The Time Your Vacation Just Went to Shit

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It’s been pouring all week in New York, and although I just got back from visiting my family in the desert, I feel ready to get out of the city again. Clouds? Rain? HUMIDITY? No thank you.

But vacations can be overvalued in this economy. They say the best part about taking time off work and traveling is simply the act of planning your escape, as you diligently compile your Google Docs and relish in the anticipation of skipping town. Anyone who has been on a vacation can attest to this: Shit always goes wrong. The worst vacation experiences show you a side of the place you’re visiting that you never wanted to see: I once got my passport stolen in Paris on a Friday night—meaning I had to wait until the following Monday for the U.S. embassy to open. I slept on a friend of a friend’s cot in her college dorm room. In the end, I also had to visit the British consulate to acquire another visa to go back to Glasgow where I was studying abroad, and then cried in a cyber cafe while G-chatting my program coordinator after I could not acquire said visa. She emailed me a letter to show at the airport (?), but the real nightmare was when I almost didn’t make it to the airport at all. In lieu of the train, a single shuttle bus arrived instead; it immediately filled up and I swear people were RIOTING to get on. A nice Turkish couple pulled me into their cab and eventually I was on my way.

It was the day Obama got re-elected, so this story has a happy ending. They often do—but I’m interested in the time that shit hit the fan with such intensity, you thought, “There’s no possible way this could get any worse.” I want to know about the way things, in fact, did get worse, and how that left you with an almost sick respect for the universe.


Hopefully you’ve felt that way before, so I can know I’m not alone. Speaking of, I felt a cosmic connection to many of last week’s entries. How did we all have so many bad haircuts? Here are your best stories:

I laughed, overtheriver1991:

During the summer between 7th and 8th grade, I decided I was going to start calling everyone at school “hon.” I don’t know why. I’m not Southern. I can’t for the life of me explain how I came up with “hon,” but I think I just wanted to be known around campus for having a “thing.” And my “thing” would be calling people, “hon.

Anyway, after the first week of the school year, one of the popular girls approached me during PE, told me that I had to cut the “hon” shit out because her friends thought it was stupid and I was annoying everyone. Frankly, I don’t blame her for calling me out, I was probably such an incredibly obnoxious 13 year old.

Ah itsnotaboutthepasta, the old “I’ll just tell everyone I have a different name now,” never gets old:

The summer before 8th grade, I got a TERRIBLE (and I mean terrible) pixie cut. I had no idea that my face could not carry this haircut and spent the next year shamefacedly growing it out with metric tons of hairspray and a million headbands. It did, however, reset my hair type - from lanky-greasy puberty hair to something much more manageable.

Then I moved to a different state for 9th grade and started introducing myself with an entirely different name until my mom inadvertently busted up the whole scheme by walking up to me while I was standing with my new friends and calling me by my real name. My friends teased me about it for a while, but luckily it was high school and everyone found something else to gossip over and forgot about my weird intro after about two months.


Your brother and mine would have gotten along, Screamapillar:

Yeah. I was really down because nobody signed my yearbook on the last day of school, so - when our neighbor loaned my family his beach house for the summer - I decided to not pack anything (not even my Gore Vidal books).

When we got to the beach town, my mom took me shopping and I did kind of a grunge-y beach bum sort of look and started hanging out with some cool older kids, but then my jerk-ass older brother ruined it by showing them my yearbook. It all worked out in the end though and my new friends taught me to love myself for who I am and not to try and be someone I’m not.


Honestly, deannanimal, I think you were onto something with those T-shirts:

I decided one summer to become a “dank hippie” and to me that meant wearing shirts with double entendres printed on them from American Eagle and linen skirts from Old Navy and Birkenstocks every day. Pretty sure I missed the mark.


Eighth grade is bullshit, EleniRPG:

This was hardly an attempt at a full reinvention, but it was a small, failed attempt at something that remains a mystery to me to this day. See, I was never a cool kid—a total nerd, geek, and dork—always behind current styles. In middle school, my socialgoal was simply to keep my head down and not stand out.

The summer before 8th grade, though, my mom took me back-to-school shopping for new sneakers. I got my typical gym-class appropriate sneakers, and normally I would have stopped with just that. But I also saw, in the clearance section (so, cheap enough to convince my mom to buy another pair), some shoes that caught my fancy. They were unlike anything I had owned before, but I thought that they were stylish and maybe I would look good in them. My mom bought them. When I showed them to my older cousin, she said, “Oh, how chic!” so I knew I had a winner.

I wore them on the first day of 8th grade. The whole day, I felt like people were staring at my feet and whispering. But no one said anything to me directly. No compliments, no criticisms. Just stares and whispers. Were they saying, “Those are cool, I never expected her to wear cool shoes”? Or were they saying, “Can you believe she is wearing those hideous things that are so out of style?” It was all I could think about all day. Was it some fashion faux pas? Did I accidentally buy men’s shoes? Did it look like the nerdy girl was trying too hard? The paranoia was so terrible that when I was walking home from school, I was completely expecting the other kid that was waiting for the crosswalk at the same time to say something about my shoes. But nothing.

It was a relief when I got home. I took the shoes off and never wore them to school again. I still don’t know what was right/wrong with those shoes or even if I was imagining all the mysterious attention they were getting.


See you animals next week.

Senior Writer, Jezebel

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My dad’s family had been going to this rinky-dink set of cabins in rural Wisconsin for generations. By the time I was a ‘tween in the 90s, they’d at least been retrofitted with electricity, but you still had to use an outhouse. The nearby lake was great, but my fond summertime memories of bonfires, tubing, and jumping off the dock are stymied by other memories of mosquitos the size of my face, accidentally stepping on an anthill barefoot, watching my dad and uncles gut fish and throw the eyeballs for nearby stray cats to eat, and navigating the little gravel path from the cabin to the outhouse in the dark while trying not to think about all of the spiders I couldn’t see. Also, everything always seemed to be wet, and subsequently smelled like mildew, no matter how long it had been since rain.

We’d do this trip as a huge extended family annually, and one year I begggggggggggged my parents to let me bring a friend from school. At 12, I argued that I was getting “too old” to hang out and do “baby stuff” and I wanted someone my own age. They agreed.

My BFF Kristy (pseudonym) was more of an “indoor” kid, so I don’t know why I was so set on bringing her along to a place where 99.3% of activities were outdoor. She got majorly sunburned the first day after refusing to wear sunscreen and sobbed in the cabin all through dinner (we could hear her from the campfire area) and night (we shared a bed). When I’d try to ask how I could help she’d get more upset, so I tried to give her space. The next few nights Kristy would leave the cabin in the middle of the night and be gone for long stretches of time, then not say anything when she finally returned to bed. She opted to stay inside and read in a mildewy non-AC’d cabin while the rest of us did lake things or walked into town for bait or ice cream.

On the 3rd or 4th night, when she left the cabin again for a long time, I waited outside for her to return. She came back holding something and buried it in the sandy-mud between the cabin and boat dock. It was a creepy sight and I got scared so returned to bed and didn’t say anything when she came back in.

The next morning she was sobbing over breakfast and my mom came to our cabin and asked what was wrong for all of these days...what she still sunburned? Kristy said no and went back to bed. I finally got her to tell me what was going on. She walked me to the area where I’d seen her burying something and she unearthed it with a plastic beach shovel — it was a bunch of clothes. I was like “what the heck?” and she explained she’d been having terrible stomach aches and was pooping her pants at night.

I looked at the clothes and they looked fine, not what one would expect shit-stained clothes to look like, PLUS we’d be sharing a bed! I hadn’t smelled anything. I pointed this out to her and she pulled out a pair of undies from the burial hole and pointed to a large splotch and said “see!” I finally realized what was going on... “Kristy, I think you got your period.” It turned out she couldn’t see the color of the stains on her clothes in the dark outhouse, AND her parents had never explained periods to her, so poor girl thought she was pooping her pants every night for almost a week!

I hadn’t gotten mine yet, so I said we should talk to my mom. Plus, we weren’t allowed to walk into town without parental permission, so we had to talk to her anyway. My mom was really sweet but insisted we had to call Kristy’s mom to ask permission about what kind of sanitary products she was allowed to use; so we had to walk into town and use the public phone at the back of this mom-and-pop style bait shop where everyone could hear everything. Kristy’s mom wasn’t home and Kristy was too embarrassed to talk to her dad about it, so she asked my mom to do it. Her dad said she could only use pads because that’s what Kristy’s mom used.

Anyway, this is a super long story, but essentially my best friend couldn’t enjoy a cabin/lake summer vaca because her parents never told her about fucking periods and then when she had hers, she was traumatized by it and then had to sit out of summer activities anyway because they wouldn’t let her use tampons. Also, when we got back to school that Fall Kristy didn’t respond to my requests to hang out, so that’s also my last memories of our friendship.