"you will need to leave duluth at 9 a.m.," my mom calculates for me.
she is hosting a family send off for grandma pista, who is returning to florida to school the other retirees in scrabble. a sunday lunch-ish affair, which i mistakenly visualize as an open house.
"it's not an open house," she reads my mind on friday. "the party starts at 1 p.m. ... it takes four hours to get to rochester from duluth. you will need to leave no later than 9 a.m."
i sigh. i'm not sure which planet she's driving on, but here in minnesota, earth, it takes no more than 3 hours, 25 minutes to drive from duluth to rochester -- even if one plans to pee in stacy, minn.
truth: i've done it in 2:58 ... but those were the reckless years when i blindly believed my parents would forever pay for my car insurance. so i sigh again, and add an hour: 35 minutes for her miscalculation; 25 minutes to maintain my reputation as a person who will never show up anywhere on time. as a sign of respect, i decide i will set my alarm for 9 a.m., just to show i've not completely ignored her math.
it is saturday night and jcrew cannot, metaphorically, get her reisling soaked claws off me. she insists that we go to a place that knows no smoking ban. schultz's in superior, wis. per usual, no mere exclamation point is powerful enough to convey her wishes.
jcrew: [indiscernable catarwaling]
me: i have to get up at 9 a.m.
jcrew: [questions our friendship; naysays that i will actually leave duluth at 9 a.m.]
me: i will! i don't have a choice!
jcrew: so what. i get up earlier than that every day!
me: yeah. but you don't have a strict 4 a.m. bedtime!
jcrew: it's not like you're going to go to bed at 11:30 p.m. you should just go out ...
me: don't be silly. but 9 a.m. is hard enough without being all wasted the night before ...
me: i'll think about it.
three hours later, seadawg, jcrew, chuck and i are squinting at each other through a camel lite haze at schultz's. jcrew is telling us about mouth surgery she had years ago. seadawg suggests that a sailor's mouth was transplanted into jcrew's face.
one of the worst things about pre-halloween weekend is wondering if that guy in the shiny red NASCAR coat is in costume. you have to be really careful about your compliments.
the night ends at the hammond spur. chuck and i wave goodbye with $19 worth of various fried and cheese-filled substances collected in a white bag that is already showing pit stains.
i wake at 9 a.m. on the dot. booyah.
i'd rather drive anywhere than rochester. I35 is fine and has points of interest. highway 52 will suck your soul and spit it into a dumpster behind a strip club called jake's near coates, minn. not to mention public radio is having a pledge drive, which means every time i really start to feel click and clack, they ask me for money.
i'm beginning to think it would be more pleasureable to start myself on fire, just to feel something other than fatigue and monotony. then i see a car pulled over on the side of the road and a passenger barfing near the back right tire and all is right with the world for a few more miles.
the best way to explain the party would be to give you this visual: a room teeming with elementary school aged girls vying for my attention. my favorite, my 6-year-old niece mel, is climbing on my lap and making up pretty sophisticated halloween jokes:
"how did the skeleton know his right foot from his left hand?"
"i don't know."
"he put an R on his foot and an L on his hand."
"i'm not sure i follow ..."
"what's a witches favorite subject?"
"i don't get it."
meanwhile maddog is demonstrating vintage breakdancing. specifically, the worm. suddenly a handful of tots and one 32 year old are gyrating on the floor. it's like a bunch of epileptics have been stuck in a room with a strobe light, watching "the wall" just as the place is struck by lightning. in the interim, my attention is repeatedly summoned via pokes and "christa-christa-christa."
at some point a kickball game spontaneously unfolds in the adjacent park. from the deck i see mel running the bases backward and maddog doing handstands on second.
this is chaos.