Travel Games – Trailer Park Style

Dreading the road trip to The Park last Friday, i was a bit cranky when i rousted my 20-something sprogs off to the car.  Definitely grumpy, edgy and not looking forward to what might lie ahead, we piled into The Girl’s car – which is the newest in my fleet of shitmobiles, and has an actual back seat (uncluttered by sk8erboy shrapnel).

The Girl called “shotgun”, which brings with it DJ responsibilities*.  This left The Boy – bored – in the back seat.  About halfway into our 60 minute funerary commute, he asked her if he could smoke to help pass the time.  “No”.  End of discussion. 

Following the path that we all instinctively know**, he proposed a travel game: “Bitch or Dude”.  The rules are simple.   As you approach a car, each of us had to “profile” the vehicle – looking at make, model, color as well as other “tells” (custom plates, stuff hanging from the rear-view mirror, stuffed animals in the back window, etc).  We’d then call “Bitch” or “Dude” to tag the gender of the driver.

Several elements made this game harder than it might seem.  For example, it was December 26th – a busy travel day.  We quickly realized that most of the Minivans were being driven by men.  Which led to the call of “Emasculated Dude” upon approach. 

The other challenge?  To make this fun, you pretty much need to be passing everything on the road.  Good thing i was driving… not a problem.

We would occasionally get more specific – for example, when i’d see a little souped-up wiener-mobile – a “Too Fast, Too Furious” wannabe, with spoiler, rims, and other trappings – i’d call “Douchebag”.  Or if it was a 1998 Oldsmobuick, seatbelt dragging and sparking along the pavement, with a turn signal blinking itself into oblivion?  That’d be “Old Dude”.

As we headed out after the family visit from hell, we didn’t play for about the first 20 minutes.  Post-processing the family bullshit was a bit necessary.  But once we started playing again?  Good, happy, mindless fun… chock full of discussion of stereotypes, racial profiling and gender bashing. 

God bless us everyone…

The Family Truckster

The Family Truckster

* She’s got great musical taste… and an ex-boyfriend who cranked out some killer mix-CDs.  While The Boy and i can agree on some of the classics (Doors, Bowie, Stones), i’m not a huge fan of one of his favorites, Leftover Crack… He is patient with the “Indie” stuff…

** We have other games.  For long trips?  We play “Who Sucks More?” – a game pitting all female drivers against male drivers.  If you spot someone doing an asshole maneuver, you need to ascertain gender.  On a 8 hour roadtrip with The Boy, it was “Chicks – 5 1/2, Dudes – 4”.  And the “1/2” was on me – for changing lanes in an intersection.  But since i signaled, we only counted it as a half point.  Roadtrips in autumn?  That’s when we play the “Dead Bambi Game”, counting the deer corpses along the interstate…  22 1/4 on our last drive from central Ohio to Washington, DC for a college visit a few years ago…

Another Christmas in The Park

This year?  The Girl won the “Over-Under” bet. 

It’s become a bit of a tradition that we do a little friendly wagering as we travel south to spend our requisite “holiday time” in The Park.  This year, the wager centered on my ridiculously self-absorbed sister, S:  “How long – from the time she and i are in the room together – until she mentions the need for us to talk more?”  Anything relating to “sisterly talks”, “more time together” or the like..

The Boy picked 20 minutes, with The Girl calling “Over”.  Once i offered a prize to the winner – a Mom “ShutTheFuckUp” (STFU) card* – they reconsidered their positions, taking the competition much more seriously, yet held firm.  His logic?  S would launch into it from the very start, or wait until the late-afternoon “good byes”.  About a 50/50 shot.  But it wasn’t until we were all packing up to go that she descended into a drawn out,  banal monologue about our need to “really talk more this year”…

The visit wasn’t all that bad.  At first.  It was at the home of my brother, T, and his wife, K.  They’d generously offered to host us all on the 26th, to avoid the frenetic Christmas Day trooping from place to place that happens to folks who have many grandparents – not to mention multiple sets of parents – in the same town.   i ate some cookies, and wandered off to play Wii cow racing with my 5 year old nephew, Little T**. 

Other than my recent bout of verbal diarrhea, the drama this year was around my brother and his family.  This was also the topic that set me off during the Thanksgiving event… T and his wife are happy.  They are doing well.  They live within their means.  K is his third wife, and she just happens to be a little younger than his two daughters from his first marriage.  And their son, Little T, is younger than Ts three grandchildren from those first daughters.  Yeah, you kinda need a white board to diagram this, but hang with me, here…  T also has three teenage boys from his second marriage.  That’s six children, for those of you keeping score at home.

Mom, S, and my niece, DQ, like to rant about the fact that T and K rarely come around, call, or join in any drama games participate in family events.  i’ve spent a bit of time with T and K, and it makes sense to me.  They have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps financially – and have been frustrated seeing Mom and S repeatedly underwrite the financial irresponsibility of DQ and her clan…  They have no use for the drama.  Never mind that Mom is a complete buzzkill – has nothing positive or pleasant to say about anyone or anything.  Whenever they do come around? All they hear is “You never come around”.  Doesn’t really make for a good time…  i completely understand why they are a bit scarce…

We haven’t seen T’s three boys for about 2 years.  His second ex-wife became a born-again christian after she remarried, and home-schooled the boys.  Recognizing the threat that our heathen family presented, she wasn’t particularly accommodating about holiday visits.  This year, since the oldest boy has his drivers license, they were able to escape for the afternoon to visit with our family.

Awkwardness for the boys, for sure, but there were moments to chat, catch up, and reconnect a little.  But as they were packing up to leave because the oldest son had to get to work?  Mom started to lecture them.  Informed them that she didn’t even recognize them when she arrived since it had been so long since she’d seen them***.  Told them “you avoid us by choice.  YOUR choice…”.  S couldn’t resist the opportunity to pile on.  Reminded A, the youngest of the three, that she’d seen him at a hair salon a few months ago, and said to him then that he looked just like one of her nephews she hadn’t seen in ages…

i was mortified.  “Happy Fucking Holidays, Boys!  Come back and see us real soon!  We’ll make you squirm and twist…”

Immediately started packing up, giving my kids the signal “we’re outta here before i pop a cork”, and we made our escape – but not before S got in her unnecessarily long-winded “we’re going to spend more time together this year” speech…  After about 10 minutes of that, with my brother echoing like a greek chorus “yes, we’re going to do it”, my sister-in-law, K, shut it down quite nicely with “Great!  Enough talking about it.  Let’s just do it…”. 

i’ll show up.  i’ll be nice.  i’ll show up.  i’ll be nice.  i’ll bring jello shots.  i’ll show up.  i’ll be nice.  i’ll keep my mouth shut.  i’ll be nice.  i’ll show up….

must. up. medication.

must. increase. medication.

* The winner of the coveted STFU award can throw it back at me in the future when i’m tearing their sorry asses apart providing motherly guidance without taking a breath.  The STFU block only lasts for five minutes, but this is considered a nifty gift on occasion. Upon winning?  The Girl asked if she could re-gift it to The Boy, as he seems to be the more frequent target of my tirades… He recommended that she hang onto it.  With her return to the country, she was just as likely to need it…

** No, i certainly did not let him win.  Makes ’em tough, and prepares them for the real world.  “You gotta hit the scarecrows, or you’ll never score enough points to beat me!”  He was cool about it…

*** Couldn’t have anything to do with her eyesight?  Cataracts, macular degeneration?  Naw…. couldn’t be that…