for release Friday August 26, 2005
by Melodie Davis
Vacation Memories: Tales From the Columnist’s Daughter
Guest Columnist: Michelle D. Davis
First some background and a confession to set up a horrible vacation experience. As the oldest of three daughters, my two younger sisters, Tanya and Doreen, usually went along with most of my ideas, or catered to my whims. So I had it made for a pretty long time. When I told this story at church, I saw a lot of people elbowing each other.
Whenever we went on vacations as a family, my parents always got a motel room with two double or queen sized beds. One for them, and one for me and Tanya, the next oldest. Doreen as youngest either had to sleep on a cot, or on the floor in a sleeping bag.
Now, before you think my parents are ogres, I should tell you that we always brought padding of some kind for her to sleep on. Early on, we’d developed these bed assignments because as a small child Doreen had problems with wetting the bed. Even though she grew out of that phase, unfortunately her lot was always the cot or the floor, simple as that.
That is, until the summer I was 17, Tanya was 15 and Doreen was 12. That year, my parents decided to take us out west. We drove, as always, and spent a week in Colorado with the rest of my extended family, then headed off on our own to New Mexico. When we reached the motel—a random, no-name little place—we began setting our things on the beds. Tanya and I decided between us who would take which side, and we assumed that Doreen was placidly putting her things on the cot.
To our surprise, she said “Why do I always have to sleep on the cot? I never get to sleep in a real bed.” I think we all looked at her like she’d grown an extra head, and then we all felt rather ashamed. Mom and Dad looked at Tanya and I, and there was this flat silence where I was hoping Tanya would say she’d take the cot, and she was probably thinking the same thing.
But Tanya’s more of the suffering saint than I am, so she finally said, “Oh I’ll take the cot.”
I was feeling pretty good, myself. At five feet nine inches tall, my feet would have hung off the cot by a solid foot, so the bed seemed a rosier prospect.
We all got ready for bed, and I fell asleep before too long. Maybe a half hour later, I was awakened by the back of a hand falling on my face. I was annoyed, but didn’t want to wake Doreen, so I sort of pushed the hand off my face, but not too hard. Then I rolled onto my side and tried to go back to sleep.
Next it was a knee in my back. She was right up on me, on my side of the bed. I was more irritated now, so I pushed her away and hissed “get on your side.” She groaned and flopped back over to her side—I don’t think she woke up.
Over the course of the next two hours, I was crowded, hit, elbowed, and cold because she had rolled all the covers around her. To top it all off, my dad had fallen asleep, which meant a lot of snoring. It would have been one thing if his was that even, regular kind of snoring, but this was loud, irregular, and violent. Sometimes his throat would catch and he’d stop breathing for a few seconds before he started snoring again.
I was filled with self-righteous anger. Between my dad and my hog-the-bed sister, I knew I wouldn’t get a minute of sleep if I didn’t do something. I thought, “I’ll show them” as I pulled my pillow off the bed and took the last blanket off the shelf in the mini-closet. I went into the bathroom, shut the door against Dad’s snorting, threw my stuff in the bathtub, and settled myself in for a night of martyrdom.
I slept pretty well, all things considered. In the morning, Mom discovered me in the bathtub, and I told my whole story. My family was appropriately sorry for me, though by this time I was beginning to feel pretty silly: I’d overreacted.
Tanya, again the helpful one, offered to sleep in the bed with Doreen the next night, and Dad blamed himself so much that later, he wound up getting tested at a “snoring clinic.” They diagnosed him with sleep apnea, so now he sleeps with a breathing machine, and gets a better night’s sleep because of it.
As I was thinking about this incident, I recalled how ever since then, unlike some sisters—maybe it was this experience, maybe it was our ages—we’ve been more friends than adversaries. Maybe shuffling up the status quo let us see that oh yeah—Doreen is growing up, too, and we should treat her as such. At any rate, “The Night Michelle Spent in a Bathtub” remains a silly story we bring up every once in a while and it’s a favorite memory of mine from our many travels as a family.
Editor’s Note: Melodie Davis is on vacation. This column was written by her daughter, Michelle, who writes a monthly movie or media review for Third Way Café at www.thirdway.com/mm
Do you have a vacation memory to share—perhaps a terrible experience that you now look at fondly? I’ll share the best next month in Another Way. Send to: Another Way, Box 22, Harrisonburg Va., 22802, or e-mail email@example.com (Please include your paper's name in your response.)
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Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.
NOTES TO EDITORS: text = 955 words; end material = 105 words
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