Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Chapter 4.3: Packing for the Trip (Con't)

We still need pots, pans, forks, spoons, knives, drinking cups, matches, clothes line, clothes pins, detergent, scrub brush, tooth brushes, hair brush, hair dryer, Band-Aids ( Alicia), bug spray, table cloth, shaver, deodorant, flashlight, sleeping cots, air mattresses, air pump, and a U-Haul truck.

Wait a minute, I forgot about the kids again,  Baseball bat, mitts, balls, footballs, whiffle balls, soccer balls, badminton, fishing poles, roller blades, Playstation 2 (Playstation 3 wasn’t out yet), 13” portable TV, baseball cards, football cards, credit cards ( those are for us ), skate board, bicycles and a bigger U-Hall truck.

It’s time to pack the station wagon.  I have a couple of theories about this.  You can just throw everything in randomly and hope it fits or you can use some sort of logic and place each individual item in a predetermined spot. Men always chose the easiest way first or the one that takes the least amount of thought. So I start throwing everything in randomly like every good husband does and after swearing and sweating for a hour, take everything back out and start all over. I guess this is no different than loading a grocery bag, not that I ever done that.  But they always start with the biggest and heaviest items first.  Then they build upon that base with all the light stuff and finally the eggs on top.  So I start with the biggest and heaviest boxes first.

It’s just like the game Tetris.  You must form the boxes into the shape of the trunk.  And as you add more boxes, the shape of the trunk changes, which makes you constantly change the way you add more boxes.  The only problem with Station Wagon Tetris is it’s in three dimensions. That’s one more dimension than I’m used to playing with. There’s also one more problem I didn’t anticipate.  My wonderful, caring wife (brownie points) has no knowledge of the Space Time Continuum. That is, how many items can fit in a non-expanding space and how much time it will take me to lose it and go completely ballistic.  It seems the older I get the time continuum gets shorter and shorter.

So I start all over again with the biggest and heaviest boxes first, carefully placing them in what I think is the perfect position, turning and tilting them to fit together as tight as possible to conserve space.  Then I would take a smaller box like my tool box and find that one nook and cranny and slide it in there.  At this point, it’s not so important where they go in the car, just as long as they are in there, or so I thought.  As I seem to be running out of room, I notice my wonderful wife (burnt brownie points) bringing more and more shiiiii---- stuff for me to pack.  Thank goodness for blood pressure medicine. “Where’s the cooler,” she says in her somewhat sarcastic voice?  “Can’t you see it dear (black, charred, right from hell brownie points), underneath all those boxes?”  “How are we going to get to it in case the kids need a drink during the ride,” she asked?  “Maybe I should pack the car,” she adds.  Why didn’t she say that an hour ago?  I would have gladly let her pack the car.

Unfortunately she’s right, I forgot the kid factor.  Kids have certain needs, and their needs usually interfere with my needs. My need is to get this done as soon as possible.  Their need is to have access to all edible items otherwise all hell breaks loose.  So I move the cooler to the back of the tailgate for easy access.

I fill in the remaining gaps with all the soft items like sleeping bags, blankets, tent tarps, air mattresses, baseball gloves.  At this point the wagon is pretty much packed to capacity.  I can barely close the hatch without shattering the rear window.  The only problem is I have no room for the tent, tent poles, bikes, folding chairs, kid’s bikes and sleeping cots.  Maybe I should reconsider renting the U-Haul truck?  Maybe I should reconsider not going at all. That option sounds good to me, only in my dreams of course.

It’s time to think outside the box, or in my case outside the station wagon.  The only way to go is up, way up.  There’s a lot of unused real-estate on top of the wagon that needs some development.  The only trouble is the wagon has no luggage racks or tie downs.  This is where the garage sale comes in handy.  My father just happened to buy this weird looking thing at a garage sale and never used it.  It looks like a metal box made out of an erector set that has four big suction cups and four tie down straps. It’s the poor man’s version of a cargo carrier. I just happened to be poor so this should work out just fine.

It just dawned on me; I probably won’t be able to pick up chicks with this thing on top of my car. What am I thinking; I won’t be able to pick up chicks driving a station wagon anyway.  I’m kidding myself; I’m married, I won’t be able to pick up anything except garbage cans; back to reality.

I threw it on top of the car and connected the tie down straps to the rain gutters.  If you’re under the age of 20 you probably don’t know what rain gutters are?  I’m not talking about the ones on a house. They used to have rain gutters on most of the cars made before the 90’s.  They keep the rain from pouring into the car if you leave the window open a crack. It’s a good thing my car is a 1980 otherwise I would have no way of connecting the carrier to my car.  So I tighten the carrier straps as tight as I can, take a step back I notice how ugly it looks sitting on top of the wagon.  Man, that’s ugly, but the station wagon is plenty ugly by itself.  What’s a little uglier going to do?  It’s not like I’m single anymore.  Do I really care about what kind of car I drive?  This is what marriage and kids do to you.  It makes you content, and content is a bad thing.

I start throwing the bikes up there, the four folding chairs, the tent, tent poles, a couple more sleeping bags and the eating canopy.  This stuff is starting to pile up pretty high I’m thinking to myself.  I’m starting to worry about the wind shear factor.  We will be going at least 65 Mph.  I better make sure I tie enough rope around this stuff to hold it down.  Being a former Cub Scout Assistant Leader, you would think I would know how to tie knots.  Unfortunately my boys quit before we ever got to the knot tying badge.  I could have used that badge knowledge right about now.  So to make up for it, I used twice as much rope as was necessary and took twice as much time to make sure it was secured.  It looked like the biggest yarn ball in the world up there; but better safe than sorry.  I was actually physically tired just tying these ropes.  I’m ready to take a nap.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Chapter 4.2: Packing for the Trip (Con't)

“Bonnie!”  I shout as I walked into the kitchen. “How many cloth ---------es?” Just as the words were coming out of my mouth, I noticed all the boxes in the kitchen. “What’s in all these boxes, I questioned.”  “Food”, she says nonchalantly.  “You do want to eat when we get there, she says in her sarcastic voice.”  I found out after many years of marriage that’s actually her normal voice.  How much food could we possibly eat in three days?  There’s enough food here for a week.  Do we really need five types of cereal I thought to myself as I looked through the boxes?  Five does not go into three without a carry over.  And a carryover means repacking and hauling it home.  Not what I had in mind.  I can see bringing two types of cereal. If you don’t like one type, there’s always the other. If you don’t like that one you don’t eat, simple.  Now with Bonnie, if you don’t like one type of cereal you have another choice, if you don’t like that one, you get another choice, if you don’t like that one there’s still another and if you still don’t like that one, you can ....
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The next overindulgence she packed was potato chips. For me, two different types of chips would be plenty, but to Bonnie, it’s just foreplay.  I never knew there was this many types of potato chips to chose from.  She packed regular, crinkle cut, salt and vinegar, sour cream and barbecue.  If were going to eat this many bags of chips, I think a cardiologist should come along for a possible angioplasty.  My veins are clogging just thinking about it.  So you would think five types of chips would fill the snack portion of her food pyramid.  No not really, you still apparently need corn chips, pretzels, Doritos, corn curls and potato sticks.

Now for the candy, we have: licorice sticks, Milk Duds, candy corn, chocolate kisses, gummy bears and the most important, bulk candy.  Bulk candy is like the ultimate, there’s like a 100 different barrels to choose from, each one with a different candy surprise. You just fill up the bag with whatever candy you want and just pay by the pound.  A word of caution, only pick the candy that’s individually wrapped.  Number one you’re only supposed to use the big scooper to get the candy out, not the pooper scooper nicknamed your hand.  Like Kelly Ripka said, “I don’t know where your hands been.”  How many times have you seen some snot nose kid reaching in the barrel with his hands swirling all the candy around, touching every single piece.  Then they turn around only to find out it’s your own kid.  And you definitely know where his hands have been.  No matter how many times you tell them not to do it, they always reach in there.

If kids see candy, they just naturally reach for it.  If kids have an itch, they reach for it to, and then they scratch it.  That’s where the problem is.  It doesn’t matter where that itch is, they are going to scratch it, and after they scratch it, they reach for the candy.  And you know where that piece of candy is going to end up; in your candy dish and then your mouth; yummy!

The second reason you only pick wrapped candy is the gravity factor.  You lift that protective cover; you put your head over the barrel to get a good look.  You’re shaking your head, tilting it left and right trying to get a better view.  What do you think is falling into that candy barrel?  How about sweat, dandruff, nose excretions, epidermal flakes, hair, hair bugs and last but not least, spit and drool.  That’s why you never go for the soft candy, like gummy bears, gum drops, worms.  Not only are they not wrapped but their just tacky enough that everything sticks to them.  I mean everything.  Ever drop a gummy bear on the floor, pick it up and find ten hairs stuck to it, double yummy!

I just can’t figure out why the soft candy barrels are always empty first.  Apparently shoppers think that’s sugar sprinkle on the soft candy and not epidermal skin. I willing to bet Dermatologists never buy bulk.

So far we have 5 types of cereals, 10 types of bag snacks, a few pounds of candy.  Now it’s time to look in the cooler.

Opening this cooler isn’t the same as Geraldo opening Al Capone’s vault.  I know there is plenty of stuff in here.  Let’s see, we have hotdogs, hamburgers, chicken, pork chops, Italian sausage (hot and mild), baloney, salami, ham, turkey, capacola and for the main course New York strip steaks. This cooler is a meat lover’s dream.  Dr. Atkins would be proud; so would Geraldo I think.

I’m really surprised there were no veggies in the cooler, after all Bonnie used to be a vegetarian before we got married.  She was one of those hard core vegetarian.  If my mother would make spaghetti sauce and throw in a meat bone for added flavor, she wouldn’t touch it.  Unfortunately for her there’s this corporation called McDonalds.  Dating me meant eating at McDonalds.  Watching me eat Big Mac’s while she ate that healthy salad was too much for her to take.  Eventually she turned to the dark side; a Quarter Pounder and fries to go.

Meat wasn’t the only thing in the cooler.  We have ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, spaghetti sauce, onions, tomatoes, American cheese, Mozzarella cheese, pepperoni and of course a gallon of milk to wash it all down.  Geraldo should have done the special, “Opening Bonnie’s Cooler.”  She packed enough stuff in there for an hour long special without any commercials or fill-ins.  I’m looking at the cooler thinking how much does this thing weigh?  We still have to add at least five pounds of ice.  I could barely lift the cooler without the ice.

Wait!  We have another box.  Let’s see what have here. We have white bread, wheat bread, hotdog rolls, hamburger rolls, hard rolls, forks, knives napkins, plates, napkin rings, fire starters, clothes line, cloth pins, table cloth, soap, dish washing detergent, Welcome rug, broom and dust pan.  A Welcome rug, who exactly would we be welcoming: bugs, flies, mosquitoes, Pleatherface?  I don’t anticipate welcoming anybody in my tent. A tent is basically a bed room.  You don’t welcome people in your bed room do you?  Unless of course she’s good looking and you’re not married.  There I go daydreaming again; back to reality.