There is a small child screaming that he has to use the bathroom. He's been screaming for approximately 2.62 states. I know this because I lost my bag with any viable form of entertainment in it. I've now been sadly reduced to computing miles and states on paper just to keep sane. My aunt, who was born in the Philippines, is educating me on the finer points of cleaning the armpit stains in T-shirts. And there's a small dog (Chaubo) that is somehow asleep in the back of the mini-van.
I am helping my aunt and uncle move to Cedar Rapids, Iowa from New Jersey. I spent a few weeks with them, helping them pack. Now we're gonna hang out for two weeks, then Randy, Maria and the kids are going to head off to Cedar Rapids by themselves. But now things are a little crazy here.
Maria, my aunt, is driving behind her husband Randy, who has my other two cousins. I do not envy him. My uncle Randy suffers from hyper-injection of testosterone, which prevents him from ever stopping at gas stations. If he would even be tempted to ask for directions, his masculinity would be destroyed. Actually, I don't know, I'm just assuming, because he's also driving at approximately 1,000 mph, passing up single-engine aircraft. Anyhow, my aunt is having trouble as it is. My little cousin J.C. wants me to take him to the bathroom. The bathroom consists of a small empty Dasani bottle and a blanket to cover up with.
So about five minutes and approximately two thousand baby wipes later, my cousin is happy and my hands are clean. You can imagine what happened. And for ten glorious minutes there was utter silence, until my cousin announces he is hungry with the kind of face and tone you would see in one of those Feed the Children commercials. So my uncle decides to stop at a restaurant in about half an hour. Well, this is all fine, except J.C. informs us he has to eat NOW, or we all will be stricken with the dreaded Screaming Toddler From Hell Attack. I thought he was bluffing, but Maria thought he looked a little too smug. Once again I'm sent back to satiate the demon. Armed with Ritz crackers and the powerful Cheez-Whiz, I manage to cover the entire back half of the van interior with the cheese-like substance including the dog and my cousin. I think I might have gotten some food in his mouth, but I'm not sure.
I crawled back up front with my aunt and sat down, just as we pulled up to a fairly nice, sit-down restaurant. When we sat down and ordered, the children tell us that they are too full (While Steph and Mel didn't have Cheez-whiz, they did have yogurt) and they are not hungry. So just my aunt, uncle and I order, while the three terrors run rampant. They run about knocking down chairs, waitresses, walls, etc. By the time the food gets to us, J.C. decides again that he has to go to the bathroom. I'm beginning to think he has the bladder of a gnat. So I get up and take him to the bathroom, a dimly lit filthy closet, where I would not take refuge even during nuclear holocaust. J.C., however, loves it so much when we spend thirty minutes in there, while he goes through his entire repertoire of songs (Tinkle, Tinkle, Little Star) roughly six million times.
All the while I'm standing around while banging my head against the wall. I warn J.C. that I am leaving NOW, if he doesn't hurry up. He comes out of the stall and informs me that he was waiting and thought I was still going.
By the time we got back to the table, both my aunt and uncle were finished and my food is cold enough to see my breath, by simply breathing on it. I start to get a brain freeze from eating it. I ask the waitress if she could possibly heat it up, and she managed to roll her eyes far back enough so I can see into her skull. Five minutes later my food is back at a lovely fifty-five degrees, partly from the microwave, but mostly from spit. Luckily we decide to leave after three bites.
On the open road, the kids stomachs, realizing that they're fifty miles from any normal food, reactivate. They need to be fed and fed NOW!! Randy managed to trade off Steph and Mel for J.C. How he managed that I'll never know. Allow me to explain the situation. Generally a male of any species is easier to take care of. For example, if you had a male earthworm, it would only want dirt to eat and a place to watch worm football or whatever the hell they watch. But the female worm would need nurturing, caring, love, attention, chocolate, basic toiletries, dirt to eat, etc. So the needs are starkly contrasting. Now young boys are much easier than men, because they dont even need to watch football. And I can't even begin to describe the benefits of the upright urination method (contrary to popular belief, homo erectus meant man who stands up when he pees). So little girls are twice as hard as boys and I've got two of them. As if that still wasn't enough it appears that they are both going through menopause at ages eight and six. Theyre too hot, too cold, too uncomfortable, too tight, they have large poisonous spiders chewing on their neck and several other small petty complaints.
Anyhow, the children are starving and as the Childcare Emission and Intake Technician, I again head back with the almighty Cheez-Whiz. Of course, at the time, we were driving over what felt like a 5.0 earthquake on the Rocky Mountains, (It later turned out to be buffalo my uncle had hit and we, trying to keep up, ran them over at 90 mph) and this time we had a lovely swirl pattern over the van and kids. The dog licked all of it up and was still licking spots that had bigger atomic particles than actual "cheez" molecules. For some crazy reason, the container ran out before the kids were full. I rummaged through the cooler and found some cheese whips (I wondered why Randy and Maria had brought so many dairy products, until I found the cow hiding under the backseat). Steph soon discovered the reason they called them whips, namely it was just fun to slap the hell out of the hand that feeds you. Pretty soon they moved from hands to arms, until they found the particular place, which got the most animated reaction.
Stinging and red and also pretty sure I would be able to never procreate, mostly because of the half-burning, half-numb feeling. I moved up back to the front seat. Maria, sensing my pain, began telling me about how to make a five course meal in twenty minutes flat. For some odd reason I drift slowly to sleep. I fell asleep at 3:12. It's now 6:32.
"He's awake", I can hear Steph whisper in the back.
"Did you sleep well?", Maria has a suppressed grin on her face, like she just spit on someones food.
"Yeah", I stretched my arms out and yawn. It takes about five minutes for all the girls to start laughing. I look out the window thinking there might've been a car crash (something I would laugh at) and see Tommy Faye Baker looking back at me. I popped down the passenger mirror. Seeing more clearly, it seems as though I have been witness to a paint factory explosion. My face has obviously gotten the deluxe facial treatment, complete with blush, lipstick and mascara. Feeling frightened (and very pretty), I asked the kids calmly, in a tone you would expect from someone who has a train rolling over their foot, what did they do.
Still laughing, their faces purple from lack of oxygen, they manage to choke out that they ran out of room in their coloring books and found a new drawing pad. Maria, always being a jokester, offered her makeup bag and the girls went to work. I told Maria she should probably take the kids to the doctor, because it looked like they had seizures whilst doodling on their proverbial "canvas". Unfortunately there is absolutely no water or baby wipes to clean up the mess, so I sit, a living Picasso, quietly in the front seat.
Finally at 10:30 Randy decides to stop and let the sun catch up to us. We park in front of a Motel 8 and Randy gets two rooms. Walking through the lobby, I get some strange faces, until I remember the Bozo the clown look that I have mysteriously inherited. I told Randy that my bladder was as big as a zeppelin and if I didnt hurry, there would soon be another Hidenburg incident. He gave me the magnetic key card and said he'd bring in my suitcase. I got into an actually decent room that looked it was cleaned once in a while. Ten pounds and five minutes later, I was feeling much better. During the grunts of the skirmish, it had been a little touch-and-go for a bit, but in the end good conquered evil and all was right with the world. I washed my hands and face leaving a faint reminder of the horror that had resided there. I got out of the bathroom just as an elderly man walked in. I kept walking, looking innocent, even after the muffled screams.
I realized once I got to the lobby that the key had no door number with it, and in the heat of battle I had forgot whatever Randy had told me. I asked the clerk at the desk for the room number of Randy Bialcik. He, being as much help as a broken toilet, curtly replied, minors are not allowed to disturb the customers that choose the peaceful serenity of such a fine establishment. I curtly replied that this was a Motel 8, mostly known for cockroaches and bacterium the size of small terriers. He curtly replied that I could sleep in a garbage can for all he cared. I was about to curtly reply where I would have shoved that garbage can, when my cousin J.C. came up. Jay said he had been looking for me in the bathroom, "It smelled like the time Chaubo threw up, ate it, and threw up again."
He grabbed my hand and led me to the elevator. "We're on floor10."
The building had three floors.
"I wanna push the button."
"Hit that one", I said, pointing to the button third from the top. J.C. hit BASEMENT.
"No Jay, the other one." He hit the fire alarm.
After the firemen left and we were finally in our bed, it was about 12:20 AM. By we, I mean J.C. and me. Steph and Melissa are in the other bed. After watching the local TV station for half an hour (Knitting with Bellybutton Lint week: How to Make a Cardigan). I started to drift to sleep. Just then I snapped back awake. My cousin J.C. had kicked me in a place one should not be kicked. I caught my breath and faced the other way quickly. The rest of the night, Jay single-handedly defeated an army of ninjas, simply using his feet. At 6:13, the phone rang and Curt (The jerk downstairs) announces, this is your wake-up call. I had not called for one so I hung up. Five minutes later I get "Curt" again. I hung up. The cycle continues until 7:30, when I give up and rip the phone out of the wall. I get out of bed and take a shower, and the water, of course, was freezing. I get out and get dressed. Feeling fairly hungry, I headed downstairs to attack the continental breakfast. I found the most glorious stack of donuts and a rather large mass of man clothed in plaid, steadily depleting the donuts. I grab three different kinds and "Chubby Checkers" gives me an evil glare through the frosting.
After inhaling the three donuts, I go back for more. Twelve gooey, frosting-filled baked delights later; I have sufficiently filled the void and go back upstairs. I packed my things and start bringing them out to the van. Chaubo, the adorable dog, is whimpering pitifully. After ingesting almost an entire can of orange cheese-like substance, I can understand why. But when I let him out, I see the bright orangish mound of vomit. With all the windows open, it is about noon, when we leave. After using five rolls of paper towels we found two more piles (of different exits) and revert to a small shovel. Today we are in possession of J.C. and Melissa. Oh joy. Theyre actually pretty quiet. Then we leave the motel parking lot.
"It really stinks."
"It really, really stinks."
"It really, really, really stinks."
"It really, really, really..." And so on for an entire state (Ohio (state motto: Nothing to do or see for miles around)). They also sing a song in Phillipino. Its kind of weird. It starts out to the tone of Like a Rhinestone Cowboy. Heres what it sounded like to me:
Nik awa nee cowboy
I eat bubblegum
Ooka eee tangle LA!!!
I swear I'm not kidding either. And then when we stopped again (for gas, not directions) my cousin Steph hopped in with us. For a while they were all singing it (the song, not stinky routine) over and over again. Then the dog threw up. By the second night in the hotel we were an hour outside of Chicago (or by Randy's driving, ten minutes). Randy said we would leave early in the morning and try to beat rush hour, rather than hit it today. We would be in Green Bay, by noon tomorrow. Latest.
At 10:30 AM we were sitting in the van right in the midst of a traffic jam. Randy had thought his watch was still on Jersey time regardless of the several clocks that displayed central time zone. He had actually set it (his watch, not the central time zone) in New Jersey. So by the time we hit the highway, rush hour was well under way.
J.C. spent most of the two hours, picking his nose. Suddenly that same finger became fascinated with my face. At this point, I was too tired to even really care. Stephanie was complaining that the seats were too hot and that the A/C was too cold. Maria is singing with Celine Dion. At last, we begin to crawl forward. In two hours we finally get out of Chicago. It had only taken four hours to make it out on our way. As usual the kids began clamoring for food. I climbed back and got out some (you guessed it) yogurt. I threw some spoons at the kids and told them to enjoy. I soon heard giggling in the back, followed by several splat noises. Every shred of willpower is bent on ignoring all noises emanating from the backseats. But all was lost as a gooey blob of unknown origin, hit the back of my head.
"WHAT IN GOD'S NAME ARE YOU DOING?!?"
Angelic faces that never have and never will commit wrong, are peering back at confusedly.
"Who threw that?!?" Jay looks at me as though Ive asked him how electrons produce light.
"Not me." At this they laughed as though they just saw me hanging from a tree upside down, without pants. I turned around and ignore the gallons of yogurt hitting my head. Maria just laughs.
At 2:50 we stopped at McDonalds and I ordered a Big Mac. Of course it turned out that it was cold. (I'm thinking theres a conspiracy to keep me for eating anything warmer than 12 degrees Fahrenheit). I gave it to Chaubo. The kids were actually quiet almost the rest of the way to Green Bay and I thanked God for that.
At last I was home again. I jumped out of the van and almost kissed the ground. It was a good thing I didn't because my dog had not been picked up after since I left (There are piles taller than me). My mom runs out to see me. She looks a little sick. Apparently she had some bad milk. I gave her a big hug. She makes a loud retching noise and my back is suddenly warm and wet. At last I am home...