We’re on our sixth hour of driving from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City to visit family for spring break.
Collectively Clare (8), Bridget (7), Henry (old bastard) and me (none of your business) have eaten:
1/2 bag Trader Joes cheddar popcorn
1 box Junior Mints
2 corn dogs
1 chicken fried steak
2 oreo cookie shakes
¼ coffee shake (I was briefly tracking my points)
1 cup of cerebellum-like oozy tomato soup (at Appelbys)
1 roll of Smarties
1 trough of three-day old french fries (I’d stopped tracking)
1 Berry Blast push pop
6 gallons of green tea (the only way Henry can cope)
1 thimble of whiskey (in my delirium tremens dreams)
10 mushy grapes
2 Barney butter and strawberry-rhubard jelly sandwiches on Japanese dinner rolls
1 redemptive bag of seaweed
Topics of conversation:
1. Farts. (I leave the rest to your imagination)
2. How grandpa “almost got himself shot” when he showed up at Uncle Randy’s house unannounced at 5 a.m…(Clare) Grandpa almost got shot? … (Henry) He didn’t actually almost get shot … (Clare) But then why did you say he almost got shot?… (H) Because it’s a figure of speech … (C) But were there guns? … (H) Well, Uncle Randy has guns, but they weren’t actually taken out … (C) But then why did you say grandpa almost got himself shot? (Bridget) Did grandpa have a gun that he almost shot himself with?
3. How professional athletes who play more than one sport have “sexier” careers … (Clare) Do you have to say that word, Daddy … (H) Well, I’m using the word sexier to mean … (C) Could you just not say that word? … (B) Come on, Daddy! (H) I don’t mean it that way … (B) Because that’s gross … (H) I don’t actually mean sexy, I mean … (B) Daddy, we’re trying to eat (at Appelbys) … (Clare) Do you have to say that when we’re eating? …
Daddy lays his head on the table.
(Me to girls) Daddy means “cooler” careers when he says “sexier” careers. (C and B) Oh. (H) How come mommy can say sexy and I can’t? (B) Because she’s a girl.
4. Vomit. How there are so many words for vomit. Barf. Puke. Blow chunks. Blow cookies. Upchuck. Hurl. Lose your lunch. Pray to the porcelain God. Kiss your dinner good-bye. Spew. (Or more impressively) Volcanic spew. Regurgitate. Throw up. Get a serving of gut soup.
5. Whether Neil Armstong was wearing an astronaut diaper when he first stepped on the moon. And if so, was it loaded?
6. Why were the dolphins at Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden yesterday “playing so roughly” in the View Pool. And what’s “mating season?” And why the girls should immediately start playing Fingerzilla on their itouches for the remainder of the trip.
It’s quiet. Too quiet.
A pernicious odor permeates the mini-van cabin. The subject of farts comes up again. And one person finds himself on the wrong end of the conversation.