My parents finally did it. The old goose and gander flew south, away from the icy roads and snow-covered driveways of Cleveland. Although they have taken many vacations in the past, this one was different because this time they left me in charge of both Funny Times, and my 13-year-old brother. Now as you may know from reading my dad’s editorials, the work I usually do involves stacking the cans in the cupboard like blocks and dumping boxes of spaghetti all over the floor. Luckily, this new assignment was not too much different. I simply had to use the cans in the cupboard for food and dump boxes of funny cartoons all over the paper.
The night before their trip, my parents gave me some helpful advice to guide me through the two weeks they would be gone, saying encouraging things such as: “Your little brother is having severe stomach pains unlike anything he has ever experienced so take him to the doctor first thing tomorrow morning, and Monday is garbage night.”
I couldn’t keep track of everything they told me, but at least I didn’t run Funny Times into the ground … yet. As for my brother, I haven’t seen him in several days. As soon as my parents left, he stockpiled every pillow, blanket, couch cushion, and mattress in the house to build a fort that took over the living room. He then proceeded to disappear inside of it. I’m not quite sure what’s going on in there since I can’t fit through the door of the fort, but I do occasionally throw in some baby carrots and potato chips. I haven’t heard him complain, so everything must be fine. He also got his hands on an extension cord and a laptop with wireless Internet access, so I’m sure he’s just busy doing all his homework.
Meanwhile, of all the places to which my parents could escape, they chose Big Bend National Park in Texas. A place that is known for its harsh environment, cactus, mountain lions and 3,600 insect species. Not surprisingly, it has gained widespread fame as the least visited national park in the lower 48 states.
They also visited Terlingua, a ghost town where huge cinnabar mines were discovered in the mid 1880s. Many people moved there because they were hungry and cinnabar sounded like a tasty breakfast treat. Unfortunately, they soon discovered that “cinnabar” is just another way of saying “poisonous mercury,” and ingestion or even inhalation of cinnabar dust is highly toxic. But of course by that time the people were very hungry so they continued to eat and inhale cinnabar for several generations, until the 1940s when everyone had died, despite their mineral-rich diets.
And of course while they were in the Lone Star State, my parents had to make a pilgrimage to Midland, Texas. After all, who could resist a trip to the childhood home of former president George W. Bush? This important site has been preserved and fully interpreted as a museum to capture the history of the Bush family. And because parting with the Bush residence of the 1950s often leaves tourists feeling alone and empty inside; the next-door neighbor’s house has been converted into a gift shop where visitors can purchase their very own George W. Bush Childhood Home(TM) kid’s T-shirt, George W. Bush Childhood Home(TM) mini baseball bat, or George W. Bush Childhood Home(TM) 2009 Christmas Ornament, as a constant reminder of the best vacation ever.
Darn, my parents just got back home and they didn’t get me a single thing from the George W. Bush Childhood Home(TM) gift shop — not even a lousy T-shirt. I guess I’ll just have to order one online or something. Anyway, my brother has finally emerged from his fort and is rambling on about child abuse, and my mom and dad are yelling at me so I had better get going. But I do hope you enjoyed this issue of the Funny Times because my parents just said they are never going to leave me in charge again. I suspect this is because I forgot to take out the garbage.