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Friday, April 01, 2005

Spring Me From This Car Or Watch Me Break Into A Zoo Animal Fit

New here? Thanks for visiting Home Fires. Please scroll down for part one of this two part series. Okay, you regular kids, here it is in all of it's wretchedness, and the sad part, this all really happened. No exaggerations this time. Because our spring break week was essentially fucked, this weekend I am taking my kids and we are going to hangout and have fun. We'll go to the skate park, the volleyball and basketball courts and maybe take in a movie, which means I won't be around much this weekend. So if I don't post, know that I have given you what I could have easily dragged out in a seven part series, in two long posts. And, Mom, if you are reading this, remind me NEVER to hangout with Angie ever again. She really is the bad influence you warned me she would be.

We were at a standstill on the “expressway”. There may have been a simple traffic backup. There might have been an accident. But there was something telling me that this was perhaps a sign from some stronger force trying to warn us that this was not the perfect day for the zoo after all. Did we pay heed to the warning? Hell no!

An SUV cut us off. Angie yelled, “Pecker head!”
Her daughter, Tabitha, who obviously doesn’t know what that is, began singing, “Pecker head, pecker head.”
“Tabitha! That’s a bad word! Don’t you say that.” I had to reprimand her because Angie, her mother, was too busy laughing while having an asthma attack, causing her to bark like a seal.

Cars were zooming by on the shoulder, while all four lanes of traffic were in the biggest cluster fuck I've seen since Elvis was last spotted at the KFC in Kentucky three years ago.

I tried to not look at the clock. I tried to keep the kids occupied. I tried to talk to my sister about the good old days. We quoted lines from movies of our youth. I used all of my character voices. I told all of my jokes. I tried to keep myself from taking my seatbelt and wrapping it tightly around my fucking neck until all of the blood supply to my brain was cut off abruptly causing a hemorrhage, that would lead to my own death as we sat in gridlock. All the while, knowing the seconds were turning into minutes and then hours, and realizing it was time none of us would ever get back.

“The seatbelt is poking my butt.”
“I’m squished.”
“I’m hungry.”
“How come Tabitha has all the room over there?”

The kids were squished but nothing like Angie and I experienced in our many trips to the zoo in the old Vega hatchback.

"Daddy, are we almost there? My legs are asleep."
"Almost Lois."
"Daddy, Lois' elbow is in my ribs."
"Lois, try to keep your arm away from your sister."
"Mommy, did Daddy get us lost again?"
"No, we are not lost."
"DAD! I don't have anywhere to put my arm!"
"MOM! Antia's bony butt is digging into my thighs and she keeps rocking back and forth!"
"Anita, stop rocking!"
"Daddy, Mary said I was short! And now she is singing Short People Got Nobody in my ear!"
"Mary! Don't be mean to Angie! Do you kids want dad to pull over? Keep it up!"
"Yes, I want dad to pull over 'cuz I gotta fart." At least I think that's what I said as my mom's arm whipped around to the backseat making contact with Mary instead of me. I was a good ducker. And thankfully, by the time we got out of the car, Mom had forgotten all about the biff I was supposed to get.

Why my parents ever took us anywhere is totally beyond me. But for whatever reason, Angie and I didn't learn from their mistakes.

Bumper to bumper traffic was showing no sign of relief. It was now 12 p.m. and we hadn't moved for so long we began discussing taking the next exit and hoping not to get lost.

"Mommy, why aren't we moving?"
"Are we ever going to get there?"
"What time is it and how long have we been sitting in this stupid car?"
"Auntie Angie, I'm hungry!"

All of the food was in my trunk. We had hungry kids who were getting antsy at best. The way traffic looked it would still be a couple more hours before we got there. Then it dawned on me. In the center of the backseat, I have a divider that comes down and beyond that is a door to the trunk.

I took off my seatbelt, crawled over the back of my consol, reached for the middle seatbelts, unlatched two of the kids, moved them forward so I could reach behind them, pulled the divider down, opened the little door all the while my ass in the air for traffic on all sides to see and my goddamn arm wasn't long enough.

"Go, go Gadget arm!" I commanded to no avail.

"Okay Tabitha, it's up to you! Auntie Lois needs you to try really hard to reach that bag back there. Can you see it?"
"This one?" she asked, holding my emergency flares-jumper cables-save me when I am stranded, bag.
"No, baby. The one with the food."

"I'm hungry Mom."
"Me too!"
"I'm starving like a rat!"

It is hard to remain calm while your ass is in the air, I found out.

"Sorry, for yelling guys. But you do see I am trying to get the food right? Please calm down and someone help Tabitha find the bag with the food and I'll make your lunch in the car."
"Mom, you said we could never, ever, ever, ever eat anything, under any and all circumstances, in your car, even if it was just an eensy, weensy crumb. I don't want to get in trouble or get grounded on spring break."
"I know what I said and for today I am changing the rules."

Tabitha finally reached the bag and handed it to me. I set it on the floor, helped the kids get their seatbelts back on, went to turn to sit back in my seat, and my back was locked. Locked and fucking loaded and my ass remained in the air.

"Ang, I'm stuck."
"What do you mean, 'stuck'?"
"I mean, I can't move."
"Why?" she asked, never taking her eyes off of the road.
"WHY? What do you mean, 'Why'?"
"Why are you stuck?"
"I don't know! I just am!"

When she finally turned to look at me, my wonderful sister began to laugh so hard she had tears running down her face. Her asthmatic cough/seal bark was out of control and even though we still weren't moving, I was sure she was going to crash into something.

Her laughter caused a chain reaction laughter from all four kids. I made a mental note to spit in each one of their sandwiches should I ever get out of the vulnerable position I was in. I shimmied myself into a better position, lowering my ass and straightening my back. I turned. My back cracked the length of my spine. I sat in my seat. The hilarity of the situation was lost on me as the five of them continued to have a good belly laugh at my expense.

I made Goober Grape sandwiches for all five of them. I suddenly didn't feel so hungry anymore.

"Auntie Lois, can you please cut the crust off of my bread?"
I looked at Angie. "She's kidding right?"
She gave me a blank stare back.
"They are doing this on purpose aren't they? You told the kids to be on their worst behavior. Didn't you? Angie! What is so goddamned funny?"
"Your face!"

I peeled the crust off of the sandwich and threw it out the window.

"Mom, that's littering!"
"Auntie Lois, is a litter buuug," sang my darling godson.
"No I am not! It is biodegradable! It's edible! It's frikken' bread ferchristssakes! And some bird who really likes peanut butter and jelly would really like to have lunch right now too!"
"Then the bird is going to get run over and then Auntie Lois is going to be a murdereeer."
"Shut up Ang!"

This three hour tour was about all I could stand. Once the kids had food in their bellies they got a second wind, which was as powerful as a fucking tornado. They talked a mile a minute, which was much faster than we were moving. They were laughing and yelling and singing and making me want to jump off of the overpass, diving headfirst into the train below, as my head split in two like an egg, with all of the gooeyness oozing out onto the tracks.

"What do you think about this exit Lois?"
"It's not the one we are supposed to take. That's what I think."
"Do you think we'll get lost if we take it?"
"Ang, we got our sense of direction from Dad. You bet your sweet ass we'll get lost."
"How far do you think the zoo is from here?"
"I don't know."
"Should I take this exit? It might be our last chance."

She and I were absolutely losing our ever lovin' minds. At that point we broke into singing. "Yes it's my last chance for loooove." Nothing says 'two crazy bitches' like us singing a 1970's disco song.

We drove by that exit and as we approached the next one, which still wasn't the one we were supposed to get off at, we repeated the conversation above. Except for the part where we sang. Just as we were about to pass the exit, I said, "Just take it."

We weren't in Kansas anymore that's for sure. The neighborhood was run down at best. The buildings had most of the windows boarded. This was no ghost town, however. There were plenty of people. I saw two, right over there. "Oh, that looks like a drug deal. Oh, my and what's that over there? Why, it looks like that man is dragging that crack whore by the hair. Wow, I've never seen a whole gang before! Oh, and look kids, to your left, there, on the corner, it's hookers! Eight ladies of the night working overtime."

"Lois, I don't even want to go to the fucking zoo anymore."
"Are you fucking kidding me?"
"Shut up and drive Ang, we're going and you're gonna like it!"
"You sound like your mother!"
"She ain't my mother! She's yours!"

I don't know how we managed to find our way but we finally saw a sign for Brookfield Zoo. It said two miles. The kids saw it just as we saw it and that only gave them a third wind of energy.

We turned the corner toward the zoo just in time for more gridlock. There was a sea of cars and we were mere minnows awaiting a glimpse at the whales without getting eaten. My gas tank was nearing empty. Three hours had gone by since we left our mother's, which was supposed to have been 37 minutes away. Mapquest kiss my numb fucking ass!

It took an hour to drive one mile and I wish I were kidding. People were parking their cars down side streets and walking the rest of the way to the zoo. We sat at the very same light long enough to see it change 16 times, yes I counted!

With less than one mile to go, all six of our asses numb, my tank running on empty along with mine and Angie's patience, she said, "Lois, I really don't even want to fucking go."

The kids started suggesting that we park and walk the rest of the way. They were at their whit's end and so were we. I gave my nod of approval. She turned. The kids shouted simultaneously, "Why aren't we going?"
"We aren't going because we can't take it anymore. Today is free day at the zoo and everyone and their stupid brother is there and we won't be able to park anywhere near the entrance and by the time we walk that far, the stupid zoo will almost be closed! Besides, you guys started out really nice and calm and then turned into a bunch of whining pains in our asses. Do you realize that we were doing all of this for you, not us? Do you even care that we've also been sitting for four hours?"

I didn't have the energy for anymore lecturing and they had already shut up.

"Ang, let's stop for gas and I'll look at the map and find us another route back to Mom's."
"We still have a quarter tank. How far will that get us?"
"I'm not sure but what if we get lost? Fuck it, let's just go."
"Which way should I go?"
"Turn here."

I guessed every turn and we made it back to our mother's in 40 minutes!


We were all disappointed. We'd wasted a day and didn't even have the pleasure of seeing monkeys throw poo. When we told our mother about our adventure she laughed her ass off and said, "Paybacks are a bitch, huh?!"

We didn't thank her for the salt she poured on our open wounds because the TV distracted us. The news was on. They were showing scenes from the Eisenhower Expressway. We told Mom we were in that and she just laughed. I hate her.

Next the news showed us Brookfield Zoo! BASTARDS! Even the fucking news station was rubbing the salt in. They showed the parking lot of the zoo, wall-to-wall cars and buses. They showed the inside of the zoo and the people were shoulder-to-shoulder. I started to feel really bad for the kids as they watched. I kept thinking and hoping Ang and I would never be as hardcore rotten as our mother was at that very moment. I was preparing in my head an apology speech to offer the kids, in hopes of making them feel better.

But the Lawd works in mysterious ways. All four kids, at the very same time, with the very same words, said, "Thank God we got out of there when we did!"