Another one from the travel archives, replete with dated cultural references…
We were driving back from Santa Fe when it all went to hell, very quickly.
I was in the driver’s seat, as it was my “turn”. We had been tag-teaming it every few hours or so since we left Pecos, thousands of miles behind us. This was a relationship-saving plan, as opposed to our journey to Pecos, wherein I had stupidly driven the entire way. I don’t know what I was thinking when I willfully chose to navigate for 11 straight hours. Perhaps I was finally atoning for some of my college sins, as opposed to that asshole Kavanaugh who is currently lying his way through those nationally-embarrassing Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
Yes, I just said “asshole” on this otherwise pristine and angelic blog. If the shoe fits…
Anyway, I’m driving, and it’s been a rather stellar day, weather-wise. We’ve had sunshine and chirping birds since we crossed the New Mexico/Texas state line hours ago. (At least I think the birds were chirping, whipping past us as quickly as they did. They might have been screaming. After all, Texas is a red state.) I’m singing along to the radio because my partner and I have been together since Madonna was a child and we are way over the comfort threshold. Right in the midst of an exuberantly-peppy dance tune, circa 1986, I suddenly realize that the sky directly in front of us (you know, the place where we are heading and cannot avoid) is immensely dark and speaks of Satan.
“Is it supposed to rain today?” queries me.
“I don’t think those are the right lyrics for this song,” says Partner, whipping out his cell phone in order to fact-check, because proving each other wrong replaced sex in our relationship around the time Madonna divorced Guy Ritchie. These things happen, but our love is still river deep, mountain high.
“No, really, look at the sky. I smell Toto in the air.”
Then BAM, the heavens opened up and every single angel, even the lazy ones, threw out their bath water with a vindictiveness that would be openly discussed at the next church social. Wait, that doesn’t quite do the scene justice. Let’s just say that a hurricane suddenly appeared where it shouldn’t, one that hadn’t been named because there had been layoffs at the National Weather Service. (The Trump Administration doesn’t believe in climate change, unlike the rest of the world, so funds had been diverted to Cheeto’s reelection campaign.)
I was not impressed.
Neither was my car. The traction warning light was blinking, letting me know that the tires were essentially no longer touching the pavement, swimming upstream in this twisted tribute to salmon trying to mate in an Alaskan river where kayakers disappear repeatedly, despite the advisements that one shouldn’t kayak when horny fish are involved. It took every ounce of my (admittedly questionable) driving skills to keep the car on the road and moving forward. The speedometer dropped down to roughly 30 mph and stayed there, bitching the entire time.
Several of the cars in our temporary entourage (you know what I mean, the cluster of unrelated vehicles on road trips who end up travelling together for long stretches because you’re all driving the same speed and headed in the same direction) cried uncle and pulled off to the side of the road. Some of the drivers pulled out rosaries. Others cracked open a can of beer. We all have different ways of dealing with adversity.
I dealt with it by continuing to plow forward, determined. We had roughly 150 miles to go at this point (out of roughly 700), and there was no way in hell that I was pulling over for anything. We had been on the road for months (okay, eight-ish hours) and my brain could not process an intermission at this point.
Thirty minutes later, I didn’t have a brain, reduced to a quivering mass of jelly that only vaguely responded to stimuli, my pale hands in full rigor mortis on the steering wheel.
Thirty-one minutes later, the rain stopped. Apparently, the angels grew bored with the inundation and went off to play Red Rover with the demons. (“Red Rover, Red Rover, send that soul over.”)
I turned off the windshield wipers and said to my partner: “Can you text me that photo?”
Partner: “What the hell are you talking about?” (Translation: “I was contentedly playing Candy Crush on my phone until your mind burp interrupted my solitude. Why can’t we just listen to music and be happy?”)
Me: “The photo I asked you to take of the weird truck we saw with the bears.”
Partner: “Why would I want to do that?” (Translation: “I’m kind of busy right now playing a level that I have been trying to beat since we left that gas station in Tucumcari, New Mexico.”)
Me: “Because you love me. And because we should have known, when we saw that mess, that something was not right about this road. People need to know about the danger, Will Robinson.”
He eventually sent it.
And I eventually wrote this post.
If you see something like this beside you on the nation’s highways, brace yourself. Something wicked this way comes. So, grab your beer and your beads and hope you make it upriver. And avoid the salmon. Because they don’t play nice.
Previously published, some changes made. And Kavanaugh is still an asshole, but now he’s wearing robes and casting Supreme Court votes that are disenfranchising millions. Something wicked that way came.
Later that night…
Goldilocks: “I understand that you guys went on a little road trip. And who is that fourth bear? You know I don’t appreciate people in my house that I don’t know.”
Papa Bear: “Well, that’s rich, considering you moved into our house and never left.”
Goldilocks: “You have the original Craftsman oak floors. Once I saw that mess, it was a done deal.”
Mama Bear: “But your hair products, dear. You leave them all over the house and they smell like porridge.”
Goldilocks: “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful. But since we’re on the subject, have you ever thought about a good waxing?”
Baby Bear: “Okay, fine, stop badgering me. The fourth bear is my same-sex lover. Papa, Mama, Golda, I’m gay.”
Papa Bear: “We’ve always known, son. Ever since you went downstream during the salmon spawning.”
Mama Bear: “But we will always love you, Dolly Whitney.”
Golda: “My ear tells me that I’m losing the focus in this scene, and you know I don’t do well when I’m not in the spotlight.”
Baby Gay Bear: “How about we settle this with a rousing game of Red Rover?”
Golda: “I really don’t see the point in that, especially since so many folks reading this post have no idea what ‘Red Rover’ might be, despite the writer’s insistence on repeated reference to such.”
Baby Gay Bear: “There’s nothing like being able to break through the chains of people who are trying to hold you back. Somebody, somewhere is really going to appreciate that image. And that makes this whole convoluted post worth it.”
Mama Bear: “Cheers.”