I love road trips. On road trips, my husband is forced to talk to me. He would say he liked it too, if he’d just put down the remote and thought about it.
Our most recent road trip was a ten-hour adventure which made conversation a necessity. This would have made me happy, but our conversational chops needed honing. They were rusty from lack of use.
We started with the usual confirmations about why this trip was a good idea; giving each other a high five for thinking of it. We talked about all the reasons we could not stop in to see people we knew along our route. After all, we only had four days. If we stopped to have a piece of last season’s fruitcake with this person, get marital advice from those newly-weds, or listened to that person complain about her plantar warts, we would take four days just to arrive at our destination. It was just as well that they didn’t know we were taking this trip.
Chatting was not necessarily high priority, but we did try to interact with each other as best we could. We talked about the things we saw. It might be an unusual license plate: “How on earth did a car from Hawaii get here?” As if there was not an obvious explanation.
Or it could be a message on a billboard which needed some clarification: “Don’t Live With A Nagging Pain.”
We discussed whether it advertised a chiropractor or a divorce lawyer. We couldn’t read it fast enough because it was one of those digital billboards that changed every five seconds… like a TV set.
I told my husband to stop watching it for fear that we would crash. He got mad at me for acting like he didn’t know how to drive. I thought we should probably back up and get that number, because it looked like we soon might need both a chiropractor and a divorce lawyer.
He pulled over and let me drive.
Five minutes later he asked if I knew what the speed limit was. He likes to spring pop quizzes on me like that.
“I’m going 80, so that must be the speed limit,” I answered tartly… and illogically.
“Well, there is a cop car next to that speed limit sign ahead. So I guess we’re going to find out.”
“Can you read it?”
“Not yet. Can you?”
They really shouldn’t give licenses to people who can see a police cruiser, but not the sign next to which it is parked. I pulled over and let him drive again.
Our conversations were not going well. They were further threatened by my children’s tendency to annoy each other and my husband’s tendency to burst into song at the slightest hint of a random bit of lyrics.
“Gimmee that!” said one little angel to the one who just grabbed his Game Boy.
“Gimme a, gimme a, gimmee a redneck girl!” my husband crooned, oblivious to the impending storm in the back seat.
I oversaw the return of the Game Boy and instructed them on the proper way to ask for something. “You do not say ‘gimmee’.”
My husband could not resist an encore: “Gimmee a, gimmee a, gimmee a redneck girl…”
“I’ll give you a red neck all right!” I exploded. “I think my hands around your neck might do the trick!”
“I’m driving,” he grinned as if that would save him.
“Really! I thought you were skinning cats!”
“Watch it,” he said, “You’re starting to sound like a redneck girl.”
“If you’re saying that I’m overweight, drink too much and have tattoos I don’t remember getting, you’re going to need that divorce lawyer!”
“It was a chiropractor.”
So much for conversation. Where’s a remote when I need one?