Party Rockers in the Car Tonight

Posted by mwallach on January 17, 2012 in Crazy Follows Me Everywhere |

Dear That’s Life,
Whether you have just come back from winter break, have not left yet or are past the stage in life when you planned a family trip around the school calendar, you know it is not a simple process. Besides the coordination of different schedules and tending to the needs of each child, the packing and unpacking of any family, regardless of size, is not for the faint hearted – and that does not include the post-trip clean-up of your automobile.

There is a distinct difference between what my car looks like before and after we take a drive somewhere as a family. While on any given day a mother’s car may often look like a playroom, with toys and snacks strewn about on the floor, it is deserving of a status change after a trip. Having recently gone away for the weekend, our car was packed to the gills and snacks were at the ready for the long drive ahead. After we unpacked, however, my next stop was the gas station. I was sure my car did not look like we had just taken a drive – instead, it would certainly have looked like we slept in it as well.

At least I clean my automobile. Some parents have a defeatist attitude regarding the state of their cars. If it is just going to be filthy again soon, they wonder what the point is of cleaning it in the first place. My daughter has argued the same logic in regard to making her bed. My response is to suggest we never wash our clothing or even shower because we may just get dirty again. After she wipes the perplexed, and semi-grossed out look from her face, she understands my point. I apply the same reasoning to the state of my car. On the contrary, I have joked that my friend’s car is such a dump that someone could eat a smorgasbord by what she has lying around in its various compartments. Lo and behold, when I said that to her once, she opened up the ashtray to reveal its contents: chocolate chips. Not only could her car provide someone with lunch, now dessert was on the menu as well.
We had never gone skiing with our children, although it is something we have discussed. The opportunity presented itself and we decided to go.

Having not skied since I was a child, my recollection of the equipment we needed to take with us could be summed up as snow gear, all of which we already owned because we were New Yorkers. That was the extent of what was packed since poles and skis were rented. Things have certainly changed because on this trip, our vehicle looked as if we had pillaged the ski gear section of Dick’s Sporting Goods, or that we had been given everything by the Mt. Snow Fairy. Boxes of helmets, goggles, hand/toe warmers and face masks filled our car. Getting the skis and poles was such an event that once everyone was outfitted and set, I was exhausted. There was no need to go down the mountain – it was enough excitement for one day.

Of course, I had already changed into my own requisite ski gear in anticipation of the activity. And no matter how you slice it: there is nothing flattering about a pair of ski pants. Even if you are daily gym goer or think that air is a food group, you simply cannot look good in those pants. Dressed in layer after layer, I took one last glance in the mirror, wondering if I looked just as awful as I thought. Luckily for me, my teenage daughter was nearby as I looked things over before going outside. “Does my butt look big in these pants?” I asked her. “Yup,” she said, without a moment’s hesitation and in total break of the female bond. Staring at her straight in the face, I said, “For real?” but even faster than her first answer came her second. Summing it up all into one word, she looked at me and said, “HUGE.” Despite that reality check, the trip went on as planned.

Back at the gas station, I surveyed my car before placing the quarters in the industrial vacuum provided. I noticed immediately that there was much more than the typical potato chips and pretzel rods stuck in the carpet I have become accustomed to finding. To be expected, numerous food groups could be found in various parts of the car. It also seemed someone had confused a rear console with a sheet of paper because now there was crayon artwork to accompany the mess. Little did I know, however, that would not be the only surprise I received as I cleaned the vehicle.

My husband’s new down jacket (which was part of the previously mentioned mad sporting goods stockpiling) had somehow ripped while he was skiing. It is unclear how it happened, but ultimately it’s irrelevant. We shoved the jacket, along with other random items, in the back of the vehicle right before pulling out and had not thought much of it – until the moment I went to clean up the car.

Upon inspection of the back seat, it looked like a flock of geese had flown straight through my truck, only to get into a fist-fight on their way out. Without exaggeration, amidst the remnants of food and snacks, there were feathers everywhere. Whether in the floor rugs, the cup holders or between the seats, it seemed the Aflac duck and all of his friends had partied in my backseat and, like any good party, there was nothing left but the evidence.

Days later, I am still finding feathers in various unknown places. This morning’s hiding spot ? The defogger. Feathers shot up out of the vent and on to the dashboard, scaring the living daylights out of me. But it does not matter. Regardless of m&ms in the carpet, feathers in my hair or sprinkles embedded in the stitching, the one important thing that remains after any family trip are the memories. That being said, if the anxiety dreams that I’m being attacked by birds would stop, I’d appreciate it.

As Seen in the South Shore Standard Jan 2012

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