For Thanksgiving, I drove a 14-foot U-Haul truck from Cleveland to Louisville.
Yes. Me. I drove a truck. To Kentucky.
It was the biggest thing I had ever driven and I was pretty certain that if I wanted to try, my car would have fit comfortably in the back of the truck.
It was a long, long, long day and the miles seemed to pass very slow.
For fun, if I stretched out far enough, I was able to reach the radio scan button and I got to play a modified game of ‘name that tune.’ My version was a guessing game: ‘country, god or Christmas song.’
I was rarely right in my guesses, for the record.
The road trip almost didn’t get started. I couldn’t figure out how to release the parking brake. It took a gay man, who openly refers to himself as ‘the biggest queen around,’ to find it and show me how to release it.
I am sure there is a joke in there somewhere.
Did I mention it was a long drive? Even though it was only a six-hour drive, it felt about double that. Maybe because I was over the whole thing within ten miles of pulling out of my mother’s driveway.
I felt like the gas and brake pedals were designed with bigger feet in mind. I felt like there was no graceful way to get out of or into the truck.
But, you’ve met me. This cannot be a surprise.
I must confess that I felt a kinship with the truckers I passed. Being a bit higher up and driving a truck was all it took.
I even got to park in the truck lot at one of the rest areas, mainly because I was afraid of backing the truck up more so than a kinship with the cross-country truckers.
The ‘cab’ (look at me using a trucker term already) was so loud that I couldn’t hear my cell phone ring, even though it was turned up to full volume. To try and combat the noise, I turned the radio up, full blast.
It kind of helped. But not really.
At least the weather was nice for the drive. By nice, I mean no blizzard or freezing rain and about half-way there, I actually saw some blue sky and even put on the sunglasses. So, I had that going for me.
(From the archives)
I suppose the day was doomed when I called my mother this morning and she answered the phone, declaring that she had her hand up a bird’s ass and it was hard to stuff a turkey if people kept calling her.
Eight hours later, we are sitting around the dining room table at my mother’s house. We passed the ear of corn around. The meal is all put away, the dessert dishes are all still on the table. All is quiet and calm. We are just catching up on each other’s lives.
Mom and my brother, Jim, in town from Chicago, are off in search of an old video tape of my grandparents from more than a decade ago. Mr. Drysdale, Aunt Deb and I are at the dining room table. We have a clear view into the TV den.
Mom, a.k.a. The Diva, finds a box of tapes and puts one into her VCR. We watch her and Jim watch the video of gray snow on the screen. We wonder how long they will watch this. We are already giggling at the dining room table.
After about ten minutes of fast-forwarding, they realize that they are watching a video head cleaning tape. Jim ejects the tape and Mom pulls another tape, unmarked out of a box and hands it to Jim.
Jim pops this new tape into the VCR. A picture slowly comes into view. It is not of my grandparents in their garden. I see Mr. Drysdale’s eyes get big at the table. In the den my mother begins to scream.
My mother is loud, screaming, “Eject. Eject! Eject.” Mr. Drysdale would later describe this sound, this sound as that of a hawk, coming in for an attack.
Jim walks away from the den, away from my mother and away from the tape playing on the VCR. Jim thinks this is funny, leaving my mother with porn. And not being the technical person, she has no idea how to quickly get the tape player from playing. She is banging away at various buttons.
On the screen, a porn movie is playing. At the dining room table, “My eyes, my eyes.” cries Mr. Drysdale and the three of us cover our eyes, as if we can block it all out.
Back in the TV den, mom gets the tape ejected and all red-faced and mortified, she comes into the dining room and sits down at the table with us. Jim is behind her.
We are all laughing too hard for words. Finally, Aunt Deb speaks. “And yet another way to say ‘thanks giving.’” she says.
“I really thought,” said a shocked Aunt Deb, “that I was going to see my parents on a tape. Instead, I saw porn.” Her whole body kind of shivers.
Mr. Drysdale picks up the container of cool whip by him and moves it away from him.
“So, who’s porn was that?” asked Aunt Deb. She wondered if her sister had all sorts of secrets.
“Not mine.” declared Jim.
We all look at him, always suspicious of the first to declare their innocence.
“It’s the wrong type.” he said. “I prefer my porn man-to-man.” All right then. Mom’s hands are in her face. No mother wants to know, gay son or not, what type of porn their child watches.
Aunt Deb turns to me. “Is it yours?”
First of all, I hadn’t lived at home in a good decade and a half or so. “No.” I say, and begin to explain that woman really are not visual people when it comes to turn ons. Odds are that the porn belongs to a male.
“You’re right.” says my mother. “Woman are more oral.”
“I was going to go with ‘verbal,’” I said, “but I believe the woman on the tape was certainly ‘oral.’”
Mom’s face is once again buried in her hands.
“It’s got be Vayne’s tape.” declares Jim.
Vanye is not there to defend himself but there is no doubt in any of our minds that it is his. He is the baby of the family and would have certainly had porn in his mother’s house. Other things have been found belonging to Vanye, left behind when he moved out. Other things no mother needs to find.
“Maybe,” says The Diva, with a sigh,“Einstein slipped it in…” . And before she could finish her sentence, we are roaring with laughter again.
Once again, calmed down, so long as no one looks at each other. I point out to the group that there was not any alcohol involved in all this laughter and tears. “We’re a pretty focused group,” says Mr. Drysdale, “one vice at a time.”
“And today’s vice,” says Aunt Deb, “is porn.”
“Could we talk about anything else but this?” asks Mom, slowing dying of embarrassment. We try to move on but it keeps coming back to porn jokes. Like when Mom declared ‘I’m hot.’
“So was the woman on the tape.” said Mr. Drysdale.
“I was kind of impressed,” said my mother, “with the cameraman’s work. To be able to get that angle.”
And with that, the crowd broke into tears again.
“I tried so hard.” says my mother, “to make a nice meal. I just wanted everyone to have a nice memorable Thanksgiving.”
“Oh,” says Mr. Drysdale, “we will remember this.”
“We have to make a pact never to talk about this again.” declares my mother. She is mortified. She is beyond mortified.
I practiced with Mr. Drysdale and Aunt Deb, who both have to work on Friday, asking them how their holiday was, until they could give a straight, normal answer. Not, “I saw porn with my family.” Or, the ever classic “I had pumpkin pie and porn.”
After many rounds of practice, finally, Mr. Drysdale is able to answer the question with a “Just fine. I brought a turkey sandwich today. Have a meeting, got to run.”
Aunt Deb is able to answer with a “We had a nice time at my sister’s house.”
We thought the pact might hold.
After awhile, the tears were gone, the laughter faded. We thought the moment had passed. “Maybe we’d be more comfortable if we moved to another room.” said my mother, getting up from the dining room table.
“And, what,” asked Mr. Drysdale, “take off all our clothing?”
Another round of laughter came.
Finally, Aunt Deb asked my mother, “So what do you have planned for Christmas?”
Waiting for the furnace repair guy to show up…
Tomorrow, we are loading up the moving van. And heading down to Louisville with a truckload of my mother, The Diva’s, stuff. Yes, lucky me, I’ll be driving a big old U-Haul truck southbound for six hours.
Me? U-haul? Have you met me?
I’m hoping, that there will be no traffic.
Yesterday my furnace went out. Again, have you met me?
Thankfully, it wasn’t hundreds upon hundreds of dollars to fix. Was a simple switch, a safety switch, that had to be replaced.
The day before yesterday, I got food poisoning.
Or something like that.
My mother is not acknowledging that it could be food poisoning. Because, you see, it was at her house during an early Thanksgiving. Her good doesn’t make anyone sick.
Either way, there was much puking to be done.
Last week, my grandmother was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. More on that to come- when I have the energy to write about it all.
I am suppose to be on vacation, but I spent much of the last 48 hours working. And/or worrying about my grandmother burning her new apartment down.
This doesn’t feel like a vacation at all.
It’s been so hard to leave my dogs and go to work these last few weeks. See, they’ve been very spoiled with the opportunity to go to grandma doggy day care, with my mother, The Diva, while I am at work. But The Diva has moved on and gotten over my dogs. She has officially closed on her new condo in Louisville and my dogs are home alone while I am at work, like simple common dogs.
And we all know they’re not common at all.
They’re not used to being neglected as the days pass. I mean, they sometimes go nearly 9 hours without anyone to rub their bellies.
They’re clearly suffering.
At night, when I get home, the belly rubs commence, making up for the lost time. And we are managing, without The Diva.
The only thing is that it is really hard to type up blog posts puppies on your lap.
Have you met my family?
I don’t claim to know it all but here’s a fashion tip for you guys: never ever ever is it acceptable to wear a visor in any public place after dark.
I spent much of the past week in Chicago. I was there for both the work conference and to meet with a new photo studio.
And of course there’s the going out and the dining and alcohol. Night after night.
One night, we went to this adorable tiki bar and had amazing drinks. There was way too rum in them to be any good the following day. But they came in such adorable cups, how could they refuse?
See the dolphin made of fruit? So cute. So cute. So cute.
I walked into the office this morning and this little bit of worldly advice was hidden under my computer’s mouse.
I have no idea who put this there or thought I needed to hear it.
But I sure do appreciate the message.
Happy Friday, peeps!