Today was spent doing what I hope will NOT become a Friday tradition, driving up to Appalachia to pick up Tommy from LMU. My companions for the day were my several decades younger than me 3-year-old and my several decades older than me father. I thought the day would be uneventful as long as I followed one rule: No discussing politics. We left the house at 11 a.m. I skipped breakfast and I’ve been told that I’m a teensy bit testy when I haven’t eaten. There might be some truth to that. Immediately, the 3-y-o tossed his toys into the backseat. It’s a fun game that is usually not a problem with siblings beside and behind him. Today, the only person not driving was the grandfather who wasn’t about to attempt crawling into the back of the van. The smallest person began to complain. “Dropped phone. Get phone. Need phone. Phone. Phone. Phone. Phone.” “Cathy, you need to get in the right lane and get ready to merge.” “I’ve got it Dad. Evan, do you see any red cars?” “Phone! Phone!” “Ignore him when he’s being bad. Go around this truck.” A rice krispy bar calmed Evan. Grandaddy got distracted by a phone call from Granny.
“So, are you still voting for S____?” “Who are you talking about Dad?” “S____. That’s Obama’s real name on his original birth certificate.” “I don’t know what you are talking about Dad.” “You don’t even know your candidate’s real name. Bwa-ha-ha.” At this point, I was visibly annoyed and that tickled my father even more than the fact that he is so politically wise. He snickered and mumbled that he got me good while I began texting Doug for Internet support. “What are you doing?” “Texting Doug a question.” “Why? Won’t it wait? What are you typing?” I couldn’t get help from Doug because my texting was too obscure and Doug didn’t have the time or patience to go on a scavenger hunt. I could actually see the nerves standing up on top of my skin. “I think this is our exit.” “This doesn’t look right Cathy. Are you sure?” “Sorry, this is wrong.” I hopped back on the Interstate as quickly as I had left it and my father got a phone call from a friend. “Yes, I’m in the car. Mmhmm. Well, I think my daughter is lost. Right. I know. Well, I’d better get off the phone or she’ll have us in the wrong state.” By this point, I had made the correct exit and was on the long, boring road which actually has areas where the speed limit is 25 mph. Do you know what 25 mph feels like with a 3-year-old in the backseat complaining because he wants to watch a different cartoon and the person beside you lecturing that it’s perfectly normal not to know how much property you own? It feels like a new level of hell.
We spent an hour getting Tommy and goofing off on the campus. While Tommy showed his grandfather his dorm room, I listened to music blasting across campus and had a small hissy on the phone with Doug. “And you know what he said then?” We finally headed out and I declared that we were making a stop for food. Against my wishes, we went inside instead of using the drive-thru. All I’ll say about the food break is that a lengthy e-mail of complaint has been sent to the franchise. My teenage son and father made sure I knew that if we had stopped at the place we have stopped every single time we have been to LMU, there wouldn’t have been any problems.
The bad fast food experience was only aggravated by a complete absence of phone signal inside the restaurant. When I hopped back in the car, I decided to take a moment and check in on the Twitter chatter. “What are you doing on the phone again?” “I’m just checking news and local stuff.” “On your phone? You need the radio. I know the talk radio schedule.” While I was trying to read Twitter, my father was fumbling with my car radio. “Where’s the AM button?” “Stop it. Don’t touch that. I don’t want the radio!” “Well, excuse me for trying to help.” My father turned into Milton and went on a long mumbling tirade while I spent all of three minutes catching up on Twitter. I finished, got back on the road and tried explaining that I had XM plugged into the radio and that he should have changed channels on the little XM box. Bad idea. I should have just let him push the buttons and search out his favorite radio show. We got home at 4 p.m. and my brain feels like mashed potatoes. Not a good feeling.
Sunday, Tommy will need a ride back to school. Granny is taking him. I’m staying home.