Friday, July 26, 2013

Postcard #1

  So, it’s been a bit since I’ve managed to post anything here on this blog. Not really surprising, my whole focus lately has been on  getting “Screaming in Paris” ready for digital publication. Still, I feel a bit guilty about the posting drought, especially since it wasn’t that long ago that I would get into a tizzy if I didn’t post every day. In the hopes of keeping interest alive as well as ease the shame of my lackluster blog performance, here’s a snippet from what is now “Chapter 32” of Screaming…

  Okay, time for a slight break from the narrative. Let’s take Paris out of the equation. Isn’t it amazing, when you are dealing with multiple family members and trying to select a food destination, that the whole process becomes this maddening, excruciating journey through hell?

  Picture this: Trace and I are innocently sitting in our humble domicile, our Fortress of Solitude, when one of our families (I won’t say which one), calls and announces that they are coming down for the weekend. That’s fine, great, love to see ya. So the platoon of relatives descends on Dallas, and everything is fairly decent, lots of love all around.

  Until it’s time for us to go eat somewhere. Then the soul-sucking hatch to madness opens up, and we fall through it, with a big batch of Alices tumbling down the rabbit hole.

  First, it takes two hours for everyone to actually get in to the vehicle that has been chosen for our drive to a restaurant. This should not be difficult. You stand up, you walk out the door, and you get into the car. This should take five minutes, ten if you need to set the security alarm and make sure the cat has food.

  Instead, two hours. No one is prepared to actually leave the house, even though we have all been up for hours and everyone has bathed. Everyone is dressed. Makeup has been applied. Yet all these people still have last-minute things that they need to take care of before we can leave.

  So people are stomping all over the house, doing who knows what the hell, and no one is getting in the van. No one. The departure announcement has been made, people. Get your asses out here. I’m in the driver’s seat, ready to go.

  No one in sight. Tumbleweeds blow past and a cow moos.

  So I go back in the house. Everyone looks the same. In fact, they appear to be in the same positions as when I left the house to start the car thirty minutes earlier. What are you doing? Come ON!

  Still, we spend more time gathering things that nobody needs, changing blouses that looked just fine the first time, and thoroughly inspecting the contents of purses that will never be opened during the entire journey.

  Finally, when I’m just shy of pulling out a cattle prod (no need to ask why I happen to own one), we get everybody in the van. Then it’s another thirty minutes while people jostle around, switching seats, adjusting car seats for the little ones, screwing with the seatbelts, arguing over who gets the window and who gets shotgun, and having to wait while people check their purse for the fourth time to ensure that they still have the things that they will never need.

  Eventually, and several gray hairs later, we are able to close all vehicle doors. I maneuver down the driveway, but pause before pulling out into the street. I know from experience that we need confirmation of the destination. When you are dealing with ten people having sidebar conversations about food, there will often be furtive executive decisions made where you didn’t get the email.

  “So, we’re still going to Ingrid’s House of Pasta, right?”

  Total silence.

  “Okay, somebody say something. Yes or no. Ingrid’s?”

  Total silence.

  I am now gnawing on the steering wheel to keep me sane.

  Then a small voice from somewhere in the back: “Well…”

  I jerk my head up and look in the rearview mirror. “Who said that? Somebody in the third row. I see movement. Show your face.”

  Everyone is still as stone.

  “Fine.” I start to put the van in gear. “Ingrid’s it is.”

  From the back again: “But we were thinking…”

  I turn off the engine, take a deep breath, force my eyes to bulge in an obvious display of lunacy, and whip around to face the demons behind me. “Okay, here’s the deal. You will come to a decision, and you will come to a decision NOW. I am not starting this car until every single one of you is in complete rapture about our destination. Do. You. Understand. Me?”

  Total silence.