Tuesday was Brian's Christmas party at work. He invited Jacelyn and I to attend, and although it was an invitation, I knew that turning it down was not an option.
I had risen early that morning and showered and dressed. I left Jacelyn in her pajamas for the trip over, so she couldn't muss her outfit by spilling something or wallering around in her car seat. I was standing in the doorway of the bathroom, watching Jacelyn brushing her teeth, when the thought struck me: why can't I be comfortable, too? So I changed into pajama pants and a t-shirt, crammed my 'nice' clothes (jeans and a sweater, ha) into a bag, slipped on some cruddy old sneakers, and off we went.
We drove down Main Street to get to the 3-Mile bridge, passing the water treatment plant. Jacelyn was looking out the window and humming, and I heard her pause and sniff and then she said, "Mama, what did you do?". I laughed and said it wasn't me, it was the building behind us. She was skeptical, and then asked me if I would roll down a window. A couple of moments later she got panicky - "Get the stink out of the car, mama! Get it out!". Once the stench was finally behind us, she settled in for the ride. She wanted me to stop in the middle of the road so she could count the birds on the jetties. She wanted me to make the fog go away so she could see. She wanted to listen to the Rudolph CD. When I finally relented on the Rudolph CD, she only wanted to listen to the song "Misfits".
The ride was a long one. Some statistics:
Road Kill Count: 3 cats, 11 possum, 1 armadillo
Bathroom breaks: 1, although it was a long and stinky one---Jacelyn had an upset tummy
Number of times Jacelyn said "MAMA!": one hundred gazillion
Number of time we listened to "Misfits": also one hundred gazillion
I had spoken with Brian while en route; when he found out that both Jacelyn and myself were in pajamas, he expressed horror and the hope that we would find a place to change before arriving. So we did; we stopped in at a McDonald's to change. We entered the bathroom in pajamas, and emerged looking gorgeous, Jacelyn especially. We arrived at Wal-Mart, where Brian showed Jacelyn off to everyone. She ate up the attention. People would say to her, "Oh, look at you, aren't you cute!" to which she would reply, "Yes, thank you". She got a lot of compliments on her boots (Hello, Kitty cowboy boots, which she wore with a skirt--so cool). She was sweet with Brian but a devil with me, at one point performing a spin kick to my shin, which I would have been more appreciative of the skill involved had she not been kicking me in the shin.
We went to the employee lounge in the back of the store. It was very festive - whoever did the decorating wrapped every flat surface in gift wrap - even the walls. Brian introduced us: "This is my daughter Jacelyn. Oh, and this is my wife". I didn't even merit a name - just 'wife'. The food was catered by Sonny's Barbecue. Jacelyn cut open and buttered her own roll, which she then did not eat and squished into little balls. She took the little balls and squished them together, put them on her chin, and said, "Look, mommy, I have a mustache". I was slightly amused.
There was karaoke. Yes, friends, karaoke. It was wrong and it was bad. It wasn't even Christmas karaoke. Two consecutive country songs were 'sung' (using that term very, very loosely), and I was already despairing when the opening strains of "Copacabana" blared over the speakers. I called Jen at work. "Do you hear that?" I asked her, as the Tire and Lube Express manager enthusiastically shook his hips to the music. "Oh, God, yes" she answered.
I was able to leave shortly thereafter. Brian offered to replace the front two tires on the jetta, so I dropped off the car and proceeded to wait. And wait. With a cranky, napless four-year old who had spent three hours of her morning cooped up in the car. Brian walked us around a little, and we stopped at a huge tank of hermit crabs. A very nice woman pulled out one for Jacelyn to check out, but he was dead. After explaining that he must be asleep, she pulled out another crab.This fellow was a bit more adventurous, and alive to boot, so after a moment he popped out of his shell and scrabbled around on the counter top. When he moved, Jacelyn made some sort of exclamation, causing the crab to pee and then go back into his shell. We all laughed, and Jacelyn said he was the one for her. "...because he peed" she explained. I guess they have that in common.
We walked away laden with a 'crab condo' complete with everything a hermit crab could possibly need for a lifetime of hermit-ing. I asked Jacelyn what his name is, because she proclaimed him to be a boy. "His name will beeeeeeee.... Mish." Hmm. "Mitch?" I asked, uncertain. "No, MISH. Like fish, or dish, only not. MISH." Oh.
So we departed Panama City Beach a little richer than we were when we arrived. I had two new tires, and Jacelyn had a hermit crab named Mish. Sweet. And the quality time together in the car, that was great, too. Annoying, but great.