As expected, this weekend was not without it’s near-death experiences. We’d barely made it out of the local Target parking lot with the necessary stockpile of roadtrip-Cheezits before a snowplow tried to take my head off. As my life flashed before my eyes I realized I was satisfied with the way I had lived it… except that I really ought to have sent my attorney a Christmas for calling my psycho ex a “sad sack of shit.”
Once we made it to the highway we got our game faces on– half the country was under travel advisory and we were making a very terrible decision, so we had to be on the lookout for the inevitable consequences. The roads were covered in sleet and slush and there were jackknifed semis and overturned vehicles scattered along the roadside.
As in life itself, we kept thinking our current situation was bad… until we hit the next situation and realized we’d had it easy before. Thick slush turned to 6 inches of ice that was speckled with potholes and felt like driving top speed over cobblestone. We shook and bounced so much that I ought to have been wearing a sports bra or filming an adult movie. But none of this compared to the moment that traffic slowed…
We told ourselves it was no big deal and ate some cheezits to pass the time.
Half an hour went by.
The other drivers began to get restless. A banged up truck holding a pile of rednecks began revving it’s engine and using a loudspeaker to torture the rest of us by asking the same question every 20 seconds:
“DOES ANYONE KNOW WHAT’S THE SLOWDOWN?”
“ANYONE KNOW WHAT’S GOIN’ ON?”
“AAAIII YAAII YIII YIIAII!”
A truck driver killed the engine of his semi and climbed down wearing nothing but a T-shirt and sweatpants as he skated across the ice to confer with the rednecks. He chomped on a half-eaten sandwich as he shared his intel.
“There’s two wrecks up ahead, they’re clearing them now but the tow trucks are getting stuck.”
More and more people began to vacate their cars and walk about aimlessly as though there were some obvious detour hidden in the piles of roadside sludge. It felt like we had wandered into a Walking Dead Christmas special.
I kept trying to take photos of all these weirdys but the boyfriend– who is usually rather tolerant of my sneaky camera skills– was worried I would get caught and we wouldn’t have any way to escape their wrath. Plus, I knew that if the zombie apocalypse really were about to happen those rednecks would come in handy because they probably had loads of guns and Hunger Games skills that could keep us alive.
I scoped out the other vehicles for possible zombie apocalypse allies– if we could find a doctor and a CDC official, we’d be all set.
Another hour passed.
An inexplicably jolly man on a bicycle weaved his way in the opposite direction of the cars, talking to anyone who would listen. He was like a prophet who carried news from the distant world beyond this sea of snowy mayhem.
“There are trucks stuck on a hill two miles down,” he said, his face full of glee. “They keep towing them up but then the next ones get stuck as soon as they have the opportunity to try.”
Once again, this entire scenario was reflecting the patterns of my life.
It had been two hours and we hadn’t moved an inch. The tires were bearing down in the ice as more people abandoned their cars and slid down an underpass in search of civilization. The boyfriend had used more cusswords in this two hour span than in the last 9 months so I decided to distract him with an episode of Dexter— courtesy of my other love, Netflix. For 38 minutes we were distracted by blood spatters and gratitude for our ability to empathize and for the fact we had yet to be murdered by any serial killers.
I looked for additional distractions on the internet but ended up reading the description of a viral video about a WWII vet on his way to a Pearl Harbor memorial– I wept like a child without ever having actually hit “play.” It’d been three hours in that standstill and I was already losing my mind and all sense of hope. Something had to be done.
In an act that was equal parts reckless and douchebagy, we opted to pull off onto the shoulder and slide our way towards the next exit. My life continued to flash before my eyes as we came precariously close to a snowy drop off without a guard rail– all I could think was“if I make it through this alive, my attorney totally gets that Christmas card.”
A line of cars stretched from one horizon to the next as we pushed his Accord up a steep and icy hill. We’d located a country road on the GPS but it was coated with ice and there was no way of differentiating snowy street from snowy field. Somehow, we made it out alive and although our 5 hour drive ended up taking 10 hours, we safely arrived at my brother’s house and got to the important business at hand:
I’d brought a bottle of Jack Daniel’s Winter Jack for my brother and was looking forward to sampling it’s cider-y goodness but made the mistake of leaving my beverage unattended.
See, despite the fact we may look normal, everyone I’m related to is a TOTALY WEIRDY– by blood and by marriage. Within their context, I’m a relatively normal person– so a whiskey snifter full of floating plastic babies could only lead to one thing.
We blamed this escalating series of occurrences on anyone but ourselves and speculated on the reaction of the general public if they were to learn of what we did during our family get togethers. I would have worried about all of this frightening the boyfriend but he surrendered all rights to plausible deniability when he suggested they “stick it on the edge of that log right there” and then exclaimed, “woah, it’s smoking!”
At some point we ran out of proper alcohol and had to get creative:
As the night progressed, things got weirder and as we all know, the more alcohol you ingest, the more likely you are to have a Miley Cyrus-related encounter. While I do enjoy using “Wrecking Ball” as a torture tactic against the boyfriend, I’d managed to keep my eyes unscathed by the actual music video until that night. All sense of reason was abandoned as I fell for their argument that seeing the original would make all the parodies that much more hilarious– I’m not sure this theory held any weight because I was too overwhelmed with morbid fascination and a confusion that overwhelmed my existence. Watching Naked Miley on that swinging metal ball had a similar effect as watching Dexter chop people up into tiny little pieces.
The video ended and we sat in silence, mourning the loss of our humanity.
“Oh Miley,” my Sister-in-Law said, “You need Jesus.”
“Nah,” my brother said, “She’s just an artist.”
The following morning the boyfriend woke with her song stuck in his head and cursed me for causing this affliction.
“Hey,” I said, “You were laughing along with the rest of us.”
“That wasn’t laughter, that was the sound of alcohol.”
This may have become a full blown debate if it weren’t for the input of my six year old nephew. Holding a foam sword in his hand, he made a simple proclamation:
“Mommy’s armpits kill babies.”
We checked the news and learned that all of the highways in the area were shut down– all those people had abandoned their cars and stayed in shelters over night. Luckily we had my brother’s home and my ability to write vague emails about why we wouldn’t be making it into work.
While there was plenty of sober fun to be had (like making bets about whether one or other of us could jump over something without a running start) our final night was another one of inebriation and grotesquery. We started with a viewing of “The Purge” which inevitably lead to a discussion on killers and psychotics– my brother is a former Special Ops Army Ranger and I’ve mostly dated psycho paths so we had plenty to say on the topic. Naturally, this led back to discussing our peculiar upbringing.
As though we were hazing the boyfriend as some initiation into the family, we delved into our twisted tradition of talking about the past. He sat there with that look that says “I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know it was THAT bad” when my Sister-In-Law offered a word of comfort.
“Well, it’s just such a miracle that you all turned out so normal.”
My brother and I looked at each other.
“No,” he said, “We’re not normal. We were just taught to look that way.”
I couldn’t have said it any better myself.
Have you ever been stranded on a roadside or elsewhere? Is your family bizarre and/or inappropriate? Do people believe you are more “normal” than you truly are? And what the heck is so appealing about Miley Cyrus?
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