Sunday, June 17, 2007

Dispatches from the Outer Banks

I don’t ask for much. Just a roof over my head, food to eat and, where appropriate, urinal dividers. But this week, life has kindly afforded me the brief opportunity to live under a really large roof right beside the ocean, all while having Oreos and beer for dinner and staying in bed ‘til noon on a Monday. Yes, it is vacation time, and my family has gathered for a beach week at the Outer Banks of North Carolina, one of the few places in the world where you can get run over by an SUV without leaving the comfort of your beach chair.

My first cousins, who lag in the procreation department only behind the Old Lady in the Shoe, brought all their little kids along, which is really excellent news, because if they didn’t, I have no idea who would eat all these cans of Spaghetti-O’s.

When you only get a chance to visit with your little cousins once a year, they turn into different little wonderful people every time you see them. Since last summer, some of them have learned how to dress themselves, speak proper English and use the toilet, which is already better than most of my friends from college.

As good as they’ve gotten at becoming functioning little people, these kids sorely need to develop an appreciation for sleeping in. Every dawn in this house has been marked by a thundering herd of children tearing through the hallways. Marshall University should put pictures of my little cousins on their football helmets. For the past few days, these kids have gotten up so early that nearby roosters have been pulling their pillows over their heads and saying, “Dudes, just a few more minutes. Please.”

Yesterday, my little cousin Johnny reached down into the sand and picked up something that had attracted his attention. He turned to his Uncle Dave and said, “Look, I found mini coconuts!”

Uncle Dave was busy sweeping out his Ford Explorer, which, after being in the Outer Banks for a couple days, had enough sand in it to host a beach volleyball tournament.

“That’s neat,” said Dave, not turning around. Then the realization dawned on him that there couldn’t possibly be mini coconuts in the driveway of the beach house; there wasn’t a tree in sight. There were, though, several wild horses roaming nearby.

Dave turned to see Johnny proudly waving around his new toys, which were not actually in the fruit family at all, unless you count horse apples. I’m not sure what exactly transpired next, but the number of high-fives in this household has dropped precipitously since that story started going around.

While we only had to drive through a few states to come down here, there are some readily apparent cultural differences. Even though I have exclusively Southern blood pumping through my Arby’s-clogged veins, I’m just not used to seeing Confederate flags on anything other than the occasional rusted-out pickup truck. The house next door has one casually flying off the deck, causing me to wonder if we are vacationing next to the Confederate Embassy. They probably hammer out important diplomatic issues over there, like how to confront the growing threat of ketchup-based BBQ sauce over vinegar-based BBQ sauce, and whether Wal-mart counts as the South rising again.

I don’t have too much time to worry about the Stars and Bars, though, when I’m still trying to figure out if I need to be offended that my cousins made me be the Pink Ranger. And while I know next-to-nothing about how to keep little kids under control, I have learned over the past few days that it can never be a good thing when you hear, from some distant corner of the house, a five year-old yell, “Timmmmm-ber!”

You can share your best rebel yell with Mike Todd online at


  1. Hey Mike Todd, I was on vacation last week at the beach! We were a little south of you, though. We went to Topsail Island. Your vacation sounds a lot more fun, though, with all those LITTLE KIDS and all...


  2. Now I know a fun vacation like that will get your biological clock ticking away!

    It sounds like you had a great time!

  3. Mike,

    Welcome to the Outer Banks. We have quite a few local bloggers and you can find links to most on my blog -
    Hope you enjoy your vacation.

  4. melodyann -- Dude, if you ever need some kids to spice up your vacations, I'd be glad to get you in touch with my cousins. They always keep a spare in the trunk. Hope you had an excellent time.

    Sheri -- Thanks! And that horsey's stayin' in the barn for the time being. But, you know. One of these days.

    Ronnie -- Dang, you're on the ball! Thanks for dropping a line.

  5. That horse apples was great. I woulda let him play with them, told him to go show his grandmother, and other people. hehehehe

    I'm telling ya, you haven't lived till you've played frisbee with dried cow pies, and had manure fights with about 10 other 4-H kids. hehehehe

  6. Burf -- My dad's neighbor used to throw cowpies at him on the way to 4-H shows. What is it about that particular organization that brings out the poo flinging instinct in people? I think 4-H stands for "Hello, Have a Hellacious Heap [of poo flung at you.]"

  7. oh god I had a great comment till I read your's and burficas little tidbits about poo flinging.
    However Burf and her little hellian friends thought it was great fun to sling poo at burficas older sister..said ME. That's not so fun. hahaha
    oh and hearing UT OH from a 5 year old 3 rooms away is not a good thing either.