Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Road Trip Report #7: U-TURN

And then it all came to an abrupt halt.

C-Dog got the call while we were on the road. Things were going to hell in a hand-basket back at the office and his presence was required at a major meeting. Happening at 11 the next morning.

Of course, the easiest thing would be to trundle him onto a plane, but what about his wife's van? We looked at a map. We were more than 1,100 miles from Chicago. It was late afternoon. If he turned around now and drove through the night, he might make the meeting.

JC was already hitching a ride home with someone we'd bumped into at the party (the guy we thought was in Cleveland or Pittsburgh, or dead. He was none of these, as it turned out, and in fact now lived an hour from JC.) If all had gone according to plan, The Kid and I would have been scheduled to hop on individual commuter flights back to our respective homes which, while a bit of a splurge, would have been quicker and--in my case--a lot easier on my back. For his part, The Kid had more than once complained about the beery, sweaty smell of the van (imagine a stinky old bear's den after a long hibernation. It was the smell of bits of fur, dried scat, stale farts, old gnawed bones--you get the idea), and how glad he'd be to get on a plane and be whisked home. That said, The Kid and I also both had return tickets from Chicago (it was actually cheaper to buy the tickets round-trip instead of one-way), we had just simply planned on not using them.

We sat staring at the map, four tired, slightly grubby guys, annoyed to be reminded so soon of what we'd been trying to forget for four days, that we really weren't irresponsible twentysomethings anymore. That we had obligations to tend to. That we had people counting on us.

Starting, of course, with C-Dog.

Time for a little revelation: C-Dog renders a great service to this blog. By allowing me to post entries (and comments on other blogs) through his URLs (using a method I'm not at liberty to explain, largely because I don't understand it), I am able to preserve my little bubble of anonymity. Indeed, there are a couple of you out there who believe that C-Dog--himself an editor at a Really Big Magazine--is me. And til now I unapologetically let you believe it.

But even if C-Dog didn't render that kind of aid, he's still my friend. And sore back or no, I wasn't going to let my friend drive all night by himself.

I stood up, cracked my aching back. "Well, we better get going," I told C-Dog. "You gotta get me to Midway before you can go to your meeting."

The Kid nodded, no trace of the frickin' old man in his demeanor. "Yeah, dog. Me too. Let's hit the road."

C-Dog was clearly moved, but being a guy, all he could do was laugh at us. "You dumb-asses are such gluttons for punishment. I'm gonna fart the whole way, you know."

"Yeah, me too," said The Kid.

"Oh great," I said. "It'll be like a wine tasting. We can talk about body and flavor, whether it's got an acrid top note or a wood-smoke finish."

JC was apoplectic. "Oh that’s perfect! Now I look like the fucking bad guy because I'm only an hour from home and I'm hitching a ride with someone else." We assured him that we felt the same way and would be cheerfully bad-mouthing him on the long drive through the night.

And so, with a round of gruff, manly, back-thumping hugs, we bid JC a farewell, clambered into the bear den on wheels, and literally headed off into the sunset.

"Man this is like a movie!" said The Kid, excited. I felt energized too. We had to drive more than 1,100 miles in a little over 12 hours if C-Dog was going to make his meeting. I hadn't done anything this stupid since I drove from New Hampshire to southern Indiana in a single night. And that was when I was 21 and motivated by the promise of sex at the end of the road.

But this...this trip would be motivated by something different. Something more important.

Just don't tell the guys I said that.

From Somewhere on the Road

Uh huh, motivated by smelly gases... Get home safe.
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