I could tell that it was going to be a special day when, at breakfast, one of the robotic cowboys tried to pick up my wife. Honestly, it was the most active I’d seen them in our entire stay at the Grand Canyon Railway.
As we were going to breakfast, he was lounging in front of the restaurant. The children wanted their picture taken with him, so they both posed. My son insisted that Wifey be in the photo with him.
Wifey approached, and the cowboy (easily thirty years her senior) looked her up and down appreciatively and said “You’re just a little bit of everything, aren’t you, missy?”
She smiled and laughed appreciatively. I’d have punched the old codger, but he was carrying a fake gun, and he knew how to lazily point it at the ground, thus causing other people to slump over in incredibly unrealistic scenes of death.
Plus, and I am quite honest about this, I am a pussy.
During breakfast I discovered that the boy is fast turning into an evil genius. He was still smarting from yesterday’s breakfast, when his sister got a special cup and he didn’t. I was happy about the situation; we have no fewer than fifteen cups from various restaurants that give kids special “keeper” cups.
You wanna cut my carbon footprint? Stop giving me the damned plastic keepsake cups every meal. At this point I’m ready to pay extra for the non-keeper cup.
Anyways, the boy ordered milk for breakfast. This was a dead giveaway to us, because he drinks apple juice in the morning, and only apple juice.
“Why did you order milk?” I asked.
“I like milk,” he lied.
“He wanted the cup,” Wifey said as she looked out the windows for passing cowboys. “He saw her get a cup for milk yesterday, so he wants a cup, too.”
When the waitress returned, she gave them both their cups. The boy focused his 10,000-watt smile on her, the one he uses to get coeds to carry him around in 105 degree heat, and said sweetly “Can I please have an apple juice also?”
“Of course, sweetie!” She ran to get him an apple juice to go with his milk.
In a keeper cup.
I didn’t know whether to congratulate him or strangle him.
After breakfast, Wifey changed into a special outfit for the drive: her watermelon shirt. Now, the watermelon shirt is nothing special to speak of per se. But I will acknowledge that it accentuates her, um, assets. She also wore it because, as she pointed out, I won’t eat watermelon and thus “need all the help you can get.”
I would like to remind everyone that I am hung like a donkey on Viagra. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Thus we began our 800 mile drive to Carlsbad Caverns, with the children sorry to see the Grand Canyon left behind and Wifey somewhat aroused by the antiquated cowboy. All I got was a sunburn on my elbow from ill-applied sun block.
Oh, and I got a cowboy hat that Wifey bought me from the gift shop “just for laughs.”
I drove until lunchtime, when we stopped at an Arby’s somewhere in Arizona to refuel the car, take a leak, and eat lunch. Ah, America, where you can do all three at the same place. That’s four stops in Europe. Well, five if you don’t want to piss on the side of the road.
Inside the restaurant, they were watching MASH. And not just any MASH episode, either, it’s the one where the head doctor gets killed over the sea of Japan. You know, that’s exactly the uplifting message that I want on my mind as I’m driving cross-country.
After lunch, for the first time I asked Wifey to take the wheel on the long drive. She’s driven the short routes around town and stuff, but I’d done all the long drives. I like to drive, and it means that she has to deal with the kids. But my elbow was bothering me, and my fingers were starting to hurt from all the driving.
She’d no sooner left Arby’s than she started to channel her inner Mad Max.
The problem started when she found herself behind two SUV’s from Montana that were caravanning through New Mexico. They were in the lefthand lane going 72 MPH. Wifey was doing 78 MPH.
Wifey did not appreciate their choice of speeds, as the limit was 75. She tried several times to pass them, but they occasionally would speed up or slow down, and she couldn’t ever get it to work.
Finally she lost all sense of decorum and went off-roading to pass them. If I’d taken the wheel she was going to simultaneously double-bird them as we went by, but I refused to help her with her nefarious scheme.
It is possible that the Arby’s cup of ice that smashed into the lead SUV’s windshield came from me, but I doubt there are prints on it because I wiped it off real good.
Then we entered the “Safety Corridor” in New Mexico. As far as I can tell, there are four rules in a Safety Corridor:
The first rule of Safety Corridor is that you don’t tell anybody about Safety Corridor.
The second rule is that you must drive the speed limit or pay a double fine.
The third rule is that you have to turn on your lights.
The fourth rule is that you can’t litter.
Why there are hundred-mile stretches of long, flat roads designated “Safety Corridors” I have yet to figure out. They ought to call them “Boredom Corridors” or something. The whole state is weird.
By the time dinner rolled around, the window was completely encrusted with bugs, with only a small 2x3 inch square directly in front of the driver somewhat open for visibility. I’d given her a car that was completely clean, but she’d turned it into a bug house of horrors.
At one point she was hitting them three and four at a time, like an Orkin man on steroids. The girl was actually weeping for the bug holocaust going on before our eyes. Finally, in order to protect endangered species, I made her turn the wheel over to me.
“I don’t see what the big deal is,” she said. “It’s not like I’m hitting them on purpose.”
“That’s because you’re driving at mach one!” I said.
“I do not.”
“Then how come when I drive I hit a few bugs, but when you drive it’s like we’re motoring through the third plague?”
“Because you drive like my granny chauffeuring the pope.”
After dinner we switched back, with me taking the wheel and her taking over copilot duties again. Quite frankly, I was happy, since it always feels a little emasculating to be the copilot when your wife is driving. It’s like she’s carrying your balls in her purse or something.
Long after dinner, when all was dark and the children were dozing in the back seat, she started thinking about the cowboy again.
“You know what would be great?” she said to me.
“Maybe you could wear the hat tonight.”
“What, in the dark?”
“No,” she said coyly. “In bed.”
“Just the hat?”
“Well,” she said, “You don’t have any boots.”
“I could get some, ma’am, if that’s what you want.”
“Don’t do the accent,” she said. “You sound like a dork.”
“I do not!” I put on my best John Wayne. “I sound like the duke, ma’am.”
“Do you want me horny or angry?”
“Then shut the hell up.” Her advice is usually sound in this matter, so I took it. We drove for some time further, entering Texas. Apparently there’s no road that runs through New Mexico to Carlsbad; you have to pass through Texas.
“I’m going to slip into something more comfortable,” she said as she began rearranging her clothing. I swear I saw skin.
“I’m going to pull off to the side of the road for about ten minutes,” I said.
“No, you’re not.” Wifey was now largely disrobed on her torso, which in addition to captivating my interest had caused a noticeable swerve in the direction of travel of the car. “Keep your eyes on the road! I’m just taking off my bra!”
“And for my next trick I’ll shoot fire out my ass,” I said. “Not likely when you’re over there waving your ta-tas at me.”
“I am not,” and to prove it, she tossed her bra into the back seat.
Now really, what was I supposed to do? I groped her, just for good measure. HOOOONK! I almost died by semi.
“WATCH THE ROAD!” she yelled at me again.
“I’ve got a crazy idea,” I said. “Instead of me in the hat, why don’t you wear just the hat tonight?”
“Maybe I will, pardner.” she said it in a dorky cowboy accent, too, but I was nice enough to let her think it sounded sexy.
See? I’m not selfish, no matter what her therapist says.
Then she popped on the hat and gave me a little treat, flashing me by raising her shirt. I couldn’t see shit in the dark, but I decided to hoot appreciatively yet quietly lest the children awake.
It was right then that I decided to do what any red-blooded, American male would do when faced with the situation that he had an amorous and braless spouse in the passenger seat on a dark, deserted highway: I pulled down my pants.
Listen, the car has cruise control and the road was straight. Besides, there wasn’t anybody out at damn near midnight around here.
“What the hell are you doing?” She asked me.
“I thought we could fool around a little,” I said.
“What if somebody sees?”
“Who’s gonna see?” I gestured at miles of empty landscape. We’d left El Paso behind several miles ago.
“Let me put on some music,” She said suggestively, powering up the Ipod.
The first song in the queue? “Achy Breaky Song” by Weird Al Yankovich. This is not conducive to intimacy, but I was charged up nonetheless.
Did you know that about thirty miles outside of El Paso there’s a border crossing station where you have to stop so they can ensure that you’re not smuggling aliens across the border?
I didn’t know that either, or I’d have kept my pants up.
I come hurtling towards this station at about 70 MPH, not paying the least bit of attention because my mind was focused on, uh, other things. Wifey, though, noticed it immediately.
“STOP!” She yells.
Thinking quickly, I slammed on the brakes and simultaneously grabbed the hat off her head to stick over my midsection.
The guard strolled up to the passenger side window and shone a flashlight inside.
“Evening, sir,” said Wifey.
“Hello ocifer, I mean, officer,” I stammered.
“That achy breaky song,” sang Al.
“Where you folks coming from?” he asked.
“Not yet,” I said.
Wifey shot me a dirty look. “We’re coming from the Grand Canyon.”
“Where y’all going?” he asked.
“I’m going to hell!” I said.
“Ignore him,” Wifey said. “We’re heading towards Carlsbad Caverns.”
He shone the light at me. “What the hell are you wearing?”
“I’m, uh,” I goggled like a fish out of water.
Wifey thrust her chest out and leaned towards the guard. “They’re cowboy hat pants. Do you like them?”
He eyed her up and down appreciatively. “You’re just a little bit of everything, aren’t you, missy?”
She smiled slyly at him. “Don’t you know it, pardner.”
“Y’all have a good night now, you hear?” he said.
“We will,” Wifey winked at him.
“Thanks, ocifer!” I yelled as I sped away.
“I think I need to have this hat cleaned,” I said.
Tomorrow: Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Stay Here