8.11.2011

Panama City Beach Part 1: Keychain Krazy

I am not a fan of using K instead of C, just to be cute. Did I just do that in the title of this post? Must be all of this situational vertigo.

I will not post this one until after I get home. You all know you should only talk about your vacations in past tense on the Internet, right, dearies? But, I am sitting here next to the window of my 9th floor condo overlooking the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico, so that's why I consider this an on-location blog.

We are a little nuts for deciding to go on this trip in the midst of our move, but it has been on the calendar for a long time. And being the determined folks we are, we packed for a move and packed for the beach simultaneously, both of which were equal feats in their physical requirements. All parents know that spending a week at the beach with kids is pretty much the same thing as moving, even though it's called a "vacation."DSCN1495 beach boot

But to complicate matters just before the move, and just before the beach, my husband broke his ankle playing racquetball. He is currently hobbling around the condo in his Darth Vader boot that will self-destruct if it gets sand in it. It’s another reason we are nuts for being at the beach. When he goes outside, he puts a garbage bag around it, shuffles through the sand, and imagines little children peering out their windows, running to their mothers in fright - "Mommy! What is that?!?" It’s a bummer.

The first few days here were full of cousins and in-laws and in-laws' families, who happened to be here at the same time. Just as all 20 or so of us are packing up our beach things yesterday - rinsing, collapsing, shaking, and gathering in slow motion in the blazing heat - a perky bikini-clad photographer prances up to us and offers to take pictures of all the little cousins with her big hunky camera.

You can view the photos at her studio later in the day. It doesn't cost anything to take the pictures. Just the kids. It will be quick, she chirps. My sister-in-law Mandy had used this company's services the day before and verified that it was legitimate, and before I know it, everyone is hollering at the kids to come get their pictures made.

While the six cousins dutifully allow themselves to be manipulated like little plastic poseable figurines at the water's edge, I am rolling my eyes.

"Who is that?" my brother-in-law asks, walking up.

"She's a photographer. I mean, she's a photographer," I say, making air quotes with my fingers. I have already had sunset pictures taken on the beach. I really don't need more. These shysters think they can hustle me into shelling out my money, if they can just get me to allow them to take the pictures. Nope. I'll look at the pictures, but I am not parting with my money. No way.

Five hours later, I find myself in a tiny, crummy "photo studio" lined with computers and metal folding chairs around its four walls, where suckers like Mandy and Shelly and me go to get poorer, and where...inexplicably...all the photographers look like Abercrombie and Fitch models.

A surfer-guy eagerly shows us to our own computer to view about 50 pictures that bikini-girl snapped of our kids that day. Sweating in the stifling heat of that studio, and awww-ing at the precious-ness of our posed little angels, the three of us spend a total of $70 all together on keychains for ourselves and our kids. Didn't I spend too much this time? With revenue like that, I guess the models were able to quit their day jobs.

DSCN1502 keychain

It's so many keychains, in fact, that one of the golden-haired Adonis types presents us with our white paper bag and says, "You guys are the ones with the crazy keychain order?"

Yes, of course we are.

Who could pass up a treasure like this for $6.95 - a keychain viewer, dated 2011, that you can look through to see a photo of kids on the beach? I paid 14 bucks for two of those, in addition to other styles of keychains? Apparently, I did.

Welcome to vacation.

More stories to come.

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