Oh for crying out loud, Mother, before you say no, would you just look at me for one minute? I mean, really, really look at me? I’m 15 years old, Mother, and it’s a camping trip, for Heaven’s sake, not a hootenanny with liquor and women and dancing. Jim and all the boys are going, so why can’t I? I don’t care if it is a weekend that Dad will be home for once! What is your loony fixation on us always being together, looking at each other, like some kind of batty happy family?

I can’t? I can’t go on the trip? Fine. As you wish, Mother. I’ll stay home, and see Dad, dear old precious Dad, and listen to him talk about his business trip to Scranton and pretend to be interested. What? Trenton, then. We’ll, all of us, really look at Trenton, and for just a few moments, we’ll completely and totally appreciate Trenton, wonderful, wonderful Trenton, New Jersey. All right, Mother? I’ll see Trenton for what it really is, if it kills me.

Take me back, back inside the house, to wait for Dad. But first, wait. One more look at what I’m giving up. Goodbye, fun. Goodbye, camping trip to North Conway. Goodbye, Lester and George Simpson and Jim MacMurray, and Caleb Masters, and your pet squirrel you named Hastings, for the Battle of Hastings. Goodbye to scary and improbable stories about Civil War ghosts told around the campfire, and walking around the woods in our long johns, and scaring the living poop out of George by pretending to be a bear trying to get into his tent. Goodbye to peeing on the fire. And reciting excerpts from The Odyssey and falling asleep in Lester’s lap after a few sips from the flask of the bourbon he snuck out of the house. And goodbye to having one second of fun in my life without my mother just ruining it, ruining everything, just like she always does, ‘cause she’s a mother, and that’s what mothers do, and they never even realize it! Oh, and goodbye to hearing about something other than the industrial growth of Trenton, New Jersey. Oh, camping trip! You are too wonderful for anybody to have ever realized you! How could anyone, anyone—

Yes, Mother, thank you. I do like to think of myself as a poet. I’m ready to send Jim a note now. What’s that? Well, look at you. You’re a saint, Mother. An absolute saint.