"Son of a bitch, Elijah. If you don't sit your ass down...." His big, droopy face stared at me in the rearview mirror, drool hanging from his jowls in thick ropes of anxiety and anticipation. His brown eyes implored me, "Where the hell are we going, bitch? Shit. We've been in this bumpy ass rig for 7 damn hours. It's past my dinner time. I'm thirsty."
"Alright, that's it. We're never going to make it to the campsite before dark. By the time we set up, it'll be 9 o'clock and we'll only have one good hour of beer drinking time. I say we pull over here . Okay with you, mom?"
"Shit yeah. I need a drink."
"We all need a damn drink."
We pulled into the Knights Inn (because this is the type of accommodation you are reduced to when your traveling companion has four legs instead of the recommended two), road-weary and thirsty. The kid at the front desk handed us our key and we circled the lot in search of our room. Just as we rounded the corner to our building, the parking lot was suddenly teeming with boats and men.
Fishermen. Huddled together in groups here and clumps there. In the middle of it all, the finest boats you have ever seen. Apparently, there was to be a tournament the next day in which the winner would receive a $54,000 boat.
"Would you look at this?" Mom declared. "I wonder what's going on."
"Looks like a good time to me," I replied, putting the Jeep in park in front of our room.
We quickly unloaded what we deemed important (our cooler and chairs) and after a quick walk around the grounds with Elijah, set up camp outside our motel room.
"We'll just sit out here and pretend we're camping," Mom said. We settled in to enjoy the view, passing the can of mixed nuts between us.
Suddenly, a voice broke through the darkness.
"Need some help?"
It was my mother. Offering her services to two men pushing a giant of a boat into a parking space in front of our room.
"That'd be nice! But you better watch out. You're fixing to have a face full of propeller!"
Undaunted, my mother began enthusiastically directing them. "Come on back. Just a little to the left. You got it. Come on...come on. A little more....Whoa! Right there!"
I honestly don't know what they would have done without her. It never fails. Thank you, Oh Sweet Mother Of Mine. You have once again ripped through the prison bars of social barriers to unite us all in human interaction.
As the night grew darker, the fishermen admired our Jeep. "Those are some nice tires you got on there. What are those, R2D2 Mega Bad Ass Mother Fuckers?" "You know it," I said as I took a swig of beer.
Lesson of the day: When someone wishes to trade tire facts with you or converse on any such subject of which you are in complete ignorance, pull one those generic phrases you keep stored in your head ("you know it," "damn straight," "hell yes," etc., etc.), perfect a pose of utter nonchalance, shrug your shoulders, and plaster a smug as fuck grin on your face. Works every time. Need a frame of reference? This guy can help:
They admired our dog. "Is that a dog or a horse?" "Well, sir, I'm glad you asked. I like to refer to him as a mini pony." Ah! The lady has a sense of humor.
They admired our spirit of adventure. "You're going camping in a tent and everything?" Like, for sure!
After a couple of hours, we packed up our chairs and our cooler and fell into a laugh riot behind the closed door of our motel room. We danced around the room with Elijah. We told ourselves the fishermen were so completely undone by us that come morning there would be a note stuck in the Jeep with a phone number. "Dear Awesome Women at the Knights Inn, It was a joy to talk to you. We would like to take you out to dinner tonight. Please call us at...." We threw peanuts into the air and scored Elijah on hits and misses. We fell into our beds at midnight, assuring ourselves that tomorrow, come hell or highwater, we were going to camp.
Well, hell didn't come. But highwater did. The heavens unleashed themselves in a torrent of tears that lasted nearly 7 hours. We tried to outrun their fury but we were no match. Just as we pulled into our cabin (having given up any attempt to pitch a tent), the sky heaved a big sigh of relief, covering the mountaintop in fog and thereby obscuring our view from the top. Thanks ever so much.
We had reached our final destination and the sky had finally cried itself out.
Needless to say, our air mattresses remained deflated, our tent unpitched, our stove uncooked. The campground remained in its state of glory. The universe, it seems, had its own Public Service Announcement for us.
Who's big idea was this? Going camping? Seriously now. Do you really think that's such a smart idea?
You. Yeah you. The one who threw her back out dribbling a basketball. The one who's middle name is not, was not, nor ever will be Grace. The one who fell down in complete sobriety, breaking her nose and ending up with a swollen face and busted jaw. ("No, Officer, I do not need to report an assault. Yes sir, I'm sure. It's true, I did have a boyfriend once but his closed fist never actually made contact with my jaw, tempted though he was. No sir, I do not need directions to the safe house.")
And you, old woman. Don't even get me started. How do you think you'll roll yourself off that air mattress come morning? And do you know how many people depend on you? God forbid something happen to you in those woods.... who will the world call to babysit? How will Grandma get to the grocery store?
The dog? Leave the dog out of this. I got no beef with the dog. His only crime is being stuck with you two.
No, bitches. It ain't happening.
Good looking out, Universe. Good looking out.