the other complained too loudly. The "Bickersons" narrated long nauseating stories about widdle Buster getting the newspaper, and widdle Buster having four separate sets of babysitters coming in throughout the day and overnight to keep widdle Buster company while his Mommy and Daddy are on vacation, and even how widdle Buster piddles in a box at home so that he doesn't have to go outside to pee and poop in the cold weather. The "Bickersons" even complained about the friggin' locals not understanding English!! (Hello!! We're in THEIR Country!)
Anytime Jenny, Denny, Mark or myself would strike up any kind of conversation, we were always trumped by Donnie or Frieda who have better or more. We think that Donnie just might have the first twenty-five cents the tooth fairy left under his pillow back when he was just a widdle boy. Eventually it became a game with Mark and I. If Frieda mentioned how big and fine her wedding was (38 years ago!), or how she has three real Coach purses, not knock-offs like some people; or how widdle Buster gets his own steak if they are having steak for supper, Mark or I would just look at each other and say, "Naturally", "But of course", "Yes, I'm sure"! They were so busy talking, that people like that don't care to listen to anyone but themselves. Therefore, it is so easy and fun to throw in a "widdle" sarcasm. I can't tell you how many times Frieda told us, "These Diamonds in my ears are real! These aren't crystal! I only take my Diamonds out to clean them, other than that, I paid for them, so I'm wearing them!" And, "Donnie said, 'You're not getting any more Diamonds this trip', so I told him I could use a nice watch." I kept thinking, 'Lady...with those 5 graduated Diamonds running up each of your ears, and the gold rings on every finger (and a few toes), what if one of these machete wielding natives think about slicing off one of your ears or hands for God's sake! With an average monthly income of approximately $140- $180 per month in this country, one of your ears is equivalent to a years' pay or more! Go ahead, wear your wealth and talk about it too!
But alas, all good things must come to an end...thank goodness. Going on vacation with others can be a lot more fun than just going as a couple, but it's always nice to end the good times before you reach the point of wanting to strangle one or more of your fellow vactioners. When it came time to settle up with the hotel on this all-inclusive vacation Donnie got pretty miffed when he was charged $5 for a two-minute call back to the states, but it was worth it he said, to check on Buster. For all their talk, Donnie kept to his word and never bought any new jewelry for Frieda even though we visited a Larimar and Amber Jewelry store where they custom made and sold the jewelry, Laramar being the official stone of Puerto Plata. Frieda never did get that watch either, although we heard all week and all pre-vacation how Donnie always spoils her and buys her jewelry whenever they go on vacation. Frieda did manage to buy a t-shirt for each of her 2 grandchildren and a bottle of Ron Brugal Rum for each of their 4 children, but she lamented that they did not get anything for poor Buster, who would surely be at the door waiting for Mommy and Daddy. The Vacation couldn't end without at least one last trial or tribulation for the "Bickersons", and that came at the aeropuerto, when dumb Donnie tried to get on the plane with a neatly boxed set of 4 bottles of Brugal bought at the factory price of $12 each. Naturally he was stopped going through airport security with that much liquid on his persona. In a fit of anger and confusion, dumb Donnie got out of line and proceeded to try to stuff the 4-pack of booze in his carry-on. Can you say: X-ray Machine!? Now in starts Frieda: "He's gonna miss the plane!" "They're gonna send him to jail!" "He's going to have to throw it away!" (Allow me to interject here. Tightwads buying souvenirs for anybody- even their kids, is pretty impressive, but if said tightwads were made to leave behind $48 worth of factory priced Rum, that would be atrocious!) Donnie made it on the plane in time. They made him drink the Rum (I'm KIDDING!!) They made him check his carry-on bag that held the not-so-covertly-hidden Rum and it cost him another $36 to check the extra bag. So the "Bickersons" had to start in on the $#^!&^@ airlines and the cost of the extra $^!@#!! checked bag, and how all of the bottles would probably break in that carry-on the way the #!!%@ airlines throws around luggage, etc...
When we touched down in Boston, we all "quickly" said our good-byes, but I don't think Donnie or Frieda even heard us. All they could think about was whether their (biological) son would bring widdle Buster (their favored son) to the airport when he came to pick them up. We turned around and Donnie and Frieda were gone in a cloud of dust! Mark and I hopped up into the shuttle van that was waiting for us and said, "Never again." It wasn't a bad vacation, and after all, isn't that what vacation is all about....having things to recall and talk about later? We laughed at how Frieda used the word "SILVERNEERS" for souvenirs...yet somehow didn't know why the stupid cabbie we had couldn't understand her when she asked him to take us to a market that sold SILVERNEERS. We laughed at how Donnie & Frieda both complained about the Resort's dining halls serving only packets of LARD instead of real butter (LARD to them is what everyone else knows as margarine). We just shook our heads remembering how I had bought a carton of French Fries at the airport, shared them with everyone at the table, and how tightwad Donnie asked me if I had change for a $5 so that he could pay for their half of the fries. I would hope they sort of got my message when I replied, "Of course not! It will be a cold day in hell when I think I need to charge you to share my French Fries!" But again, it's all good. No Problem Mon! Adios, Au Revoir, Arrivederci, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye, Ciao Ciao, Mickey Mouse.
P.S. When we got home, unlocked the door and set down the bags, there was our good old Golden Retriever, Abby...right at the front door waiting to sniff and jump on us, and then wanting to be let out to go pee. There's no doubt in my mind, that she loves us just as much as widdle Buster loves Donnie & Frieda. Eat your heart out!