But wait, you say, how can you break the rules on just your third story?
Because, I do what I want. And anyway, for this story I think the truth is more entertaining than fiction.
To placate the masses (or just the one or two people who still read my rambling) I will write this autobiographical Stub Story in the form of a fairy tale. As it was in real life.
Let's get started.
The random words:
Once upon a time, in a land filled with leaky sippy cups and sticky floors, there lived a perpetually disheveled (and often pungent) housewife.
The housewife spent her days ignoring the increasingly aggressive balls of fur drifting about her kitchen floor while admonishing her almost-3-year-old to stop licking her just-turned-1-year-old and day dreaming about her pillow and a nice glass of wine.
It was a simple existence. One where the biggest adventures involved a shopping cart, grocery list, and (hopefully) free cheese at the deli counter, lest the almost 3-year-old be sent into starved convulsions.
Then one day her handsome husband returned home from a day spent battling the Saxo-Techs and prepared a feast fit for a queen after the children were tucked away snug in their bed. They talked quietly about their plans for the upcoming weekend as the almost-3-year-old whimpered "mommy, mommy, mommy" and "I want to cut my toenails" and "I have to go potty!" in the background. Baseless pleas by a procrastinating sleeper.
Grandma and Grandpa were planning to visit from the northlands of Wallenpaupak so that they could attend a re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg. The weary, but agreeable housewife asked her handsome husband how the group might fair at the event, what with the 90-degree temperatures, record-setting crowds and two small children who did not have the smallest interest in watching grown men and women dress up in woolen garb and eat hard tack.
"It will be fine," he reassured her, before changing the subject to more pleasant things. "What's on your bucket list?" he asked.
"My bucket list?" she asked, inwardly questioning the futility of such a document, what with the ability to achieve such lofty goals all but impossible with the endless demands of childrearing, household chores, freelancing and dog chastising. "Before I shuffled off the mortal coil, I'm much desirous of completing my novel and visiting Alaska to view the Northern Lights."
The handsome husband then showed her his iPad on which he'd pulled up -- "The 10 things to do in Colorado in your lifetime." Scrolling through the app he landed on about seeing a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater.
"Oh yes," she said. "That's definitely on my list. That would be incredible."
The handsome husband smiled mischievously, "What about if we did that this weekend," he asked.
Confused, the often-dimwitted housewife replied, "What?"
The handsome husband slid a pair of tickets across the table. The Avett Brothers at Red Rocks, just two days hence!
He told her of arrangements, months in the making. There would be no re-enactment. The Fairy Grandparents were journeying from afar to watch the halflings while their parents sojourned west to the mystical land of Colorado, filled with craggy peaks and live music.
Shocked, the housewife could not stop smiling. To see one of her favorite bands at such a renown venue was something out of a dream. And to do it without first having to encounter the nightmare of air travel with children was out of an even better dream.
Oh happy day!
With that, the pair kissed their little ones farewell (a little, too gleefully) and began their journey.
Their seats aboard their flight -- a magic carpet bound for endless possibilities and at least one full night of sleep -- offered a view of the wing and a chance to post enviable pictures via social media, the kind she'd long cursed boastful, childless acquaintances for sharing.
The handsome husband was pleased as well, for the conveyance offered ample storage space for his beloved rolly suitcase.
They settled themselves in, watching as other parents toting diaper bags, snack cups and wiggling, noisy tots scanned frantically for open seats. Not us, they said, clinking their rum and Cokes before turning to traveling amusements: Sudoku for the handsome husband and dollar bill origami for the housewife:
Upon arrival in Denver, they were shown to their ground transportation. A royal blue chariot, or Caravan rather, fit for a king (and the king's heirs as well).
The couple giggled about the irony (while secretly cursing Thrifty for its demented Wild Car option) and set forth to the weekend's accommodations: The City Center Marriott -- a palace replete with giant, cloud-like beds and free from plastic dolphin toys and errant copies of "Clifford's Birthday Party."
After freshening up and grabbing a bite to eat, it was time to go to Red Rocks. A singularly beautiful concert venue nestled in the Front Range with uninterrupted (well, except for a few front, front ranges) views of the Denver skyline.
It was here that the housewife's cell phone battery died -- well before one of her favorite bands ever took the stage. Not that cell phone pictures would've properly captured the beauty and infectious excitement of the place. Licenses plates on their hike to their seats revealed that pilgrims had arrived from across their great land -- Wyoming, Missouri, Mississippi, Florida, Virginia and, yes, even Pennsylvania.
Seemingly everyone was a tourist, making it acceptable to snap pictures of the towering pillars of red rocks bookending each side of the theater -- pictures that the housewife would've wanted to take herself, if not for the lack of phone charging foresight.
Luckily, the handsome husband (pictured right) was prepared. Capturing a shot of his rather vacant wife (lower right), staring in awe at the surrounding geological wonders and exclaiming "how pretty!" as the lights twinkled on one by one in the city below.
The bands were equally as giddy. Old Crow Medicine Show opened electrifying the crowd with much banjo, fiddling and foot stomping and the Avett Brothers followed suit. The audience sang and swayed and screamed for more until the lights came back on and they all had to make the long hilly walk back to our cars at the stroke of 11:15 or so.
The experience was memorable and worthy of all the fanfare. As was sleeping in until 8:30 the next morning. The housewife couldn't overstate the gloriousness of this moment.
Nor, indeed, the wonder of reading in bed instead of watching "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" or showering uninterrupted or setting out for the day without having to account for diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, leaky sippy cups and extra snacks.
But the housewife had started pining for her little ones. So she called home and spoke to her older child -- whose little voice raced over the Appalachians, across the Mississippi and over the plains to warm her heart. All was well at home. Well, except for a tummy ache.
Using the power of the internet, the Handsome Husband located a tavern at which the hungry pair could procure a delicious meal. While the wait at Snooze A.M. Eatery was significant, the free coffee and people-watching helped the time pass.
The establishment was replete with young hipsters begging to see and be seen and the housewife was all to happy to see (and hopeful that no one would look too closely at her own non-hipness, what with her lack of tattoos, Sunday morning brunch stilettos and adorable summer dress).
She and her handsome husband whispered about the young rogue who, in a practiced Ivy-league-esque voice stated with confidence, "My goal for today is to speak to three beautiful women" before proceeding to court the hostess. (The housewife made mental notes to create a character modeled after the gentleman in a future story).
The meal was well worth the wait (the housewife had the Caprese Benedict -- a traditional eggs benedict paired with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and a balsamic drizzle -- and the handsome husband had the OMG French Toast -- perhaps the single most delicious brunch item you'll ever have the pleasure of eating. Seriously. It was a winner).
Their hunger satiated, the couple ventured out on a lazy day of city strolling. They got lost in the Tattered Cover, a bookstore that made the housewife pine for her days of bookstore employment and the long hours she'd spend reading when she was supposed to be shelving. She browsed the end caps, imagining what her own novel might look like sitting on one -- a recommendation from a well-read sales associate taped to the shelf.
They eventually returned to their room, the handsome husband napped as the housewife read her book. That evening they met her parents, who live outside of Denver part-time, at Rioja -- a fine-dining establishment they most certainly would not have been eating at with an almost-3-year-old and a just-turned-1-year-old.
Alack, the reunion was too short (though the food was phenomenal), a 3:30 a.m. wakeup call in order to make their 6:30 a.m. flight home necessitated an early night. The now-well-rested-couple bid their kin adieu and retired to their hotel.
And in the blink of an eye, their child-free weekend getaway came to a close.
On the flight home he slept, she read some more -- trying to suck as many words off pages as she could before returning home, where books languished on her nightstand, dusty and unfinished.
Not that any of that was really too bothersome for the housewife. For while she appreciated the adventure -- the live music, the quiet meals, the deep sleep -- home, with its pattering feet and big smiles on little faces, was far sweeter.