For as long as I can remember, probably before I was born, there has been an annual King family reunion. For years, the gathering was held in the town of Nevada, Missouri, the location being about equidistant for most Oklahoma and Missouri residents. We filled the local motels on the first weekend after Labor Day, then met at the city park. There was an old shelter house on the grounds, but with limited facilities. It had a tiny sink, a faucet, and one electrical outlet. The lone, smelly pit bathroom was but a leisurely stroll from the shelter unless you were drinking beer and if that were the case, the distance increased in a non-liner fashion to about three miles.
Another problem was the lack of activities available for anyone under the age of 65 ½, (that crowd being quite content to talk for two days about the weather and their latest operations). Other than the swings–which held the attention of the little ones for just under seven seconds–the kids could either wade in the muddy creek or chase squirrels; that was it. And the young-un population was growing rapidly. Clearly, it was time for a change of venue.
Someone came up with the grand idea of moving the reunion to a resort near Branson, Missouri. It seemed ideal. The drive was slightly longer but hey, you got Silver Dollar City right next door for Pete’s sake. What more entertainment could the kiddies want? Plus, the lodge boasted of not one, but three swimming pools, a hot tub spa, an arcade hut, bicycles to rent, jet skies, and the latest rage, zip lining; a veritable smorgasbord of activities. Most rooms were nicely furnished and within a two minute walk of a large shelter with multiple tables and two giant grills. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, how about rain? It rained Friday evening for the hamburger dinner. It rained all day Saturday for the traditional big dinner, and it rained Sunday morning for the biscuits and gravy breakfast. It rained on the group zip line outing. It rained morning, noon, and night. The sign on the spa read: Closed Due to Weather. But the rain was only part of the problem for this particular reunion, it got worse.
The resort is so popular for group events, that the shelter house must be reserved months in advance. This was done, six months ago to be specific. But wait, even with this ridiculous time interval, we found that we couldn’t get the shelter for the traditional second weekend after Labor Day, it had all ready been spoken for we were told. Curses. Okay, we agreed to take the following weekend.
You folks come on down and enjoy. If you have any problems, any problems at all, just give us a call.
There was a problem, a big one. The problem was that another group began gathering at the shelter on Saturday afternoon, just hours before our family’s scheduled feast. “Who are these intruders?” we mumbled. “Surely they’ll leave soon. Did they not notice the huge banner, King Family Reunion, prominently displayed between the pillars?”
They did, and they didn’t care! Seems that this bunch was under the asinine assumption that it was they who had reserved the shelter for this date, not the King family, and we had some nerve for suggesting otherwise. It was a standoff. Both groups eyed each other, we from the rainy parking lot and they from the dry shelter.
A female envoy was dispatched to the enemy camp suggesting that if they could perhaps wind up their activities in a reasonable amount of time, say a couple hours, we could all eat, drink, and be merry. The offer was rejected, not only rejected, but dismissed with snide remarks–something along the lines of, “sending a woman to do a man’s job.” Uh oh.
Threats were muttered. Angry looks thrown. Battle lines drawn. The street between us suddenly transformed into a no-mans-land. Was it to be a family feud? Legendary perhaps? One not unlike the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s? Nope. Didn’t happen. The opposing forces called the law…the po-lice.
The boys in blue stepped from the squad car in full uniform, badges, guns, tasers, and asked what the problem was. One of our group whispered that these cops were notorious for their indiscriminate use of tasers. I quietly slid behind the biggest guy I could find.
The po-lice listened as our spokesman eloquently explained our position using a minimum of mild profanities, a feat worthy of note, especially when this particular individual is under the influence of adult beverages. The decision was made to drive to the office and talk to the folks in charge, the very ones responsible for this travesty of justice. Oh, and the cops suggested we remove the King Family Reunion banner while they watched. Seemed like a good idea.
Needless to say, the issue was not resolved at the office. The trespassers were not evicted. It was our word against theirs and the resort’s erroneous record keeping held up as the deciding factor as to who would stay dry and who would get wet. The only reasonable thing to do was have another beer and make the best of it. And we did.
A line of tables was arranged under an overhang in front of the rooms. Food was lined up, cafeteria style, with the usual goodies and all the trimmings and we packed on the obligatory pounds like we do every year. Some of the dishes might have been a little watery. There was that.
However, we did learn a lesson. Be prepared. Next year we plan to post guards and put up several strings of razor wire. Maybe a guard dog or two. We’ll draw straws for the first watch.