[about the author]
i actually like speaking in front of large crowds. freakish,
i work crossword puzzles in ink.
i am the american nigella lawson. or maybe the american eddie
izzard. can't decide, really.
i would be a really good mom, but i'm cool with being a really
i am sometimes more perceptive than i would like to be.
i am fiercely loyal. sometimes, stupidly so.
i never play dumb. never.
i am way too hard on myself.
i am a change agent.
i sometimes cross that fine line between assertive and aggressive.
i am not afraid to tell people that i love them.
i am militantly pro-choice.
i am pro-adoption.
i know a little bit about alot of things.
i typically enjoy the company of men more than women.
i am capable of being really mean and nasty, but i fight it.
i am a lifelong cubs fan. do not laugh.
i have been known to hold a grudge.
i have hips.
i am not my sister.
i am lousy at forgiving myself.
i am an indoor kind of gal.
i am a bargain shopper. to the point of obsession.
i am 32 flavors. and then some.
when you road trip during the holidays, you get to see things you don’t see on your average day. as i traveled the highways and by-ways over the thanksgiving holiday, i was witness to one of those uniquely holiday occurrences: piling as much shit as possible into and on top of your vehicle.
don’t get me wrong: i’m a compulsive over-packer. i can’t go home for a weekend without multiple pairs of shoes, reading materials, snacks. but this…this is a whole different ballgame. i’m talking about shit piled up to the ceiling of your car. shit riding shotgun. so much shit that you have to use an x-cargo to haul it all.
ah, yes…the x-cargo. by sears. nothing really announces the arrival of the holiday season like a caravan of cars crawling along the highways, with their x-cargos glinting in the sun. of course, these days, you see two distinct varieties of x-cargo out there on the highways.
1. the x-cargo of my youth. the earth-toned x-cargo with the yellow and orange cartoon snail on the side. this is your father’s x-cargo. literally…your father gave it to you. probably so he could buy himself…
2. the new, hip x-cargo. it’s black and gray, with x-cargo scrawled in electric-blue-wet-paint-looking letters that lean to one side to give the impression that the x-cargo is going fast. [ed. note: this, of course, is an impossibility, given the laws of physics. but they get an "a" for effort. sort of.] i guess they’re marketing to the “x-treme” crowd with this hip new logo. cutting edge, people. cutting. edge.
i saw a phenomenal number of x-cargos on the highway this weekend. i noticed that you really only see them on large suvs or other land-yacht-type vehicles. i guess that’s to be expected, on one hand. i mean, if you put an x-cargo on a ford festiva and a strong wind came along, it’d be a tragedy of enormous proportions. but, i was just thinking that, if you have a big-ass suv, don’t you have enough room for all of your shit? i have a big-ass suv, and i can haul an entire family of haitian refugees, a large dog, a 55-gallon drum of canola oil and a rather unwieldy kite. and still have enough room to put my seat back. what the hell kind of random, useless shit are you hauling in mass quantity to grandma’s for the holidays that you can’t fit it all in your suv, so you need to add on a storage unit to the top of your vehicle? not to mention that your suv must be getting, what, about .3 miles to the gallon with that thing on top?
i pulled into a rest area on my way back to maryland yesterday, which is pretty unusual for me…i’m not much of a rest area gal. but, i’d been sitting in traffic for about 30 minutes, and this obnoxious girl in the car beside me was videotaping the traffic jam and i was sick and fucking tired of worrying about whether or not i was being filmed during a crying jag. so, i pulled into the rest area to see if i could wait out the logjam.
i couldn’t. i had to be at work this morning.
so, as i’m sitting at the rest area, talking to my mother on the phone [“make sure you drink a lot of water. you’re crying an awful lot, and i don’t want you to get dehyrated.”], it pulls in.
“mom, let me call you back.”
i was mesmerized. hypnotized. dazed and confused. it was a mini-van – some sort of lucasfilm super-special-very-limited edition or some such crap. with an x-cargo on top [old school, with the snail]. and, on top of the x-cargo was a little tykes kiddie car. all red and yellow and cute, and about three feet tall. it was sitting straight up, lashed onto the x-cargo with those bungee cord things with the hooks on them. it was, truly, amazing.
the mom and dad got out of the lucasfilm super-special-very-limited edition van, and the mom headed inside. the dad walked around, stretching his legs. he saw me looking in his direction and smiled.
“that’s quite…quite a…an…arrangement,” i offered.
“yeah, well you gotta keep the kids entertained,” he replied.
as he said the word “kids,” i realized that i hadn’t actually seen the kids.
“guess they’re sacked out, huh?” i asked.
“actually, they’re watching a dvd. probably monsters incorporated again. i don’t know…they have headphones so we don’t have to listen to it,” he said.
“oh…well…that’s…nice?” i ventured.
“it’s great! we don’t have to talk to them at all except when the dvd is over and they want us to put another one in,” he enthused.
i thought back to all the road trips we had taken during my childhood. all the games of padiddle. all the games of i spy. all the games of...whatever you call that game where you try and find a license plate from every state. those trips are some of my most treasured memories from my childhood. and i do mean the actual travel itself – stopping along the way at south of the border or the mystery hole. or even rock city, where i picked up my very own "see rock city" birdhouse.
i bit my tongue so i didn’t offer a “helpful” suggestion to mr. lucasfilm mini-van: why not just put your kids in the fucking x-cargo? you could wrap them up in tyvek® sheeting, and seal it up with duct tape in case you’re worried about them getting cold. drill a couple of air holes in the top. put a catheter in those little darlings, run an iv drip of sunny delight, and hit the open road.
but, instead, i just smiled and said, “wow…that’s really…something.”
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