Today I drove to Virginia from Rhode Island. We know I have poor judgement, so no one should be surprised that in addition to voluntarily driving 8 hours in 100 degree heat with my two children, I also brought along my 86 year old grandmother. And Glenda. Of course.
It all started so well. I woke up in a room that must have been 80 degrees, the air so hot and sticky and still that I could barely breathe. It was the absolute definition of stifling. As in, if you looked up "stifling" in the dictionary, there would be a picture of that little room up under the eaves of my mom's house. It was really, really bad. I got out of bed and went in search of some fresh air and a shower. I raced up the hill to the rental car agency and picked up what they call an "intermediate" and what I call "you must be smoking crack that's a compact". As I drove away I noticed a strange noise. It didn't sound mechanical.....it was just a weird noise.
I stopped the car, and opened the window. Ugh. Heat. Humid heat. Hot humid heat. Can't breathe. Blegh. Fuck. I start to drive and don't hear the noise. I stop for coffee and there, wait, what was that? A noise? Hm. no. But wait, yes. That was a noise.
Now I am aggavated and sweaty, so I call the rental desk and tell them I hear a noise. They don't have any other cars. I need to leave, so I tell them I'll call if I have a problem. And I pick up my kids and get all of the luggage in the teeny tiny sub-compact bullshit "intermediate" car that may or not be making a funny noise. My son hands me a CD my mom just gave him, and I press play.
My parents stand on the sidewalk waving goodbye as "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" blares out of the speakers. The Stones. How apropos. I roll my eyes. My parents smile. I make sure I packed the bottle of Southern Comfort and we hit the road. And then we sit in traffic. And THEN we go.
We pull up to my grandmother's house and load the trunk with her stuff (which is the same amount of stuff as I brought for all three of us put together. Gee it's a good thing I rented this "intermediate" sized automobile. I'm sitting in her driveway typing the address into Glenda, who immediately starts telling me where to go.
"Will she" my grandmother asks with a raised eyebrow, gesturing at the GPS "be talking all the way to Virginia?"
Great. Gramma hates Glenda. This is going to be awesome.
We finally get on the highway a full hour later then I had intended, and we're cruising along. If the car is making a noise, I can't hear it over the Stones. And then I glance in my side mirror and slam on the brakes.
The bumper is hanging off the back of the car, flapping in the wind as we cruise along at 70 mph.
I cut across traffic and find a break in the guardrail so I can pull onto the grass. Gramma is not amused.
"What are you doing? she shrieks. "You can't get out of the car on the highway - you'll get run over."
"Well, I can't drive along with the bumper dragging on the ground either."
I got the plastic snapped back into place and drive down the highway to the next exit. I get off and call the rental agency. "Hey. I figured out what that noise was!" The bumper was already detached from the car again and it was 96 degrees in the shade. I was, to put it mildly, a bit angry.
An hour later we are back on the road in a new rental. Then everyone decides they are hingry, so we stop and eat. Then we need a potty break, so we stop for that too. As I was walking towards the ladies room, I was following a man dressed as a woman. Or maybe it was a woman who used to be a man, I can't be sure what his/her status was. And when we got the the restrooms, girlfriend walked right in the door marked ladies, even though she was rocking a serious 5 o'clock shadow at 11am.
I couldn't help it, I had to look. Yes Virginia, she did sit down to use the potty. I was fully expecting her pretty purple toes to be pointing towards the toilet, but she chose to keep it real.
After all of the excitement of the morning, it was about 12:30. 3 hours on the road, and I was about 30 miles from my mother's house.
I decided to get serious. "I am not stopping again for a long time" I announced.
We got back on the highway and continued south. My grandmother was regaling me with a tale of her last train ride, wherein two college boys had a lengthy and loud discussion about which girls on campus gave the best blow jobs.
Let me just stop right here and say that if you ever wonder why I am the way I am, I think we can safely say that the apple fell directly under the tree.
As the story went on, and my grandmother repeated the words "blow job" over and over again, the sun went away, the temperature dropped, and a huge bolt of lightening shot across the road in front of me. God was punishing me for talking about blow jobs with my gramma. I was starting to envision the movie "Vacation" where they end up tying Aunt Edna to the roof in a lawn chair. It went from gray to black. Huge fat drops of rain started pounding the windshield. The wind picked up. Branches and leaves were flying. The air was electric. We slowed to a crawl, everyone with their hazards on. Finally I pulled over to wait it out. Lucy was hysterical. Max was focused on his video game. And my grandmother was still talking.
I started driving again as the rain let up - there were downed branches all over the road and standing water on the asphalt, so I was driving carefully, until another bout of bad weather finally forced me to get off the highway completely. I rolled into a service plaza and pulled up to a gas pump. Finally, my grandmother stopped talking about blowjobs, and went to find a bathroom.
When she came back we set off again, and the weather cleared up quickly. As we buzzed towards Virginia, she said "It's a good thing I didn't bring that half bottle of wine in my fridge. I would have finished it by now."
Tree, meet apple. Apple? This is your tree.
17 hours ago