When our kids were young we did a lot of summer road tripping. Sometimes it was related to my husband’s work. Like the time we traveled to Washington DC where he had to work for a week instructing on computers at NSA. We thought it would be great to expose the kids to the history of the place so we all trooped along.
It was hot. There were five of us journeying in a NOT air conditioned car. Our youngest was about seven months old so he sat on my lap for a good part of the trip. We lived in New Jersey at the time, which is pretty hot in July, but not like DC. The closer we got the more the flames of Hades licked at the tires. The kids were like dishrags and I wasn’t much better.
But I’m the mom so I had to be the cheerleader. “We’ll stop for supper early and maybe have ice cream after,” I said trying to be chipper. Mumbles from the back seat with an occasional growl when one brother, the Confederate, approached the “invisible divide” that kept the other brother, the Yankee, from making any moves towards war. They were holding off. Just barely.
“Aw,” said the driver, their dad, “a cold beer.” That thought had him straighten up a bit and search earnestly for road signs indicating sure relief.
It didn’t take long. We pulled in, unbuckled and hauled ourselves through the door of a small Italian eatery. It was blessedly cool inside, the waitress was upbeat, and the tablecloth was of the checkered variety. We gratefully plopped down and that cold beer was ordered quicker than a Congressman can draw up a new regulation.
We all sat and stared at each other just trying to absorb the coolness and think about eating. Well, except for the seven-month-old. In this sudden oasis he sprung to life. Pudgy little hands grabbed my napkin. Bright eyes zeroed in on the cheese shaker. A toothless grin was aimed at his brothers. Hey, why didn’t we come here before, Mom?
Then we saw the tray on her hand. Pepsi, lemonade and a Cold Beer were headed our way. “Oh, here we go,” I said. Frosty mugs were plopped down – It almost felt like we were in a cartoon – cool liquid sloshing, everything in slow motion. We gave up a collective sigh as Dad’s beer was set down last. The lust in his eyes was priceless. And as it sat there waiting to be quaffed, the man turned to thank the waitress while by stealth a dimpled hand shot out and gave a mighty tug on the pretty checked tablecloth. This radical movement sent Dad’s beer plunging. Oh. No. It skipped his mouth, his throat, his spare tire – and headed straight for his zipper.
Have you ever heard a grown man gasp? I mean really gasp? And then lurch backwards into the chair behind him with a look of spectacular surprise on his face. No? Well it was an incident worthy of a Fox News Alert blazing across the bottom of your screen.
Except Fox wasn’t around back then so you’ll have to take my word for it. It was a truly memorable moment, frozen in my brain for all time. Just like the beer that froze his – well, you know.
Summer – gotta love it.
Image: Free Digital Photos