Our Gulf Shores Vacation

by Sharon Goldberg

On day one of our Gulf Shores vacation, we arrived at Majestic Oceanfront Villa with Kidney-Shaped Pool. I removed the key from the security box and unlocked the door. The alarm went off. Lily covered her ears and started to cry. I called the property manager who apologized profusely and said he’d drive right over. The housekeepers must have turned the alarm on by mistake. In the meantime, the police arrived. We convinced them we were not a team of burglars, but a law-abiding family from Chicago. “Y’all don’t look very dangerous to me,” one of the cops said. “Duh,” Tyler said. Jack elbowed him. Becca snapped a photo of the policeman and texted it to her friends. The property manager shut off the alarm. We unpacked our stuff and we headed to the beach.

On day two of our Gulf Shores vacation at Majestic Oceanfront Villa with Kidney-Shaped Pool, I woke up at seven and padded down the stairs to brew coffee. From the kitchen counter, a grey rat with a spiked tail stared at me. I screamed. The rat scurried to the floor and hid behind the dishwasher. I called the property manager who apologized profusely and said he’d send an exterminator right over. The exterminator informed us the invading rodent was a Gulf Shores rat, an endangered species that coexists with Gulf Shore residents. He placed a sticky sheet in front of the dishwasher. When the rat emerged, he said, we should ferry it outside on the sheet and release him. “Cool,” Tyler said. “Not cool,” I said.

On day three of our Gulf Shores vacation, I woke up at seven and padded down the stairs to brew coffee. The kitchen floor was flooded and water seeped toward the living room carpet. I called the property manager who apologized profusely and said he’d send a repairman right over. He offered us a partial refund for the inconvenience. The repairman removed the drowned rat and fixed the dishwasher. We left for breakfast elsewhere.

On day four of our vacation, I padded fearfully down the stairs to an oddly peaceful kitchen. I scrambled eggs, toasted bagels, and sliced melon. After breakfast, we slipped on swimsuits and grabbed beach towels and flotation devices. I opened the gate to the pool. The water was pickle green. Lily cried when we told her she couldn’t go in. Becca snapped a picture of the pool and texted it to her friends. Tyler said, “Whatever.” He found a boogie board and strolled down to the beach. I called the property manager who apologized profusely and said he’d send the pool guy right over. The pool guy informed us he had to order parts to fix the filtration system. Needless to say, we were unable to use the pool for the rest of the week. The property manager offered us another partial refund.

On day five, after breakfast, we left Majestic Oceanfront Villa to explore the Gulf Shores area. We took a dolphin cruise, stopped at Ft. Morgan, shopped, and dined on shrimp and grits, crab cakes, and crawfish. When we returned after dinner, a minivan was parked in the middle of the driveway. I opened the house door and we discovered eight guys sprawled in the living room drinking tequila shooters. Becca snapped their picture and texted it to her friends. I called the property manager who apologized profusely for the booking foul-up and said he’d relocate the stag party to another rental. One of the guys invited Becca to join them. “She’s 16,” Jack growled.

Day six of our vacation isn’t worth discussing. Let’s just say it involved Lily, a large sharp object, an emergency room visit, and an impending lawsuit. The property manager refunded the rest of our payment and offered us a free rental week at the house next year. “Are you out of your fucking mind?” Jack said.

On day seven of our Gulf Shores vacation, we packed our belongings. The kids and Jack piled into the car. I picked up a pair of flip flops Becca had forgotten on the deck, took one last look at the surf swishing the sand, and departed Majestic Oceanfront Villa with Kidney-Shaped Pool. Per the property manager’s instructions, I locked the front door. But I failed to return the key to the security box. Silly me. How could that have happened?  

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