The LBI Bible Conference has a package with a modest, but clean room that includes a set of bunk beds, two queen-sized beds, a small bathroom, and three-square meals a day for only $77/person for an entire weekend. That’s a pretty good deal, despite the fact that I always get a headache from spending 72-hours solid with my family.
We all got there late Friday night, so as soon as we walked into our assigned room, my cousin collapsed onto the nearest bed. She was exhausted from the nearly two-hour drive filled with criticizing, agonizing, and general GPS worshipping. I decided I needed a break as well, so I threw my bag on one of the beds and fingered my pocket for my cell phone.
I looked over at my mother who was noisily rummaging through piles tinfoil-wrapped sandwiches. “Anyu, I’ll be right back.”
She furrowed her brow, “Vait, vait, vait, vhere are you goink?”
“I just want to call my boyfriend to let him know we got here okay, I’ll be right outside the door.”
“Nooooo! Somevon is going to steal you, Stephie!”
“What the heck are you talking about? I am a 6-foot tall adult on a Bible Conference compound in the middle of an island that only has one bridge to the mainland. No one is going to ‘steal me’!”
“I heard on 20/20, when you are on dah cell phone and not paying attention, dey can push you in the car. You stay here and talk.”
“Irina is trying to sleeping, we’re probably disturb-”
My cell phone started ringing and vibrating to the theme song to “The Super Mario Brothers Super Show”. I didn’t even need to check the caller I.D.
“Anyu, it’s him, I’m gonna go out for a second.”
“Nooooo! Stay here!”
“Why, so you can listen to my conversation?”
“I don’t care about vhat stupid crap you talk about, just don’t go outside.”
“I don’t understand this. I’ve lived on my own for eight years, I’ve walked through West Philly at midnight and I’m fine.”
“Sometimes vhen you’re here, I can’t handle it, so I vorry. If you die in Philly, it’s your own stupid fault, but if someting happens vhen you are in front of me, I vill never be able to forgive myself. You’re not gonna die on my vatch!”
“Would you people please shut the hell up?” said the pile of blankets that used to be my cousin.
I rolled my eyes. My phone lit up with the message, “One missed call.”
“Forget it, I’m going to go talk in the bathroom.”
I ran into the bathroom, shut the door, and pressed my speed dial.
“Hey, hun, we’re here!” I said, happy to speak to a friendly voice that didn’t nag me. “Oh, and don’t mind me if I sound echoey, I have to sit on the toilet to talk to you because mom doesn’t want me going outside. No. I am not actually ‘on’ the toilet, I am just sitting on top of it. Yes, my pants are on…”
There was an urgent knock on the door followed by a shrill, “Stephiiiie!” My mother yanked the door open.
“What?! Do you need to pee or something?” I asked, attempting to shield the phone from the reverberating shouting.
She pushed past me into the tiny bathroom with a bunch of pillows tucked underneath her arms. “Princess Stephanie! I brought you pillows for your throne!”
My boyfriend overhead and started laughing, “Did she just call you ‘Princess’?”
“She’s only saying that to show off because you’re on the phone…Oh, my gosh, she’s putting pillows on the toilet…”
My mom shook her finger at me, “Don’t look so crazy, I just don’t vant your ass to catch cold. Now sit.”
“That’s freaking gross. I don’t want to sleep on toilet-pillows! GET OUT OF HERE!”
“So, put towels between the pillows so dey don’t get germy…”
With all the shouting, pillow poofing, and towel tossing, the bathroom suddenly felt very claustrophobic. “Anyu! Fine! I will sit on the pillows. But please, get out, I’m on the phone!”
At that very second, another phone started ringing in the distance. Anyu dropped everything and sprinted out of the bathroom, “Oh, dat’s Sophie on dah line, I have to catch it!”
“Good,” I said to my boyfriend, who was still laughing in the background, “Someone called Irina’s cell phone, so at least now Mom will be distracted. God, sitting on this thing is weird, I feel like I am ready to lay a darned egg or something. So. How was your day?”
As he started to speak, my mom yanked the door open. She was awkwardly holding my cousin’s cell phone and screaming into it from three inches away. “Oh, Sophie, Stephie is here vit me, Stephie, say, ‘Hi’ to Sophie.” She shoved the phone in my free ear.
“Ah! Ah! Sensory overload!” I screamed.
My boyfriend chimed in, “You know what, hun, I’ll just call you back when your mother isn’t there. And you aren’t talking on two phones. On a pillow. On a toilet. Have a, um….fun?Vacation?”
“Yeah, wish you were here.”
“Yeah, well, no offense, but I’m pretty glad I’m not!”