Thursday, July 24, 2008

Onwards and Northwards

Somebody was snoring all night last night. I won’t say who, but he looks like a Viking. Oh, sure, there have been some uneducated opinions comparing him to a hobo, but those people are largely ill-informed cranks with no proper knowledge of Scandinavian custom.

Wifey was not well-pleased. In fact, she awoke at 5 AM and announced that the snorer would either sleep in the bath tub or with the fishes. So I opted to get up.

As a peace offering, once everything was packed and ready I took the family to Bob Evans for breakfast. She likes Bob Evans, because they serve good biscuits and gravy, and every true southerner loves biscuits and gravy.

“I still hate you,” she said. “You snored all night and kept me awake. Don’t think that Bob Evans will make it all better.”

“I don’t,” I lied. Bob Evans always makes it better.

Our plan was to have breakfast, then meet up with Uncle G to go to Incredible Pizza Place. There was stuff to do there, he said, and then after that we’d head up to visit our family near St. Louis.

And by “our family” I mean my family. I was really hoping she’d be in a better mood, or this was going to be a difficult couple of days.

But Bob Evans always works. When she went into labor with our daughter, Wifey wanted to go to Bob Evans instead of going to the hospital so she could have one last, good breakfast. When I got a job 2000 miles away from the house we’d just bought that she loved, I broke the news to her at Bob Evans.

It’s like a silver bullet, and every problem is just another werewolf.

There was a little bit of a line at Bob Evans, apparently because Memphis couples were having lots of marital problems. But I wasn’t worried; we had plenty of time. We were seated quite quickly and, because I am an engineer, we had quickly worked out what we wanted.

“What can I get you to drink?” the waitress asked.

“I’ll have coffee and orange juice,” I said. “The girl will have milk, the boy wants apple juice, and she wants milk and orange juice.”

“Got it,” the waitress said. “I’ll be right back.”

“I still hate you,” Wifey said. “You snored all night and kept me up.”

Have I mentioned that Wifey does not function well on low sleep?

Time passed. We waited. More time passed. We waited some more. Finally, the waitress returned.

“I’m sorry, what did the little boy want to drink? Iced tea?”
“No, apple juice!” the boy said.

“Okay, so that’s apple juice for him, coffee and milk for the lady, decaf soy lemon twist latte for you, and orange juice for the girl?”

“There’s not a single drink in there that’s correct,” I said. “Coffee and OJ for me, OJ and milk for her, milk for the girl, and apple juice for the boy.”

“Got it,” the waitress said. “I’ll be right back.”

“If she puts anything expect milk and orange juice in front of me, I will hold you personally responsible,” said Wifey through gritted teeth. “I hate you for snoring all night.”

“Fair enough,” I said.

Fortunately, the correct drinks arrived for everyone. We ordered, hoping the food delivery went somewhat better than the drink delivery. It did, only it took about twice as long.

You know what? When your wife is fatigued, and you sit for an hour in Bob Evans while the waitress makes a mockery of your drink order, for some reason it doesn’t improve her mood.

Finally, after a long delay, we’d eaten. As we exited the restaurant, I checked to see if the power of Bob Evans still held.

“Do you still hate me?”

Wifey slapped me jovially, hard, right in the sunburn. “No, I could never stay mad at you.”

If I didn’t know better, I’d swear she did still hate me and did that on purpose.

We picked up Uncle G and headed over to Incredible Pizza. If you’ve never been, it’s like Chucky Cheese without the goofy animatronic crap and built by somebody who knows that kids don’t come to places like this for pizza, but rather for games.

I was struck by the Jesus fish over the doors. Apparently, they’re a wholesome family-themed religious place. Okay, no problem. I’m wholesome and family-themed, too.

Well, except after dark. Then it gets a little blue.

At the entrance the lady stopped me. “Sir, if you want to receive the free handouts then you’ll have to go around to the back,”

“I don’t want your handouts,” I said. “I want to come inside.”

“You know that we don’t allow the less-fortunate to disturb the guests during opening hours,” she said gently. “Just go around back and you’ll be taken care of. Now please step aside so that this lovely family can go in.”

“Yeah!” said Uncle G, his arm around Wifey.

“I’M A VIKING!” I said.

“An evil spirit!” she said. “Do you need an exorcism?”

I sighed. “No, three adults and two children. Can I have a hobo discount?”

Inside we availed ourselves of the games. What fun!

They have a G-Rated “Grand Theft Auto” where you drive a police car over tickets, then received the number of tickets you managed to hit. The boy loved that one.

There is also a Hilbilly Shootin’ Gallery, which I did. I love those things, where you use the laser-light rifles to make stuff happen. This, however, was the single lamest shooting gallery I have ever used. What crap.

They had a blacklight minigolf course that was super-fun. Wifey won, mostly because I let her. Uncle G was barely beaten by the girl, who trashed-talked him like she was Shaq to his Kobe.

“What’s the matter, can’t even beat a little girl?” she asked. “Want me to take your shots for you?”

I would have intervened, but Uncle G had it coming.

The buffet is so-so, nothing to write home about. But as I said, who cares? You don’t go to a place like that for the food, after all.

After lunch we dropped off Uncle G and prepared to head north, to visit some actual family, my paternal grandmother, and my aunt and uncle. As we always do before we get into the car, I took a pee stop, and I forced the children to do the same.

Camel girl, of course, was good ‘til Saturday, as she just went last full moon. I swear, she never pees.

Well, the girl is in and out in about five seconds. The boy? Somewhat longer. In fact, it went on long enough that I went inside to check out what the problem was.

It was like a massacre scene from an old Western, only the handprints weren’t in blood. They were in poop. All over the imported Carrera marble bathroom counter.

“I’m okay!” the boy insisted angrily. “I don’t need ANY HELP!”

I don’t know what the definition of “self-sufficient” fully is, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t include being in a bathroom with poopy hand prints all around you. Also, remember that Uncle G is a bachelor who, although friendly with our children, has no children of his own.

I was horrified. “Just hold still and let me clean up!”

“I don’t need help!” and to prove it, he wiped his hand on the wall. “I’m getting it all off, see?”

“Just stop!” I tried to think of the best way to handle this. Perhaps, if I just bundled everybody into the car quickly, we could be off before Uncle G noticed the damage. Maybe we could blame it on robbers with poor sphincter control.

But that didn’t seem likely. So I started the long, laborious job of cleaning up the bathroom using toilet paper soaked in sink water. Finally, we emerged, the bathroom and the boy no worse for the wear. I, however, had used half a bottle of hand sanitizer on myself.

“What’s going on?” Wifey asked me.

“You owe me a blow job, that’s what’s going on. Let’s go.”

It was a long drive north, about 4.5 hours. We got out of Memphis later than I wanted, so I needed to go non-stop. But, I was also fatigued. Remember, in order to placate Wifey I ended up sleeping on the toilet this morning, which was not very comfortable.

But I couldn’t very well ask her to drive, since she told me in no uncertain terms that since this was my family, driving was my problem.

So I did what any reasonable person would do: I bought a liter of Mountain Dew Code Red and drank it almost continuously.

At hour three, I had to pee, so I stopped and took a leak. So did the kids, so that was a good stop.

At hour 3:15 I had to pee, so I stopped and took a leak.

At hour 3:30, I had to pee, so I stopped and took a leak.

I did the same at 3:45, 4:00, 4:15,and 4:25.

“Can’t you wait five minutes?” asked Wifey.

“NO!” I said. “I got a potty emergency!”

Each time, I peed more and more. I swear the last time my urine was carbonated.

When we arrived, I’ll honestly say that I didn’t know what to expect. We don’t see them all that often, and this was the first time we’d ever gone to visit them. Typically they come down and visit while Wifey and I stay with my parents over the summer. But since we were so close, I’d arranged to stay with them for two nights.

We finally arrived there pretty late in the evening, about dinnertime. The children, also unsure what to expect, were unusually subdued during the meal. We had a nice chat with everybody and caught up.

Although we’d planned to go to Six Flags the next day, due to the sunburns we called this off.

“Don’t worry,” promised Uncle B. “We’ll find something fun to do tomorrow, I promise.”

We’ll see, won’t we?

Tomorrow: Kids gone wild

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