Last weekend, we loaded up the family truckster and hit the highway. We were feeling wild. We were feeling adventurous. We were feeling a tad bit nauseated from some rather ill-advised turkey jerky bought at a Tyler, Texas Chevron station. But that didn’t matter because we were going off the grid, baby. Our family of four was on the move. We were like the legendary Jack Kerouac—if Jack Kerouac had driven a sensible, yet stylish Volvo sedan and listened to “The Best of The Miami Sound Machine” until his wife threw the CD out the window at a passing armadillo. The world was ours!
As we peeled out of our driveway, we didn’t know which way the wind would blow us. We didn’t know what to expect. In fact, we were such badasses that we didn’t even know where our crazy trip would end up. (But we really hoped it’d end up in Shreveport, Louisiana since that’s where I programmed the GPS to take us and also where I’d put down a deposit for a non-smoking room at the Hilton.)
As we passed through the sophisticated towns of east Texas—each with at least one gun shop and one hair salon/satellite repair center named “Hairy Situation”—our family relaxed and enjoyed the closeness of being together for six fun-filled hours. Or, as I put it around mile 100, “DEAR GOD, WHY DO ALL OF YOU LOSERS SMELL LIKE COOL RANCH DORITOS? WHY?! YOU’RE NOT EVEN EATING THEM! IT’S LIKE I’M TRAPPED IN A COAL MINE WITH A PACK OF DISGRUNTLED TACO BELL EMPLOYEES! I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE! I’M GONNA JUMP AND ROLL! JUST WATCH ME, SUCKERS!”
But then, after I apologized and was let back in the car, we all settled into the routine that would keep us occupied for the next 300 or so miles. That routine being: My husband Chris would talk about the car’s mileage, 9-year-old Sam would spout arcane college football statistics, 7-year-old Jack would work on his stand-up comedy routine and I would glowingly reminisce about my employment history.
Chris: Why, look! I’m getting 38 miles a gallon! Isn’t that fantastic? Before I was getting 36 miles a gallon, but now I’m getting 38 miles a gallon! I wonder if I’ll soon get 39 miles a gallon? Let’s discuss this for hours and hours!
Sam: Did you know that in 1948 the Central Michigan Chippewas led the Mid-America conference with the most rushing yards during a tornado? Here, let me tell you all about it in vivid detail.
Jack: What do you get if you cross me with a corn dog? A stick! Thank you ladies and gentlemen! I’ll be here all week!
Me: Then there was the year I worked in the gift wrap department at Macy’s. Until they fired me because my wrapping “made people sad.”
I think it’s obvious why we usually travel via airplane in four separate rows.
Many hours later, we finally arrived at our destination and headed off to the reason we were there in the first place: The University of Nevada v. Louisiana Tech football game. As we walked into the stadium to take our front row seats at the 50 yard line, Chris and the boys were decked out in Nevada jerseys and hats, which we thought was a great idea—until we noticed that the stadium had approximately 15,000 Louisiana Tech fans and just a pathetic 14 Nevada fans, including us. Needless to say, it was a bit intimidating. Especially when Nevada would score and the entire stadium fell silent except for our tiny row.
“Shhhh, don’t clap for Nevada,” I told Chris after I noticed two rifle-carrying cadets guarding a statue of the Louisiana bulldog mascot. “I’m a little worried for our safety.”
“Oh, yeah. Gotcha,” he answered. Then, “YEAH, BABY! THAT’S HOW YOU DO IT, NEVADA! WHOOOOO! SHUT ‘EM DOOOOWNNN!”
Meanwhile, since our seats were just 30 feet behind the Nevada team’s bench, the boys were able to hear all of the helpful tips the defensive line coordinator would offer to his players after a play. Thoughtful, neck-vein-bulging advice like: “PULL YOUR FUCKING HEAD OUT, THOMPSON! YOU’VE GOT TO FUCKING CRUSH THIS! NO MORE SHITHEAD PLAYS! ANNIHILATE THEM! FUCK, YEAH!”
I’m pretty sure I’m now just biding my time until the school calls to tell me that one of my boys is in the principal’s office for playing “Defensive Line Coordinator” at recess. (“What? I thought ‘Fuckface Tackle Dummy’ was just a football term, mommy!”)
The game looked like it was going to end in a Nevada victory, so when I saw another Wolfpack fan at the snack stand, I asked him if he was interested in forming a human chain to get out of the stadium. Unfortunately, he seemed like he’d rather take his chances being pummeled by Louisiana fans than risk touching my elbow, so we braved our way over to the locker room by ourselves. Chris and the boys then posed for a picture with Nevada’s amazing, Heisman contender of a quarterback while I looked up beginner jujitsu moves on my iPhone, and we then ran back to our car as fast as we could and laid rubber.
The next morning, fresh off a Waffle House bender, we said good-bye to the great state of Louisiana (which, in all honesty, has probably the friendliest people I’ve ever met) and got back in the family truckster for a speedy trip home.
Chris: I’m getting 39 miles to the gallon! Before I was getting 38, but now I’m getting 39! I wonder if I’ll ever get 40 miles to the gallon? Let’s discuss this for hours and hours!
Sam: Mommy, did you know that the San Dimas Community College Raptors led their division in most touchdown passes caught while humming show tunes? Here, let me tell you in vivid detail.
Jack: What’d the skunk say to the pickle? Hey, stinker! (knock, knock) Is this thing on?
Me: That was the summer I worked at the Port of Subs sandwich shop as the Oil and Vinegar Midshipsman. Until I was fired for having a “bad attitude.” Whatever. Like I needed that crappy job, anyway.
Six very long hours later, we screeched back into our driveway, flung open the car doors and ran off in four separate directions. Chris to his computer, Sam to his football, Jack to his toys and me to the couch with a glass of wine, a bowl of soup and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills on my DVR.
You know, just like Jack Kerouac would have done it.
I can hardly wait until next week when we drive to Nevada.
P.S. Congratulations to my Oregon Ducks! Woohoo! Here’s an amazing Duck video, if you’re into that sort of thing. (The good stuff starts at :38.)