We got up at 6:00 today. Well, Amanda got up at 6:00 today. I got up eighteen minutes later when she got out of the bathroom. I jumped in the shower and she ran out to grab a breakfast- a muffin and coffee for her, an English muffin with egg and cheese and a smoothie for me. She picked up a smoothie for Michael too, who got to our place right at 7:00. Thusly prepared, we headed off to Beulaville.

We got to Amanda’s grandparents’ place in Beulaville at about 7:45, and Karen and Phil got there just a few minutes after. Peggy, Amanda’s grandmother, wasn’t feeling well- some new medicine had been bothering her stomach, so she didn’t go. The rest of us piled into the Karenmobile and started off for The Streets at Southpoint in Durham. We made pretty good time and got there a little after 9:30 I think. Ben and Jessica Lambeth were already there- they’d gotten there just a little while before the rest of us. My family showed up pretty soon after that- mom and dad (Rhonda and Jerry Dotsey), Andra Josh and Jackson Sawyer, my brother Adam Dotsey and his girlfriend Renee Sikes (who also drove up from Wilmington, but were staying the night at my parents’ house) and just a little later, my aunt, Reggie Horner. Funny enough, Amanda’s cousins on her dad’s side, Stanton and William Pickens, also showed up. After we went through the Body Exhibition their parents, Ona and Peter Pickens came by and met us all for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory.

I’m not sure how to describe the Body Exhibition without it sounding pretty sick. It was a display of preserved and skinned or dissected human bodies, organs and other parts. It was really fascinating, particularly, I thought, the circulatory system room. The fact that they could preserve such tiny arteries and such in the form of a body was just amazing. I think Karen said she heard that they injected something like a plaster into the arteries then caused the rest of the body to disintegrate. They had several embryos and fetuses on display too- all miscarriages, by the way. It’s amazing to me that there are people who see a fetus even at ten weeks and don’t think of it as a baby.

I had Jackson with me for most of the hour and a half or so that we spent in the Body Exhibition. He kept pointing at things and saying “Eww!” or “Nasty!” It’s amazing how much more he’s expressing himself in his words now. I mean, he even expressed a full opinion when I was first holding him outside the place when he said, “I like your shirt.” I was just astounded by the implications of that statement from a little person who is not yet three years old. I love that kid. I was tickling him and he kept saying, “That’s enough, Zach!” between his laughs. I’d just say, “No it’s not!” and tickle him again. He’d laugh and tell me that was enough again. Rinse and repeat.

Andra told me that last night she was eating popcorn and and Jackson took it away from her, saying, “That’s enough, Mommy.”

Anyway, back to the Body Exhibition (and a little more of Jackson). There were several full bodies in the exhibition that had sections of them cut away to show the musculature or organs or cross sections ( one was cut in three layers front to back, another was cut in five sections left to right) or what have you. Jackson was freaked out by several of the upright full body displays, starting with the full skeleton in the first room. He asked what it was and I told him it was a skeleton. I don’t think I can even attempt to write his attempt at the word, but it was a good effort. He also called it a monster and got a little fussy when I leaned in to take a closer look while holding him.

In each room where there was a full body display he would ask what it was, so instead of trying to explain it every time I started naming them. John was kicking a soccer ball, Steve was just standing there, Celia was another one that was just standing there, as was Jenny. I didn’t have him in the last room, but I was going to call the one diving at a volleyball Juan I think. Steve scared him the most. He told me that Steve was going to get him, but I assured him that I wouldn’t let Steve get Jackson.

The whole thing, as I said was fascinating. I thought I’d get hung up on the fact that we were looking at real, dead people. I mean, some of them still had a little hair on their heads or chins or… other places. In a way it was hard to think of them as real because a lot of it looked a bit like what you’d expect to see on a horror movie. Aside from that though, I think it was just such a fascinating look at the human body that there really wasn’t much of a hangup.

After we all finished going through the Body Exhibition we walked over to The Cheesecake Factory. I know, especially since I though one of the layered women’s innards looked a bit like tortellini you’d think it’d be hard to think of eating, but everyone was hungry anyway. Mom and Dad decided to go back to Rougemont and maybe cook out, which was a shame since I only got to see them for a little while. Part of it was money, since I guess they’d probably have been picking up the tab for Andra, Josh and Jackson, which I can understand. Also while we were waiting we have Ben his birthday present, which was a picture of some fishing poles I’d taken at dusk on Portsmouth Island when we went camping and fishing there last October.

When my family started leaving I went with them to give my mom a few things and by the time I got back our party was seated. Ben and I chatted about his and Jessica’s trip to India to visit his parents as well as work and that sort of thing. We had a nice time with everyone there and we sampled three different kinds of cheesecake for dessert. I think we were all sufficiently stuffed.

We finished lunch then Ben, Jessica, Amanda and I went by the Apple Store. I just wanted to take a glance at iPhone accessories. Andra, by the way, was fascinated by the iPhone when she was looking at it before they left. After we got out of there we went by Ona and Peter’s house. Amanda, Peter and I rode in Ben and Jessica’s car. On the way there Peter mentioned that he Googled himself and my site came up. If you’re looking at this, Peter, hi! See, it’s mostly a pretty boring site.

They have a pretty nice place. There was a lot of stuff to check out and explore inside and outside the house. They had two goats and a mule or donkey and lots of guineas. The guinea pen had pictures of the chickens that came before them up on tin signs, some facing out and some facing in for the guineas’ viewing pleasure. They also had a garden maze, which was pretty cool. Inside the house they had all kinds of painted portraits, a real suit of armor, a train set running around a room, and a number of intricate paper models of buildings and such made out of paper.

We said goodbye to Ona, Peter, Stanton (William had something to do after lunch) and Dasia, their dog-child, as well as Ben and Jessica, who followed us back out to 40, but went west when we headed east. We stopped off in Beulaville to drop off Earl and pick up our car then drove on back to Wippington (Jackson’s pronunciation). Michael picked up an ESPN magazine, which is still being delivered here, and left. Amanda and I both had to use the bathroom and, since she got out first, she went over to Bonnie and Dave Narron’s across the street to pick up Bruce, who spent the day over there. Bonnie later told me that Bruce had been watching Dave’s brother eat and when Cream, their dog, went over to beg from him, Bruce would bark at her. It’s funny because Bruce is probably as big as Cream’s head.

We watched Last Kiss on HBO On Demand. I identified with a bit of that movie. Not saying I’d cheat on Amanda with Rachel Bilson, but I think most guys my age can surely find at least one thing to identify with in that movie. I thought it was really good. I can’t think of anything Zach Braff has done wrong yet.

Zach Dotsey