Planning to take a vacation this summer? I’d like to offer this tip totally free of charge: Do not — I repeat — DO NOT go to the beach with my family. Unless, of course, you want to have an extreme Wild Kingdom experience.
I offer the following stories as evidence.
A few years ago while we were at the beach, my brother woke up with an angry-looking insect bite on his calf. Our mother took one look at it and went, "Brown recluse spider bite."
Our jaws dropped and clanked as they hit the ground. We goggled. Brown recluse spider bite? Since when did our mother get a doctorate in brown recluse spider bites? And where do you get a Ph.D. like that anyway?
So we ignored our mother, even though she warned us that our brother’s leg would probably fall off by lunchtime if we didn’t get it treated. We rolled our trees. Mothers! They’re just always all, "Dudes! Your brother’s leg is going to fall off by lunchtime if we don’t get it treated."
HOWEVER! That bite grew angrier. And bigger, too. In fact, it turned into a little hole, as though someone had taken a dentist’s drill and turned it loose on my brother’s calf. If that hole got any bigger, squirrels would start storing nuts in it for the winter.
So my brother finally listened to our mother and went to the nearest Insta-Care. As luck would have it, the attending physician was from India whose specialty was — wait for it! — poisonous spider bites.
"Yup," he said. "That’s a brown recluse spider bite all right."
And that’s when our mother went, "I shoot! I score!" after which she gave the physician a chest bump and took a victory lap around the Insta-Care parking lot.
You may also recall — I wrote a column about this — that our son got stung by a stingray on one of our vacations. In fact, we were reminiscing about the experience while we were at the beach a few weeks ago. The story was rendered vividly enough that a few of the cousins and a couple of the aunts decided they might not get in the ocean this year.
"Don’t be silly," I said. "We’ve been coming here for 25 years and only one of us has ever been stung."
Well. You can predict what happens next, right?
Our daughter-in-law walked into the ocean and promptly got stung by a stingray.
We knew what to do this time, though. We didn’t stand around like we did before, wringing our hands while wondering if my brother should urinate on her foot. (The answer is "no." The notion that my brother should relieve himself on stingray wounds is an urban legend. And even if it did help, it’s not like my brother can go on beach vacations with your family anyway. He has a JOB, people.) Instead, our daughter-in-law immediately got her foot into some hot water and made a quick dash to the ER where they took an X-ray to make sure she was stinger-free and then filled her up with antibiotics.
Have I convinced you now that you DON’T want to go on a beach trip with my family? I have? Good. Now get out there and enjoy yourselves. And whatever else you do, please keep a safe distance from me and mine.
Ann Cannon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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