The Joys of Child Abandoment & Covetousness

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nothing strengthens a marriage like abandoning your children and coveting the possessions of multi-millionaires. While this claim might not be completely in harmony with the church’s official position on child abandonment (don’t do it) or coveting (ditto), this is exactly what the NMW and I did to celebrate our 12th Anniversary.

My totally awesome Normal Mormon Mother-in-Law visited us in NC from Utah and agreed to watch the kids for two nights, thus allowing the NMW and me to have a little getaway. We decided to make the 3-hour drive to Asheville, North Carolina, to visit the Biltmore House and stay in a cozy Bed & Breakfast. Asheville is located smack dab in the green, picturesque Smokey Mountains and is the undisputed hippest, coolest, trendiest city in North Carolina. For you westerners, think of Asheville as Utah’s equivalent of Park City, Arizona’s answer to Sedona, or Wyoming’s version of Old Man Cooper’s Dairy Farm.

Asheville is the home of The Biltmore House, which is known as America's Largest Home. It was constructed by George Vanderbilt in 1895 and contains 250 rooms, 43 bathrooms, a 7-story dining room, and original Renoir artwork. I think Batman lives in the basement as well. George Vanderbilt was made obscenely wealthy either as an industrial tycoon or a crack dealer (I’m too lazy to Google the answer), but he somehow managed to build a ginormous house. As part of our getaway we toured the Biltmore and thought you might enjoy reading how our day unfolded:

9:28 a.m. – Have breakfast at the most upscale McDonald’s I have ever seen, a fitting testament to Asheville’s trendy vibe. The exterior looks like an Alpine chalet. The interior d├ęcor features Roman-styled columns, a self-playing baby grand piano, and classy floor tile. This McDonald’s is so classy I bet the Playland slide doesn’t even smell like 3-day old toddler urine.

9:47 a.m. – As we walk back to our car, the NMW asks me if there are any homeless people in a place as nice as Asheville. After thinking about it, I conclude Asheville does, in fact, have homeless people. They are called “middle class.”

10:12 a.m. – We enter the Biltmore and park in section C-3. I tell myself to just think of the Star Wars robot C3-PO to remember where we parked. We will either end up back here, or completely lost in section R-2.

10:21 a.m. – The shuttle arrives to take us to the Biltmore House. As I lug my 6’6” body on to the shuttle I nail my head against the roof of the bus, which is about 6’4”. To my complete delight, the Biltmore shuttles have comfortably padded roofs! Those of us who are freakishly tall hit our heads quite regularly, which explains why our short-term memories are worse than Dori from Finding Nemo. I’m just glad the Biltmore had the courtesy to pad…their…ummm…uhhhhhh….what was I talking about again? Sorry, I lose track some times. Oh, yeah, I was talking about Finding Nemo! Right?

10:23 a.m. – The guy sitting in front of me on the shuttle is slathering on some sort extremely pungent lotion and/or biological weapon that is burning my eyes, nose, lungs, and every other sensitive bodily orifice. My head feels as though I touched my tongue to a 9-volt battery and deeply inhaled the scent of a nappy-headed European backpacker.

10:27 a.m. – Step off the shuttle and am amazed at the size, majesty, and elegance of the Biltmore House. But then again, the NMW and I rented small college student apartments for six years, including one that I’m pretty sure was actually a retrofitted Tuff Shed, so I’m easily impressed.

10:31 a.m. – We have entered the Biltmore House and the main dining hall is an obscenely ridiculous seven stories high. No wonder they pad the roofs of the shuttles – George Vanderbilt must have been forty feet tall!

10:40 a.m. – Unimpressed by the “Breakfast Room.” Heck, even I have my own breakfast room. It’s called the driver’s seat of a 2002 Honda Accord, people!

10:52 a.m. – I realized why John Mayer is so famous – he sold his soul to Lucifer in the late eighteen hundreds in order to become a rock star in the 2000’s. This 110-year-old gargoyle was commissioned by Satan himself to commemorate the moment when he took John Mayer’s eternal soul. Look closely, this IS John Mayer.
10:55 a.m. – The Biltmore Library is slightly more impressive than the stack of random old newspapers I have by the side of my toilet. In the corner of the Library there is a statue of an early Christian saint. The saint has his index finger raised to his lips, as if shushing people as they come through the room. I lean over to the NMW and say, “Hey, get a load of Saint Shushie – patron saint of Shushiness.” The volume of the NMW’s laughter will definitely incur the wrath of Saint Shushie throughout the rest of eternity.

11:23 a.m. – So much for George Vanderbilt being forty feet tall. He and his wife slept in separate bedrooms and their beds were about four feet long by three feet wide, or roughly the size of Nell Carter. The NMW says, “I can’t believe they ever had any kids, sleeping in separate rooms on those tiny beds…” But then again, the two of us are a combined 12’3” and are touring this summer with Captain Rickey’s Carnival of Freaks. (Look for us in Pocatello on August 18th!)

11:55 a.m. – We are shown a huge double door that is used for transporting all oversized cargo and materials into the house, including Michael Moore during his 2007 visit.

12:20 p.m. – We enter the Bachelor’s Wing where gentlemen from an earlier era used to retire for cigars and brandy at the end of a long day of hunting, gallivanting, tomfoolery and general shenanigans. A sign hung in 1902 stating, “NO CHICKS ALLOWED!” remains displayed in the hall. I can’t tell the NMW exactly what we men did in the Bachelor’s Wing, but it involved shotguns, endangered species, and extremely tasty jerky. Also, we can no longer register under our real names at the Bed & Breakfast.

1:21 p.m. – Our tour of the actual Biltmore House is over, so we head toward the gardens. We begin walking through an area called the “Shrub Gardens.” After about six seconds we realize that shrubs are totally boring and leave. (Sorry to all of you shrub lovers out there, but it’s true. Shrubs are totally, totally lame.)

2:06 p.m. – On the advice of a friend who recently visited Biltmore and was struck with the number of British tourists she encountered, the NMW and I begin speaking with British accents. My new name is Sir Bertram Van Munster of Newlincolntonshire. The NMW changes her name to Cat Deely. We keep the British accents up for nearly an hour, constantly afraid that a true Brit is going to overhear us and out us as the frauds we are. I think our straight, white, healthy teeth will give away our non-Britishness before our terrible accents will, though.

3:09 p.m. – Head to the Biltmore Farm. I know drug use is a problem in this country, but take a look at this obvious pot head!
3:11 p.m. – As I look at the beautiful, fruitful garden on Biltmore Farm, I tell the NMW I want a garden like this one day. Mark my words – our next house will have an acre of land and 2-3 dinners per week will consist largely of what we harvested from our own crops. Now do Choc-o-Diles grow in plants or on trees?

3:31 p.m. – We are watching a live butter making demonstration and the farm worker says, “Everybody knows fat floats to the top of the milk.” The phrase “Fat Floats” makes me giggle. I think “Fat Floats” would be the perfect title to the sequel to the 1998 Sandra Bullock movie “Hope Floats.” In “Fat Floats” Sandra Bullock has lost all hope, gained 186 pounds, and taken up swimming.

We ended up finishing the day with dinner at a Japanese restaurant, playing pool at our B&B, and watching the movie “New In Town” on my laptop. (Nothing says “relaxing getaway” to an HR Manager like watching a movie about shutting down a small-town manufacturing plant. I could have written that screenplay in my sleep…) NMW, I love you. Thank you for the twelve best years of my life. You make me smile. You strengthen my testimony. You give me confidence. You make life fun. You make me laugh.

Just tone it down around Saint Sushie next time, will ya?

Like NMH? Grahamtastic Stickers and Husband Hero make it possible.


Amie said...

Nicely done. :)

10:39 PM

I live 20 miles away from Pocatello, and when that freak show doesn't show up I will be one dissapointed girl. Its my dream to meet all the bloggers I follow. I will not,however, come to NC, so fear not.

6:39 AM
NMW said...

There is no one I would rather spend the rest of my life touring historic sites with. Only you could make me belly laugh in the middle of the Vanderbilt's library.

And to top it off, you cried with me when we watched the breast cancer routine on SYTYCD. (I swear I saw you wipe a tear.)

7:19 AM
sondra said...

There aren't any homeless people in Asheville. When we went there on our honeymoon nine years ago we met some panhandlers, but we gave them some money, so that surely solved Asheville's homelessness problem.

8:01 AM
Megan said...
This comment has been removed by the author. 8:45 AM
Megan said...

(made a silly mistake in typing before...)

So I guess you guys could have also ended up in Parking D2, right?

I'm curious to know if the NMW still gets dual subscriptions of magazines and newspapers. I was shocked to hear that there's a stack of newspapers in your bathroom! (Maybe she's just counting it as emergency preparedness? LOL!)

Glad to hear I wasn't the only one crying at the SYTYCD cancer routine. It was amazing. I'm glad your own Cat Deely was observing you 'jdg' the routine. After all, the real Cat never uses vowels with that word...

8:46 AM

NMW - THANKS A LOT FOR RATTING ME OUT! Now the whole world knows I got a little teary-eyed watching the breast cancer routine on SYTYCD. That one hit a little to close to home for us with what a couple of our close friends have gone through, so I don't have to turn in my Man Card for that one.

7:32 PM
DeNae said...

For the record, I only cried during the cancer dance because I'm a sympathetic cryer. Seriously, had I been in the gallery at the Nuremburg trials, I'd have bawled like a baby when they sentenced those evil Nazi war criminals if even one of them started with the quivering lip routine.

And when is someone going to put Evan on a diet for crying out loud?

Oh, and as for this really enjoyed the parts I remember. Like you bumping your head and stuff...

10:32 PM

Megan - My bad on the newspapers reference. The only newspaper we get is the Mormon Times. I should have just said "the stack of magazines...", but I published this post at 1:00 a.m. so my editing skillzz waz totally whack.

9:02 AM
Sandy said...

We have an acre of land...and last year, we ate (hid) zucchini in EVERY meal for nearly a month. That's some pretty serious self-sufficiency right there.

And thanks for the shout-out for Old Man Cooper. WY is indeed a happenin' place.

AND, as for the freakshow... you're more of an opening act. J and I are a total of 12 feet 9 inches. BOO-YAH!

6:14 PM

Sandy - It was your "In Wyoming we shop at the garbage dump..." comment from a few weeks ago that inspired the Old Man Cooper line. Thanks for that. I think you and your husband may be one of the only couples we have ever met who beat us in the combined couple height department.

Therefore, we humbly accept the BOO-YAH! you shoved right up in our grill.

6:40 PM
Julie said...

Dude! I live 20 miles from Pocatello! That's even right after the weekend of my self-thrown birthday party, Juliepalooza. Consider you and your wife invited.

9:25 PM
Michael said...

thanks for my 2:06 pm shout out! and there's always comedy to be found at the biltmore! good job for pulling out the british accent.

8:54 AM
shelley said...

oops, that was shelley - i was signed in as michael...

and you may not have to turn in your man card for crying during the cancer routine, but you DO have to turn it in for getting goosebumps whilst TALKING ABOUT (not even watching) the mia michael's addiction routine. try talking your way out of THAT one!!!

8:58 AM

Shelley - Like I told you at the time of the infamous goosebump incident - you happened to be talking to me about the SYTYCD "Addiction" routine. I was just politely listening and giving the appropriate "uh-huh" and "yeah" when necessary. While you droned on and on and on, I mentally checked out and went to my "happy place" to relive Derek Fisher nailing two huge three-pointers to seal the Lakers' NBA title. THAT gave me goosebumps, not you going, "Blah blah blah blah...addiction...blah blah blah..."

(BTW - You. Are. DEAD!)

11:28 AM
Chief said...

I found you and I am ecstatic!

I have to say, I was a nanny in Asheville for 6 months and I remember this tour well. I as of very age impressionable and bored to tears.

The John Mayer reference as so spot on it made me soil thanks.

6:54 PM
Melissa said...

I loved the Fat Floats movie you described. Totally made me laugh, along with the rest of this post. So dang hilarious.

8:02 PM

I will be coveting today in hopes of some spiritual enlightenment.


1:51 PM
LadyLaurelin said...

I live about an hour away from Asheville, so I visit the town often, but the first weekend in June of this year marked my first visit to the Biltmore. Apparently it was appalling to everyone around me that my husband and I weren't willing to shell out the bucks to visit... but anyway...

So much of your post had me laughing - the McDonalds comments (back in December, I remember being stuck in there when the self-playing piano got stuck on "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and would stop half way through, only to start again at the beginning...), the John Mayer gargoyle, the boring shrubs, and the "pot-head". I've got that same picture!

Anyway, I hope your stay in my area was all you hoped it would be - it sounds like you had a great time.

And congrats on your anniversary!

6:15 AM
What a Girl said...

My grandparents lived in Tryon which is a tiny adorable town an hour from Ashville. We visited Biltmore every so often and I would always wonder if my "real parents", the Vanderbilts, would recognize me and make me stay there and live with them at Biltmore.

8:21 AM