All American Road Trip
By Nicholas Dibagia
What are you doing? Going to grandma’s house? Is it mom’s mom, the cat lady in Poughkeepsie or dad’s mom, the golfer in Arizona? Either way, it’s a Cross-country drive for 18 hours with the end goal of sitting on a rug from the 70’s while eating stale strawberry mints and staring at framed pictures of your extended family wearing matching sweaters. I know, that shit ain’t worth it. But enough about that. Let’s talk about the trip. Your parents are arguing. It seems that your dad wants to stay at Jethro’s drive up hotel and laundromat/rub ’n tug tonight, but Holiday Inn is more up your mom’s alley. Sure, Jethro’s might be cheap, but the floor will turn your socks black and the dog won’t come out from under the bed. Holiday Inn is a step up, but standing elbow to elbow the morning after with a bunch of strangers, eating a stale danish from the “complimentary continental breakfast” is an experience that no one relishes. The choice between the two has caused a massive argument, tense but hushed. The whole car’s involved. Your brother’s been playing Smash for the past four hours, but he’s still aware of what’s going on because mom hasn’t been passing snacks around since the conflict arose. You’re wondering why you couldn’t just fly. Air travel is wonderful; your parents could argue about a lot while flying, but social convention prevents them from involving those around them, so sticky situations like this are stopped in their tracks. You might catch an elbow from a stranger on a plane, or squeeze in the middle between Sneezy Steve and Egg Salad Sandwich Ethan, but you won’t have to let waves of passive-aggression roll over you nor eat trail mix from your lap as you slowly work your way through the entire trip’s worth of snacks before you’re even on the highway.
This does not apply in automobilar travel, so the argument has progressed to whether or not to eat McDonald’s for the third straight meal. Mother wants somewhere to sit down, Father wants to drive thru again and keep driving. Don’t you know you can’t stop the car and fuck with the fuel economy? I don’t know, look out the window or something. Try to ignore all the billboards about life starting at conception and some mysterious substance called “fried pie.”
By now, the car has switched back to arguing about the choice for tonight’s accommodation. As appealing as smoking rooms, an arcade room seemingly untouched since 1992 including a thick layer of grease on every touchable surface, and a drained swimming pool with a suspicious stain on the deck are, the thought of spending more time together, away from your destination, simply fills you with a feeling of dread and crippling malaise. Nope, far better is it to stick to driving, to keep pounding the highway until you reach your sweet but incredibly underwhelming endpoint. Whenever this all is over, your family will retreat to their respective corners of the world, content to limited interaction with each other until the next prospect for travel rears its ugly head, and once again the opportunity to get into one vehicle and drive through Bumfuck America makes itself known.
Well, I’ll shut up now. Sounds like the radio being on or not is the new bone of contention. Godspeed.