“THEY SOLD US ALIEN ROCKS”
Celebrities vacation on the French Rivera and cavort in skimpy bikinis. Later, they’re featured in a gossip magazine, “Who wore the sunburn best?”
Other famous people opt for a wintry vacation, skiing down snowy peaks, the scent of Colorado pines in their nostrils.
We go as far as a full gas tank allows.
My children’s bladders shrink to the size of a Milk Dud on road trips. We stop at a gas station. Meandering down the aisles, I see cheese molds shaped like dairy cows with rye cracker picket fences. And do authentic moccasins really have plastic fringe?
As I stagger down the chips aisle, my own bladder still numb because my husband no longer believes in bathroom breaks, I hear my children talking.
Then there is a crash.
Great. My children knock over a display. The store owner glowers. As restitution, I offer to buy a “Good Lovin’” bracelet, a carving of an outhouse, and five key chains to states I will never visit.
We reach our destination and unpack. We’re cooped up in a motel room no larger than a port-a-potty. Any waking moment spent here will have my husband and I trying to choke each other over the remote.
Wisely, we leave and explore. We park near the “Homemade Fudge” sign and trudge on sizzling sidewalks with other lost souls. Hot, irritable, hair frizzed, we look like we’re in custody with no soap or shower privileges, rather than on vacation.
Every year, I vow we’ll spend more time among shade trees, rolling hills and trickling streams. A serene place with stunning natural vistas, where there is hope for my husband’s road rage. But somehow, we end up here, at a popular tourist trap, at the smeared door of “Alien World” with two 1972 lava lamps and a silver mannequin.
Ahhh. Toxic spray paint fumes. Must simulate the gaseous atmosphere of Mars.
“Alien World” has a new exhibit. Oh-oh.
“Moon rocks,” my oldest son says, awestruck.
I know what the moon rock makers did. They found the concrete crumbles from Highway 21’s renovation and set up a sweat shop in Earl Ray’s garage. Each chunk was dipped into cheap glue, rolled in sparkles, marked with a T and put into the oven for Chumpy and me.
Oh, we parents know why we do this. Why we sit through animated movies and awful sequels, why we sacrifice our stomachs on carny rides.
Why we buy moon rocks.
One beatific grin, one exclamation that this is the coolest place ever, and the parent’s hooked. You’re a rodent in the maze who endures the electric shock, just so you can see the smile.
As we leave “Alien World,” I pass the smug attendants. They just scalped us for an eighty dollar admittance. They snicker. Because they know.
We’ll be back next year.