November 4th, 2001

JOY

A Day at Funland

Saturday morning I was awakened at quarter to ten by J-dogg telling me that our plans for the day of Mickey and me coming up to his mom's house in Maryland and going to his brother's high school football game might not go quite as planned since it was raining.

Groggy and having not had yet looked out the window, I was disappointed. A day at Jason's Mom's house, better known as Funland, is a day to look forward to. Jason said we were welcome to still come up to the house, but with it raining, we probably wouldn't want to go to the game. Fine by me, I said, and in about two hours, Mickey had arrived at my house and we were on our way up there, a little less punctual than if we had the gametime to make.

Funland is a wonderment of the American Way. Situated just on the country side of the Maryland suburbs, there's plenty of room out there to do as you please, and with the pool, trampoline, volleyball, basketball, go-karts and dirtbikes, there's never nothing to do. Top that with Jason's family, the friendliest, most warm, genuine and welcoming people around. I can't imagine anyone feeling uncomfortable or unwanted there.

By the time we got past the beltway, it was a warm, sunny, clear day. Due to our admitted tardiness and a flub in the directions, we arrived about 45 minutes late. As it turned out, we were going to the football game after all, and the whole group headed out within in hour. It was perfect football weather, perfect September football weather, granted, but perfect football weather nevertheless. The game was very, very good. The score was tied at 21 with about thirty seconds left of the fourth quarter; our team managed a recovery, a touchdown and an extra point to win it with seven seconds to throw away at the end.

Back at Funland, the roast Jason's mom, put in before we left was almost ready and she started making potatoes and carrots. Jason and Mick went and played Playstation. His stepfather invited me for a drive to go look for deer for when he goes hunting, so with beers and cigarettes in hand, off we went. It was just after sunset and beautiful. He told me all about the people who owned the farms nearby, how there is a reservoir there that allows people to fish and hunt for a fee, showed me some new housing developments and we even chitchatted about apples of all things. We got back to the house at around 5:30. Jason's wife and sons came back from trying to see Monsters, Inc. at the movies, but they had to leave early because the monsters scared his three-year-old. Hearing Tyler explain that he was scared of "the big blue one" but didn't know quite why, was just adorable. Jason had to go to his cousin's batchelor party and the other guys and the limo were arriving at six. I figured that would be our cue to head off to the mall, but we were invited to stay and have dinner, and Jason reminded us that we were welcome to stay as long as we wanted.

We all sat and had dinner together, talked for a while more, and then put in a movie. Jason's stepfather made a fire. I was absorbed in the movie quickly and at some point I kind of realized what was going on: I was lying on the couch snuggled up in a blanket with Otis, the dog, sitting at the bend in my knees. Jason and his wife's baby was sitting with her, gurgling and making little baby noises. The fire was going and his mom was making popcorn. Mickey was sitting across the room rocking away in the rocking chair, sipping on a Budweiser. I was completely at ease and perfectly comfortable and yet, my actual host was not in the house. I felt no awkwardness at being there without him; his mom and wife had made us understand that we were welcome and wanted and even offered us to spend the night rather than make the hour drive home.

When the movie was over, we made our goodbyes and hugged our hugs and were on our way (after, of course, they gave Mickey a big bag of leftover Halloween candy). On the way to 95, we passed the limo on it's way back to the house. Mick and I talked for most of the way home about the day. I felt relaxed, rejuvenated and refreshed. It's wonderful to realize after a day at Funland that there are people out there who aren't rude, how are genuine and loving, and all they want to do is have a good time and watch you have a good time yourself. I nodded off on the couch and was in bed by 1:30, and woke up feeling good at ten (as cheesy as this sounds), ready for the week.
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