Friday, July 29, 2011

100 Word Increments: Road Trips

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." J.R.R. Tolkien

Mental Wanderlust
I’m very good at road trips… or very bad, depending on your point of view. On the plus side, I’m easily entertained in the car. “Mental wanderlust,” my husband calls it – my mind flits from thought to thought with little provocation. Every billboard is an adventure: I want to eat at every restaurant, shop every flea market, experience every roadside attraction.
Unfortunately for my long-suffering family, this is also the downside.
“Can we stop there?”
“Doesn’t that place look neat?”
“Not really.”
“Can we stop there?”
“Maybe next time.”
It’s like a tradition, the repeated requests and subsequent refusals.

Rodeo Pawn
A billboard in the middle of nowhere read, “Rodeo Pawn – Best saddles, jewelry and guns”
“We could stop and get a gun!” Matt said.
I scoffed. “You can’t buy a gun from a Texas pawn shop!”
“Why not?”
“It might be possessed by the vengeful cowboy spirits of old!”
He blinked in confusion. “What?”
“Endlessly riding through the desert on horses of spite and flame, digging in their lightning spurs, rustling the shady cattle of the Damned – Get along, dark little doggies! – and you want to buy their gun?”
Matt sighed. “Dear,” he said. “I love you, but you’re crazy.”

Beach Wishes
Everything’s beautiful when you’re going to the beach. “Look at that!” I said, pointing out every lovely thing we passed. “I wish we had one of those!” I said more than once.
We arrived disheveled after having stopped to play in the waves. I showered while Matt checked the condo’s closets for beach gear. “Dear!” he called “You get your wish!”
“An inflatable turtle floatie?” I asked.
“A paddle ball set?”
“A parrot kite?”
“No! Sheesh! It’s a rainbow umbrella!”
“Good grief! You have a lot of beach wishes!”
But, see there? One of them came true.

When we passed “Sunnyside Elementary: Home of the Dolphins”, Matt and I glanced at each other, obviously sharing the same thought.
“Ouch,” he said.
“I know, right?” I said. “Dolphins? What kind of mascot is that?”
“I bet they get beat up all the time by the schools with cooler mascots.”
“Definitely,” I said. “All the bigger, world-weary kids go to school down the block.”
“Their mascot is the sharks,” Matt said.
I giggled. “Dolphins vs. Sharks! It’s a slaughter every time.”
(Later, I said, “You know, in the wild, dolphins really kill sharks.”
Matt patted my knee. “I know.”)

Signs of the Times?
It was one of those church signs: “Sign broken. Message inside.”
Farther down the road, another said, “Forbidden fruit creates jams.”
Sarah said “I wonder, is there a book that they get these out of?”
“No,” I said “The puns are passed down orally through memorization by members of the secret society.”
“Enlightened Keepers of the Sign?”
“Yes,” I said. “Other people ponder the Bible’s cryptic references to signs and portents, but the Enlightened Brethren merely nod knowingly to each other.”
“Because they know which signs the Book is referring to,” Sarah said.
These are the signs of the apocalypse.

Wanderlust Fulfilled
“Ride with us!” Matt’s parents said. “Matt can meet us there.”
But after the fiftieth “Can we stop there?” I wondered if Richard and Leann regretted their decision to have me along on the drive across Texas, collecting adventures from billboards like a magpie gathering shiny things.
“Let’s eat there!” I said.
“Not hungry,” Leann replied.
“An outlet mall!” I exclaimed.
“Don’t need anything,” Richard said.
Then a billboard said, “Drive-through safari”.
“Can we stop there?” I said.
After a long silence, Richard said, “Actually, I’ve always wanted to do something like that.”
Leann nodded. “Me too.”
So we did.

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