Last time I told you about an embarrassing situation from my past, a situation that caused me great physical pain and mental anguish—insert dramatic pause here as I wipe a tear from my cheek—and your reaction, you sadistic beasts, was to guffaw in unrestrained mirth.  I guess there is only one thing to do: I must feed your schadenfreude with another of my embarrassing moments.  This situation is much different from the one I shared in the last post, however.  This one didn’t involve any physical pain, except for the cramping in my abdomen from laughing so hard.  You see, that was the problem.  I laughed.  And I laughed at what can only be described as an extremely inappropriate moment.  Imagine someone bursting into uncontrollable, rolling-on-the-floor laughter during a funeral.  This was something like that.

I beg you to understand that this occurred at the end of an arduous road trip, and I can see now that I must share with you the bizarre events of the day leading up to my embarrassing behavior or you will most likely—and quite understandably—dismiss me as a common heathen.  You will see that it was a trip in which everything that could possibly go wrong did and some of the things that couldn’t possibly go wrong also did; the events leading up to the dreadful moment contributed, conspired even, to make my loss of control inevitable.  It was a surreal day, not the kind of day you could describe in a work of fiction because it would be too unbelievable that so many things could go wrong in such a short span of time.  Thankfully, I wasn’t alone; my friend, David, was with me to share the burden of the day and to keep reminding me that, no, I wasn’t dreaming it all.  We reached the point where we were trying to predict what tragedy would befall us next and, to our horror, most of our predictions came true.  By the time we reached our destination, we had long passed feeling despair at our setbacks and had instead begun to greet each successive misfortune with resigned, fatalistic laughter.  The last thing that happened, however, was way too unreal for us to predict.  I would say that what happened was indeed impossible, and if you told me it happened to you, I wouldn’t believe you.  And that is why it tipped me over the brink into an inappropriate display of convulsive hysterics one would expect only from someone snuggled up in a straitjacket.

The day got off to a rough start, mainly because David informed me he would be picking me up at the wee hour of 4:00 A.M.  The wee hour of 4:00 A.M.?  I had no idea such a time existed.  I told him not to hurry because I didn’t usually have to wee until 7 or 8.  “Our tee time is at 8,” he said. “And stop being such a smartass.”  He reached over and flicked my ear, an irritating habit of his.  But he was right.  We had a long drive and then we would have to get breakfast and hit some practice balls before the tournament started.  In addition, it was a shotgun start, so we would have to hike out to whatever hole we were assigned to start playing from.  I would just have to pray that my never-before-used alarm clock worked.  It did.  In fact, it worked with such proficiency that when it went off I jumped and flailed at whatever was attacking me and ended up falling off the bed.  It was the first and last time I would ever use that clock because, once I regained my senses, I reached over and threw it out the dormer window.  I watched it disappear, still blaring its obnoxious alarm.  Three seconds later, I heard a satisfying crunch as it hit the patio two and a half floors below…then silence.

So it was not a good start to the day.  Ironically, though, that was the day’s highlight; from there it slowly descended through the seven circles of hell.  My first omen of things to come was when David pulled into our driveway.  It was the first time I had gotten a close-up look at his car.  It was a Triumph Spitfire ragtop, and I couldn’t tell you what model it was, but one thing was certain: it was not new.  I would guess that “new” was not a word that had been used in reference to his car for a very long time.  “I like your racing slicks,” I said.

“My tires are not bald,” he insisted. “And I thought I told you last night to stop being a smart ass.”  He paused.  “Don’t worry, they’ll be fine.  There’s still some tread…besides, I have a spare.”  I got down and squinted.  I couldn’t see any tread.  I shrugged and loaded my golf clubs and duffel in the trunk.  We would go first to Jackson, Missouri, to play in a scramble tournament and then on to St. Joseph, Missouri, to get ready for the Missouri Amateur, which was two days later.  We were excited about the scramble because we had never played in one before.  We thought it’d be fun, a goof, and we had been looking forward to it for a long time.  In fact, David had insisted we send our entry fee a month early so we’d be sure to get in, enthusiasm I thought ironic since the Missouri Amateur a couple of days later was far more important than the silly scramble.

I settled into the passenger seat, which, since I was only 15-years-old, was going to be my nest for the whole trip.  It was like crawling into a matchbox, and as if it weren’t incommodious enough, the glove box was open and dug into my knee.  I closed it.  It fell back open.  I closed it again.  It fell back open.  “It’s broken,” he said.

“Go figure,” I whispered to myself, and then said, “Wait a minute.”  I ran into the garage and grabbed a big roll of duct tape off my dad’s workbench.  From the state his car was in, I figured we were going to need the whole roll before the day was out just to hold the car together.  I worked on securing the glove box door as David drove.  When I finished, I dropped the roll of tape beneath my seat and admired my work.  It looked sufficiently bad enough to blend in well with the rest of the car’s interior, which one might describe as junkyard chic.  In addition to complementing the car’s aesthetic charm, the tape had done the job well; the door wouldn’t be opening again, maybe ever.

This is when David said, “How am I supposed to get to my wallet?”

I turned and gave him my tilted-head look, which means, roughly, “Why the fuck couldn’t you have mentioned that before?”  No words necessary…the look says it all.  “I just remembered,” he said. “I’m sorry.”  Then he continued, “By the way, I’m going to need the wallet right now because we’re going to have to stop at a gas station and buy some oil.  My car burns oil…a lot of oil.”

“Go figure,” I said, not whispered this time.

By the time we reached the station, I had freed his wallet.  I mumbled a lot during the process but I had freed his wallet.  David went to buy the oil and I reached under my seat to retrieve the duct tape so I could redo the glove box.  I couldn’t feel it.  In fact, I couldn’t feel anything.  I bent over and looked.  Then I discovered why I couldn’t feel anything.  I couldn’t feel anything because there wasn’t anything.  Anything!  There was no floor beneath my seat.  The section of floor starting directly under my knees back to under where my butt sat had rusted out.  I sat there with my head between my knees, staring at the pavement below the car and picturing the duct tape rolling happily down the middle of the highway.  Then I began to consider the fact that my chair was bolted to this floor that was, well, not present.  I pictured the possibility of my entire seat disappearing through the hole just as the roll of duct tape had.  David would hear a THRUNK and look over to find nothing but a big hole and the whistle of the wind.  I returned upright and considered my options.  The smart thing would be to run before he got back with the oil.  Just disappear.  I could tell him later that aliens abducted me, that a beam of light grabbed me and pulled me into the sky, then, oddly, beamed me back into my bedroom…and tucked me in.  But David was already returning with the oil.

I got out and watched him stash the oil in the trunk.  Then I said, “I’ll be right back.  I have to go in to buy some more tape.”  He looked at me as if I were insane.  “You already have a whole roll,” he said.

“Yes, but I put it under the seat.”

His eyes flashed as it hit him.  He laughed.  I laughed.  Then I stopped laughing and asked him what exactly was holding my seat in place.  He assured me it was bolted to the frame and not the flimsy floor.  He’d been worried about that himself, he said, so he’d had it checked.  This, of course, left me wondering who had checked it.  Probably the used car salesman who sold him this death trap, and as everyone knows, used car salesmen are all spawns of Satan.  They are not to be trusted.  You can trust them to lie to you but that is all.  But there wasn’t any point in arguing, it was a fait accompli of sorts; we were going on this road trip and that was going to be my seat.  The Triumph being a two-seater, I didn’t have any choice in the matter.  When I returned to the car after buying the roll of tape, I gave the seat a good tug before climbing in.  It seemed sturdy enough.  I hoped it stayed that way.

As David drove and his Triumph went thuttity thut thuttity thut down the road, I taped the glove box shut once more.  I also took a closer look around the interior of the car.  The rear window was plastic and had gone milky with age.  It was impossible to see through except to tell that somewhere on the other side of it the sun was shining.  I also noticed I was not the first to introduce duct tape to the car; the ragtop existed by virtue of the stuff.  And then I saw a screwdriver lying next to the emergency brake.  I asked David about it.  He pointed to the ignition, or where the ignition would have been had there been an ignition.  The screwdriver was his key.  Wonderful, I thought, maybe some incredibly stupid car thief will steal this piece of shit while we’re out on the golf course…thuttity thut thuttity thut.

An hour later, we stopped at an Amoco station so we could use their paper towels to check the oil.  David had forgotten to bring paper towels.  I pictured him telling the guy to fill it up with oil and check the gas.  This was so embarrassing.  The dipstick showed we had already burned a half a quart.  “Wow, you weren’t kidding,” I said. “This thing really does burn oil.”

“Yep, but you don’t really notice the smoke except when you accelerate from a dead stop.”  He said this as if I were supposed to find it comforting.  I hung my head and sighed.  My parents were usually overprotective to a fault; why they had let me get into this car is beyond me.  An attendant from the station showed up and asked if we needed any help.  I told him no but we could use his prayers, which earned me a frigid look from David and a confused look from the attendant.  As we got back in the car, the attendant told us to drive carefully.  We waved goodbye and left him standing in a cloud of black smoke.

We made it thirty miles before the first flat tire.  We heard the right rear go thwop thwop thwop.  I turned to look at David as he pulled over to the side.  Something told me to keep my mouth shut.  Then David, without as much as a glance in my direction, also told me to keep my mouth shut.  We got the tire off and David manhandled the spare onto the wheel.  Once we had the lugs on, David worked the jack to lower the tire onto the ground.  It touched the ground, and then we watched as the wheel continued its downward progress until the rim was on the ground.  The spare was also flat.  Again, I turned to look at David.  He stood motionless and stared at our second flat tire.  His face was slowly turning red, and since David had blonde hair and blue eyes, red was not a flattering color for him.  I decided not to laugh, but my body refused to obey me.  I laughed.  I tried to suppress it by clinching my mouth shut but it was no use because the laugh just rerouted through my nose.  David looked at me.  Full on, his face was even redder.  I laughed even harder.  He paused, and for a moment, I thought I should consider a hasty retreat, but then he smiled.  He shook his head in defeat, shrugged in resignation, and was soon laughing as hard as I was.

Crunching gravel interrupted our moment of levity.  Red and blue lights flashed atop a highway patrol car as it pulled to a stop behind us.  A tall black man got out.  His shoulders were so huge he looked like he was wearing football pads and they stood out all the more because his torso tapered to what must have been a 29-inch waistline.  I gulped.  We were in southern Missouri; except for a few safe zones of sanity, it was Bible-thumping KKK country.   Black people in these parts had good reason not to like spoiled white boys, and this big black man had a gun and the authority to make our lives a living hell if he wanted to.  He asked David for his license and commented on his cracked taillight.  Then he looked at flat tire number one and flat tire number two and started to chuckle.  “Looks like you boys got a problem,” he said.  I thought, oh boy, here it comes.  He seemed to be enjoying our troubles a little too much.  I had no idea what was going to happen next, but I certainly didn’t expect it when he turned to me, still chuckling, and said, “You don’t recognize me, do you?”  I looked at his nametag.  It read “Williams.”  I was clueless.  I gulped one more time.  “No sir,” I said.

“I’m Michael’s daddy.”

I was so happy to hear those words come out of his mouth I almost started to believe in God right there on the spot.  I exhaled and smiled.  Mike Williams was my friend.  We were schoolmates and had played basketball together since we were little farts on the same peewee team.  There was a town not too far ahead, and we could see five signs hovering in the sky advertising competing gas stations.  We put the original tire back on—it had no future, so it wouldn’t matter if it were destroyed completely—and we hobbled forward on the rim with Mr. Williams following, lights flashing.  We got the spare patched.  The front tires weren’t too bad but the rear tires had to go.  David and I had limited funds with us so Mr. Williams loaned me the money to buy two new tires.  He was a godsend.  Thanks to Mr. Williams, we were back on our way without too much of a delay and he let David go with a verbal warning about the taillight.  If we were lucky, we would still make our tee-off time.

We weren’t lucky.  When we got to Cape Girardeau, we got lost.  David hadn’t brought a map, and he refused to ask directions.  He also refused to admit he was lost until halfway across a bridge we were crossing, we saw a sign saying “Welcome to Illinois: The Land of Lincoln.”  Below us, the Mississippi River had a better idea of where it was going than we did.  We both agreed we weren’t likely to find Jackson, Missouri, in Illinois, so David finally agreed to ask for help.  Immediately on the other side of the bridge was a package store.  It was the perfect location for a package store because the drinking age in Illinois was 18, which meant the kids from Missouri, where the drinking age was 21, kept the store in great business.  David went in.  He came back with a small Styrofoam cooler and a six-pack of Bud Light.  “I thought I’d take advantage of being 18,” he said. “We’ll get some ice at the country club and drink the beer on the way to St. Jo.”  He made a place behind his seat for the cooler.  “But I didn’t get directions,” he added.  “The guy said he’d never been to Jackson…he thinks it’s off the interstate north of Cape.”

“He wasn’t a paraplegic then, was he?” I said, and it was David’s turn to give me a strange look.  I chuckled and told him it was an inside joke.  One of my dad’s friends, Howard Adams, was a traveling salesman and he was full of traveling-salesman anecdotes, one of which involved paraplegics and their uncanny ability to give good directions, he said they were like limping maps.  As I recited the anecdote in its entirety, David got so tickled he almost had to pull over.  We were entertaining ourselves by scanning the sidewalks for a paraplegic on which to test Howard’s theory when we reached the interstate and saw a sign pointing the way to Jackson.  We remembered we were in a hurry.

We arrived at the country club just in time to hear the starter fire his shotgun.  The players, dispersed evenly around the course’s holes, heard the shotgun blast and began teeing off.  The tournament was underway.  We were late.  David and I stood in silence and contemplated this.  “Well,” I said, “at least we got our entry fee in on time.”  I looked over at David.  He looked at me.  We shook our heads and smiled.  We were both beginning to give in to the day’s events.  By this point, we would have been shocked if anything went right, according to plan.  We went to the clubhouse and ordered a big breakfast.  We laughed about the morning’s events over bacon and eggs and French toast.

After a brief visit to the pro shop to admire the great merchandise we could have won had we been on time, we filled the cooler with ice and topped up the oil.  We yelled and waved goodbye to a foursome headed down the first fairway—we could see them wondering who the hell we were—and then we left Jackson Country Club in a cloud of black smoke.  The road trip was back underway.  And we were psyched.  We figured we’d seen the worst that the mischievous gods could possibly throw our way, and we looked forward to the remainder of the journey being pleasant and uneventful.  I know now that was just the optimism of youth.  The mischievous gods weren’t nearly finished with us…not by a long shot.

Some time after we’d topped up the oil again, we decided the beer had had time to get cold.  I dug one out for David, which proved to be a monumental task since we had snuggled the cooler on the floor under a multitude of crap, and I was about to go back in to get one for myself when I heard David say, “Oh shit!”  He was looking in the rearview mirror.  “Hurry, hide this.”  He handed me back the unopened can of beer.  I looked back, and through the milky-white rear window, I could make out the flashing red and blue lights of a highway patrol car.  He wanted us to pull over.  So I did the natural thing.  I did what any 15-year-old boy holding a beer would do with flashing lights behind him.  I leaned forward and slipped it under my seat.  I immediately realized my mistake.  The can of beer went neatly though the hole under my seat and made a loud THONK as it bounced once off the bottom of our car.  A moment later, there was a more distant “thonk” as it hit the patrol car directly behind us.  David was looking at me with horror in his eyes.  “What did you do?”  But he knew exactly what I had done.

“Whoops,” was all I could think of to say.

David pulled over and we crunched to a stop.  I got the feeling that if there hadn’t been a policeman walking up to the window right then, he would have killed me on the spot.  I got that feeling because David told me that if there wasn’t a policeman walking up to his window right then he would kill me on the spot.  He rolled down the window.  The first thing out of the policeman’s mouth was, “Did you just run over something back there?”  David looked over at me as if he couldn’t believe his ears.  I quickly leaned in and said that we had indeed run over something, and I thought it came from the green station wagon in front of us.  I added in the little detail about how it had bounced against the bottom of our car.  The patrolman straightened up and looked down the highway.  Then he quickly leaned back down and told David he had a busted taillight and needed to get it fixed.  We watched as he ran back to his car and then went screeching down the highway with his lights flashing.  David exhaled audibly.  I think it was the first breath David had taken since the patrolman appeared at the window.  “Dump that beer in the ditch and let’s get the hell out of here,” he said.

It hurt to throw the beer into the drainage ditch, but it had become more than just a grown-up beverage.  It had suddenly become evidence.  It had to go.  A few miles down the road, we saw the patrol car’s flashing lights in the distance.  We sped up a bit and settled into a group of other cars, thinking they would camouflage us.  Then we reached where the patrol car was.  I strained to take in the whole scene as we went by.  Let me describe it for you: three teenagers with sunken shoulders and confused looks on their faces stood by the side of the road while a very angry highway patrolman searched their green station wagon.  David and I laughed.  It was shameful but we laughed.  Teary-eyed, spittle-spewing laughter.  We were both going to hell.

We continued to laugh on and off about it until we reached Kansas City.  Then we stopped laughing because we got lost again.  We knew this when we passed a sign that said “Welcome to Kansas: The Sunflower State.”  Theoretically, our trip did not require travel outside of Missouri, so being quick lads, the implications of crossing yet another state line was not lost on us.  For one thing, our navigational skills sucked.  We had now been in three states instead of just the one, the only one, required.  I wondered how close St. Joseph was to Nebraska.  Maybe we could go for four.

We took the first exit off the interstate but it wasn’t a cloverleaf, and once we got off, we couldn’t figure out how to get back on going the other way.  We found ourselves winding through a neighborhood that made us silently roll up our windows and lock the doors.  Let me put it this way, it wasn’t the kind of place you were likely to see little old ladies walking their dogs.  I got the feeling heavily armed police would hesitate to walk through the area.  Doors and windows were boarded up; the only cars parked on the street were up on concrete blocks and without doors, windows, or wheels; trash blew and accumulated in every nook and cranny; and it was deserted, even the rats knew better than to come out in the open.  It was even more daunting because it was now getting dark and none of the streetlights seemed to be working.  This was not a good place to get lost in at midday let alone at night, and we were now regretting the time-wasting detour we had taken in St. Louis to visit with some friends in Westwood Village.  I prayed David’s Triumph wouldn’t pick this particular moment to die; I figured it was operating on borrowed time and I had been expecting its demise at any moment.

I started to say something and David snapped “Shhh!”  I looked over and what I saw on his face was fear.  He couldn’t even look directly at the cause of the fear, his head cowered down and his eyes darted sideways at it.  I followed his eyes and I immediately understood.  There on the left-hand corner of the next intersection, gathered around a barrel that was alight with fire, was eight of the biggest, toughest looking black guys I had ever seen.  God only knows what they were burning.  I suspected the remains of their last victim.  As we got closer, I convinced myself that the reason for their fireside camaraderie was to discuss recipes for cooking white boys.  I slid down in my seat.  David did the same.  “Don’t stop, whatever you do,” I said, “not even if one of them is a paraplegic.”  At the intersection, David turned right.  He punched the gas and left a smoke screen.  As luck would have it, lights burned brightly ahead and the expressway entrance appeared right in front of us.  Never before in my short life had I been filled with such joy by an onramp experience.

After that, we made it to St. Joseph without incident.  Don’t let that give you the impression, however, that our problems were over.  They weren’t.  Tired, we pulled into the first motel we saw advertising low rates.  The sign read “MO E ” because two of the letters didn’t light up, and Moe’s, as we started calling it, had rooms starting at $8.00.  We had no idea how close we were to the golf course, but we didn’t care because all we had the next day was a practice round.  We would decide then whether Moe’s was too far away from the venue.  On the other hand, both of us hesitated before going as far as to check for vacancies.  Moe’s looked like the motel version of David’s Triumph.  It had seen better days.  The price was cheap but we suspected even $8.00 was too much for a room at this dump.  But, like I said, we were tired and fatigue won out.  We got a room.

I dropped my bag and fell face down on the first bed I came to.  I could’ve stayed like that until morning.  I heard David moving around the room.  He stopped abruptly.  Silence.  Then I heard him say in a quiet voice, “Jon…”  I waited, too tired to look up.  Again, quietly, “Jon…come look at this.”  I forced my head up and saw David over near the bathroom door, frozen and staring at something on the floor.  I struggled off the bed and walked over.  There on the tan carpet was a deep brown stain, the color of dried blood.  It was roughly the shape of a human torso with a bubble shaped extension where a head would be.  Without looking up, David said, “Is that what I think it is?”

I had a feeling it was.  “The only thing missing is the tape outline of the body,” I said.

David was visibly shaken.  He sat on the bed.  He was having second thoughts about Moe’s and hinted that perhaps we should find a different motel.  I failed to see why, though.  We were tired and whatever had happened there in the floor was past tense.  I didn’t see how it affected us except that it ruined the ambience of our room a bit.  David was tired, too, so convincing him to ignore it wasn’t a monumental task.  I fell back on the bed and closed my eyes.  David sat there for a moment longer, then got up and walked into the bathroom.

He wasn’t in there for more than two seconds when I heard, “Oh my god! Jon, come here.”

“Please tell me you didn’t find the body,” I said.  I heard him yank the shower curtain back as if he thought there might actually be a body in the tub he hadn’t discovered yet.

“No, but come in here. You’ve got to see this.”

I went.  He was looking at the wall and shaking his head.  He had a confused look on his face.  I looked at the wall and I, too, got a confused look on my face.  I don’t quite know how to describe it.  It looked as if someone had climbed as high as possible up a stepladder and then shit down the wall.  It was only mildly comforting that it only looked like shit.  What it was we never knew—neither David nor I wanted to get too close—but we decided it wasn’t what it looked like.  Still, we dubbed it the “Wall of Diarrhea.”  We stood there and laughed about the wall.  Then we laughed about the yellowish color of the hot water when I tested it.  Then we moved into the main room and laughed at the fact that the TV didn’t work.  It was clear we would not be recommending Moe’s to our friends.  David’s suggestion about finding a different motel was sounding more and more like a good idea.  We decided to go try to locate the country club.  If we found another motel, a better motel, closer to the golf course, we would check in there.

We drove into the center of town, not certain which way to go, and I finally convinced David to stop and ask someone for directions.  He was tired so he was easy to convince.  We spotted a group of six boys about our age sitting on a ledge in front of a convenience store.  David pulled into the parking space in front of them and leaned out the window.  He asked if any of them knew where the country club was.

What happened next started out like a surreal dream sequence.  Five of the boys hit us with dumbstruck stares, but one’s face lit up.  It was his moment.  He beamed, he shined, and he announced, in a voice that came out of the corner of his mouth after fighting a battle with his tongue, “I know where it is!”  And then David and I watched as he stood, awkwardly, and proceeded to gimp his way forward in a series of zigs and zags and lunges; his short trip to David’s window turned into an epic journey as he made his way through a world in which the shortest distance between two points was not a straight line.  I immediately flashed back to Howard Adams explaining his theory that paraplegics owed their phenomenal ability to give map-like directions to their need for considerable navigational prowess just to walk ten feet.  My mouth fell open and took in the moment, stunned and not quite sure that I was seeing what I was indeed seeing.  It couldn’t be.  In a dream, yes, after spending part of the day joking about Mr. Adams’ anecdote, this would be a likely dream to have…but for it to happen in real life?  No way.  But it was.

I lost it…I completely lost it.

Yes, I understand that laughing so hard that I virtually coated the inside of the car with spittle was not only unsanitary but both politically incorrect and socially unattractive under the circumstances, but it was beyond my control.  I tried to stop, I assure you, but every time I did, I flashed back to Mr. Adams sitting at our dining room table telling his comic tale and I would once again become a spittle-spraying maniac.  Soon I couldn’t breathe.  That was good, I thought, because it looked more like I was choking to death and asphyxiating rather than laughing.  The limping map was now at David’s window and seemed to be ignoring me.  I heard him giving David what sounded like a well-rehearsed set of directions.  I wondered how David was keeping a straight face.  I looked over and tried to focus on him through my water-filled eyes.  David was biting his lip and his face was even redder than when we had our first flat tire.  He was trying so hard to keep control.  He gave me a hard look and told me through clinched teeth to shut up or he was going to kill me.  Of course, I responded to his threat by sputtering spittle all over him and once again doubling over into paroxysms of asphyxia.  I thought I was going to die.  I must’ve been turning blue.  It was as if time stood still.  I couldn’t feel my heart beating and I actually thought it had stopped for a moment there.  It scared me, and I think that is what helped me to stop laughing.  Finally, air was flowing in and out, and I forced myself to concentrate, to empathize with the boy’s feelings, how he must be thinking we were laughing at him, and sufficiently shamed myself into something resembling normal behavior.  I figured I had just secured my ticket to Hell—I would spend eternity forced to listen to Wayne Newton sing Danke Schoen over and over.  I straightened up in my seat and looked apologetically over at the boy, who by this time was staring at me.  I told him that David had just told me the funniest joke and that was the reason for my previous lack of control.  I don’t think he believed me, but he nodded and backed away.  When he did, David looked over at me and tried to scold me but it wasn’t very convincing because he couldn’t look at me without starting to laugh.  He looked away and tried to regain control.

After a few moments, I said, “So…,” I paused for effect, “did you get any of that?”  David promptly snorted a spray of snot down his shirt.  He laid his head on the steering wheel, his shoulders bobbed as he laughed, tears dripped from his chin.  “I didn’t either,” I said.  I paused and then continued, “This is what we’re going to do: we’re going to go back to our haunted room with the Wall of Diarrhea, and we’re going to enjoy the peace and quiet of our TV that doesn’t work.”  David didn’t answer, he couldn’t answer just yet, but he obviously thought that was exactly what we needed to do because he pointed the Triumph back at the motel and that is where we went.

When we got back, we took showers in the yellow water and tried not to think about its color, and then went directly to bed.  We both felt terrible about our loss of control, or my loss of control.  David blamed it all on me.  I didn’t argue.  There was no way to adequately explain to the boy we weren’t laughing at him; from his point of view, what the hell else were we laughing at, right?  It was an unfortunate combination of events, and there was nothing for it but to regret it.  In fact, the whole day was regrettable, should never have happened, and hopefully, if we were lucky, would one day erase itself cleanly from our memories.  One thing was clear to us, though: if we stayed awake, things would just get worse.  The day was a juggernaut, unstoppable.  We had to sleep, to make it end; we had had enough.  We turned out the light and said goodnight.  After a few minutes, I heard David giggling to himself in the darkness.


[I dedicate this post to the quick-witted and only slightly insane Cheree Gillespie, known on Twitter as @mllecheree.  Of all the people I know, I think Cheree would be one of the most enjoyable to go on a road trip with.  I have no doubt her witty banter would make even the worst of trips easy to endure, plus I get the feeling she doesn’t get embarrassed easily, so she would weather any socially unacceptable behavior from me like a pro.  I met Cheree through her sister-in-law, Susan Orlean, and she has been one of my favorite people ever since.  Hopefully, I will meet her in person someday and maybe we can indeed take a road trip together, perhaps up to New York to see Susan and her chickens, guineas, turkeys, cows, cats, and dogs…fleas and ticks.  As long as she doesn’t drive an old ragtop Triumph, it should be a very fun trip.]