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It's not vacation without fighting

OPINION

  • "National Lampoon's Vacation"
"National Lampoon's Vacation"
October 04, 2012|By Jen Kim, @thisjenkim | For RedEye

This is why I don't hang out with my family.

Yes, it's all coming back to me now as my mom unsuccessfully tries to calm down my dad, who is yelling his head off about a too-hot jalapeno sauce. My brother is laughing hysterically, which further infuriates my father. My sister is trying and failing to discreetly pick up after the dog, who decided to do a No. 2 on the restaurant patio. My head is in my hands, and I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

"Ah, this is what family vacations are like," I remember sadly.

This may be the reason it has been approximately 15 years since our last family vacation, back when my siblings and I were fresh teenagers, still unable to escape the confines of mobile family time, no matter how traumatizing the circumstances.

Why was it that each trip, no matter the locale or distance, would always result in screaming and tears (and occasionally vomit)? From a simple day trip to Disneyland to a weeklong jaunt to the Grand Canyon, no vacation resembled those experienced by the all-American Tanner Family on "Full House."

Growing up, I had always expected to become that sitcom family. You know, life lessons solved in 30 minutes (minus commercial breaks), a really annoying neighbor who provided daily comic relief, and family vacations where everyone was too drunk on their love for each other to notice how cheesy it all was.

My parents never watched these shows. Technically, my siblings and I weren't allowed to either, because TV was forbidden except for the occasional PBS documentary. Perhaps that is why we never took the right vacations—because my parents did not have the role models we had.

Now, more than a decade later, my L.A.-based family has taken plane ride to visit me. They even bring my beloved dog, an 8-year old Maltese who can scream and yelp like no other. (Well, maybe like my dad.)

Immediately it becomes clear that brining the dog is a bad idea because we realize our trip will be limited to outdoor seating and public parks. My mother is allergic to everything. My brother hates being outside. And my dad hates the dog.

Still, how difficult can it be? It will be only 48 hours together.

They are also meeting my live-in boyfriend, who has never spent more than half an afternoon with either of my parents. They immediately greet him in Korean and continue to converse with him in Korean throughout the rest of the trip. They must know he does not speak or understand a word of their native tongue (except the bad words I taught him long ago). I am baffled that his blond hair and green eyes don't give him away.

Still, we manage to trek through. A misfit family and a dog—fighting, screaming, barking and sneezing along the way.

You can almost hear the laugh track in the distance.

Jen Kim is a RedEye special contributor.

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