Sunday, January 23, 2005

A Roadtrip With The Folks

A few months ago my mother called to inform me that my aunt had passed away and that the memorial would be in Sechelt B.C. on the weekend. Sad news but not overly shocking as she had not been doing very well over the past couple of years. My father thought it would be best if we all drove to Vancouver (13 hours) and then we could take the ferry (3 hours) over to Sechelt. A sixteen hour drive - to attend a memorial - sounds fun right? So now then how about a little road trip with the folks?
My parents are both highly educated, witty, intelligent, and wonderful people but there is something about driving anywhere with them for any length of time that makes me want to gauge my eyes out with a rusty butter knife.
Oh-nooo... I feel some flashbacks coming…

Driving with them - Flashback #1
In the summer of 1989, we took a family vacation to Kelowna, B.C. I was 16 and I distinctly remember thinking that my parents were trying to ruin my life by dragging me along on some lame vacation specifically when my best friend Dawn’s parents had already said that I could stay with them for the week. SO, I didn’t even have to go! My parents made me go with them anyway and naturally I hated them for it. I was also sure that that slut Tracey was probably going to take this opportunity to try and steal my boyfriend away while I was gone. Proof in itself that my parents were ruining my life.

To say that my father is a pretty thrifty guy is a huge understatement. The man never and I mean NEVER pays retail. He can smell a sale like a shark smells a drop of blood in the ocean and he knows how to maximize coupon usage to achieve the cheapest possible solution – to do otherwise would be wasting his hard earned money. Now if he can meet all of the afore mentioned criteria and the establishment also happens to be giving something away FOR FREE as a promotion, well my father is camping out for some of that action.

At the time, there was this “free with fill” promotion going on at a local gas station that also conveniently offered bonus airmiles as well. My mother and I were instructed by my father to ONLY gas up at that location until we were notified differently. The “free with fill” items were these cassette tapes, of the ‘you can collect them all’ musical compilation variety entitled: The Best Hits of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s etc.

Me: Dad can I borrow the car?
My Father: Do you have five bucks for gas?

Me: Sigh… Yeah.
My Father: Okay here’s another ten dollars. Make sure that you fill up at the gas station on 149 Street and make sure you get the airmiles and this week’s tape.

Me (groan): Okay.
My Father: Oh and here use this coupon – it’s for a free wash.

We were about an hour into the nine hour drive to Kelowna, B.C. We were coming up to Red Deer, when my dad pulled out the big tape cassette holder briefcase, you remember the kind lined in red velvet on the inside. I shuddered. My father announced that it now was time for us to be entertained by the complete set of the “free with fill” tapes. At 16, surprisingly, I wasn’t really into ‘the best of the classics’ type of music. To tell you the truth, even now when I hear the Big Bopper bellow “Hellooooo Baby! You know what I like!” I die a little on the inside…

So for the next 4 hours:
My Father (two notes into the song): Do you know who this is?
My Mother: Sounds like Buddy Holly?
My Father (shaking his head): Not even close, this is THE GREAT Roy Orbison. I have to tell you this sounds great! Cathy, doesn’t this sound great?

My Mother (for the millionth time): Yes dear, it sounds pretty good.
My Father: You would think that free music would be of inferior quality but I have to say this is sounding great. Oh, Do you know who this is?

My Mother: Sounds like Ritchie Valens?
My Father: Are you kidding me, this is THE GREAT… and so on…

My Mother: Lexa, this is the music that probably inspired the groups you listen to today. Like those Jalapeno Peppers.
Me (losing my mind): It’s the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – UGH!

Driving with them - Flashback #2
My Father will tell you that he is a superior driver. I would call him an aggressive driver. My Mother could provide you with many more colorful names for my father depending on the situation but that’s neither here nor there.

My Mother (looking over): Jesus Paul, slow down.
My Father (grumpy): I wouldn’t have to slow down if we would have been out of the house at 8:00am like we were suppose to. Now we are WAY off schedule.

My Mother: I’m sorry, WHO couldn’t find his wallet?
My Father: You have to quit moving my stuff. If you wouldn’t move my stuff it would have been where I left it.

My Mother: Paul, I didn’t touch your wallet and where you left it was in with the dry cleaning.
My Father: Exactly!

My Mother (looking out the window as a red car went speeding past): Just look at that idiot – he is going to kill someone.
My Father (giddy): AHA! There’s my rabbit – heehee!

Definition of a rabbit: An idiot driver who is speeding excessively while driving down the highway, thus permitting a superior driver to follow closely behind said idiot driver without risk of getting a speeding ticket. Naturally the police will spot and pull over the idiot driver thereby giving the superior driver enough time to slow down avoiding penalty and give a little wave to the idiot driver while the police officer is issuing his speeding ticket.

Driving with them - Flashback #3:
The family dog, Licorice was a cute little poodle terrier unit who also happened to have a severe doggie car ride-a-phobia. We knew this, so during extended car trips my mother would go out of her way to cater to the dog’s comfort and emotional well-being. She would pack up the dog’s dish, toys, chew bones, a baggie full of treats, a bottle of water, the leash, a few more treats, the dog’s pills, the dog’s brush, a package of chicken wieners (because the dog had one chicken wiener every day with her dinner for 17 years), a couple of balls, and the dog’s blanket. She would create a special area in the back seat of the car for the dog to sit. She would spread out the dog’s little blanket and arrange the dog’s favorite toys and throw down some treats and finally she would put the dog in its nest like designated area. The car would start to move and Lic the dog would stiffen up and start to shake and pant profusely every now and then emitting a deep guttural moan.

My Mother (soothing): My goodness Lic calm down. It’s oookay. Gooood dog. Lexa, pat Lic and tell her it’s okay.
Me (sigh + petting the dog): Good dog.

My Mother (reaching back and grabbing the dog): Okay come here Lic, you silly old girl.
Lic: pant, pant, pant, shake, wince, shiver, pant…

My Mother: Stop it Lic, you’re fogging up the windows. It’s oookay. Paul, look at this dog. Does she look okay to you?
My Father: She’s fine. Good Lic. Calm down. Good dog. Give her a cookie.

Lic: pant, pant, wheeze, pant, moan.

My Mother (concerned): She won’t eat the cookie. Look at this dog. I can’t believe you Lic, it’s like she’s having a bloody seizure. Look how much she’s shedding – Oh! There’s dog hair everywhere now.
My Father (irritated): Lic! Calm down Lic!

My Mother (worried): Do you think she has to go outside? Lic, do you have to get going? Go for a pee outside?

My Father: We are NOT stopping again until Jasper. The dog is fine.

At the ripe old age of 31, I have to tell you that I definitely vetoed the 16 hour drive to Sechelt B.C. with my parents. I once had to have a procedure called a sigmoidoscopy. I won’t get into the particulars but let’s just say it involved about three feet of fiberoptic tubing, my ass, and 100psi of air to ‘inflate’ the area so that the doctor could poke around and check things out. That being said, if I was forced to choose between reliving that procedure, or driving to Sechelt B.C. with my parents – well, pass me the hospital gown…

My Father: We can get out of town early, nice scenic drive – it’ll be fun. Remember that nice trip to Kelowna we took when you were in high school?
Me: Yeah so, I’m going to catch a flight. I’ll see you people there.

Sometimes it is nice to be a grown-up.


Blogger Scott said...

I started reading your post thinking: She's going to write a humorous anecdote about her aunt's funeral? What a sick, twisted woman. If anyone can do it, you can, but I'm glad you chose the other tack. (And I'm sorry about your aunt, by the way.) But you don't get my sympathy for the Roy Orbison bit -- try being on a road trip with your father's Willie Nelson tape for ten hours on end...

12:07 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

(I tried to post a similar post before, but it didn't come up -- or, um, if it IS up now, my apologies for the repeat...)

When I first started reading this post, I thought: She's going to make a light,funny post about her aunt's funeral -- what kind of sick, twisted satirist would do this? If anyone can, you can, but I was sorta relieved that you didn't. (I'm sorry about your aunt, by the way. But you don't get my sympathies for the Roy Orbison treatment. Try hours on end in the car with your father's Willie Nelson Christmas tapes...)

Oh, and I guess you should disregard my initial (somewhat mock)distaste of your suspected subject matter. Write what you want ABOUT what you want, and don't let too many blathering blogger comments (like mine) distract you from your own inner voice, the one that finds humor in places likely and unlikely...

1:00 AM  
Blogger Michele said...

Just stopping by to say hello. Yesterday, I asked a few of my readers to suggest a blog that they think should be the site of the day and deserves to be discovered simply because it is wonderful. honestyrain suggested your site and I can certainly see why.

Great post.

12:07 PM  
Blogger DrinkJack said...

Lexa - you have captured the perfect scene of a family vacation. I would have never thought of that excuse, but I am going to use it!

8:36 PM  
Blogger Angry Orange said...

So the real question is Lexa is are you going to punish your daughter with trips like this or are you going to let her stay at her best friends place?

10:19 PM  
Blogger blackdaisies said...

This cracked me up in nodding memories : ) Hmmmmm, I wonder if that is what my son thinks of our trips out to the coast, yoiks! Ah well, the torch must be passed I suppose and likely he will someday blog about being forced to listen to Ben Folds over and over and over again and the crazed drive and does mom HAVE to stop and take so many damn pictures?

sending the best to you and your family ...

10:03 AM  
Blogger Lexagirl said...

Scott - yes the Willie Nelson Christmas tunes definitely trumps the "free with fill" compilation tapes I had to endure.

Michele - thank you for your lovely comment

Angry Orange - Oh yeah, she'll be coming I am already devising new and interesting ways to torture and embarass her. Mwaahaha!

I have been getting emails regarding this post - one poor soul shared the experience of driving across Canada in a motorhome with her parents. Apparently, the mom got into SEVEN fairly minor (thank goodness)accidents while driving the thing. Loud insurance related conversations amongst the parents ensued throughout the entire trip. That must have been fun...

10:17 AM  
Blogger DrinkJack said...

I remembered this morning what "rabbits" were when I was growing up: "There's our front door"

8:40 PM  
Blogger darth said...

wow..this post brought back flashbacks to me too, lex. the funny/sad thing is my dad still wants to go on these trips with us, even tho we are all grown and have families of our own...we wouldn't even fit in a VAN now for gods sake.."come on, we can just squash in!"..."uh..we' you there, ok?"

11:19 PM  
Blogger La Chat Noir said...

Family road-trips ... such memories. Being able to purchase a plane ticket because you're an "adult" ranks right up their with having a bowl of ice cream for dinner and coming home any damn time you please, maybe not even until morning...

11:05 AM  
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2:48 AM  

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