{ ode to public porcelain }

It is said that when one takes a Family Vacation, bonds are strengthened and family ties are renewed.  

Whoever said that has NEVER driven 16 hours with a 6 and 2 year old.  The only bonds that were strengthened were my fists around throats, and when it came to family ties- if I had any rope, there would have been new ties.  Or knots.  Or any other form of looping rope to form a situation from which extrication is impossible.  My sanity was on the verge of erupting like Mount Vesuvius, my family being the innocent victims of Pompeii.  My patience was as tenuous as a single strand of thread {which is not suitable for tying up family members- breaks too easily}.  Indeed, after listening to Dragon Tales: Songs of Merriment 50 million times in a row, even the most microscopic amount of happiness was lost to the outer regions of sagebrush and cacti.  

Perhaps that was why my husband was driving a bit too fast....

When we entered Texas, we began rapturous singing and praising, for the speed limit was 80.  Woo-Hoo!  Configuring the 4-5 marginal allowance due to the fact that all odometers vary, we decided to drive 85 miles an hour.  That is when, from across the meridian, we see the bright flashing of blue and red.  And then we see a cloud of dust.  Thinking, "Wow! That officer is Hauling!", it dawns on us that the black and white Crown Victoria is heading Straight For Us.  Maneuvering his car in ways I have only seen in the movies, he crosses 2 lanes of oncoming traffic, spins around as if he is doing donuts on ice and pulls up behind us.  We are filled with chagrin, as we humbly roll onto the shoulder then slightly into the weeds.  After walking up to our window, the officer asks us the most redundant question ever to come out of the mouths of human beings, "Do you know why I stopped you?".  

Okay, actually when I first realized that we were the intended target of the Highway Patrol Vehicle, I was a little confused, but when we pulled off to the Shoulder of Shame, my husband informed me that he was going almost 90 mph.  Here is when the bonds of my hands around his throat would have been strengthened, but lucky for him, the officer walked up.  And I figured that an officer of the law should be the LAST person I should let witness violent acts of a wife's fury.

Good thing my husband is honest.  He admitted that there was no excuse for his speeding {although I thought that 2 children and a serious lack of music variety was a Darn Good Excuse}, that he was just excited to see his brother.  And then the officer started "chatting".  They went off on basketball teams, and I feel it a blessing that all the Texas teams creamed us in sports, because the officer seemed to be filled with a new sense of pride as my husband agreed to the embarrassing  defeats of our beloved state teams.  As they continued "man-sport" talk, he took a good look at us {which I would have preferred him NOT to do at the time- but then realized this was crucial if we wanted any form of pity bestowed upon us}, and walked back to his monochromatic grandma car.  After experiencing The Wait of Woe, he came back and told us he would give us a warning, since he only clocked us at 84 mph.  

Apparently the Ticket Angels were on duty that day because I KNOW it wasn't our charm and pleasant aroma that got us off the hook.

If I wasn't worried about dehydration, I would ban all forms of liquid refreshment and refuse the consumption of them while undertaking Long Car Escapades.  Actually, the one in diapers can have all she wants.  My son, whom I feel blessed is a 'son', was unceasingly having to pee.  So there was many a bush 'watered' along that endless road of Epoch Misery.  But it was the time that he had to go 'number 2' that threw us for a loop.  As the car fills with the Unmistakable Mist that serves as a warning sign to those present that the need for a bowel movement is close at hand, we pull off to the side and search for a rock.  We found something Ultimately Better!  For there, on the side of a dirt mound, was a tire!  Perfect!  After checking for poisonous critters and sharp foreign objects, it was deemed safe for pooping.  But no.  My son refused.  Again, if only I had rope, I would have done some serious family tying.  After declaring all manner of threats, and the icy wind nipping our noses, I ran into the truck and locked the doors.  As my husband and son stood there shivering, crying and arguing,  I cracked the window slightly and yelled out {I ONLY yelled so I could be heard over the boisterous  wind} that they couldn't come back to the warmth of the truck until he went.  Fuming that every minute he stood out there arguing meant that we would arrive only that much later, my husband gave in and brought him back to the truck.  Maybe that's for the better.  I wouldn't want to be the farmer who went to throw away a tire only to find "surprises" waiting inside.  

Sometimes I wish I was a man because The Vacation Road is paved with loathsomely unclean bathrooms.  

I assumed that all y'all would appreciate the fact that I didn't make a visual record of all the Bathrooms of Nastiness by taking pictures.  I only hope that in future years I will come to forget the images that have burned themselves into my brain.  

I don't have this Monumental Fear of Germs, and during my years as a mother I have discovered that germs CAN be removed with the simple application of soap and water.  But these bathrooms would scare even The Bravest.  I realize that during these tough economic times, we must all cut back a little, but there are some things that should be left off the 'cut-back' list.  Like toilet paper.  My very first public bathroom experience on the road to gaining gratitude for the simple things in life was almost disastrous, due to monetary 'cut-backs'.  As I ventured into the local McDonald's bathroom, the first of 2 stalls did not have those blessed paper toilet seat covers, and I REFUSE to sit on anything that has had strange bare ends placed upon them.  Nasty.  So I reach up the toilet paper dispenser and realize that it is empty.  Whew!  Disaster Averted.  

I cannot even begin to tell you how many stops we made so that my aging bladder could relieve itself.  I used to be able to go on 12 hour drives and only pee once.  Now it's like every hour that the need presents itself.  And NOT ONE of those public restrooms had paper toilet seat protectors.  NOT ONE.  I understand cutting back, but I would have been more understanding and forgiving if they even had the Dispensers they go in!!!  Not One of those stinky stalls had them.  Not One of those Wretched Rooms were equipped with papery precautions.  I spent the whole trip strategically placing two long strips of T.P. on numerous toilet seats.  {And reading messages inscribed with a sharpie on the walls.  The inscriptions included websites and I pondered the idea of adding my blog address to the many others that can only be removed with a Mr Clean Magic Eraser. But I didn't have a sharpie on my person.  Drat.}

Open restrooms at rest stops = wind.  I appreciate the breeze that comes through, removing foul odors with bursts of freshness so that the rest of us don't pass out because we are holding our breaths.  But when there is a slight fresh breeze, it is Extremely Difficult to try and place two strips of toilet paper on a seat and make them Stay.  If I only needed one, it would be too easy.  Just place and plop.  But now I have one cheek exposed to germs that come from who-knows-where.  So I had quite the experience, cursing under my breath that now is not the time to be in desperate need of Creative Thinking.  I had a mission, and figuring out a puzzling predicament was not part of that plan.  Frustrated, I waited for a break in the wind {no pun intended} and pinned those flying strands down.  Which comes to my next issue with those restrooms.  I am a Towering 5 ft even, but let me tell you, the tops of those stall doors only came up to my eyes.  Which, if you don't want to do the math, is LESS than 5 feet high.  So as I sat there holding strips of toilet paper in place and waiting for the wind to subside, I realized that ANYONE over the height of 5'2" could look over and see me in all my glory.  I prayed a lot in that restroom.  Even when I conquered the wind-blowing-toilet-paper hurdle, I still prayed no one would "walk-by" my stall.  I did my business as fast as I could and got out of there.  I don't care if they had Wi-Fi, a pleasant picnic area or great views with vending machines.  I'm never stopping there again.  

Now onto the subject of the washing and drying of hands in public restrooms.  I KNOW that there are people out there who don't have the common courtesy to Wash Their Hands when they're done taking care of business.  Which is why I have affectionate feelings towards the paper towel.  I use them to turn off the faucet, dry my hands and open the bathroom door.  The last being the most critical of all.  Unfortunately for me, only ONE of those restrooms had paper towels, the rest of them had those hand blow dryers.  Yes- save a tree, but PLEASE give me the option of doing so!  At one of the stops, I grabbed the door and could FEEL the layer of filthy nastiness on the inside of the handle.  It was fortuitous that I had wipes and hand sanitizer waiting for me like manna from Heaven in the truck.  

But enough about my adventures with the Public Porcelain.  I feel that one should be informed of the stop you must make if you are headed through Texas.  You will be diverted to a small station where a man who appears to be of Hispanic Dissent with a Border Patrol Uniform will ask if you are a US citizen.  I thought we would have to get out, get frisked, open our luggage and reveal our unmentionables, provide current proof of identification, and maybe even have to provide a urine sample.  But as we drive up, he inquires of us our citizenship, we inform him where our loyalties lie, and he sends us on our way. What If We Lied????!!!  Okay, I know that the pigment of our skin and color of our hair was the first clue we weren't illegal aliens from Mexico, but what if I was Canadian, aye? {Shamefully I thought about providing an accent while adding the word 'aye' to everything next time we passed through.  Alas, I didn't.}

After a glorious vacation, we took our sweet time starting the horrendous drive back home that incidentally led to yet ANOTHER all to familiar flash of red and blue lights, but again, the Ticket Angels intervened.  After lashing out atrocious cursings {I am so glad my children were asleep for that} at his fellow comrades at the station, chastising them for their incompetence, the officer let us go with a warning.  Which was a good thing because our proof of registration was NOT in the truck.  I'm crying and contemplating how severe my punishment will be if I let this officer witness my violent act of "bonding" as I choke my husband.  "There's No Way we'll get off this time," I growled in my you-are-going-to-die voice.  {I think this voice is a standard issue with wives and mothers.}  But Heaven smiled upon us and we drive free and clear off the Shoulder of Shame yet again.  
When we finally made it home, we did NOT unpack the truck- just went straight to our haven of blissful slumber.  After 16 hours of agonizing torment and excruciating anguish, some things CAN wait until morning...

1 post a comment :

Heather said...

oh aye! I have that you-are-going-to-die-when-we-are-alone glare down pat, I developed mine when my husband and I were first engaged and he had acured 5 tickets, after we get married he acquired 3 more, (and I was there for almost all of them) and he had to go to driving school to get points off his record or face a license suspend. I know the curb of shame very well......and my husband knows the glare even better!!!!!

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