It took three tries but I finally made it to Colorado.
I’m back in Brooklyn after a two-week visit with my oldest brother’s family in Fort Collins, CO.
I’m jetlagged, stuffed with all sorts of evil foods, surrounded by several tons of dirty laundry, piles of junk mail and a bloated DVR and I don’t a howling rat’s ass about any of it.
I’m happy, goddamnit!
This time neither snow nor illness blocked my way west, allowing me to spend time with my family’s western contingent.
I saw spectacular scenery, crossed paths with bizarre individuals, treated myself to a mineral bath, frolicked in a hot tub under the stars, and, on the very day that Robin Williams died, I looked upon the most incredibly beautiful rainbow this side of The Wizard of Oz. It was a hell of a trip.
Yet, of all the fabulous sights and experiences, I have to say without a doubt that the highlight of my vacation was my beautiful, crazy, nutzoid niece Victoria.
This 19-year-old whirlwind had me laughing so loud, so long, and so often my ribs are still aching from the exertion. I can’t remember the last time I was so happy.
Victoria has this gift for taking the most ordinary situation and turning it into pure hysteria.
Is There a Doctor in the House?
While I was out there, Victoria took and passed her EMT course, making me the proudest uncle on either side of the Rockies. She goes out on ambulance runs and is eager to display her medical knowledge.
“Do you have diabetes?” she asked me apropos of nothing.
“No!” I declared. “Sorry to disappoint you.”
“Shucks,” she said. “I wanted to show you this technique for diabetics.”
Instead of forcing candy down a diabetic’s mouth to save them from insulin shock, Victoria tells me you can take one of those plastic honey-filled bears and inject the much-needed sugar up their…well, I think you know where this is going.
I suspect Victoria is just dying to try this out on me, which is why I always keep my back to the wall whenever she’s around.
Always concerned for her patients, Victoria says that she and her friend like to sing the Seventies classic “Kung Fu Fighting” to patients in the ER. She claims they like it, but I reminded her that these people are sick or injured and most likely unable to walk out on her performance.
Good to the Last Drop…
While walking through the woods surrounding a Buddhist temple, Victoria felt compelled to tell me about an exotic type of coffee made from beans that have passed through a monkey’s digestive system.
“We could give some to Auntie Joan and not tell her until later,” she said.
“Do you have any idea what your aunt—my sister—would do to me if I knowingly let her drink coffee that’s been crapped out by a monkey?” I shouted.
That didn’t faze Victoria, who seemed genuinely disappointed that my sister’s birthday had already passed.
“There’s always Christmas,” I offered, which will probably be my last Christmas if my sister has anything to say about it.
We hit the road for several days, driving down to Taos, NM, and meeting all sorts of odd people.
Take the couple in the town square, for example, who were speaking at the top of their lungs until my brother, Victoria, and I walked by, whereupon they fell silent as if they had been plotting a mass murder…and who’s to say they weren’t?
I could feel them eyeballing us with extreme prejudice as we walked down the block and Victoria turned around to confirm that eerie fact.
“The lady was staring at me,” my niece declared, “and she wouldn’t break the stare!”
Our hotel in Taos had it’s own cast of characters, including a strange child in tight braids who silently glared at us one morning as we walked over to the dining area for breakfast. I later dubbed her Hessian Heidi and she was one seriously weird kid.
“She looks like an Oompa Loompa!” Victoria observed.
The waitress at the hotel’s dining room didn’t speak a word of English and the cook skipped any of the traditional chef’s attire in favor of a baseball cap and a t-shirt.
During breakfast, one lady got up from her table, walked across the length of the room and turned to shout at her husband.
“Watch my purse!”
Watch your purse? It was sitting right there in front of the guy. How could he miss it? And the only other people in the room were Victoria and myself at one table and a young Hispanic coupled with a baby at another.
Perhaps the baby was really a midget who getting ready to swoop in and swipe the old bat’s handbag. I was kind of glad when we left Taos and headed back to Colorado…
Odds and Ends
During this trip that my sister-in-law thinks I resemble one of the Teletubbies—but not Laa-Laa, which I suppose is some good news.
“I can see that,” she said, swirling a circle around my face with her index finger.
Seriously? You think I look like one of those freaks?
“I didn’t say you looked like one,” she said, “I said you have the essence of one.”
“That’s even worse!” Victoria declared.
dance-off, as we just plain ran out of time. And I was all ready to pose for a photo with a gnome hat as my niece wanted, but it turned out that Victoria didn’t have one for me to wear.
However, Victoria found a new way to torture me. This young woman has taken an unusual interest in my love life—or lack of one. While in Telluride, we went off on a tangent where she had me hitting on elderly women in my golden years.
“You can both drink prune juice,” she chirped. “And you can ask her ‘do you knit or crochet?’”
Upon seeing an old timer riding a bicycle down the main drag, Victoria declared “that’ll be you when you’re 80!”
“With prune juice,” she added.
And when I made the mistake of expressing interest in rather young waitress at a local restaurant, I compounded the error by joking that I could dress like a diaper and have the young lady feed me.
And that’s all Victoria had to hear.
“Oh, that it is totally happening for Halloween!” she shouted. “We’ll get you a giant rattle and a bib!”
She even got on the phone to tell my sister about it, neglecting to mention the monkey crap coffee.
“Uncle Robert is going to dress up like a baby this year!”
Jesus, where’s that gnome hat when you need it?