Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Minivans Ho!

by Stephanie Black

I love the way little kids can curl up and sleep almost anywhere, an ability I would have liked myself on a recent car trip. Snoring away a few hundred miles of California and Nevada sounded like a terrific idea, but I didn’t even manage a decent doze. I couldn’t get comfortable enough to snooze, even with a stolen pillow (my five-year old’s—he was zonked and didn’t care). But at least I had the easy life on the trip, since my husband did all the driving. He’s an experienced hand at long drives. He popped sunflower seeds to keep himself alert and listened to a variety of music while we chased slumber.

And I do mean variety. There’s something cosmically unsettling about letting the iPod have its way with the choice of songs. “There’s nothing to hold on to,” my teenager groaned, lamenting the brain spasms that can come after hours of listening to songs that jump without warning from Gilbert and Sullivan to U2 to Louis Armstrong to the Chieftains and even a couple of times to—brace yourself—Barry Manilow. (Okay, I admit it. I bought the Barry Manilow CD. I have a weakness for some of his songs. There are others of his songs where I like the first two minutes and then get bored due to the problem of too much music and not enough words. Sappy, I don’t mind. Repetitive—well, it worked for Ravel, but not so well for Barry).

Our anticipated drive time to this year’s family reunion was about twelve hours, but we decided to do it the easy way—half and half. We stopped at one in the morning to spend the night, or what was left of it, in Winnemucca, Nevada. (Winnemucca is a truly snappy name for a city). I’m grateful we didn’t decide to attempt the whole trip at once—halfway was more than enough for that night. I’d had a rotten day anyway, the sort of day where you get smacked with stress that turns your brain to mashed parsnips. Thank heavens I’d made the packing list prior to departure day and had already packed a good portion of the clothes, or who knows what we would have ended up with. My kids would have gone to get dressed and found I’d given them only three socks, pajama bottoms and an onion.

So we were all pretty dang tired by the time the Winnemucca Holiday Inn was in view. My younger son was making some form of noise and my twelve-year old snapped, “Stop being incoherently annoying! Either make sense or be quiet!” Words to live by.

When we get really tired, some of us get the giggles. Some don’t. Those who don’t aren’t necessarily amused by those who do, but it’s amazing how amusing things can be in the middle of the night. We were walking into the hotel and there was a sign by the doors reading: “Microwave in use”. “That sounds ominous,” my teenager joked, and it certainly did, especially when the elevator made a microwave-sounding pinging noise. We tried to keep the laughter under control. It would have been a good time to tell knock-knock jokes.

But all the exhaustion was worth it once we got to the reunion. Heck, the trip was worth it just for the Family Feud game created by my brother and his wife. It was a riot, even if I did choke on the question—this is embarrassing—“Name a current or former apostle or prophet whose name starts with J.” Somehow, my brain took this question to mean that his name had to start with the initial J—you know, like J. Reuben Clark (whose name I couldn’t think of). But no--just the name needed a J—like, say, Joseph B. Wirthlin. Or Jeffrey R. Holland. Or Joseph Smith. So much for winning the ten thousand bucks, or whatever was at stake.

Maybe it was jet lag. That hour time difference between California and Utah can really trash your neurons.


At 6/21/2006 11:04 AM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

Not to mention the culture shock.


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