My mother has this thing about treasure hunts.
We were up in Atlanta for five days last week. During those five days, we were all invited to my parents' house for dinner. And for some good old-fashion treasure hunting. With a metal detector. And plastic sandbox shovels. And alcohol. It truly doesn't get much better than that.
My parents live at the end of an uphill street, their house nestled against a 45-degree gradient. You almost expect to see a leiderhosen-clad lonely goatherd yodeling in their backyard. Why they decided to retire to a house with more steps than a standing-room-only AA meeting is beyond me. But it was apparently always my mother's dream to own a mountain cottage with a big front porch swing, just like it was always my father's dream to live in a house where he could keep his assortment of computer equipment on an entire second floor of a house, so he could hole up and plot some serious world domination in between Hulu-ed episodes of CSI.
Anyway, during the days leading up to our visit to my parents' for dinner, my mother has been planning a sort of scavenger hunt for all the grandchildren. She got the idea during our trip to the Fountain of Youth gift shop, where she purchased several fake gold coins. Her plan was to bury them in her back yard beforehand, then let the kids hunt for them with her metal detector, thus perpetuating the idea that when people retire they go absolutely bat-shit.
This is not the first time my mother has concocted a synthetic scavenger hunt. When my sister Carrie was 9 or 10, she invited over this friend who for some reason was reeeaaally into all things Native American. When my mom got wind of our impending houseguest, she gathered up some indian arrowheads she had laying around and scattered them in the woods behind our house. Then she told my sister and her friend that our house was just a tomahawk's throw away from an Indian excavation site, and that they should go looking for relics. I can still hear her squealing with feigned delight when my sister and her friend returned with a handful of polished, gleaming arrowheads.
So this past week, my mother kept trying to hint to my nieces and nephews that her yard was once part of a pirate trading route. I think she almost convinced herself this was true. Perhaps someone should have told her that the main method of pirate transportation is BOAT. I could almost tell she was imagining Jack Sparrow, replete with eye-liner and Keith Richards swagger, swishing around the yard in a rum-induced stupor, dropping his coins hither and thither, slurring about Davey Jones and the lesser-known Monkee Peter Tork. She even tried to pass this myth off on me.
My Mom: I've heard tell of pirates making their way through these parts.
Me (looking around to see if any kids are in earshot and seeing none): ...Mom? You do realize you're speaking to me, right?
My Mom: They used to carry old Spanish daubloons with them on their journeys.
Me: What the hell is a daubloon?
My Mom: You don't know what a daubloon is? I thought surely you would know, living in Saint Augustine and all.
Me: No, please tell me.
My Mom: You're really never heard of a daubloon?
Me: Say "daubloon" one more time. I dare you.
My Mom: Daubloon daubloon daubloon.
Me: ...Do you have any more wine?
In the end the kids LOVED the treasure hunt. And my siblings and I came up with a new drinking game: take a shot every time my mother said the word Daubloon. If we'd really been taking shots I would have been hammered in two minutes.
PS--In case you need further evidence of my mother's obsession with a.) metal detectors and b.) repeating a Word Of The Day, please see my lil' brother's Possum Crossing blog. Then you'll understand....As much as anyone can understand my mother's endearing idiosyncrasies.