First class is better than flying coach, that's for sure, but it's not as much better as it should be. Leather seats, more legroom, free cocktails – is that really all you get? More air, it does seem like there's more air.
Everyone thinks I'm Ned’s son, even though we look nothing alike. But I guess I don't look like my actual father either. Not like anyone's going to see us together, ever again.
Why are the beer nuts on planes always so good? And everything else is shit, total shit — they should take this beer not recipe and apply it to everything else.
I can't believe I'm doing this, going on a trip with Ned. He wanted two weeks – I told him we would hate each other after two weeks. I said I couldn't spend two weeks alone with anyone, but then he asked about JoAnne, so I lied and said she spent half the time with her girlfriend, even though she doesn't have a girlfriend I mean she just has Tina. Maybe Tina is her girlfriend, except JoAnne only spends time with her when I'm with Ned.
But then Ned switched tactics and kept telling me I needed a vacation, with all the studying I've been doing, staying up so late at night, every night, and I really couldn't argue with that because studying is the excuse I use not to hang out with him too much, so then finally I agreed to go to Florida for six days.
Ned got some weird horny old man look on his face and started talking about seeing me in a Speedo, how all the other guys would be jealous.
Gross — I am not wearing a Speedo.
At least we’re not going to Fort Lauderdale, that was Ned's first idea. Someone told him that's where gay people go in Florida, but I think they mean gay people over 60. So we’re going to Miami for three days, and then some resort in St. Petersburg for New Year's. St. Petersburg? I have no idea.
JoAnne said: How am I going to spend six days with Tina? That means six AA meetings in a row, I'm going to need heroin for sure.
I could tell she was joking, because she was laughing. And then she said: I know I'm supposed to get a job, but it just sounds so awful.
And I said: That's because it is awful. As long as this weird thing goes on, just call me sugar mama.
The worst part about flying is the landing, that's always what rips my ears apart and then we're driving through the Everglades and my head feels like it's filled with steel wool. I can't believe how ugly everything looks, how hot it is outside, but then we get to the hotel in South Beach and it's kind of cute, a renovated Art Deco building from the 1920s. I didn't even realize anyone lived in Florida in the 1920s.
Should we go to the beach? I guess that's why we’re here, but first we stop at some weird health food store so I can get carrot juice and a bunch of premade wraps to put in the refrigerator. Good thing I wasn't looking for anything else, because the rest of the store just looks like rotten vegetables and protein powder.
But actually these wraps are good, yum, maybe I should've gotten more. Ned says we can always go back.
I can't believe it's the end of December and I'm only wearing a T-shirt and pants but I'm sweating. I need to get a bathing suit, so we stop somewhere and Ned keeps pulling out the Speedos so I decide I'll humor him and try one on, not the tiny ones but the square-cut one’s that aren't so ridiculous and Ned’s got that perverted look in his eyes again. Did I just say perverted?
The rest of the bathing suits are either tiny thongs or huge baggy surfer shorts, and I figure I'm not going to run into anyone I know, right, so I go with aqua Speedos. And then I ask Ned to buy me some sandals made out of an Astroturf material because I need something other than combat boots in this heat, right, why didn't I think of that before?
At first he tells me these sandals are too expensive, I should just get regular flip-flops and I feel like I'm arguing with my father. But then he takes the sandals to the register and we go back to the hotel room to change.
I guess it's too late for the beach, but maybe we can watch the sunset? I never realized how tall palm trees were, strong trunks too except when it gets windy these big pieces fall down from way up high and what happens when one hits you?
The beach is so large it looks fake, but as soon as we get there, and I take my sandals off to walk in the sand, I feel like a little kid so excited, maybe Ned was right and I do need a vacation. Ned reaches over for my hand and I make sure no one's looking. We go to a restaurant on some pedestrian street that I guess is trying to look like Europe, angel hair pasta and a salad is all I can eat although the pasta is actually really good with broccoli and pesto and yes, a few cocktails, and then Ned reaches over for my hand again, and I move my hand to my lap. I know we hold hands all the time when we’re at his house, but now we’re in public and it feels gross and possessive and I'm trying not to freeze.
When we get back to the hotel, Ned has a lot of back pain from the plane, so he lies down on the carpet, says that helps, then he takes some pain medicine and gets in bed, which is great because that means we don't have to have sex. Five nights to go.
I go on a walk and I can't really figure out why people think this place is glamorous. Screaming drunk suburbanites driving down the main streets in convertibles, and then near the beach every hotel bar has a line around the block. Eurotrash in designer suits and stilettos, some women are even wearing fur coats although it still feels like it's 90 degrees out. People look at me like I'm trash because I'm wearing a T-shirt. Maybe I am trash.
There are supposed to be gay people here somewhere, but I have no idea where. Maybe where we were earlier? The waiters were gay, but waiters are gay everywhere.
The next day it’s even hotter, and I'm finally ready to go to the beach with Ned around 2 pm. I don't want to go out earlier anyway because I'll just get burnt. I'm so glad I got the sandals. Strangely there's almost no one around on the beach, but we change into our swimsuits and lie in the sun and damn it feels so good. All this sun and light, so much light that you have to squint even with sunglasses. Should I go in the water? Ned snaps pictures of me in my embarrassing bathing suit, and I hope the sun doesn't bleach out my hair. I spent a long time getting the purple and red just right, and JoAnne helped me with the orange in back.
After a while, I notice that Ned’s chest is already bright pink so we better go inside. Should we go to the same restaurant again? But first we need to rest a while — lying in the sun is tiring. We don't get to the restaurant until close to 10, since Ned takes a nap and then we both need showers. Turns out there's a gay bar right there, so we go inside afterwards and oh no, it's like the worst Boston suburban preppy nightmare. Someone's even doing the ooh ooh dance, and there's so CKOne you could open an outlet store. But then the DJ puts on “Divas to the Dance Floor,” and yes that song has been tired for at least a year now, but honey I can't resist, especially once Ned hands me another cocktail and I realize there are some cute guys around, I mean once you get past the frosted highlights and bleached eyebrows and lycra.
Ned comes on the dance floor and at first that's fine, right, whatever, just some old guy I happen to know and I can shake a few moves in his direction like I do with the whole room, but then he gets really close to me from behind and pulls me to him and honey, I don't like grinding with anyone on the dance floor, but especially not Ned, I try it for a moment just to be friendly but then I pull away and try to make it seem like I just want to twirl around I mean I do just want to twirl around but also I'm watching people to see if they're watching me, watching me with Ned.
I get some water, and then I look at Ned and he's starting to sway. I don't usually see him get this drunk, maybe it's because it's past his bedtime so I ask him if he wants to go. In the cab he reaches over for my hand and I close my eyes and think breathe, Mattilda, breathe. We get back to the hotel and Ned starts pulling off my clothes and I'm kind of annoyed. I guess he notices, because then he says what, you don't like being seen with the old guy on the dance floor?
I don't know what to say. I look him in the eyes and start kissing his liquor breath, and then I remember the big tub in the bathroom so I say let’s sit in the jacuzzi. Ned keeps grabbing my dick, but I can't get hard. What's the matter, what's the matter, he keeps saying, and I really just want to smack him. But then he starts to look like a lobster, says oh, I'm getting overheated. I'm getting overheated, he says again, like I didn't hear him the first time.
Better take a cold shower, I say, and I stay in the tub until he looks at the clock and notices it's 1 am, says I’ll see you in the morning, comes in to kiss me good night and afterwards I sit there until the tub gets cold, then I let it drain and fill it up again, three more times until all my skin gets crinkled up and I'm ready for bed too, except I don't want to get in bed with Ned so I pass out on the sofa until Ned wakes me up in the morning.
Ouch, my back, ouch, damn, this shooting pain like I'm going to split in half, this used to happen when I was a kid but not for so long and Ned says I should get in the tub again but instead I just stumble into bed and sleep until it's time to go back to the beach.