Suspicious (A Valentine’s Short Story)

She was suspicious of his motives. Really, men just didn’t approach her. She wasn’t the type of girl who normally attracted the attention of the popular guys, the extraordinarily good-looking guys, or the athletic guys. On occasion, she would get asked out by the sweet yet awkward nerdy guys, but usually even if they noticed her, they were too shy to ask her out. It wasn’t that she was fat, ugly, or unintelligent. She wasn’t any of those things. Though she definitely wasn’t glamorous, she was pretty in a natural, earthy way. Fussing over makeup or designer clothes just wasn’t her thing; rather, she was more the fresh-scrubbed, girl-next-door type who was most comfortable in jeans, a t-shirt, and a ponytail. She never saw the need to draw attention to herself, yet socially inept didn’t quite describe her. It wasn’t that she couldn’t make small talk and interact in group settings; she just never really saw the point. Happiness to her was sitting on the sidelines observing others or spending time alone reading a good book, exploring nature, or experimenting in the kitchen. Those were solitary activities; maybe they didn’t have to be, but for her, they were. Solitude made her happy. She liked her own company and her own hobbies.

Now here was this smart, handsome, and out-going guy intruding on her solitude. What was she supposed to make of that? Sure, they had known each other for a while, but they were acquaintances, nothing more. There had never been any indication that they would ever be more than that; except, according to him, he had been interested in her from the start. He said he found her intriguing and elusive. The more she tried to blend into the scenery and avoid detection, the more he thought of her as a mystery, a puzzle he felt compelled to solve.

The most confusing and suspicious part of the whole thing was that he didn’t ask her out on an ordinary, run of the mill date. . . No, he asked her out for Valentine’s Day. Who does that? She was having trouble figuring out why he had asked her out at all, and he asks her out for Valentine’s Day. More than that, he refused to take no for an answer. He told her he had it all planned and wanted to alleviate her concerns. She didn’t have to dress up or make herself up into something she wasn’t. He wanted to go out with her, the girl he said he knew. All she had to do was say yes and be ready when he picked her up. He promised that she would have fun. He all but begged her to give him a chance. What was she supposed to do?

Since he swore he was showing up at her door no matter how many times she said no, she figured she had two options: she could let him show up to an empty house or she could give in. She decided to test his word. She was ready when he arrived, dressed in her standard jeans and a sweater. Her hair was in a ponytail, and she did not wear makeup. She dressed like she would for any other event outside of work. To her surprise, he was casually dressed as well. He didn’t take her anywhere fancy either. He said he wanted to prove to her that he had been paying attention and that he really did know the true her. He drove her to the nearby park and pulled a blanket and picnic basket out of the backseat of the car. Knowing that she liked to cook, he had wanted to fix her dinner: homemade pizza, pasta with pancetta and veggies, and a fruit salad. Because he knew she loved nature, he chose to eat in the park rather than intimidate her by inviting her to his home. They ate in a lovely spot overlooking the pond. After they ate, they strolled some of the paths and fed the ducks. Then he told her there was one more part to their date. He took her to the bookstore where they meandered through the shelves discussing their favorite books before sitting down to have coffee and dessert. He had managed to incorporate all of her favorite things, normally solitary things, into their date. He showed her that they had those things in common and that he really did like her for her. They talked more in that one night than all of their previous interactions combined, and she was suspicious no more.

Daily Post Prompt: Suspicious

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Puzzling Results

Well, what do you know? It’s February. We’re a full month into 2018. By now most of us have given up on our New Year’s resolutions. Be honest! Some of you don’t even remember your resolutions. Resolutions, what resolutions?

I actually made two. The first was to refocus on building my business. When I started it in mid-June, I hit the ground running. Being a tad obsessive-compulsive, I made list after list of all the things I needed to do and got busy checking things off. I was starting to see some progress too, but then I made a month long trip back east to visit family and attend a wedding and even though my business is mobile, the progress went screeching to a halt. Though I completed a few jobs during the trip, things definitely lost momentum. The month after I got home, I tried to recoup but nothing happened and I started to doubt the wisdom of my actions. I got depressed and even considered that I might have to give up my dream. With my savings quickly depleting and 2018 getting ready to start, I made the resolution to reenergize my efforts. That must have been some burst of energy because my business definitely experienced significant growth. January was my strongest month yet! It certainly makes me eager to see what February has in store.

My other resolution was typical for most. Last year, I gained almost thirty pounds. That too had me feeling helpless as the new year rolled in. It seemed that no matter what I did, I was destined to keep gaining. Blame it on my age, I guess. That is just one perk of being a female in my late forties. I wonder, is there a male equivalent for menopause? I mean, really, why do women get all the bad luck? Anyway, I resolved to make one last attempt to lose weight. For the last month, I have eaten mostly fruits and vegetables with some lean proteins. I gave up sodas, desserts, and most carbs. I even started going to the gym once or twice a week. I know, that isn’t near as often as I should, but it is more than I was doing before. Now, I find myself puzzled on several accounts. One, I’m puzzled as to how I have managed to stick with it for the last thirty-three days. Two, I am puzzled that while I lost almost eight pounds within the first two weeks, I have gained back two or three pounds in the last week even though I am still exercising and watching what I eat. What the hell! Should I throw in the towel? Maybe. Yet, I’m not ready to just yet.

You could say that both of my resolutions, though showing some success, still need some earnest and continued effort. Perhaps, I’ll just take things month by month.

Daily Post Prompt: Puzzled

My Ever-changing Silhouette

kindergarten silhouette

Hiding tucked away in a closet, framed but not displayed, sits my silhouette from kindergarten. I was such a cute, dainty little thing back then and my trademark feature was the golden ponytail sprouting from the top of my head. Though I rarely remember that the silhouette resides in the closet, I have never been able to dispose of it. It is a reminder of innocence, of simple and happy times. There is joy in the memory of making this replica of myself, of my teachers taking the time to trace my image, of taking it home to share with my mom. It was the first time I paid attention to the contrast of light and dark, of black and white. It prompted me to pay attention to shadows, especially my shadow. I remember the wonder of seeing my shadow following me on a sunny day and laughing as we hopped and skipped in unison. Even now it brings a smile to my face and makes me think of Peter Pan and his search to find his shadow. We tend to lose hold of those simple pleasures as we grow.

That being said though, I am not so sure that I would appreciate having silhouettes from other ages lurking around my house. I can only imagine the stark differences I would note. The one from age sixteen might show a chubby facade with glasses and a perm. I suppose one from my twenties would be acceptable; I had once again thinned out and had taken to wearing contacts and long, loose curls. Yes, that girl I might like to remember. Sadly, there is absolutely no way I would want a current silhouette. Now that I am in my late forties, I have foregone the contacts and reverted to glasses once more (trifocals, no less), and I typically wear my hair in a haphazard bun/ponytail on the top of my head, which isn’t near as cute as my former one. Should the silhouette capture more than just my head, it would probably look like I posed while wearing a swimming tube around my waist. Ugh! That isn’t an image I hope to retain. The only good thing about a black and white image of my current self is that it wouldn’t show that my hair is now a collage of dark brown, light brown, gray, and white. It drives my mom crazy that I refuse to color it, and she lovingly refers to me as “the old lady”.

So while I have no desire to dispose of my framed silhouette, let’s just call it “one and done”. Regardless of the joy it evokes, I have no desire to relive the experience. It just wouldn’t be the same.

Daily Post Prompt: Silhouette

 

 

Two prisoners laughing (a short story)

This story was inspired by my phone’s autocorrect and the Daily Post prompt.  Instead of merely using today’s word, I incorporated all of the prompts for the week into one story.  I used to do similar stories for my students using their vocabulary words, so I thought what the heck.

The two prisoners sat in the holding cell laughing. What else could they do but laugh? For two rather intelligent guys, sometimes they were just plain dumb. You see, not two weeks ago, they were just two ordinary guys. Neither of them had a criminal record, at least not then. They were actually college graduates with fairly high GPAs and the loans to prove it, but neither had found full-time employment in the six months since they had earned their degrees. Neither could make the loan payments and they were starting to get stressed. Their lives appeared to be static, going absolutely nowhere. They needed to find a loophole, some way to make a quick buck so they could buy some time, time to find better jobs and pay their debts in the meantime.

Jimmy was the one to first entertain the idea of a bank robbery. It started as a joke, but Billy took him seriously, and Billy always could egg him on. Every crazy thing he had ever done was a result of Billy either daring him to try it or convincing him that it was a great opportunity. This was no different. Still, Jimmy didn’t hold Billy responsible for the trouble he was now in; he could have said no. If he had truly given adequate thought to what they were doing, he could have anticipated this exact scenario. It wasn’t that they hadn’t come up with a great plan, more that they were the ones putting it into action. To be honest, they just didn’t have the skills needed to pull it off. In retrospect, the fact that they had been caught really wasn’t a shock to either of them.

Yes, they had done their homework. They considered a number of banks before they made their choice. Not only did they study blueprints, they watched the routines of the security guard, determined what time there would be fewer customers, and tested how easy or difficult it was to get in and out of the parking lot. They hacked into the security cameras to turn off the live feed, so that the cops couldn’t use video to hunt them down. They even created disguises. Surely they had thought of everything, everything needed to succeed in this crazy scheme and make a clean getaway. Really, it was a beautiful plan.

That morning, they approached the bank with confidence. A lady with a baby unwittingly aided their endeavor when the baby momentarily distracted the security guard. Jimmy was able to disarm the guard and handcuff him before anyone was the wiser. Billy approached the counter and made his demands to the tellers while Jimmy kept his eyes on the manager and the customers. Everything seemed to be going so smoothly, all according to plan, but that all changed in the blink of an eye. Just as they were turning to leave, adrenaline coursing through their veins, a cop car coincidentally pulled into the parking lot. In disbelief, Billy spun around so fast that he lost his balance causing Jimmy to trip and collide with a table. They fell in a heap on the floor just as the cops came in to make a withdrawal. The tellers immediately screamed, “Robbers!” alerting the officers who were quick to draw their weapons and make the arrests.

Now sitting in their cell, all Jimmy and Billy could do was laugh. They had thought of everything except the obvious. Though extremely intelligent, neither was athletic or quick on his feet. They had always thought that having brains was superior to having athleticism, and yet it turned out that their lack of agility had been their downfall. When they thought of how they must have looked as they went tumbling down, they almost wished there had been video footage. Just imagining such video sent them into hysterics. What a hoot!

Daily Post Prompt: blink

Flirting with Romance

This is a far cry from my usual humorous personal anecdotes, my heartfelt pleas for humanity, or even my murder mystery novel, so readers, please be kind. I have never before written anything remotely in the realm of fictional romance. Trust me! It is fictional! Consider it a side effect from all the Christmas Hallmark movies and the romance novels I have been reading the past few weeks. Damn Stephanie Laurens! Here goes nothing:

He evoked a myriad of emotions she had never thought she would, or even wanted to, feel again. After all, her last foray into such things had resulted in sheer disaster. The mere thought of subjecting herself to that possibility once again made her whole body quiver in trepidation. And yet, he had the ability to make her quiver in a much more elemental, undeniable way. She felt trapped and defeated . . . by him, by her traitorous desires, by her irrational heart . . . and there was absolutely nothing she could do about it. She couldn’t prevent it; the battle was already being waged. She couldn’t run from it either, no matter how much her brain screamed at her to do so. And now, it was quite apparent that she couldn’t deny it.

Still, she didn’t trust him. She hadn’t trusted anyone, other than herself, in years. Recent events certainly prove that she can no longer trust herself either. She never meant for things to go so far. She couldn’t imagine how he had managed to breach her walls. As skilled as she was at avoidance, at keeping others (especially men) at arm’s length, how had he weaseled his way in and caused her to lower her defenses? True, he was incredibly handsome, but he definitely wasn’t the only handsome man to have crossed her path. She thought back to the beginning, to how she had ignored him, and suddenly it struck her that she hadn’t ignored him at all. She might have avoided talking to him, might have stayed on the opposite side of the room from him, but she had watched him, had followed his every move and held her breath. She hadn’t been able to ignore him at all. She had simply been fooling herself.

Daily Post Prompt: Evoke

Cherish the humanity!

When I sat down to write, I fully intended for this blog to be about Christmas traditions.  I wanted to share some of mine with you and ask you to let me in on yours.  However, when I considered today’s prompt, the word “cherish”, my writing took an entirely different turn.

This time of year can be difficult for some.  That group once included myself.  In fact, I used to be known as quite a Christmas scrooge.  As soon as the decorations would start to go up, I would get grumpy and depressed, and I would try to hide myself away as much as possible.  I tended to make those near and dear to me slightly insane. Thankfully, like Dickens’ Scrooge, I finally saw the light and have come to cherish this time of year.  The older I get, the more I find to love about it.

Thanksgiving to New Years is a magical time. If you open your eyes and really look around you, not only will you notice fellow humans in need, but you will also witness the kindness of strangers.  If you open your heart as well, you will find that it is exceedingly rewarding to give of yourself to others.  

Maybe your gift is to listen and offer comfort to someone having a difficult time.  It doesn’t take much.  Sitting at a slot machine a week or so ago, I struck up a conversation with a woman who confided in me that she had escaped to Vegas alone because she couldn’t handle her bickering relatives and the drama going on at home.  I could definitely relate to part of her story, and it eased her frustration to be able to discuss the situation with me.  It made her feel even better when I asked for her name and told her that I would include her and her family in my prayers.  I truly believe she left Vegas feeling more hopeful about the holidays.  Our conversation may have only lasted ten minutes, but it raised both our spirits.

Maybe it makes you feel good to donate financially, whether you drop a handful of change into the Salvation Army kettle on your way out of the grocery store or you help a struggling friend provide presents for his or her kids.  You don’t have to be rich, and you don’t have to give a huge sum.  When enough people give, it adds up fast.

Other things you can contribute are your time and your talents.  It is amazing the difference you can make.  You can volunteer to feed the homeless.  You can send gift baskets to soldiers serving overseas.  Perhaps you aren’t necessarily a people person; there are animals waiting at shelters for someone to adopt them who would love to be walked, groomed, and cuddled.  You might assist at your church. Last night I went to midnight mass and was in awe at the number of individuals who gave of themselves so others could be served.  They greeted guests, handed out bulletins, sang in the choir, served Communion, etc.  Pulling off a church service for hundreds of attendees is no small feat.

My point is that there is a lot of joy to be found this time of year.  Maybe you have your fair share of struggles and want nothing more than to say “Bah Humbug!”, but I have learned from experience that giving joy to someone else is like a boomerang.  It comes back to fulfill you in the end.  So while the lights and decorations are certainly beautiful, I believe that the most breathtaking thing to see is the humanity.  My hope is that you will experience it for yourself and cherish every moment.

Daily Post Prompt: Cherish

A Slippery Slope

 

Over the weekend, many parts of the United States experienced the first snowstorm of the season, which prompted me to reminisce about my one and only attempt at snow skiing.  It was an adventure that I (and sadly, a few innocent bystanders) will likely never forget.

It was the winter of 1992 or 1993, and I was in my early twenties.  The office that my mom worked for was sponsoring a day-long bus trip to the Wintergreen Ski Resort, and though my mom did not plan to go, I thought it was a good opportunity for me to step out of my comfort zone and give skiing a try.  I’m not sure what possessed me; I absolutely hate the cold, and I am not exactly what you would consider athletic.  What is it they say?  There is safety in numbers? That must have been part of my rationale.  It was a group outing.  There would be children among us.  Certainly, I could keep up with the kids without looking foolish.  There was absolutely no need to feel self-conscious.

I attached myself to my mom’s coworker Ray and her nine-year old son Eric.  On the bus ride to the resort, we made our plans.  We would all take ski lessons and see how things went.  After that, we would stick to the bunny slope or head inside to enjoy hot cocoa and snacks.  Whatever happened, the three of us would stay together.

Our lessons went well.  We learned how to use our poles to push ourselves off and how to form a pizza slice with our skis in order to stop.  Over and over again, we went down the modest slope of the training hill.  It was a huge boost to my ego that I didn’t fall down even once.  Ray and Eric were getting the hang of it too, and we eventually moved out of the training area and onto the bunny slope.  Again, we impressed ourselves with our newly acquired skills and made multiple runs down the hill without incident. When it started to lightly rain, we finally ventured inside for that hot cocoa.  But Ray and I didn’t stay inside long.

Since it was about a four hour bus trip each way, we knew our time was limited, and Ray wanted to make the most of it.  She urged me to go back on the slopes with her for one last run.  This time, though, she wanted to attempt the intermediate slope.  She really thought we could handle it.  A few hours on the bunny slope without any falls had proved to her that we were expert skiers.  I should have asked her what was in her cocoa; it surely must have been spiked.  Her sense of logic was flawed.  Then again, I was following her lead.  Where had my logic gone?

Neither one of us had bothered to consider the fact that the rain, though light and brief, had made the snow icy.  If there had been music playing for this scene, it would have been suggesting imminent doom.  We left the building and headed on level ground towards the intermediate slope.  I took the lead.  All was well . . . for about a minute.  Then I heard shrill screaming coming from behind me and glanced over my shoulder to look for Ray.  The screaming was coming from Ray.  Have I mentioned that Ray reminds me of Whoopi Goldberg? The scene I was witnessing brought back memories of Whoopi in the movie Jumpin’ Jack Flash. “Help! I’m a little black woman in a big silver box.”

Anyway, there was Ray screaming her lungs out, arms flailing,  I don’t know what happened to her poles, but she apparently didn’t need them to propel herself forward. There was absolutely no elegance in her actions. I could see people in her path scattering like flies.  I couldn’t help myself.  I veered off to the side and fell down in the snow to watch.  She was picking up speed and other people were now screaming right along with her.  And then it happened!  A young boy, about 5, fell down in her path.  Ray didn’t slow or swerve.  Nope, she went right over top of that poor kid and proceeded to take him downhill with her.  He was trapped, his head firmly clamped between her legs.  There is no telling how far they would have traveled like that if it hadn’t been for the fact that they smacked into a thick wooden post attached to netting meant to prevent skiers from going past that point.  They crumbled.  Ray finally went silent.  The kid was crying uncontrollably.  What I presume was his mother came running.  And I lay in the snow laughing.  I felt so bad for that boy and I hoped that he wasn’t seriously hurt, but the sight of the two of them racing downhill as one had me hysterical.

I honestly don’t know how Ray managed to make it back to where I was or how we were able to collect Eric and make it to the bus, but I will never forget the view from my spot at the top of the hill.  It was one of those things that seemed to take place in slow motion allowing me to replay it over and over again.  It was sad, shocking, and hysterically funny all at once, but it was nothing if not memorable.

As I said, I have never been skiing again.  There simply is no need to do so.  After all, what could possibly top that first excursion?

Daily Post Prompt: Elegance

In Search of My Sparkle

I suppose it happens to everyone now and again, but I was quite appalled earlier this week to realize that I had lost my sparkle.  I’ve been sitting in the dark all week.  Had my sparkle simply been a facade, a mask that dissolved in water, a magic spell with an expiration I had been oblivious to? It felt like stepping out into snowy weather to grab the mail and realizing a second too late that the door had locked behind me and I was devoid of both coat and keys.  The icy wind all but smacked me in the face.

Now if you know me or have been reading my blogs, you can be pretty certain that I am speaking metaphorically.  I live in Nevada surrounded by neon lights and warm weather.  It has actually been in the 70s all week.  What I mean is that my personality lost its warmth.  My sunny disposition went right out the window, and I’m not really sure how it happened. I mean . . .  I was feeling so positive when I wrote last week’s blog.  I was super excited about the direction of my business and thankful for family time.  Don’t get me wrong! I am still incredibly thankful.  What’s not to love about working at home, making my own hours, and having the option of doing so while still wearing my pajamas?  It’s a great gig.  

Maybe the holidays got to me.  I did spend Monday doing some online shopping for Christmas presents.  Perhaps it was the knowledge that I would ship presents to loved ones rather than delivering them in person that got me in a funk.  Maybe it was the realization that every year commercialism grabs a firmer hold and chokes out the spirit of Christmas.  How did Black Friday and Cyber Monday turn into a week long extravaganza?  The Black Friday sales started online on Tuesday and brick and mortar on Thursday.  Cyber Monday got extended until Wednesday, and in some instances, is still going strong today.  My email account has been inundated with sales ads.  I appreciate the art of giving and have always been one to enjoy giving over receiving, but I think this whole thing has gotten out of hand.

Maybe I can blame it on hormones or a mid-life crisis.  It is disconcerting to see the steady rise of my weight on the scale.  No matter what I eat or don’t eat, my ass keeps expanding.  My dog has even started to mock me.  He has started taking me for daily walks, sometimes several a day and I swear he keeps calling me “Fatty”.  He has begun to watch me eat, and it isn’t so much that he is begging for me to share.  It is more like he is questioning, “Are you really sure you should be eating that?”

Whatever the reason for my dismay, it has clearly drained my energy.  Aside from the walks my dog has urged me to take, I have simply morphed into a lump resembling Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars: fat, green, and stationary.  I have neglected my work and spent hours watching Grey’s Anatomy reruns, and I have to say that I have become rather sick of my own company.  Something needs to be done to correct the situation.  I need my sparkle back even if it requires a spit shine.

Therefore, I am closing out this blog to go put on my newly acquired and larger sized jogging pants and head for the gym.  I’m going to listen to some upbeat music and attempt to work my butt off.  Then I plan to take a long soak in the tub followed by a few hours writing the next chapter of my book.  Tonight I will cook a healthy yet delicious dinner and end the evening by splurging on some hot cocoa, Christmas music, and tree decorating with my mom.  It is time to restore my shine.  I sincerely hope that those of you who are struggling can find a way out of your funk too!

Daily Post Prompt: Sparklesmile-2192672_1920

Clutch

Though this time of year, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, can be extraordinarily busy, it also offers us a prime opportunity to step back and put our lives into perspective. We contemplate the following questions:

  • What can we and can’t we live without?
  • What are we grateful for?
  • What mistakes have we made this year and how can we do better next year?
  • What are our dreams and ideals?

I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the more thought I give these questions.  Maybe it’s just my imagination, but the ticking of the clock seems louder and I feel like any minute alarm bells will sound.  The idiom “our days are numbered” resonates more clearly.  No, I don’t believe that I will drop dead anytime in the near future; however, I am aware that is always a possibility.  Therefore, I want to make the most out of life, and I don’t just want to focus on these questions during the holidays.  

When my friend Jennifer passed away last year, my dreams and reality collided.  I began to take stock of my life as I considered all the dreams she and I had discussed over our forty-three year friendship and how few of those dreams we had actually achieved.  I considered the fact that I had worked sixty to eighty hours a week for as long as I could remember and how that impacted not only the quantity of time spent with family and friends but also the quality.  Every year I began to hate my job just a little more, probably because it was all-consuming and extremely exhausting.  When Jen and I would get together to have a drink and complain about work, we would laugh and say we were drinking a glass of “I Quit” with a “You Suck” chaser.  But the reality is, we needed our jobs and the crazy schedules that came with them.  We all need a paycheck, right?  Well, after her death, I re-evaluated things.  I planned for the future and gave myself a deadline.  I buckled down to save some money and last June I left the teaching profession to pursue a career as a freelance editor and everything about my life changed in that instant.

One might think that starting a new business is stressful, but I am more relaxed than I have ever been.  Even though I am currently only making a fraction of what I did before, I am not concerned.  First, I was realistic.  I figured it would take six months to a year to get fully established, and I saved and planned accordingly.  Second, I realized, that though money is certainly important, there are things that are far more valuable.  I now make time for my family, no matter the expense.  I take off Thursdays and Sundays to spend with my mom.  One of the perks of freelancing is the ability to work anywhere there is an internet connection, so my mom and I spent a month driving across country to visit family and friends.  We were able to stay with my brother and help him recover from shoulder surgery.  We were able to spend time with my sister, with Jen’s parents and aunt, and with numerous other family friends.  We spent three days in Georgia participating in wedding festivities and watched my baby girl marry her soulmate.  On the way back home we made a detour and spent a day at Crater of Diamonds State Park.  We made memories!  

Don’t get me wrong!  I am still a perfectionist with a strong work ethic, but I have learned to let go a little.  I may have an occasional day where I panic and wonder when the jobs and money will roll in on a consistent basis, but I believe in myself.  I believe that Jen is guiding me, and she won’t let me fail.  I am determined to live this life for both of us and refuse to miss out on the finer things life has to offer.  I choose to be positive, to recognize that bad things happen, but those things don’t have to hold us back.  Instead, they can propel us forward.  Therefore, I thank God everyday, not just on Thanksgiving, for my many blessings.   I choose to let go of the stress, to embrace the uncertainty, to pursue my dreams, and to firmly clutch hold of my loved ones.  I urge each one of you to do the same.

Daily Post Prompt: Clutch

The Adventures of Thelma and Louise

Mom and I have always been a bit droll.  You might call it a nervous habit or perhaps a morbid fascination, but we see humor in some of the stupidest things.  We have always had the ability to amuse ourselves and each other, so just the thought of driving across country together is enough to make me giggle.

On September 15th we loaded up my car, a Honda Insight, with a few weeks worth of luggage, snacks, gifts for friends and family, my laptop, my 60 pound dog, and all of his food, toys, and bedding and set off for the East Coast. Needless to say, things were a bit snug but no matter.  Who wouldn’t enjoy being squished like sardines in a metal can for days on end? It’s prime family bonding time, right?

Of course, if I wrote about all of our month-long adventures, this would turn into a book rather than a blog, so I’ll just hit the highlights.

Traveling through mountains in a hybrid is not for the faint of heart.  The car simply cannot maintain adequate speed, especially not loaded down as it was.  We stayed in the right-hand lane and sandwiched ourselves between 18-wheelers also struggling to keep up.  Thinking about it now, I get the image of a cartoon or caricature with my tiny little vehicle trapped between such behemoths.  What makes things more interesting is that I suffer from vertigo and do not appreciate heights, so my view is often limited to the taillights directly in front of me.  Mom thinks it is funny to comment on the beauty of the scenery and ask me what I think of the view.  It’s a wonder I didn’t drive off the road!

Speaking of driving off the road, we really and truly did come a hairsbreadth away from pulling Thelma and Louise’s final act.  With my glasses, I see fine during the day, but my night vision sucks.  We intended to stop before dark each day, but the lack of dog-friendly hotels sometimes caused us to forego our own safety.  To make matters worse, there was quite a bit of construction taking place along our route.  We stopped one night just off the interstate to get gas, afraid what we had left wouldn’t get us to the next actual town and hotel.  Because of the construction and near complete darkness, it was difficult to find the entrance ramp.  I turned a few feet from the detour sign and thankfully chickened out and slammed on breaks; directly in front of us was a cliff.  I had overshot the ramp.  Other people might freak out, maybe even scream, but mom and I, once we pulled our hearts out of our lap, could only find it in ourselves to laugh.  For the rest of the trip, we would just tease and say, “Let’s not go over a cliff tonight.” (I’m sure my sister is having her own heart attack reading this because we never thought to mention it when we called to say we had stopped for the night.  Oops!  We didn’t want to worry you.)

This leads me to discuss another night we drove past dark.  We could have stopped earlier, but it was lightly raining and since the dog won’t eat or potty in the rain, we decided to keep going until it stopped.  Maybe that wasn’t the wisest decision on our parts.  When it finally did stop and we reached the next town, it was already around 9pm and we had been driving all day.  We were tired and apparently very desperate.  We saw a Days Inn and knew they accepted pets, so I went in and got us a room.  We won’t be staying there again!  In fact, we not so lovingly renamed it the “Bate’s Motel”.  The room was as hot as an oven when we entered it and the air conditioner had been unplugged.  We simply plugged it back in and figured it would cool down the room by the time we fell asleep.  We were wrong.  As if roasting wasn’t bad enough, it wasn’t our only concern.  The dog found “something”, not sure what, to eat ,which prompted us to inspect the room more closely.  We found pennies, a dead bug, and an empty cracker wrapper on the floor making us well aware that the housekeeping staff left much to be desired.  Our inspection also noted a chunk of the door was missing at the bottom; perhaps Cujo had taken a bite out of it. The room was dark and we could only wonder why.  Believe me, we inspected the sheets looking for bed bugs and even checked under the mattresses for Norman Bates, Jason, or any other serial killer who might be hiding there.  We would have loved to find someplace, pretty much anyplace, else to stay but neither of us wanted to get back in the car and drive who knows how long in the dark with my crappy night vision.  I can’t say we really slept that night.  As soon as the sun came up, we were out of there.  We didn’t even bother with the free breakfast for fear of what we would find.  All we wanted was to get out of Tennessee.  Needless to say that when we stopped for the day, we showered before we even sat down.  We felt filthy!  Maybe things really were crawling all over us, maybe not, but we weren’t taking any chances.  

Thank God for our sense of humor! I’m already looking forward to the next trip!

Daily Post Prompt: Droll