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2004.05.17 Death of a Quacker

posted Mar 26, 2010, 5:55 AM by Troy Cheek   [ updated Mar 26, 2010, 5:56 AM ]

Although the 4th of July is still a couple of months away, it's not too early to start planning. I've already asked for a few days off from work. Not that I have any plans, mind you. I just like taking days off from work.

We're a little below the average rainfall for the year and are a little dry, which isn't good for fireworks. I hear that some communities are thinking of cancelling July 4th this year. I guess their calendars will jump from July 3 straight to July 5. It will sure mess things up for the rest of us, but no worse that Daylight Savings Time.

While taking French language classes in highschool, our teacher tried to convince us that the French did not have a 4th of July. I pointed out that the calendar showed one plain as day. She didn't like me anymore after that. I never took Spanish class so I don't know if they have a July 4 on their calendars.

A few 4ths of July back, I joined my girlfriend Kitten for a few days away from everything and everybody. We like to do this now and then. Actually, I like to do this, and she puts up with it because I'm an idiot and it does no good to argue with me about these things. We were hoping for good times and no problems that weekend, but I had a bad feeling that something would go wrong to even out all the good things happening in my life lately, like my continued breathing and the sun still coming up every morning.

First of all, we decided that it would be best to rent a motel room somewhere, so as to have access to air conditioning and a swimming pool on what was predicted to be one of the hottest weekends on record (and it was). Kitten called around and reserved us the only room available within hundreds of miles. The plan was that she would go to the room after work, sign in, and set up housekeeping at the pool, where I would meet her.

After work that Friday, I drove to Kitten's home town and tried to find the location of the motel. This was no easy task, as all the roadsigns still say "Howard Johnson's" even though the place has changed ownership and names half a dozen times since it was last called that. But I eventually found the place and went looking for the pool, where my lovely and loving girlfriend would be lovingly waiting for me.

Lovely Kitten was not at the pool.

Getting inside the motel from the pool needed a key, so I had to hike all the way back to the parking lot, then find the one (of three) set of lobby doors which wasn't locked. Once I grabbed the attention of the parolee at the main desk, I asked for Kitten's room. He started calling me "Mr. Kitten" and snickered a lot for the remainder of the weekend. He gave me very clear directions to the room, which I immediately ignored because following them would have required me to walk through several walls. I eventually found the room anyway.

It turns out that Kitten had reserved the Honeymoon Suite. This was necessary, she swore, because it was the only room available. I found that the Honeymoon Suite at this particular motel sleeps three. It also has a jaccuzi in another room, which is kept locked so your kids can't get in there and drown themselves. That I immediately proclaimed the room design of the Honeymoon Suite to be one of the four signs of the Apocalypse did not sit well with Kitten, who thought it was charming.

Yes, I thought, every newlywed couple brings a guest and a couple of children on the honeymoon.

The main room and the jaccuzi room both had air conditioners, which Kitten kept running at maximum. By the time we checked out, the room temperature was somewhere between the freezing points of nitrogen and oxygen. Stepping out into the (normal) air conditioned hallway caused one to have a heatstroke. Stepping out into the open-air parking lot caused one to have another.

Kitten couldn't understand why I thought this difference in temperatures might be bad for her sinus infection.

We spent an hour or so in the pool early Saturday morning. The sun was low to the horizon, barely peeping above the hotel roofline, and barely visible through the clouds. Naturally, my shoulders got horribly sunburned. I used to do pretty good with tanning, but only after I'd gotten down a good base. Now, I go so long between prolonged periods of sun that every exposure is a burning one.

After watching movies Saturday afternoon, we dropped by Wally World Land and picked up a generic skincare product designed specifically for sunburn. Kitten also bought a beach ball and a lovely Pool Critter in the form of a duck.

"I shall name him Quackers."

Pool Critters are available in the pool toy section. There's a duck, a turtle, a killer whale, and a few other choices. They're really cute. Don't buy one. Keep reading.

Back to the hotel at sunset, where we immediately jumped in the pool. The beach ball and Quackers were an immediate hit with all the unattended children in the pool. In spite of the pictures on the box, Quackers the Pool Critter didn't seem to be floating very well. One child also noticed that Quackers was unravelling, so he sat out the remainder of the festivities. One seam had come undone, and he was leaking his fluffy stuffing. After a heartfelt talk, Kitten and I decided that poor Quackers was not long for this world and needed to be put to sleep. We would exchange him the next day.

Sunday morning, during the rush to get packed and out of the room by the ungodly hour of 12 noon, I checked the freezer shelf and found my bottle of skincare lotion, frozen solid. Clunk! Clunk! Kitten said she put it there so it would be cool when I applied it. I told her that room temperature would have been fine, especially since I could see my breath in the room at that point.

Note to self: do not attempt to thaw frozen skincare lotion by use of microwave oven.

We dropped by Wally World Land to exchange the Quackers, our Pool Critter. I tried to explain what had happened to the salesdrone, but he cut me off to point out that I shouldn't have tried to machine wash the Critter.

"Surface Wash Only, it says on the tag," he politely pointed out. "Just use a damp sponge."

I told him I didn't wash it, I just took it to the pool.

"Oh, you shouldn't have done that. It's not designed to be submersed!"

It's in a box labeled Pool Critters with a cartoon on the side showing the toy floating in a pool, the receipt calls it a Pool Critter, it's in the pool toy section, but you're not supposed to get it wet?

"Exactly, and though I can see where you might have made that mistake, it says right on the tag, Surface Wash Only. Sorry, no refund or exchange, and that's final."

I then asked to speak to the manager and had my refund in seconds.

I thought about getting an exchange, but the thought of having a Pool Critter that was allergic to water kind of upset my fragile psyche.

I went back out to the car, where Kitten was horribly upset that I got a refund instead of an exchange on Quackers, but understood after I explained it. Well, she understood that I was an idiot and incapable of carrying out complicated tasks such as exchanging defective merchandise, but she let it slide because, even though I am an idiot, I'm her idiot and she has to make allowances.

We then spent the rest of the afternoon at the movies, and spent the night at her Mother's house. Kitten was feeling much more herself by now, almost completely over her sinus infection. I was happy for her, and tried not to let her know that I was sneaking off to blow my nose every few minutes.

You know me. I hardly ever get sick, but when I do, it's a doozy. I suffered as best I could for a few days, then went to see my doctor. He looked down my throat and up my nose and touched me in places I'd rather not talk about.

"Very unusual, Mister Cheek. We usually see this kind of infection in the Spring and Fall, when daytime and nighttime temperatures are so varied. With the near-constant temperatures of Summer, it's very difficult to culture an infection like this."

I decided not to tell him about Kitten and her Air Conditioning of Doom. I have, however, taken to sneaking out of bed in the middle of the night and turning the thermostat up a little.