There wasn’t much room in our Volkswagen Super Beetle, but Mama said we could make everything fit if we used our brains and a little bit of rope.
It was the first year without Daddy. We were afraid there wasn’t going to be a vacation that year. No motel pool with a turquoise-blue water slide, no drinking glasses and toilet seats wrapped in crisp white paper you could poke a finger through just to hear it pop. No Desmond the Drumming Duck, no Jungle Jim’s Wild Animal World, no tour of the Anhauser-Busch brewing company with photo ops next to fake Clydesdales and paper cups of beer for the grown-ups (we noticed some of them getting back in line for another cup instead of leaving the factory; we noticed Daddy was one of them).
One suitcase each, Mama said, but she packed everything. Two coolers full of ice, a tent, rolls of what looked like thin window screens (mosquito netting, she said), camp stove, coffee pot, badminton rackets, horseshoes, a croquet set.
We were going camping, she said. It would be fun.
Is there an amusement park? my sister asked.
Is there a zoo? I asked.
No, there wasn’t. But we could make our own fun climbing trees. We could see all kinds of nature. Wild, not in cages.
Right, my sister muttered. We can get attacked by bears.
Is there a pool, I asked.
Does it have a beach?
Our wails were loud with righteous anger. What was summer without swimming? What was vacation without a pool?
Maybe Daddy will take us on a real vacation, I said.
Oh, yes, Mama said. She lit a Virginia Slim, threw the match down, worked the wooden heel of her Dr. Scholl’s sandal across it twice. I’m sure he and his new girlfriend will be pleased as goddam punch to have you two along on their trip to Vegas. Maybe you can all go hot tubbing.
We shut up. Mama looked at our backyard wading pool.
Dump that out and bring it over, she said.
There was no more room in the car or trunk, hardly any room even for us with all our baggage, but Mama hefted it onto the roof and we ran ropes across it and through the front and back windows of the Bug. The ropes kept sliding so Mama took a hole puncher and made two holes on the side walls.
Can we ride in it? my sister asked.
Don’t even think about it, Mama said.
But we’ll weigh it down, I said. Keep it from blowing off. And you’ll have the car to yourself. Won’t have to listen to us bellyaching.
Nice one, my sister said as we stood on the trunk and climbed into the pool.
Inside the Bug, Mama put the pedal to the metal. It was going to be a great summer.