I remember a time when we would get fired up for a road trip. We’d play ‘exploding fists’, dance around the room and lob out bro hugs as we yelled stuff like ‘Vegas!’ or ‘Let’s hit the desert – Let’s fuckin’ do this!’ – then we’d get drunk making zero preparations, get up the next day and somehow pile into the car and find our way.
We’d toss a pair of underwear and a toothbrush into a backpack and be ready to rock for the week.
What in the hell has happened to me? To us?
These days, it takes my wife and I a week to get everything coordinated. The bedroom floor becomes a triage station of open suitcases and duffle bags. Outfits for all types of weather, fifteen different device chargers and medicines that need to be kept cold. Special blankets, stuffed animals and a small bucket of toys that my son calls his ‘special favorites’. My wife with her OCD Ziploc bags of jewelry for each day and me… ME with my stupid headlamp that I pretend I’m going to wear late at night to never read that book I always bring with me.
The first couple of trips we took from DC to Atlanta (almost 700 miles one-way) were exciting and fun, but the nostalgia of the process has worn off and if we pass you on the highway doing 85, you’re likely to see my passengers clawing at the insides of the car windows like mental patients trying to escape the confines of the institution.
To make matters more complicated, my penis is like a ‘light saber of fertility’ and my wife’s uterus is a revolving door at a busy downtown hotel. We’re racked and stacked in our mid-size SUV, three kids smashed into a couple of five-point harnesses and a pumpkin seat. My life teammate sits in the front seat criss-cross applesauce while the dog occupies the floor below her feet.
I don’t know how many more of these drives I have left in me.
I stare at the road with a vacant look in my eyes and offer up these reasons as to why I may never road trip anywhere again.
DUGGAR WAGON: Ok, so maybe we’re not 52 Kids and Counting and I don’t yet require a special Jim-Bob sticker on my license to drive a multi-axle tour bus, but I need some room to NOT suffocate.
We’re still making the mid-sized SUV work and every time, it feels like we’re stuffing 20-pounds of shit in a 5-pound bag that won’t stretch. We’re in the process of researching cars with a 3rd row and NO, I don’t want you to pitch me on why your stupid Honda Odyssey minivan is the best thing that ever happened to your life. Fuck your sliding doors.
DOG FARTS: God damn Rachel Ray makes some scrumptious lookin’ dog food that I’ll admit, I’ve considered eating myself when left alone, but HOLY SHIT does it wreak havoc on the fart gun that is my dogs asshole. G’on ahead, give it a double take while trying to keep your car on the road, that’s me hanging my head out the window on the interstate to avoid choking on my own vomit.
TODDLER BLADDER: I have to say, things were much easier when my kids wore diapers and just pissed and shit themselves. Now I’ve got a symphony of people needing to pee and poop, all at different times. I’ve seen every rest stop in Virginia. Just got a letter from the Governor, they’re asking me if I’m available in May to dedicate a john in my honor.
MCDONALDS: I never eat this trash, but for some reason when we’re roadtrippin’, it presents itself as the caviar and lobster tail of the highway. My wife gets all excited to pick up the Monopoly board, affix five stickers (of course we got Body & Odor Railroad and Baltic Ave.) over the course of the week and leave it in my glove compartment until it’s discovered three years from now when we sell the car.
TRUCK DRIVERS: I swear that these guys see me in the left lane making progress, they somehow sense that I’m experiencing a teensie moment of happiness and positivity because ‘we’re making good time’ and then they decide to drive next to each other at the same speed for 200 miles, taking up both lanes so no one can go around and live their own lives.
STEVE JOBS IS A DICK: I’m kidding, he’s really not. He invented a wonderful road trip tool called the iPad, which manages to occupy the kids for most of the drive. My biggest problem, however, is that my kids refuse to wear headphones, so on one side of the car, I’ve got the ‘Doc McStuffins chorus’ and on the other side I’ve got some a-hole from London giving me the narrative on opening up fifty Shopkins blind bags.
GARBAGE GUT: Being in your car for more than 50 miles gives you the license to stop into every gas station with a bathroom and examine their candy and jerky selection. REST IN PEACE my digestive system after buying three different kinds of Skittles (dessert, dark side of the rainbow and tropical), sunflower kernels, Twinkies and a 55-oz widowmaker Diet Coke. Embrace pooping liquid.
QUEEN BEDS AND SHALLOW HOTEL WATER: When you have a handful of kids and a mammal, you can’t ask for a quiet room away from the elevator or ice machine – you get the ‘used and abused’ center stage room that begs Gordon Ramsey to bring in his Hotel Hell crew, put on his safety glasses, investigate and expose all the various weiner fluids on my pillow and describe them to the network television audience.
Hotels don’t normally furnish rooms with two King beds so two of my kids sleep in one of the queen’s and my wife, baby, Boston Terrier and I share the other – me sleeping like a No.2 pencil while my feet hang over the edge like Paul Bunyan. As an added bonus, we’ve got shallow toilet water. You’ve never enjoyed life until you sit down to crap on a mini-bowl and your balls enter the water like Jacques Cousteau’s grandson in a submersible.
TJ MAXX: I’m not certain what the allure of this franchise of stores is, but my wife certainly is. It’s a lust for its random collection of ‘shtuff’ which has my wife rabie-frothing at the mouth while Yelping every location along the eastern seaboard, asking me to pull over, offering me a ‘it’ll be real quick, I promise’.
TEETHING DIARRHEA: Nothing smells like death than the worst baby shit you have ever smelled… that of a teething toddler who just air-pumps liquid nuclear waste into the diaper and surrounding environment while screaming bloody murder. It seeps out the sides and corrodes everything within striking distance. The world spins in slow-motion as you’re driving through a torrential downpour, eliminating the option of opening the windows, forcing you to find solace in recycling air from outside. You have no escape. Your faces melt. Kids are in a frenzy, the dog has his paws over his face. Alarms start to ring in the cabin – I feel like an airline pilot with two blown engines, looking for an emergency landing spot on the the water, but I’m no ‘Sully’ Sullenberger as I rip it into a ditch and we scurry into the woods collapsing, writhing amongst the weeds…
As you can tell, I love road trips with kids.
Just kidding. Fuck these road trips.
But I can’t… they are the shared memories that we’ll laugh about every Thanksgiving, Christmas and holiday to come. It’s a wonderfully vicious cycle that we all love to hate.
I’m curious… what are your favorite road trip memories?
Don’t be shy…