July 22, 2018

why i didn't take the mint (things i learned on the road trip, part two)

I hate hate hate hate hate saying goodbyes at the end of a visit.  I feel like stretching out all of the luggage-lugging and packing things back up and checking around to make absolutely sure I didn't forget something, stalling as long as I possibly can, because at the end of all that, the goodbyes happen.  I don't want the hugs to end, but they do, and then there's nothing left to say, so into the van and carefully backing up and the ritual of the vigorous goodbye waves at the bottom of the driveway.  Then the road.  So very, very much road.

Do hugs last three seconds or many months?

On the return trip, we stopped and took pictures of some things that we passed on Friday and said, "Shit, we need to take a picture of that on our way back home."  The first one was this:

I always wonder if there's some sort of mailing list that preachers of Baptist churches subscribe to that sends them quippy little snippets for their marquees.  And if so, how did they all find out about them before the Internet?  Was there a newsletter?  Kate used to collect church marquees while traveling.  Her favorite was "BE YE FISHERS OF MEN - YOU CATCH 'EM, HE'LL CLEAN 'EM."

The next picture we took just because this was the Chick-Fil-A by the interstate and today is Sunday.

We did the right thing and boycotted those motherfuckers for years, which was totally unfair of the Universe because their food is incredible and nobody can make a chicken sandwich like that.  The food is so good that it makes a person suspect there's a deal with the devil, not some sort of wholesome poured-out Christian blessing, behind it.

I almost murdered a Chick-Fil-A employee once.  

I didn't actually, but it was a near thing.  P.J. and I were dining there and this particular franchise had come up with the idea of sending a perky teenage associate around with a basket of dinner mints, table to table, offering the mints to customers.  This might seem perfectly harmless, but I start twitching when I hear one of the cashiers say, "My pleasure!" every time someone says, "Thank you."  I make a point of never thanking anyone, just so they can't say it to me, but the phrase is said in response to almost everything, by every employee, to every customer, and it's like being trapped in an echo chamber where they're broadcasting cult indoctrination.

I don't say, "Thank you."  I remain mute until the transaction is complete, and then I say, "You have a great day!"  They reply, "Mm-- thanks, you too!"  In that moment, their facial expressions remind me of the kid being caught playing with the ball out of rhythm in A Wrinkle in Time.  This makes me happy.  After I leave, I believe with all my heart that the manager comes over because he heard the person say something other than "My pleasure!" and sends him or her to a room in the back to be re-assimilated.

So there she was, this perky teenage girl holding a basket of mints, standing at our table, and P.J. said, "Sure," and took one, and I looked at the basket, and looked at the girl, and she looked at me, and I looked at the basket again, and I knew that if I took a mint, I would have to say, "Thank you," and then she would say, "My pleasure!" and I would have to jump up and murder her.  Probably by choking, but breaking her neck would be the better choice because that way it would be too late for customers to come running and pry my hands from her throat.

So I just shook my head and said, "No."  I felt horribly rude, because this is the South and at the very least you must say, "No, thank you," but it was actually for the best that I exhibited bad manners because it very well might have saved her life.

That story has nothing to do with the road trip.  I just want kudos for not murdering someone.  It would have been manslaughter and not first-degree, if it had happened, which totally cleans it all up.

I felt strangely crappy today with an inexplicably prolonged headache (probably my liver punishing me for the wine), so I switched sides with P.J. after lunch and don't really remember much of the next two hours, because she loves me so much that she took a South Carolina for me.  I usually drive the whole way, both ways, everywhere we go, and today I remembered the reason, because she drove and I grabbed a buckwheat pillow and slept through the entirety of South Carolina, and then I woke up and sat up and pulled the lever to raise the seat back and promptly felt like projectile yarking.

I get car sick easily if I'm a passenger.  Looking down and reading two sentences of directions is enough to make me turn green and stay that way for hours.  "How the fuck do you get motion sickness while you're sleeping?" P.J. asked.  "I don't know.  I wasn't paying attention when it happened," I said.

We pulled off the interstate and gassed up the van.  We switched back and she let me drive.  I felt better almost immediately.

Jacques at the gas station.  Aardvark is our co-pilot.

We were less than an hour from home when we started catching up with the intense thunderstorm ahead of us.  Lightning bolts were shooting sideways from cloud to cloud in a way that removed all need for caffeine and left us feeling vulnerable and insignificant.  

Then we saw them:  Two segments of rainbow, one faded and one the most bold and vibrant either of us can recall seeing in our lifetimes.  You could actually make out the delineations between the green and blue and indigo.  The two rainbows were near each other, low in the sky, and set as mirror images, one blue-to-red and one red-to-purple.  It was dusk and stormy and the only patch of light in the sky seemed to be behind the rainbows; we were driving east into the storm clouds and the lighter sky was behind us.  

Of course, because we were moving so fast down the highway, neither of our phones' cameras would capture the rainbow segments.  If we had taken a picture, you'd have a square below with a kind of blurry bit of light and some trees in the background.  You'll just have to take our word for it:  There was some seriously cool weather shit going on.

We retrieved a very happy Rose from Angela's house and braved more lightning and made it home.  

That's when I realized I didn't have my steps in yet for the StepBet, and I took Saturday off as my rest day because instead of exercising all I did was tube down a river and shred my quads walking up a billion stairs back to the house, so after we got home and put everything away, I walked fifty-four laps around the main floor of my house to push the number up to my goal.  P.J. wouldn't let me go to the park and walk laps in the middle of the raging storm, even though I pointed out that it was the best possible time to do it because nobody else would be out there and there was zero potential for awkward social interactions with other walkers.  I don't understand her sometimes.  But I got my steps in.

Yeah ... hugs last longer than three seconds.  I can still feel them.  That is what I learned.


  1. Kudos for your self control and not murdering poor mint-bearing employees who have to say "My Pleasure" or else. It might have been funny if you'd told her, "Oh, honey, if you only knew true pleasure, you wouldn't be bandying that word around so lightly! It's not like I'm giving you an orgasm or anything!" Of course, you probably would have been kicked out--but it might have been worth it just to see the expression on her face! Again, kudos for your self-control. I might not have been able to resist the temptation, but that's my sense of humor. I bet we experienced the same weather system when you were on the road. I never saw rainbows but there was some wicked lightning that we don't usually experience where I live! My guess is that every time a Chick-Fil-A employee utters, "my pleasure," a lightning bolt strikes somewhere!


    1. I. Love. This. Theory. Except that there would be a lot more lightning and basically the entire planet would be burnt to a crisp, except the ocean, which would be full of dead sea creatures. Next time, I'm using your line. :)

    2. My pleasur -- oops! Never mind.