The trip was a success! Nobody puked!

As far as I know, nobody even came close to puking. The four-hour car ride? Not an issue, although Magic School Bus doesn’t hold a 2-year-old’s attention the way Blues Clues or Elmo do. (Read a new book review in For What it’s Worth.) And Myowndaughter wanted to fly in a plane. Already she’s a spoiled traveler. She and her Sexymom had a great time at the South Carolina Aquarium, where Mod became acquainted with a certain toad, in the header.

I thought I might puke before my presentation. But the adrenaline kicked in just at the right time. I was able to say what I wanted to say and sound like I might even know what I was talking about. The crowd was polite. Nobody threw anything, anyway. Some asked questions.

My boss was there, and I obviously don’t meet her expectations for schmooziness, or interest in the whole damn thing. She expected me to take notes and report back to the higher ups — read: kiss ass. I got to use the family as an excuse for a distraction.

Being able to say, “I’m here with my family,” got me out of hanging around for the business-card trade. It also saved me from partying with a bunch of middle-aged pseudo-professionals cut loose from the asylum on the company tab. In other words, it kept me from facing my other reality.

The sexywife and I did stay up way later than usual, after 11, trying to catch the Oscars as possible — not that we’ve seen any of the contenders, we haven’t. We haven’t been to a movie since “Million Dollar Baby” in 2005. I think we were trying to retain some semblance of cool, of hip. The kid, too, stayed awake past 10. Trying to convince a toddler to go to sleep was fruitless. To her, staying in a hotel means she gets to destroy a strange new phone and run naked through endless carpeted hallways squealing at full force. We waited her out. She eventually fell face-down on the bed, her spring finally unwound.

The second night, after the last session of the first day — my session — the other conferencees were milling around, heading to the bar, planning their evenings. I was a little jealous. I figured most people thought I was being aloof. I represented the crown jewel organization of the group, the one that others either envy or hate. But, “I’m with my family,” and we headed out for an early meal. Despite having a 2-year-old I felt a little geriatric, like we were in a rush to get the early bird at Shoney’s. In fact, we got to the restaurant before they opened at 5 and spent 10 minutes talking to a retired couple on vacation.

A dining note: Our first night out we ate at a casual place and Myowndaughter spent most of the time crawling under the table and dancing in the aisle. The second night we ate at a pretty fancy place, and I didn’t think about Mod’s potential meltdown until my butt hit the chair — I looked up and Sexywife and I had the same expression on our face, realizing the possibility at the same moment. There we were, seated in the middle of a large elegant dining room. There was glass and China on the table, and food thrown in any direction would obviously soil white linens. I started to sweat. But Mod did great! She only screamed once, and nothing broke. She shoveled her food into her mouth like a rescued POW, but that didn’t draw many stares.

That night, after our long evening, we made our way back to the hotel room. We had to pass the conference hospitality room. It sounded a little rowdy, and as we passed I took a quick peek inside. Folks were throwing back beers and laughing, having a great time, just starting their night out. We headed upstairs to start the bedtime routine. It was getting late. It was almost 6:30.

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