Category Archives: Travel

What You Doin’ in the Bathroom?

Google images: dreamstime.com

Google images: dreamstime.com

My wife is always late. But sometimes the slipper is on the other shoe, and she was banging on the bathroom door last Tuesday for me to hurry up.

“What are you doing in there?” she asked. “We have to meet Millie and Bob at the popsicle festival now!”

“Well,” I haven’t primped for a day and a half,” I said, “and things are already getting out of control in here.”

“What’s that supposed to mean? The waffle-cone rodeo starts in fifteen minutes!”

“Okay, okay!” I cried. “My routine is kind of private. Must you stand right outside the door listening?”

“I’d be interested in hearing what your finicky grooming procedure actually is,” I heard her mutter as she walked away from the bathroom door.

Okay. I’ll admit it. It takes me longer than it used to to go out in public.

To get ready, I have to scrape my earwax with a key.

I have to shave my ear lobes and drums.

I have to insert my tooth plate.

I have to cover my tooth plate with a plastic white tooth-covering protective and decorative drape, which I bought from an infomercial for just $19.95. And after having called the informercial’s toll-free number, I received a second protective tooth tarp for free except for having to pay for shipping.

I have to rub wet coffee grounds into my goatee to eliminate the grey.

I have to dust and paste my eyebrows.

I have tamp my nasal hair.

I have to rub coconut oil on my elbow.

I have to tape the skin tag under my arm.

Finally I was ready to go. My wife was waiting in the car, beeping occasionally.

We were halfway down the street when I gasped in alarm. “We have to go back! I forgot my three-pronged photographic selfie crane!”

We finally met up with Bob and Millie. “Sorry we’re late,” I told Bob. “The wife overslept.”

 

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GPS PMS

Google images: gonzosabroad-blogspot-com

Google images: gonzosabroad-blogspot-com

The overly pleasant voice of my GPS said: “In 400 feet… turn right…”

I drove obediently to the corner of Blinker Street and Hive. After looking carefully both ways, I turned right.

Next GPS instruction: “In 400 feet… turn right…”

At the corner I stopped, and then I turned right again.

Again I heard: “In 400 feet… turn right…”

Hmm, that’s odd, I thought. Another right turn. At the next corner I turned right.

Then: “In 400 feet… turn right…”

Something smells really weird here, I thought. I should be getting nearer to Bob’s Toilet Parts, but the GPS just took me around the block.

Unsure of what to do, I turned right.

“In 400 feet… turn right…”

This is becoming ridiculous. I thought. I hit the “Nav” button. The radio came on. I pushed the “Dest” button. The wipers started. I pushed the “Map” button. I saw a map. But I couldn’t understand it.

I turned right.

“In 400 feet… turn right…”

Whoa! I exclaimed to myself. I almost missed that last right turn! Where in the world is my destination anyway? It must be around here somewhere.

For a moment I forgot where I was going. Then I remembered I needed a new flusher lever, ballcock nut, and universal rundle number 503. Ah yes, the toilet store.

“In 400 feet… turn right…”

“Okay,” I told my car. Compliantly, I turned right.

This went on for a while. Then I realized that I was in the wrong town. I parked the car and went to a bar.

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Weird Is the New Nice

Google images: pinterest.com

Google images: pinterest.com

My son and I dropped my wife off at the door of the grocery store, and then we parked in the lot to wait for her. Biff was sitting in the back seat.

It was a warm Saturday afternoon and my window was open. The passenger window in the car next to me was open, too, and sitting by himself in that car was a young boy of about 11 or 12. He was probably waiting for his mom.

“How are you doing?” I said unthinkingly through my window to the boy. The boy stiffened and looked straight ahead.

“DAD!” hissed my son. “What the heck are you doing?”

“Why? What’s the matter?” I said, looking at Biff’s reflection in the rearview mirror.

“You don’t DO that!”

“Do what?” I asked.

“Don’t say hi to a strange kid. Don’t you know that’s weird and creepy?”

“He doesn’t look very strange,” I replied.

“No, YOU’RE strange!” Biff whispered to me behind his cupped hand.

I sighed. “Yeah, I guess in these days you’re probably right. I was just trying to be friendly.”

“You’re going to get yourself arrested,” said Biff as he slunk down in his seat and looked away.

I rolled up my window.

After my wife was finished buying her cucumbers, she got back into the car. As we drove off, I told her what happened and asked her opinion. “I side with Biff,” she said. “You’re whacked.”

Okay. I understand. I used to be nice. Now I’m just weird.

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What? This Is Black Friday?

Google images: heavy.com

Google images: heavy.com

It was Thanksgiving Day and we had just finished dinner at Aunt Turilla’s house. As we helped to clean the kitchen and put away leftover food, Aunt Turilla said, “Gee, I need someone to fix my divan.”

“What hardware do you need for it?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I think I just need a screw and a nut.”

I looked at the settee and said, “You’re right. I’ll run to the store and get what you need. Substance Mart should be open.”

I wanted to get out of the house anyway, as too much family time exhausts me.

When I got to Substance Mart, I was surprised at the traffic jam. Silly me, I thought. I didn’t realize Black Friday has already begun.

I had to park by the elementary school down the road because of the crowd in the Substance Mart lot.

I walked for 20 minutes in the cold rain to the store.

Inside I was directed by police tape and laser guns toward the end of a giant line of people at the rear of the store.

“But,” I said to the cop who was sending me to the back of the line, “I haven’t even found my products yet.”

“There’s another line you have to go through after this line. The other line leads to the line where you can finally pick up your product and/or products. We do this to avoid a repeat of last year when 19 people kicked me.”

“I just want a screw and a butterfly toggle thing.”

But the cop was already walking away. “Move along,” he called to customers. “Nothing to see here.”

I debated. Should I wait here and then stand in two more lines just to get a flathead? I don’t need a 360-degree TV. My Good Samaritan quest is unrelated to holiday greed. I just want to fix some furniture so my aunt doesn’t fall on her fanny! 

The lady with the Rainbow Brite coupon behind me said that the cash registers didn’t even open for another 2 hours.

I kept debating. The line was moving, albeit slowly. Because of indecision and inertia, I continued waiting, following the crowd along the taped arrows and footprints on the store floor.

By the end of the night, I was completely caught up in Black Friday hype and frenzy. I called Aunt Turilla’s house.

“You’ve got to come to Substance Mart right away! They’re giving away bunny socks and Star Wars can-openers! Bring me a slice of pumpkin pie and a sleeping bag. Tomorrow they’re selling kaleidoscopic scuba masks!”

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Wow, Am I Glad I’m Not Stuck Alone in a Cold Car in a Dark, Freezing Forest!

Google images: lehighvalleywithlove.com

Google images: lehighvalleywithlove.com

I was driving on a lonely, snowy back road when my car fishtailed. I spun and landed at a 45-degree angle in a snowy woodsy gully. Saplings wedged my doors shut.

No problem, I thought jauntily. In this day and era of gadgety and computerized automobility, I’ll have no trouble connecting with someone to help me escape from this misshapen Chevy.

I scrounged my pockets for my portable Commodore phone, but I discovered I had left it in my other phone holster.

No problem, I thought in a lively and cheerful manner. After I push aside this cumbersome and intrusively deployed airbag, I’ll easily access assistance via our car’s handy-brandy, blueberry-tooth, space-aged, drone-like, satellitistic messaging system. Hmm, now where did I put the recipe for that digital wigga-whammy?

I couldn’t find the digital wigga-whammy nor the recipe. I think both are in my other glove box.

Well, I thought with confident optimism. This is not like the olden days when people fishtailed on ice and ended up alone in a snow-filled woodsy gully ditch in the middle of nowhere because their car slipped off the road after spinning. In those days there was no way to communicate! Those days are over! Finished! Kaput!

Google images: autofocus.ca

All I have to do is punch in my friend Ed’s number into my conveniently portable dashboard–slash–windshield-washer roboticizer, and Ed will pick up one of his sundry devices and will jiffy pop over here to rescue me from this ever-darkening and ever-creepier woods where it is now starting to snow again harder this time.

I stuck the suction cup to the window and plugged the wire into the e-cigarette porthole. I pressed the Search key. Nothing happened.

Hmm, I thought. Electronical system not working. Probably a short in the trunk.

I attempted to maintain my sprightly mood.

When I finally managed to access Ed’s voicemail, night had fallen. I left a message for Ed. Ed returned my call three days later as I recovered in the hospital from frostbite.

“Hey, Blair,” Ed said. “I just saw your message. What’s up?”

“Thanks, Ed.” I said. “I almost died in a terrible car accident, and I called you for help. Where were you?”

“How do I know where I was?” said Ed. “That was three days ago. I don’t even know where I am today, ha ha ha!”

“Ha ha ha” I muttered. “Some friend. Thanks a lot for rescuing me.”

After saying goodbye to Ed, I hit the nurse’s call button to request additional jauntiness medication, but instead I mistakenly activated the hospital’s sprinkler system.

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Student Driver Teaches Driving Teacher to Drive

Google images: citypaper.com

Google images: citypaper.com

“Look out!” I screamed. “On the curb! That grey-haired lady with the walker might dart out!”

“Dad,” said my daughter Rhonda. “She’s sitting in a Plexiglas bus shelter. I don’t think she’s going to jump in front of our moving car any time in the predictable future.”

“Maybe you’re right,” I said.

“You’re going to have to learn to stop screaming at me. It doesn’t make my stick-shift driving lessons any easier,” said Rhonda.

It was my second day on the road with Rhonda in our little brown compact. Rhonda wasn’t doing too badly, but I was a nervous wrecking ball.

“Watch this upcoming intersection! This intersection! It’s an intersection! You have to stop and then go again after the intersection!” I yelled.

“Yes, Dad. I know. You’re continuing to provoke anxiety.”

“Okay, okay. Now slow down. You can downshift, but you don’t have to if you don’t feel comfortable, but you must apply your clutch eventually, gradually, slowly, RIGHT NOW, with your left foot. That’s the foot on your left side with the masking tape on your shoe. I put masking tape on your shoe to remind you it’s the left. Push the middle pedal! NO! I’M WRONG!” I cried. “IT’S THE LEFT PEDAL, I THINK! AM I RIGHT? Yes! The middle’s the brake. Right? No, I said LEFT! It’s the LEFT, LEFT, LEFT!”

“Yes, Dad,” said Rhonda. “I know my left.”

I tried to speak a little more softly. “I’m sorry. This is wearing me out. After driving for years, it’s second nature and I can’t even explain it correctly. Left shoe, middle pedal, up, down, back, forth, tube sock, cake mix… Whatever.”

Rhonda suggested gently, “Maybe you should just… How can I say it? …Shut up?” She eased to a stop at the intersection.

Suddenly my adrenaline flow increased again. “Stop! Stay stopped here!” I screamed. “Don’t go! I think you won’t be able to accelerate here at this intersection because we’re going up a hill, and you’ll probably pop the clutch, peel out, and blow a hole in the muffler. Plus there’s gravel on the road here, and I don’t think you’re ready for this!”

Rhonda and I hopped out of the car. I ran sweating to the driver’s seat. She got in the passenger side.

I put the car in gear, popped the clutch, peeled out, and threw gravel all over the car behind me. Minutes later I realized I blew a hole in the muffler.

When we got home, I called Joe’s Stick-Shift Training School. My first class is Tuesday.

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Traveling Braggarts

Google images: freakingnews.com

Google images: freakingnews.com

“Hi Joe,” I said to my neighbor as I opened the mailbox by my driveway.

“Hi Blair,” Joe said as he fertilized his begonia. “Hey, by the way, I’ve been meaning to talk to you.”

“Yeah?” I said.

“Yeah,” he continued. “Madge and I are going out of town Tuesday, and we wondered if you could feed Ralph again.”

“Oh,” I said. I was silent.

“Yeah,” said Joe. “You already know the habitual and mechanical performance of the established procedure.”

“Yes,” I told Joe. “You give me the house key, I disarm your burglar system three times daily, fill Ralph’s ferret dish, and walk him mornings and evenings.”

“Right,” Joe said. “Ferrets need exercise. Ralph needs fresh air. And of course he needs food, ha ha! We’ll be home in 12 days.”

“Oh,” I said. There was a pause.

Joe continued. “We decided to go to Stockholm this month. We haven’t been there yet. We had such a great time in Kinshasa on that safari, and now we wanted to see the land of the midnight luminous celestial body around which the earth and other planets revolve. And when we return, we’re going to Cocoa Beach. I mean we’ll need another vacation after all this traveling, ha ha ha!”

Ha ha ha, I thought, remaining silent.

“Where are you and your wife going for vacation this year?” Joe asked conversationally.

“Well, Joe, my wife and I aren’t going anywhere this year. We have no money. The last time we went anywhere was a 2010 day trip to the Wigglerville Pants Festival.”

“Oh. And how did you like it?” Joe asked politely.

“It rained. Listen, Joe, have you thought of taking Ralph with you on one of your extravagant escapades?”

“Oh, no,” said Joe. “Ralph suffers with allergies. When we took him to Beijing he experienced terrible mucus.”

“Joe, I regret to tell you that the feral odor of your rodent aggravates my irritable bowel syndrome. Plus I don’t need any additional appreciative refrigerator magnets reminding me of your odysseys.”

“OK, Blair. That’s fine. I get it. No more magnets.” Joe was quiet. His foot nudged a couple decorative lawn stones back into his mosaically landscaped flowerbed. “Well, maybe your wife can feed Ralph for us?”

I sighed. “I’ll ask her…” I said.

For the next 12 days, my wife and I took turns crossing the street to cater to Ralph’s mammalian needs. We received a postcard from Joe and Madge saying they extended their trip so they could visit Reykjavík.

Each evening, while the neighbors were gone, my wife and I cuddled in front of the TV to watch The Walking Channel.

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