Get off the road

Alone, I travel,
Amongst the idiots, dazed,
my foot on the brake…

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There are some people who are just too stupid to drive. Yesterday, while merging onto the interstate, I encountered a convention of them: A charlie foxtrot of about 25 of the worse, most inane drivers in the history of motorized travel. Here is what I encountered in a mere 2 miles of highway driving.

1. Daydreamers. These are the people I’d like to believe are merciless, but who I really think are just so totally air-headed they don’t realized they are driving stupid. When I’m in the right lane and come upon an on ramp, what do I do? I look around, see if I can pull over to give the mergers room, or slow down/speed up so they have a good area to merge in. Daydreamers do none of this. And by some sadistic coincidence, they match my speed and location leaving me nary a place to merge either in front or behind them. I’m forced to slow way down, creating a dangerous merge, and then try to jump in behind them before I run out of road. Since today I was, as I said, in a CF of idiots, this was not easy. I’d like to believe they were limited to the slow lane, but alas, they were scattered across all three lanes of traffic. How each managed to fire enough synapses to actually drive a car is a mystery.

2. Mario Andretti wanna-be’s. These are the people who lease cars they can’t afford so they can drive something badass… and then drive like an ass, badly. High speed lane, middle lane, wait, you can’t pass me, high-speed lane, fasterfasterfaster, wait, middle lane, hey! what’s that mini van doing, coming over, screw the blinker, oh crap, there’s my exit, screech, I made it… how cool am I. You aren’t cool. You are a prick. And there were 4 of you in front of me today. Thanks for the blood pressure spikes.

3. Mr. I”m Going the Speed Limit, So There. This is THE most immature driver on the planet. Their speed limit induced self-righteousness makes me want to slam into their trunks at 55 mph.  They say things like “I’m going the speed limit, who cares if I’m in the high-speed lane” all the while people pile up behind them who want to (shockingly) go faster than the speed limit. I’m not advocating speeding (although I do it regularly). I’m simply saying that if you are in the high-speed lane you should be going, gee, I don’t know, high speed?  Can you count? If there are more than 2 cars visible in your rear view mirror and they seem exceptionally close, GET OUT OF THE WAY! Thanks to the ding-a-lings of this breed yesterday, the Mario Andretti’s were gamed into being even more ridiculous than usual. I’m not sure who is worse.

I was ever so grateful that my journey only required a few miles on the interstate. That was long enough to wonder if I had entered some parallel dimension, where some new force, stronger than gravity, had somehow brought all these cars together in a single grouping.  A single grouping of idiots hell-bent on making me scream obscenities and gesture mutely inside my car.

My request: if you recognize yourself above, please take some remedial classes or something. You are a danger to yourself and others. If you choose not to repent, then promise to let someone else teach your children how to drive — or better yet, no breeding at all; let’s nip that gene pool right now.  Thank you.

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Men, Magazines and Me

A sewage eating
rodent died in Frank’s colon
gack…help…must…not…breathe….
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I have been trying for ages to find something to write about that would fit the above haiku. It is one of my all time favorites, obviously not for its artistic quality but for how I believe every person living with a grown man can identify with it and readily reflect back to their own version.

I know, it’s gross, but if you are here looking for high art, then I suggest the back button. (Note, my last posting was the anomaly, not this one…)

Anyway, my inspiration was cleaning. About once a month, usually with the waxing moon, I am possessed enough to clean and straighten the house to mother-in-law acceptability. This time, as I was working my way through one of the bathrooms (“… playdoh goes downstairs… coat hanger to the closet… legos to AB’s room… fork (fork!?! eww, who eats in here!?) to the kitchen…”) I came across our requisite stack of magazines. Well, HIS requisite stack of magazines. If there is a publication about something with wheels, he receives it at alarmingly quick intervals. And then he reads each one, cover to cover.

In 30 minute increments.

Twice a day.

In one of two bathrooms.

Yes, I have two bathrooms containing stacks of his magazines.

Now, I have no issue with his love of literature. I have no issue with the regular exercising of his internal organs. My issue is that said literature keeps expanding said exercise periods such that I’m not sure he does anything but poop between dropping off the kids in the morning and picking our son up before lunch. I also resent the number of trees killed between his magazine obsession and, well, his other paper filled endeavors.

It wouldn’t be so bad if it were just a few magazines. I mean, as a guest in someone’s house, it is always interesting to nose about in their bathroom reading material on your way to picking through the medicine cabinet, right? It gives great insight about your friends, and provides much gossip for the car ride home. But I’m a little self-conscious about what people must think when looking through ours… Here is what I imagine goes through their head.

1. Good grief, how much reading can one man do in the bathroom?

2. What’s the difference between Rod & Custom and Hot Rod Magazine? All the cars look the same.

3.  This is a book called “Building A Shed”. It has 218 pages. What in god’s name does he do in here?

4. Street Rodder? Car Craft? Really? I didn’t know that there were this many magazines about cars. See point 2… I’m confused. Wait, is that a hot chick on the cover… cool.

5. Fine Homebuilding Magazine. Never heard of it. “15 different ways to put in stair railings”. Man that sounds boring.  What’s in the medicine cabinet…

And then they emerge, a little shell-shocked, because the medicine cabinet only reaffirms their belief that we are a little weird  (6 different types of children medicines, most out of date, 3 tampons, 2 tile samples and bag of cough drops).

Oh well. I picked him nearly 20 years ago, so I guess I’m stuck with him (plus, as I’ve said before, I’m no picnic either).  I’ll just keep buying Febreeze and insisting that he purge the magazines every 2 months or so.

And to potential visitors, you have been forewarned. (Apologies in advance.)

Road Trip! Our Time in the Car

Doritos cheese prints
dot the windows, evidence
of too long car trips

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It’s spring break time, and so we find ourselves driving 10 hours to see grandmamma and granddad. Yes, I said driving. And yes for those of you keeping score, I have a 9-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy.

You might ask why we don’t fly instead. I will usually reply with some lame reason like “well by the time we get to the airport 2 hours early, get checked in, catch the flight, arrive, and then drive to my parent’s house, it takes almost as long to drive… plus it’s way cheaper”.

The real truth is when you travel by air there are witnesses. When you travel by car… no one really pays attention to what you say or do. If you have small/medium kids like I do, you understand what I mean. In the airport, when your kid asks you for the 379th  time “when will the plane get heeeerrrreeee” and you narrow your eyes and talk raspily through your teeth, replying “it will never get here and I’ll sell you to that sweaty man in the next row if you don’t stop asking”, well, undoubtedly someone will hear you and report it to security. However, in the car, well bwah hah hah…

Thankfully, our road trips have evolved to be not too terrible journeys.  The kids are old enough now to independently operate movie devices, milk cartons and hamburger wrappers. Nevertheless, our trips are marked by some regular features that make me wonder why we keep doing them.

Characteristics of Our Typical Car Trips

  1. Bottomless pit syndrome. This is where the adults and the kids find it impossible to fill up.  It has nothing to do with the fact that we are eating food with the nutritional value of lead paint, I’m sure. There is just something about driving that causes tremendous calorie expenditures that must be offset. (Point in fact: 5 minutes after departure for this trip, the kids started asking for snacks.)
  2. Shotgun car sicknesses. When you aren’t driving, you are in charge food, drink and electronics, meaning you spend a spectacularly large amount of time turned backward interacting with the kids. When this happens, there is some bizarre worm-hole-parallel-universe the car enters where all the roads are twisty and the driver (Frank) suddenly has a seizure which renders him incapable of steering smoothly.  It never fails; bring on the nausea. Eight times out of ten, I drive 100% of the time in these journeys for precisely this reason.
  3. Mis-timed cravings (the evil companion of #1).  The only time I ever want a DQ Blizzard (Oreo is best) is right after we pass the only exit in 120 miles where there is a DQ.  I look over just in time to see those red letters mock me from the sign of the combo truck stop/adult bookstore/fireworks store/Dairy Queen, but we are already past the ramp. Dammit! I spend the next 120 miles scanning each exit ramp “ood sign hoping beyond hope to see those two letters again…
  4. Slow Leak Affliction. This is something I suffer from. It usually only strikes when I’m a passenger. The symptoms are as follows: hand up in the universal symbol for stop, other hand gripping something and a sharp intake of air through gritted teeth (thus the “slow leak” name). It isn’t pretty… I’m not proud… and there is no cure.
  5. I don’t like that movie anymore disease. We have two devices where we have loaded the kids’ favorite movies for their driving enjoyment. However, about 2 hours into the road trip the kids usually declare that they no longer like ANY of these movies and they want something new. This is where the anonymity of a car ride is critical, because what shotgunner does next is usually best not witnessed.  
  6. Inopportune Sleepiness Disorder.  We tend to start the southbound trip after school, so that the kids spend as much of the time sleeping as possible.  I usually don’t have trouble staying alert while driving, but there are times, about 8 hours in, when no matter how much fresh air or cruise-control-enabled tap dancing I do, I can’t say awake. So we pull over, Frank gets a caffeinated beverage and I settle into the passenger seat, so very ready for sleep.  And I wait… and wait… and wait… and almost never, ever am I able to sleep. Why is it just 15 minutes ago I was a poster child of risky behavior behind the wheel and now I am as awake as a toddler after Halloween? Happens every time.
  7. The ob-NOXIOUS passenger. Someone always wants to stop at White Castle or Krystals to fill said bottomless pit. Always. And this “someone” proceeds to, a few hours later, try to kill us all via his own brand of chemical warfare. Oh my god. I don’t mind the occasional crop dusting this “someone” does while meandering around the house. But to dutch oven so-called loved-ones while encased in a metal machine doing 75 mph in the rain, well, that’s just unkind. 

Happy road trip everyone!

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