Day tripper

So today’s post is a bit, er, off my usual beaten path. Rob had a work-related commitment in Mercer County this morning, and since the rest of the day was supposed to be a holiday for him we all tagged along to have a little outing.
Much of Kentucky’s population lives in the Louisville/Lexington/Frankfort corridor, and the rest of the state is where Kentucky jokes come from. I don’t mean to ditch on my Commonwealth brethren, but just to draw attention to the fact that life looks a lot different in the more rural parts of the state than it does in the comparatively urban ones. Ahem.
So Rob and I, being the diligent planners that we are, visited the Mercer County website to figure out how best to spend our day trip. What does it mean when the Mercer County website says they are “within a two hour drive of 2.5 million people”? Is that like being almost urban? Or cosmopolitan by association? What if I said I live within a two-hour drive of lovers and haters and beautiful people and bigots and fools and poets? Does that actually say anything at all about me? So we tried Google instead and decided to spend our day in downtown Harrodsburg and at Old Fort Harrod State Park.
We set off smartly this morning, kids in tow. The house was left clean for a real-estate showing, the kids were dressed very sweetly in matching outfits (store-bought this time); we made an auspicious start with four people in good moods and ready for adventure. The drive went well, Rob dealt quickly and successfully with his business, and we decided to try to find local color in the little town square area. We found a diner and decided to give it a try.
So far, so good. Breakfast served all day, yeah! The mostly senior citizen crowd seemed to think our kids were cute, so they’d likely be forgiven if they made a bit of noise. We placed our order and made friendly faces at the people next to us who were cooing over the flirting baby. Dorothy’s chocolate milk arrived and it was that really viscous, dark brown chocolate milk that I haven’t seen in a long time and I’m sure my organic-chocolate-syrup-stirred-into-lowfat-milk kid had never experienced. She started sucking it down, fast. I saw my food coming and decided to switch the baby to my other knee, to free up my fork hand. That’s when I realized we’d had a poosplosion. My apologies to readers who don’t have kids, but it happens. I’d put him in a hand-me-down diaper we hadn’t tried out yet–big mistake on a trip. There was baby poop all over my skirt and all over the bottom of the fully clothed baby. I make pitiful noises at Rob, who saw the problem, jumped up and handed me a roll of paper towels from the bar (glad it was the down-home kind of place that has paper towel rolls just sitting around). But this was really not a job for paper towels, and the only restroom there was a tiny facility you accessed by walking right through the establishment’s busy kitchen. No thanks. I clutch the dirty baby over the skirt poo and headed for the car.

Unfortunately we’d parked right in front of the restaurant and it also had outdoor seating. I never turned around to see how many people were watching us, but we were only a few feet away so I’m sure we had at least some corner-of-the-eye audience, which is just what you want when you’re trying to clean poo off yourself and your son on a public sidewalk. I grabbed the bag I’d packed for the day and located wipes, a bag and a clean diaper, but to my chagrin I realized Worth’s change of clothes had been left with some other items in the bag I’d packed for church yesterday and accidentally abandoned under our pew. Never fear, I thought, because I keep an emergency change of clothes for both children in a bag in the back of the car.

I fetched the emergency stash and pulled out…a teeny tiny newborn jammie that I could not even have tugged over the feet of my enormous 4-month-old chubster (please notice his tummy rolls in the photo above, jammie laid out on the car seat to show scale). Too bad I hadn’t updated that emergency stash lately! So I scrubbed him down with baby wipes–poo-soaked shortalls pulled down, poo all over lower half of baby; poo-soaked onesie pulled up, poo all over upper half of baby. But I had a Costco pack of wipes and I did get him all cleaned off, in the front seat of the car, with an audience of sidewalk diners, and put him in a fresh diaper. He looked radiantly happy and grinned and cooed at my the whole time I tried to clean my own skirt off with baby wipes, napkins and a bottle of water, all still on the sidewalk and with an audience. At this point I was both totally grossed out and starving. There wasn’t much else I could do, so I walked back into the diner with my soaked but still visibly dirty skirt and my nearly-naked baby. This time our neighbors pointedly avoided looking at me, which might have been for the best. I choked down what turned out to be very disappointing french toast (fried Wonderbread, anyone?) and tried to laugh.

We decided the next course of action should be a stop at a store that sold clean clothes, so we consulted the car’s navigation system for nearby shopping options. Of course there was a Wal-Mart handily right down the road, and I swear I never was so eager to go shopping there. Target would have been green with envy to see my eagerness to rush into that blue bastion of rural capitalism. I abandoned my naked baby in the parking lot with his father and rushed first (sorry, I have priorities) to the adult clothing section, envisioning the purchase of a clean skirt or maybe, in a pinch, a pair of capris. I found the women’s section quite easily (“women’s” being a euphemism for “clothing for bigger gals”), then the tiny skimpy junior shorts, but didn’t see the clothing for people my size. I circled back around. I wandered over to the pots and pans. Was I missing it? It turned out the Wal-Mart only carried a few pitiful little rounders of clothing for average-sized people, and none of them contained skirts or capris.
Now I get that Kentucky holds strong at the seventh-fattest state, but seriously? One cannot even purchase average-sized clothing downstate? I do not hold anything against heavier people, nor do I fit into the scrawny salad-munching soccer mom mold myself, but WTF?? I went in with very low standards–I needed something to wear that was better than a shit-smeared skirt, and I found nothing. Wow.
On to the children’s department. I did a little better there. A Carter’s romper for $4 that said something innocuous about surfing. At least I was able to find clothing in his size that wasn’t emblazoned with a sports team or a cartoon character. I made my purchase, dressed the baby, told myself no one would notice the now-dry discoloration on my skirt anyway, and we drove to the fort.
It was a really hot day to visit an outdoor exhibit, but we figured the place would be bustling anyway on a holiday. Dorothy professed hope she’d be able to pet a lamb as we’d seen on the website, the baby was ready for a nap under any circumstance, and Rob and I were still gamely ready to learn more about our state. Unfortunately, the reality was a bit different. The oppressive heat seemed to have kept most visitors away, the (full-grown) sheep sulked deep out of reach in the shade, and the costumed staffers seemed about to melt. But the trip still felt salvageable until we rounded the corner of the fort to the “primitive” or Native American exhibit. There sat a state park employee, in the dirt, in a manner that I have to say threw me off even more than poop down my skirt in a diner.
Are you familiar with Jay and Silent Bob? Well, the man in the dirt reminded me of Jay as much as anybody, definitely with a stoned sort of look but also with multiple facial piercings, and (I’m sorry, dear reader, I warned you this was off the beaten path) was wearing a loincloth. And a shirt. But on his lower parts, which were seated in dirt, as part of (I think?) an exhibit, he was wearing only a leather loincloth. Jay, from Jay and Silent Bob. With facial piercings. In a loincloth. In the heat. It’s not that I’m a prude, my friend, just that I’m confused about the historical accuracy/necessity/advisability/legality of any Kevin Smith character wearing a loincloth anywhere near me or my children. And yet there he was, talking about curing animal hides (seriously? I couldn’t make this up!) to another visitor standing on our side of the fence. Rob and I exchanged one of those married-people glances that mean 1000 things in one tiny look, and we, well, got the hell out of there.
I was trying to decide if I was going to recover from all that poop and Jay-in-the-loincloth all on the same day, trying hard to focus on a soap-making exhibit that normally would have really interested me, when the phone rang. Our realtor called, and today’s showing went swimmingly! We probably sold the house. The potential buyer will sleep on it first, but intends to write an offer tomorrow. We’re so glad, and so anxious all in one. We need to find a house/pack/mortgage and all of those things. We finally just gave up on our day in Mercer County and drove home to a liquor cabinet that I must remember to pack last at this address and unpack first at the new one, because honestly, on days like this, isn’t that cheaper than therapy?

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  1. Pingback: My trailer might be cursed « There's no place like homemade

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