Every Memorial Day Weekend, the Manfre’s head down to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. Mr. and Mrs. own a trailer there – and a boat. I started going with them in 2007. John, Mike, and Maria always bring someone with them. Or I should say, John always brings Mandy, Mike brings me, and Maria brings someone new. From the outside, you’d think we all wouldn’t fit in a tiny trailer, but in my experience of trips down the shore, those little trailers can somehow sleep a whole lot of people.
Not that we spend much time in there. My absolute favorite thing to do is go on the boat, which, by the way, does not have a name. And every year we talk about possible names and what we all think the name should be. Last year, I think, was the best suggestion. I don’t remember who thought of it, but the boat’s name should be The Boat. Because that’s what we call it. Simple. And to the point. The Boat.
We always wake up early, excited to get out on the water. Mr. Manfre is the captain, directing us and taking over. Once we’re out far enough, we go crabbing. I’ve never done this before. The first year was amazing – I caught a lot of crabs. Which, apparently, isn’t that hard to do, but in my one experience of trying to catch a fish, it proved to be extremely difficult.
It was May, 2005, and I went on my first vacation to the Outer Banks with some friends from college. We had scheduled deep sea fishing one morning, and got incredibly drunk the night before. We boarded the boat completely hungover. At first it wasn’t so bad, but the further we went out, the bigger the waves got, and the more nauseous I became. When I was actually holding a pole and trying to fish, I thought every pull and tug meant I caught something. It did not. How can you tell? It was a big boat with about 50 of us on board. The guys in charge told us we would catch something. When we finally called it a day and not a single person caught a fish, he said that in all his years, this had never happened. Cool. At least we saw dolphins.
Crabbing is easy. You basically have bait attached to a long string, and hold it up with a small piece of wood. Drop the bait in the water – only four or five feet deep usually – and wait. If there’s a tug, slowly roll the string up until you can see the crab just below the surface of the water. If you do, in fact, have a crab on there and not seaweed, yell, “Net!” Whoever is closest will grab the net and scoop up your crab. One of the guys will then 1. make sure it’s a boy – you can’t keep females, and 2. measure it to make sure it’s big enough. Later, we feast.
After a few hours of crabbing, jamming out to classic rock, and drinking coronas, Mr. Manfre takes us for another ride to the Rusty Rudder – a local bar where you can dock and drink and hang out in the water. This is awesome. So many boats, so many people having a good time. At this point we may be out of beer, so the guys do a beer run. Or once, we waded through the water to the shore and went to the bar for shots. Good times.
Back at their place, we’re usually drunk and exhausted from being in the sun all day. Naps are in order. Sometimes in a bed…or sometimes wherever you land.
Most important is the annual beer pong tournament. It’s a very elaborate tournament that we have down to a science at this point. If it’s your first time playing, don’t worry. Mr. Manfre doesn’t just explain the rules, he makes a production out of it – an informative one. Two tables are set up and teams are picked from a hat, except for the winners from the previous year. That is the only team that stays the same. I have never won. I also didn’t realize I was right-handed in beer pong until a few years ago. I know, it’s weird. I’m not ambidextrous, I just do different things with different hands. Left: writing, eating, batting, brushing my teeth. Right: throwing, cutting (didn’t have a choice with that one – the left-handed scissors always sucked), texting, shooting a basketball. It’s weird. I suppose I could bat either side, but everything else is the way it is. If I thought about it, I should have realized I would be right-handed in beer pong since I throw and shoot right-handed, but when I was handed a ping pong ball that first time (many years ago), I just put it in my left hand and it felt right.
Mike told me to try throwing it right-handed and my form was a million times better. God, if only I had known! The possibilities I could have had in college, the glory! Even though my form is better, I’m still inconsistent. I need more practice to get better, but my beer pong days are mostly over except once a year in Rehoboth.
John and Mike won the past two years, stealing the title from Paul and Mr. in 2010. That was quite a scene. Tables were flipped, shots were taken, wrestling ensued. Nothing good occurred after that. If any of us are still standing and functioning afterwards, we might continue the drinking games into the night. Flip cup is a favorite.
Other nights, we might just play board games. Mrs. always has snacks for us. One afternoon I noticed a big pack of Twizzlers sitting on the counter. It was one of those moments when you realize something you always did or had growing up, but never thought about. My Mom ALWAYS brings Twizzlers down the shore. It’s like Twizzlers are a summer thing. At the beach, at the pool. They were there, without fail, and now I’m seeing them in another place with another family. I never thought about it until right now. I remember questioning Mrs. and she probably thought I was crazy. Is this like in the Mom guide book or something? Always pack Twizzlers for summer excursions. Maybe it’s not that weird, but I was blown away.
I started to realize other things, too. Things you don’t think about growing up until someone else tells you it’s weird. For instance, cream rinse. Shampoo and cream rinse, not conditioner. Why did Mom say that? Why do our parents say weird things and make us think it’s normal? She always calls my Dad Sam. His name is Chuck. I guess it was the equivalent of Mom saying my full name when I was in trouble. “Lindsay Marie Stetson, get your butt down here!” That’s what I felt when she called Dad Sam. It wasn’t weird, until one of my friends was over and asked. “Why is your mom calling your Dad Sam? I thought his name was Chuck.” Oh yea, it is, she just calls him Sam when she’s mad at him. As soon as it came out of my mouth I knew it was weird.
Spending an entire long weekend with the Manfre’s, I started to pick up on their own little weird things. Mrs. would say something bizarre that I didn’t understand and I’d immediately look around to see everyone’s reaction. Nothing. This is their normal. It’s mostly sayings that I’ve never heard, like instead of to-mate-o, tom-mot-o, she says, “Oh, six, one-half dozen or the other.” Instead of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, it’s Jesus Mary and the carpenter. We always brought down a lot of beer. Mrs. wanted to emphasize just how much beer we had. “We have more beer than Carter’s got liver pills.” Huh? How about this one: “Loggity mercy can’t be I.” I still have no idea what that means.
This is the first time in a long time that Mike and I will not be going to Rehoboth – but neither will the Manfre’s because Mike’s cousin Ryan is getting married. The beer pong tournament will resume next year. Maybe Mike and I will be able to make it. Maybe not.
*The Lonely Island