Please, please stick with me on this. I promise, the payoff is worth it.
“See what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that sees signs, that sees miracles? Or do you believe that people just get lucky? Or, look at the question this way: Is it possible that there are no coincidences? “ — Signs (2002)
That quote above is from the 2002 movie “Signs.” In that movie, the main character is faced with the decision whether to believe that a slew of random happenings, personality quirks, and abilities that combine to result in strikingly fortuitous circumstances are signs that nothing is truly random. Or are these things, no matter how fortuitous the outcome, just mere coincidences?
I watched this movie a week ago with my oldest daughter and we enjoyed it. I loved seeing the look on her face as all these minor plot points and personality quirks, the asthma, the water glass thing, the baseball bat all combined to save the day in a way that seemed way beyond coincidence. I love the idea of it, but life just does not work that way.
I took vacation this past week. We spent most of the week at home hopping from cookout to cookout, but I promised the family we would take an overnight trip to Boston. I told my wife that I would handle everything as she has a tendency to over-plan things and that usually costs me money. So I told her not to worry, “I got this.” I didn’t got this. The problem with me, I am the world’s worst procrastinator.
Originally, I thought we would go Thursday and Friday, but as we returned home from a cookout and fireworks watching late on Wednesday the fourth, I realized that I had yet failed to do any planning– No hotel reservation, no itinerary, nothing.
“Honey, I think we should go to Boston on Friday and Saturday instead. It will give us a day to rest and I think the weather will be better.” She said fine.
So by Thursday afternoon with still no planning done I decided it was time act. I had it in my head that we would stay near Lexington and Concord because I wanted to see them again since I got lost there on a family trip when I was young and I wanted to see how my memory of the place matched with reality. I went on hotels.com and searched in the area for hotels in my price range that would be suitable for my whole family.
I found one place that seemed to fit the bill perfectly and I was about to book it when I scrolled down on the page and something caught my eye. Under the “Awards” section it said “This property is affiliated with the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) and welcomes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) guests. “
Oh really? Well, good for you. But you will not be getting my business. This is a family vacation.
So instead, I settled on the Marriott in Newton Mass.
I put together an itinerary I thought the family would enjoy and we packed for the next morning’s departure.
Early on Friday, we headed east to Orient Point to catch the ferry to New London. This really is a great way to travel and for the kids this was one of the highlights of the trip. They loved it. We stood outside the entire time, the sun on us and the wind in our faces making our way around the ferry time and time again. It also breaks up the drive nicely and makes for a pleasant trip.
We arrived in New London and headed up I-95 toward Boston. The kids were still buzzing over the ferry ride. As we drove, we passed a convoy of buses all bearing the name and likeness of an Archbold favorite, Peter Pan.
We are a Peter Pan family. We have seen the play and watched the 2003 movie version more times than I can count. Each time we see it, my house becomes an echo chamber for days afterward as one child bellows to another, “I do believe in fairies!” and another will answer, “I do! I do!” It is terribly cute, for the first 1,000 repetitions at least. After that…
Well, as we passed the Peter Pan bus convoy, my six-year-old little funny man whom we call B., combined his love of the movie and the topic du jour and blurted out “I do believe in ferries, I do! I do!” The whole minivan approved of the joke with uproarious laughter. B. beamed with pride over his joke.
After the laughter died down, the vain repetition began. My four-year-old little girl, whom we call G., repeated endlessly the penultimate Peter Pan line, “I do believe in fairies! I do! I do!” a thousand more times until I asked her to stop which she would for a minute at a time and then begin again. Oh well.
We arrived in Boston, parked the car, and walked over to Quincy Market. We had some time before our tour would start and we decided to grab some lunch. The kids all ordered their drinks and proceeded to guzzle them down. My nine-year-old son S. asked if he could have another chocolate milk. I said no way!
You see, whenever S. guzzles milk bad things happen. Bad things. Since he was a baby, his over consumption of milk has led to vomiting at the most inappropriate times. I don’t know why, it just does. When he was little and I was holding him, he erupted in my face during my father’s funeral. Right. In. My. Face.
Since then, we have had incidents at cookouts, parties, Friendly’s (multiple times), Disney (multiple times) and many other places. In short, when over-consumption of milk is concerned (particularly chocolate milk), bad things happen.
So I told him no, no more chocolate milk. This isn’t gonna happen again, not on my watch.
We toured Boston for the rest of the day and then headed to the hotel. After checking in, we headed for the indoor pool where we all had a great time for hours and then we all had a good night’s sleep.
In the morning, we were slow to rouse and we sorta just milled around a while. My wife thought she would step out on the patio and read her book for a while. When she stepped outside, the patio was a buzz of activity. Hotel workers had cleared all the lounge chairs and table and were busy replacing them with dozens of white wedding chairs while other workers strung blue ribbons from the trees.
She called me over and showed me the happenings.
“Somebody is getting married today!”
“I can see that. Why don’t we head to breakfast now?”
We gathered the kiddos and headed to the buffet breakfast. We made the little ones plates while we let the bigger ones make their own.
We all ate and talked about the things we saw yesterday and the things we would do today. At some point, I looked over at my son S. and he seemed strange to me. On his face he had this odd thousand yard stare, like he was completely disengaged from our space/time and he could mystically see some horrific future that contorted his features.
I looked down and then my features contorted. Next to his plate were three, three empty chocolate milk containers. Somehow in the confusion of buffet, he had slipped them by me. I now knew what horrific future vision my son was seeing.
“Don’t do it!”
I told my wife I would take him back to the room and we left. The whole time I kept repeating. “Just hold on. Don’t do it! Just hold on.”
We got to the room, but my key card refused to open the door!!
New plan. We will go to the bathroom off the lobby.
Again. “Just hold on. Don’t do it! Just hold on.”
As we approached the bathroom, another man entered a few paces ahead of us and I thought, “Sorry, buddy. This is gonna get ugly.”
As we entered the bathroom, the other man took the second stall and I directed my son to the first. Immediately upon his entrance, the horror began with the requisite hellish symphony. It was nasty.
A moment later, the first man emerged from the stall. He clearly was not it there long enough to take care of any business. My son’s wretched sounds had driven him to flee.
As he exited the stall, I turned to face him in order to offer up some feeble apology for the circumstances and I met his eyes. But this was no ordinary man, ahem. Standing in front of me shooting me a look of disgust was none other than Congressman Barney Frank. Yes, that Barney Frank.
My son’s wrenching had disgusted him so it sent him fleeing from his stall. I couldn’t help myself, I started smiling.
Frank walked to the sink next to me and began to wash his hands. A thousand one liners danced through my head.
“Sorry, for my son. He just found out someone at the hotel caused the housing bubble and it made him sick.”
That and a million more, but as a Christian I refrained from such brilliant rudeness.
Then I started thinking. Why is he in a hotel in Boston since he lives here? He must be attending an event. Probably the wedding we saw being prepared.
Then, somewhere in the recesses of my mind I recalled a little tidbit of info. Didn’t I read a little while ago that Barney Frank intends to “wed” his long time gay partner?
The wedding! It is his wedding! My son’s puking just disgusted Barney Frank to the point of scurrying from the bathroom on his “wedding day!” My smile broadened like the Cheshire cat!
And then all the random little plot points began to assemble themselves into a complete whole that could not just be coincidence. My choosing Boston, my procrastination moving the day, my choosing this hotel over the other because of the gay pride statement, my card key not working, my son’s bizarre puking thing! None of this was chance! This was all orchestrated to have me here on this day for this purpose. So my son could disgust Barney Frank on his wedding day!! It has to be!
I got my card key fixed and headed back to the room and met the rest of my family. I asked the kids to go into the other room so I could tell my wife the story. I regaled her with the tale and she laughed heartily. I then tried to convince her that this was no mere coincidence, that fate had brought me here for this purpose.
She rolled her eyes and merrily sniffed. “You are crazy!”
“I am not crazy! This is totally true!”
Just then, my four year old skipped back in to the room and bellowed out with as much gusto as her 43 pounds allows…
“I do believe in fairies! I do! I do!”
My wife looked at me and we both fell over laughing.
“See? I told you!”