My car is the family crapmobile. It transports the dog to the vet, hauls the mulch, delivers any new purchases, picks up the paint supplies. It is a pickup disguised as a blue station wagon.
On our trips to the beach house-not-on-the-beach it is always my car that is pressed into service, loaded down with golf clubs and shoes, a pressure washer and blower (Man does not live by golf alone; he must do yard work!) Every trip is a Grapes of Wrath outtake with the backseat piled high with dog food, books, knitting, totes, suitcases, cooler, plants, snacks, jackets….
I consider my car another room of the house. Need a tissue, a plastic bag, tote, leash, napkin, plastic fork, hand sanitizer, gum, cough drop, toothbrush, audio book, snack, bottled water, nail file, notepad, pen or pencil, coffee sleeve, Sudoku puzzle, phone book, coupon, cellphone charger, map, sea shell, magnifying glass, first aid kit, extra change, rain poncho or umbrella? Reach between the seats. I could survive for weeks in my bomb shelter on wheels.
Dearly Beloved’s car is eerily empty. Pristine. It is apparent that this man doesn’t sneeze, bleed, thirst, lose his way, eat, or get stuck in a traffic jam with nothing to do. Heaven help the poor passenger who fails to lick her shoes clean before entering.
It is my car that piles on the miles for dog-accompanied trips while his car preens in the garage.
Having watched the golf channel while he recuperated from Camp Granddad, DB was hot to head beachward to practice his current “final piece of the puzzle” to golf nirvana. I’d be content to stay home to pinch the suckers from my tomatoes, water my plants, and cook Farmer’s market produce for meals on the screened porch.
We had this discussion, as we often do, with the closed bathroom door between us. My family saves all important conversations for moments when I am enthroned on the potty or in the tub. I rendered him speechless with one blow:
“Okay, but let’s drive your car this time.”
Silence. Blood draining from ones’ face makes no sound. I thought I detected a whimper.
“MY car? What about Miss Piggy?”
“She can ride in the back seat. You can put her dog bed back there.”
The conversation ceased, as I had known it would. I assumed he found it too absurd to continue. I did not realize he had caved until I saw him spreading a throw rug over the backseat of his car or I’d at least have washed the dog bed which he’d rejected on the grounds that “it stinks.”
Mr. Gracious made it two blocks into the journey before he began giving instructions. He moved his right arm, palm down, in a wide sweep over the dashboard, stopping it just short of my nose in his Jesus gesture, then began his sermon.
“Here are the rules: don’t be eating crackers in here…no fast food wrappers…no crumbs, no hauling plants…no dog bowls….”
What the hell was he talking about? Did he think I was staging a coup d’etat? He switched midstream and started reciting MY rebuttal–the things he knew I’d be likely to say, a move that always makes me laugh.
He does that often and to quote Ms. Mona Lisa Vito ‘s technical industry term in My Cousin Vinny, he’s usually “dead on balls accurate” in his choices. He professes to be a sensitive disciple of the “If Momma Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy” school of marriage.
Nevertheless, he drove through Chick-fil-a without any prompting from me and we ate in the car without incident. I tried to make sure any crumbs went down my shirt, no small feat without the assistance of perky breasts. I slipped a few bites back onto Miss Piggy’s rug on the back seat, confident that she’d never be guilty of leaving crumbs. So far, so good.
“Do you have anything sweet to eat?” he asked after I’d carefully put all the wrappers in the bag at my feet. Exactly where was I going to come up with anything sweet in his car? In my car he would have a choice of Mary Janes chews in the console or a granola bar assortment, but in his straight-out-of-the-showroom looking vehicle? Not likely.
“No. Just gum and cough drops.”
He took the gum.
By then we were nearing the peach stand with its homemade ice cream, always the highlight of my trip. He was starting to pale at the thought of possible sticky drips in his popemobile.
“You’re too full for ice cream, right?” he asked hopefully.
I wanted a l-a-r-g-e cup of peach ice cream and so informed him. I always remind him, lest he slip me a medium. While I made the mad dash to the bathroom to rid myself of the large Diet Coke from Chick-fil-a and ditch the sandwich trash, he ordered our treats.
We have never mastered the art of the simultaneous ice cream climax. Usually I finish first, no matter how dainty my bites. I would suspect him of taking one of my scoops and adding it to his cone if it were not already piled so high that another would topple it. He began his s-l-o-w lick around the cone. This time I am determined to be last, and I shrink my bites to guppy size.
Success! He finishes several miles ahead of me and looks around, wild-eyed, for a trash repository for his paper napkin, finally balling it up and placing it in MY LAP. Wisely, he does not ask me his usual question on the rare occasions that he finishes first: “Are you going to eat all of that?”
I used to give him the bottom of my cone before I started treating the dog instead. Now that I’ve switched to the cup, they’re both out of luck. I relish the last bit in my cup, loudly scraping the sides of the Styrofoam cup with my plastic spoon. I’ll find some other way of reducing my carbon footprint.
“As you finally through?”
I picked up his napkin and stuffed it inside my cup, then jammed the whole thing down into the side pocket on the door in smug defiance. The Styrofoam squeaked in protest as it bent and cracked to fit the space.
“Yep. All done. “
There’s always the return trip. I’m thinking cheeseburger with chili and onions. Heavy on the catsup.