I grew up with the annual “forced family fun” that is Bloomsday – a 12k (7.5 mile) race in Spokane with about 50,000 participants. Each year my parents, brother and I would endure the five-hour drive in our carpeted van (with nary a seat) making countless stops for discipline, removal of gum from my hair and/or Chinese fire drills.
Fast forward a few decades. Roper is three and this is his third Bloomsday. Despite my best efforts, I’m turning into my parents.
Every May, my four amazeballs cousins (referred to as One through Four – One being the oldest and Four the youngest), myself, and our collective brood, descend upon Spokane for Bloomsday. We stay with my sweet aunt and uncle who are accustomed to a quiet, tranquil life.
We DESTROY that peaceful existence once a year.
Usually five of us girls and our ten offspring make the trek to Spokane. This year, two of the cousins couldn’t make it so we were down to Cousin One and her two teenage kids (17 and 14) and Cousin Four and her four boys (11, 8, 5, and 1 – ahem, girlfriend has nerves of steel…and overachieving ovaries). The kids will be referred to by their age. Which I have probably listed incorrectly.
With anticipation, I threw a jogger (with tires so threadbare I feared it wouldn’t make another mile) and the kid in the car and hit the road midday Saturday. Three hours and 300 “are we there yet” inquiries later, we arrived.
I immediately sent Roper up to “Bethonia” – the room the kids pile in like puppies to watch movies, build forts, pretend to sleep, and detox from the insane volume of sugar they consume over the weekend. Seriously, I saw the one-year-old handed an ice cream cone at 7am. This is how Bloomsday weekend plays out, people.
On Saturday, the cousins and I bought matching skorts for race day. We had frank conversations, made terrible jokes and unsuccessfully attempted to force vegetables down the gullets of children. Mostly, we counted the minutes until bedtime. I was stoked because Roper is finally old enough to sleep with the other boys. I deluded myself into thinking this might be the year I’m actually allowed to sleep the night before Bloomsday.
After we put the kids to bed, Cousin Four and I pondered life – reassuring ourselves that we’re perfectly normal and everyone else is crazy. At 10:30pm we decided to investigate the footsteps and meowing coming from the bowels of Bethonia. All of the kids were sacked out except mine. OF COURSE. He was scared and adorable and I put him in my bed where he fell asleep immediately.
Sweet Fancy Moses, that kid kicks like a mule in his sleep. All. Night. Thank God for coffee.
Race day! Stranding my aunt and uncle with several little ones, Cousins One and Four, me, Roper, Eleven, Fourteen and Seventeen pile into a van. Except for Seventeen. Seventeen inexplicably has her own convertible Mustang (I want to be her when I grow up) and followed us to town. Our car discussion vacillated between skorts being a risky choice (due to SCS, or Sweaty Crotch Syndrome to you laypeople) and the size of whale penises. I just had to look up the plural for penis – it doesn’t come up much.
At a stoplight, Cousin One looked out the back window and sees that Seventeen is texting. She stormed out of the van, and in the middle of the intersection yelled, “Put your damn phone down – no texting!” and got back in. Good Mama! Except then the van door wouldn’t close so we had to drive with it wide open with the alarm going off. Cousin Four is from Tacoma and was convinced that we were all going to be pulled from the van and beaten.
However we did park next to a sketchy dude casing the join. Huge backpack, no race number and appeared to be writing down license plate numbers. We staged an impromptu photo session to get a picture of him behind Fourteen and Seventeen. With due diligence we reported him to the police who were securing the perimeter of the course – they told us that there was a 50-50 chance that the car would be broken into. We were surprisingly OK with that, as long as Bloomsday didn’t become BOOMsday.
After an hour of waiting we finally crossed the start line. Fourteen and Eleven had already taken off. The rest of us were stuck in the final wave because I had the critter in the jogger. I learned in previous years that you do NOT join an earlier wave with a stroller. They will cut you.
The race was awesome. Mostly because our matching skorts had pockets stuffed with an obscene amount of cash to buy otter pops and lemonade from the street vendors. Everyone = happy. Hey, I never said we were competitive.
Roper’s shining moment was when he got out of the jogger and walked up Doomsday Hill LIKE A BOSS. Unfortunately, when he tried to climb back in the jogger he fell on his head. Oh, the screaming and crying! We eventually got him buckled back in, but he was still whimpering when a lady passed us and – assuming Roper was crying for no reason – snarkily said to him, “you should try actually WALKING the course.” As if she had more to complain about than the kid who just took a digger.
You guys, PEOPLE LIKE THIS MAKE ME WISH I HAD MORE MIDDLE FINGERS. I deserve ice cream for not starting a brawl.
Did I mention that my aunt registered seventeen people for the race? Bloomsday is her Christmas – she gets all excited and signs up anyone she can think of. It’s awesome. My dad was registered twice. So we tried to divvy up the ten extra t-shirt tags as we got close to the finish so we could make quick work of pick-up and hustle back to see if we still had cars. And if the cars still had windows.
As we walked, we sorted the tags and I said, “I have mine, Roper’s, two Chucks and a Tobin.”
“What’s a Tobin?” Seventeen asked, unaware that Tobin is my husband’s full name. For some reason this struck the rest of us as hilarious. Cousin Four quickly shot back, “My shorts are up my Tobin.” Thus, Tobin quickly became synonymous with camel toe. So there’s THAT.
Mortified, he is. (Also, probably a little surprised that he’s married to Yoda)
We didn’t lose any kids. We got our shirts. The cars were still there. The kids had a ball playing together. We ate too much and laughed loudly. Bloomsday 2013 was a success.