My family gets kicked out of a lot of places. Pretty much because of my dad. When he was 12 he set off a small bomb at the local Hassidic camp, twice. The first time he got away by jumping off a 20-foot cliff into waist deep water. The second time, the rabbis actually got a hold of him. Rabbi Goldfarb, the founder of the camp, broke the ancient Hassidic rule and used a phone on the Sabbath to call up my grandmother and inform her that my father was no longer welcome within 30 feet of his camp. His exact words were, “Your son has gotten into this camp twice.”
To which my father responded, “Correction, you’ve only caught me twice.”
Because of statute of limitations he is now officially allowed back in Chicago. We can’t go to the Museum of Discovery and Science anymore because he was illegally climbing on one of the exhibits. Actually, now that I think of it, we also can’t go back to the Aquarium in San Francisco for the same reason. My dad likes to climb.
Off the top of my head here’s a list of some other places we can’t go back to: two of our neighbors’ houses, the community basketball courts, The White House, Certain parks in Disney World, Tom’s Video Rental, I’m sure I missed a few.
The best place we got kicked out of was George Washington’s house. I was 10. My family had decided to take a trip to Virginia for vacation. My dad had just bought a new VHS video camera, his obsession at the moment.
George Washington’s house was my mom’s idea, some history for my sister and I.
The place was boring as hell, not just because I was 10, but because it was a house. The tour guides took their job very seriously. Each room had its own guide dressed in authentic colonial garb, who made sure to start off their history lesson with a warning that videotaping was prohibited. We probably wouldn’t have noticed if they didn’t repeat the same warning in every friggen room in the place. It also felt weird since otherwise they were very strict to keeping to their colonial theme. “A phone? What is that? Is that a new trend in Europe?”
My dad decided that it would be funny if he went up to every tour guide in every room and ask them on camera if we were allowed to tape in the room. He explained it to me as, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we had a video of a bunch of people saying no? I bet it could go on Letterman!”
And so he did this. We taped every single tour guide in every single room in that fucking place. Every one of them just said, “no,” and then my dad obediently turned off the camera.
It wasn’t till we got to the third to last room, I think it was Washington’s study, that a tour guide didn’t cooperate. Instead of smiling and saying, “no,” she flipped out. “Sir! Sir! Get that camera out of my face! Sir! No taping! Sir!” She shoved us out of the room. She was a serious tour guide.
We thought that was the last of her, but when we were finally through the entire place, walking out of the stables and bathing in the sunlight, my mother apologizing and promising that we never had to do anything like that again, three police officers stopped my family.
Behind them was the lady tour guide. She was using the large men as a shield against my father.
They asked for my dad’s camera. He just laughed. “I wasn’t taping anything in the house. I was just taping the tour guides. I thought it would be funny.”
The cops didn’t laugh. They didn’t get it. “Show us the footage.”
So my dad showed the police the video he took. When they finished they looked at my father like he was insane and firmly told us that we were no longer welcomed at Washington’s house.
“Thank God,” was all I thought.