Category Archives: cars

The road trip

car1

People laughed when we told them we were driving from Chicago to South Carolina for our summer vacation.

“Your kids can stay in the car for that many hours?” they said.

“We’ll be fine,” we said, “we are going to take our time to get there, have a couple of overnight stops. It will be an adventure.”

And an adventure it was. (There’s a lot of yelling and throwing in adventures right?)

Besides, as Constantinos Kavafis, one of the greatest poets of my people, said: it’s not Ithaca but the journey to Ithaca that matters. (Especially if Ithaca is a beach in South Carolina- if you ask me!)

We had it all figured out:

– We planned to drive about 6 to 7 hours the first two days leaving us only 2 to 3 hours on the last day.

– Our route was pre-mapped with enough stops for bathroom and play breaks and we were staying at hotels with a pool so the kids could have some fun after spending most of the day strapped in their car seats.

– We had enough snacks for 3 hour stretches within reach of both children and emergency snacks (lollipops and candy) in the front.

– We went on an itunes shopping spree the night before, buying them all the shows they love, ensuring hours of entertainment.

– We got each of them Bluetooth headphones so they could watch their shows without annoying each-other and most importantly us.

So on Saturday morning, and only one hour behind schedule ,we got into our car and headed south. The music was good, the kids were watching their iPads; we were excited and optimistic about the future.

One hour later….

– The boy tried and dismissed all of the snacks.

– Took his headphones off and threw them on the floor at least seven times.

– Was tired of watching his iPad.

– And we were stuck in traffic on the Interstate just outside of Chicago.

I started to think that maybe this was a mistake, a 16 hour long mistake, each way….

the road trip
But then something wonderful happened. The boy fell asleep… for two hours. And like many children before him he was re-set after the nap.

The trip got better. He had his moments of “frustration” and my daughter did ask “how many more minutes until we get there?” more than just a couple of times.

Sure, there were times when we wished that, like a taxi, our car had a divider so that we could open a little window, quickly throw some snacks at the kids and close it to get back to some adult conversation. But we enjoyed the time together anyway. The route was beautiful for the most part and Satellite radio kept us entertained.

It was also an educational experience for all of us:

– We saw the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee and drove through an Indian Reservation.

– On our way back we spent some time in Savannah and explored the beautiful southern city, admired the Spanish moss trees that line every street and visited a beautiful historic cemetery with haunting statues.

– We learned that bugs have not evolved enough to stay off the high-way and my windshield at times looked like the site of a massacre.

– My daughter finally learned the right words to the song “Milkshake,” by Kelis, and no longer says “my milkshake is bad but it’s better than yours.”

– We discovered the song “Lonely women make good lovers” on one of the many (you guessed it) country stations that SiriusXM has to offer.

– We ate fried pickles, which taste just like regular pickles only they are really bad for you.

– Turns out my husband can say things like “don’t make me stop this car” and keep a straight face.

So would we do it again? Ask again in six to eight months.

How to ruin a bridal shower

Take your young kids to it.

The end.

Really. That is all you have to do.

Sure, this is the way to ruin many events. In fact, the title of this short story could change to:

How to ruin a five course meal,

or

How to ruin your city vacation,

or

How to ruin your honeymoon,

or

How to ruin a heist.

But my most recent experience was at a bridal shower. So here is that story:

A few weeks ago I decided to take the kids to Philadelphia to visit my cousins. Before booking our flights, I checked if the dates worked for them. They said yes.

Unfortunately, for all involved, they hadn’t realised that they had a bridal shower to attend that same weekend. But they said:

“Bring your kids! We’re bringing ours. It’s fine, really. It will be fairly casual”

The house of the parents of the bride, who were hosting the event, was about 30 minutes from my cousin’s house. So, of-course, my two and half year old fell asleep five minutes before we got there.

Parents of toddlers know what this means. What do you do? Do you wake the beast or let him sleep hoping that he will wake up refreshed and happy. It’s like the other “Sophie’s choice”.

I went for door number two. So, as my cousin took her kids and my five-year-old daughter in, I sat in the car while the little man slept. I read the newspapers and checked facebook (how awesome are smartphones by the way? Imagine waiting or breastfeeding without one? Oh the horror!) and after about an hour I thought he should be rested enough. So I woke him up.

WRONG! Sometimes I think I’m an amateur. Honestly.

The shower “theme” was “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” We were about to turn it into “Dinner for Schmucks.”

The champagne was blue, the food excellent and the servers attentive.

The boy was cranky and whiney and hungry and insisted on sitting on my lap the whole time. (I can’t resist the predictable joke here that there was more whine coming out of the boy’s mouth than wine going into mine).

So, I sat at a table and gave him endless amounts of bread while holding the table-cloth hoping that he wouldn’t pull on it. To do this, of-course, I had to keep putting my blue champagne down, which meant that the attentive servers assumed I was finished and they would take it away. Couldn’t they see the pain in my eyes and my desperate attempts to numb it?

blue champs
After the boy was done whining and throwing crumbs everywhere someone suggested that all the kids go to the basement where they could play.

A few minutes went by so I thought I would check on them. I find the boy playing with a model Porsche car. Note that the father of the bride is a car collector. Both actual cars: Ferrari, i8, Bentley, Aston Martin, Porsche, to name just a few as well as model cars. In a moment of panic I checked with him that it’s OK and he said yes of-course. OK then, I thought to myself, maybe this won’t be too bad. The boy will play with the car, we will eat some cake, and be on our way with most of our dignity intact.

Again, what am I? an amateur?

So we went up for cake. The cake, a beautiful fondant cake shaped like a Tiffany’s box was sitting proudly on a table surrounded by chocolates and other delicious deserts. All the kids, of-course, were admiring this appetising attraction.

As the kids were playing, my daughter tried to reach for something and fell flat on the beautiful cake. The beautiful “breakfast at Tiffany’s” cake now looked more like “murder at Tiffany’s” with an outline of a 5-year-old girl’s body on it.

I wondered if perhaps it was time to go. I should have taken the hint when everyone kept telling me, “it’s OK if you want to leave, really”
They cut and served the cake, which was still delicious, and I thought OK- not bad. If anything this would make an amusing anecdote in a few days. And then the boy walked up to me.

He broke the model car. The model Porsche, which the father of the bride had apparently owned for 22 years was now broken.

It was definitely time to go.

I apologised for the cake and the car and the crumbs on the kitchen floor that could probably feed all the pigeons on Trafalgar square and suggested to my cousin that perhaps it’s time to leave.

But it was time to open the presents.

My cousin sat centre stage next to the beautiful bride to be, helping her open the presents. The children, all six of them, joined the “ceremony.”
My son quickly hopped on a revolving chair as all the kids took turns spinning him around while he was grabbing anything within reach. Crystal on coffee tables, ladies’ long hair… you name it. If he could reach it, he grabbed it.

I signal my cousin that it’s really time to go (I think most people there agreed- tip: eye rolling is usually a good indicator). I grabbed my son’s leg as he was trying to make a getaway and dragged him across the floor all the way to the front door. I thin k we may have left one of his shoes there and we definitely left some of our dignity. What is more, our presence there did more to promote birth control and or abstinence than any sex-ed class ever could.

No-one was having any babies for a while after that. In fact, I think people even used condoms when sexting… just to be on the safe side.

We got into the car and sped away as if we are escaping a bank robbery or a great heist (if bank robbers ever use a minivan as their escape car). As we looked at the clock we realised that we had been there for an hour and a half.

What felt like the longest afternoon of my life, lasted less than “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” the movie.

Husbands, the cars they drive and the balls they carry

Shortly after my husband turned 40 he traded in his fancy car for an even fancier, and more importantly, faster car.

porsche (2)
The irony of it all did not escape me, of-course, and for a while I was waiting for him to trade me in for a 25-year-old blond. He hasn’t, YET.

Of-course those who know my husband will say that he probably wouldn’t trade me in for a 25-year-old blond. He would trade me in for a 25-year-old brunette.

But that’s a topic for another time.

He loves his car. It is a beautiful Porsche Panamera Turbo and it is very fast. It can go from 0 to 60mph in less than four seconds.

I know this because he talks about cars incessantly. And as a testament to how good a wife I am (how do you make a coughing sound with text?), I listen.

I know more about cars than I care to. I can identify a Porsche S at first glance, love the idea of a Tesla, though I don’t like the look of it much and think it’s too expensive, and I will often comment on the fabulous way a Carrera 4S seems to glide on the road.

So, of-course, as the owner of a fancy fast car, my husband exhibits a lot of the behaviours we all see and hate. For example, he parks at the very far end of a parking lot, often takes up two spaces and refuses to let the kids eat certain snacks in the car.

He also likes to “intimidate” drivers on the highway. He will tailgate a slow driver in the fast lane, which in highway language translates into “get out of my way!”

He says most people will oblige. They see the Porsche behind them and they know what to do.

There is, however, one category of drivers who will not: men in minivans.

Men in minivans will happily drive at their car’s maximum speed of 60 mph, in the passing lane, and will not move over.

I think I know why:

These men have given up a lot. They have given up their dignity, their self-respect and let’s face it some of their manhood for convenience and practicality.

All this sacrifice so they can drive around in a box on wheels that can fit bicycles, scooters, skateboards, balls (by that I mean mainly baseballs, footballs and soccer balls) and many many children sitting in the back watching DVDs and snacking on sticky foods and drinks.

They see my husband and they say “screw you Porsche! I’ve given up my balls! I am not giving up my lane. This spot, in this lane, in this moment in front of your fancy fast car is all I have left. So you can go around me or suck it up. Cause I ain’t going nowhere!”

That’s my theory at least. And I’m sticking to it.