This turned out fine, as not only did my relatives sleep late (they don't live in Orlando either, so they're allowed to sleep too) but they weren't going to a theme park today. I arrived at their resort at around 11AM, having learned that my siser-in-law and her oldest daughter were going Shopping. Specifically, Sil had determined that they didn't pack enough warm-weather clothing for the trip, and wanted to buy more shorts and flip-flops and whatnot for the trip. So they were going to Wal-Mart.
My niece was excited about this prospect. Sil explained that this is because when she takes her daughter shopping at, say, a mall store, my niece will hold something up and say "Mom, this is so cute, I want it!" and it will be a tank top for $35, leading Sil to respond with "Hahahaha -- No." Whereas, at Wal-Mart, it'll be a skirt for $8 and Sil will actually buy it for her. :)
I weaseled my way into the Wal-Mart trip, partly because I could really use a new bathing suit (the elastic on my old one is dying) and John and I had discussed possibly going to a water park on Thursday or Friday. But mostly, it was because my sister-in-law and her daughter are two of my favorite relatives and I thought it'd be a lot of fun to go shopping with them, even if it was at a store like Wal-Mart that I could visit any day.
Sil and my niece took a little while to get ready. Sil observed that it was perfectly possible for her daughter to look completely ready to go -- dressed and hair put back and shoes on and carrying her purse -- and yet, for some reason that is utterly lost upon adults, not actually be ready to go. Whereupon she will disappear back into her room, and emerge again 10 minutes later, possibly wearing a totally different outfit or possibly with no visible change whatsoever, at which point she will announce that now she's ready to go.
And by which time Sil will be trying to find out what happened to her husband and other three children and by the way, where is the car parked?
When we got out to the parking lot, Sil really didn't know where their rental was parked, and my brother was off somewhere playing softball with the two youngest. (Their oldest was watching TV in his room. Their two-bedroom Florida suite came furnished with three television sets. Just in case what you really came to Orlando to do was watch TV. Well, hey, I was going to Wal-Mart, so who am I to speak?) At any rate, I offered that we could take my car. "It'll help justify the extra $50 I agreed to spend on the rental."
Sil smiled at the shiny red Grand Am I'd rented, and commented to her daughter: "I think this is what you were trying to talk us into."
My niece's reaction to the car: "Cool!"
Sil added, "The thing about having four kids is that you really need to have a minivan wherever you go, so we never rent the 'cool' cars."
Sil navigated using the resort's map while I drove. There was a Payless right next to the Wal-Mart, and my niece asked if we could go there first. "Sure," Sil said.
Inisde a store, my niece often looks like she's training for a Vanna position. She will select items of interest to her (either because she finds them especially cool, or especially noxious -- and as with many matters of taste, it was not always easy to tell which was which), lay them across her left arm, and make a little fwooshing gesture with her right: "Ta-da!"
Sil found a pair of sandals for herself, with some effort, and flip-flops for several children as well. I found a pair of sandals that I almost liked enough to buy, but I didn't care for the color and they were a little too tight; I was afraid I'd get blisters or abrade the sides of my feet in them. We got a lot of giggles over some of the more hideous footwear. Sil and I considered the winner in the "Most Appalling" category to be a sandal made of what looked and felt like tightly woven strands of 1/8"-wide plastic strips in blue, green, and orange. Ugly and uncomfortable, all at once.
After dropping our loot from Payless back at the car, we headed on to Wal-Mart. And at Wal--Mart we got .... stuff. An entire mounded shopping cart worth of stuff. Sil commented that she always needs to buy another suitcase while she's on vacation, so that she has somewhere to pack all the stuff she's bought while there. True to form, my niece was plucking over everything, with frequent "Mom, can I get this?" and "I have to have this!" which seemed to translate to "This is of mild interest to me at the moment and will shortly be replaced by some other must-have object." Oddly, I don't actually recall Sil saying a lot of either "yes" or "no" in answer to these queries. It seemed more like Sil would ignore many of them, and her daughter would put the item back of her own accord, or occassionally throw it into the cart. I don't think she got much more stuff than any of the other children who were not present.
She did get a couple of items I pointed out to her -- a mesh wrap, and a t-shirt with a cartoon black-and-white kitten (that adorable one that annoys Sylvester in Warner Bros. cartoons, I think) and the legend, "I only look sweet and innocent", which seemed appropriate for my niece.
Sil found an adorable denim skort for her youngest daughter, with a ruffled denim edge. This prompted both my niece and I to exclaim, "I want that!" But they didn't sell it in our size, alas. (Somehow, my niece--who is a little taller than me and skinny as a supermodel--is the same size that I am, which makes no sense to me). Apparently, only little kids get attractive skorts; the ones in adult sizes were all rather plain and ugly.
I did find a swimsuit, however -- a leopard print one that matched one my niece already had, though she'd bought a halter top and I got regular straps. And I got a couple of pairs of flip flops (I don't need two pairs, but at $2 it wasn't worth it to decide which one I wanted more), a fishnet swimsuit wrap, and a pair of sandals that felt comfy and were not ugly.
With a full shopping cart, Sil pronounced it time to leave, and we trooped back to the hotel. We considered stopping by McDonald's or somewhere for lunch, as it was after 2PM and -- at a guess -- we figured the others wouldn't have waited for us before eating lunch. But we didn't anyway, just in case.
Back at the resort, we changed into swimsuits and I draped my new fishnet wrap over mine. My father looked at it, and then me, and then the wrap again. "What's that for?"
"For looking cool. Obviously, it succeeds at this better in some people's view than in others."
My niece put on on a pink and black bikini, and I gave her a disappointed look. "You're supposed to wear your leopard swimsuit! so we match."
"You want to do that?"
"Well ... yes."
She changed into it, and we all trooped down to the pool. There, we played tag in the pool with her younger sister, which was fun if a little monotonous, given that we were playing no tagbacks. And very tiring for me. After several rounds, I hauled myself from the pool, complaining of old age and infirmity to my protesting nieces.
Shortly thereafter, we headed back to the suite. The older niece and I passed by an ice cream vendor on the way, and she declared that she wanted ice cream. So we got money from the room and announced our intent to purchase ice cream ("Anyone else want any? No? Ok.") and went back. The line was kind of long, and my niece got impatient. We checked out the little "miscellaneous stuff" store across the aisle from the ice cream window. They had little pints of Haagen Daas and Ben & Jerry's, most of which looked badly freezer-burned. And they had no sprinkles, My niece wanted sprinkles.
Because I am a sucker for anything my niece wants, I offered to drive her off to the grocery store we'd passed on the way to Publix. "We could do that?"
"Sure. I've got a car."
There, we wound up splitting a six-inch tunafish sub from Subway (again, because she wanted it and I'm a sucker. Actually, she paid for the sub and I bought the ice cream). At the store, we got a pint of raspberry and white chocolate ice cream (her pick, quite tasty) and a bottle of sprinkles.
On the way back, my niece wanted to make sure that no one knew we'd left the resort to hit the store. I didn't think this would be a problem -- (a) she was with me and I am nominally an adult, and (b) we weren't gone long -- but she was adamant. Perhaps more for the joy of being secretive than anything else.
"All right. Here's what we tell them if they ask where we got the pint of ice cream: 'They sell Haagan Daas in the resort store'. This is absolutely true, and even though it doesn't actually answer the question, they'll think that it's an answer and won't ask anyone else."
"What if they ask about the sprinkles?"
"Say that you wanted sprinkles. Or give the Haagan Daas remark again. The trick is to make people think you're responding to their question when you're really just making a statement of fact that only sounds related."
Teaching my niece one of the two Artful Ways to Lie is probably not what my brother and his wife ideally want me to be doing, but I expect they'd understand. On the way in, we ditched the grocery store bag so as to destroy the evidence. However, as it turned out, all our planning was for naught: no one even questioned our reappearance with a pint of ice cream instead of ice cream cones.
I headed out a little later this time, around 5:30, hoping to dodge traffic, and to give koogrr a chance to get home ahead of me in case he wanted to attend to house-stuff again.