As my holiday time in Alabama draws to a close I find myself intensely dreading the road trip back North. Twelve hours of forced and confined family bonding in a Subaru forester really challenges all the sentimental holiday cheer points we’ve accumulated in the past few days.
The players in these road trips include my father, a 6’4″ man who is prone to outbursts during any variety of traffic situations deemed inconvenient, no matter how predictable. Despite the scale of disruption, from a chronic tailgater to a full fledged bottleneck nightmare, his reaction will be the same.
My mother is confined to the back seat due to her being the smallest family member and because my motion sickness inconveniences the family more than her very vocal outcries that she will be crippled by the time we reach our destination from being cramped in the back seat.
My brother, who is 6′ and also smushed in the back seat. Noah declares he is “starving” approximately every 90minutes, despite the fact that he is snacking on something literally the entire trip. He’s also prone to band-wagoning. It’s hard to predict what side he will take in any given dispute, but rest assured… he’ll become involved.
Then there’s me, who has to sit in the front seat or I’ll turn green. I like to think of myself as DJ Peacemaker, although if you talk to me before 10am I might respond only in unintelligible growls. When reminded that sitting in the front seat is some sort of ghastly undeserved privilege I also make vague threats to vomit directly on the mouthy passenger.
These are the personalities stuffed inside a Subaru Forester several times a year for marathon road trips round the country. In the past there have been such notable events as when my father only let us stop for gas because he had to, our bathroom breaks at this time were mere incidental perks, because the Alabama Auburn game was on that day. We didn’t understand what was going on until later that afternoon. A couple years ago my mom kept promising we’d stop for a hotel in just another hour. Then we ran into some sort of Nascar frenzy and every hotel we came to was booked… for the next five hours. We drove until 4am.
On our descent to Alabama earlier this week we strapped a large portion of our baggage to the roof of our vehicle for the first time. I wan’t involved in this project, but it appeared to be a giant bag with all our smaller bags inside, attached with belts and suspension cables. At about 5:30AM we started hearing some crackling pop noises from above. I immediately thought of reindeer, but my parents were convinced something else was amiss. We pulled over. This was inconvenient. Curses were afoot! We set out again but within an hour a belt had gone rogue and began to bounce around the roof and eventually flew into the window. This time even I knew this couldn’t be misinterpreted into a sign of holiday mysticism.
Dad started swerving, “WHAT THE HELL! OH JESUS! ************! ****! *****!” etc etc Easily channeling images of the father in The Christmas Story, a finely woven web of obscenities.
“NOAH! PUT YOUR HEAD IN MY LAP! I’LL COVER IT WITH THIS PILLOW! THE GLASS IS GOING TO SHATTER!” shrieked my mother. Noah, naturally,did not comply but contributed,
“THIS IS MAKING ME NERVOUS!”, as our car slowed to a mere 35mph and we looked for somewhere to once again reevaluate the death trap we carried above us.
This time Dad deposited us at a McDonalds so he could confront the booby trap without our commotion distracting him. There was no way that belt had a chance of running loose again, of flaunting it’s escape in my father’s engineering degree’s face. Anyway, it was during this breakfast that Noah and I concocted our plan. Roofies. We intend to roofie our parents and take over the road trip. We are far too old to be enduring these scenarios without a fight. The rebellion is in motion. Initially Noah had a moment of hesitation, but by the time my mother was interjecting from her adjacent table that he needed to finish those eggs before he ate another hashbrown she had sealed her own fate.
I will drive, Noah will ride shot-gun as copilot, and our erratic parents will peacefully drool on themselves until we’re north of the Mason-Dixon line.
Tomorrow we have our orders to report at the car at 5am. At dawn we ride!