Roads: They’re All the Rage

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Let the games begin!

Let the games begin!

I hate driving. I didn’t always, but now that I’m older and driving is simply the process that must be endured in order to transfer your body to a new destination, I view climbing behind the wheel as a task akin to a booster shot: let’s just get it over with. So while my trip with Mom to Asheville was fun because of the location, navigating from point A to point B was another matter entirely.

First of all, there are the roads surrounding that delightful town. Three different interstates converge to form the perfect storm with corkscrew on-ramps that spit you out into the flow of traffic doing 35 miles an hour. The first thing you notice once you’ve straightened the steering wheel is the succession of three semi’s bearing down on you doing 70, and suddenly you understand all the fuss about high performance cars capable of going 0-60 in three seconds.

Once you’ve cheated death and exited the freeway, your next test of womanhood is to steer with one hand, follow that blue dot on your navigation system with the other, and keep a calm demeanor so your passenger doesn’t realize you’re about one car length away from a stomach ulcer. I was doing a decent job of this until Mr. I’m Local and You Tourists Really Get on my Nerves got behind me on the four lane.

My first crime against humanity was to drive the speed limit. This really torqued the fellow following so closely that one glance in the rear view mirror told me that he had broccoli for lunch. He decided to extend his fury through his horn just as I was trying the decipher the road name on a tiny green sign the size of a lasagna noodle (uncooked). Then, as if I hadn’t already qualified for a capital punishment sentence, I looked over my shoulder, turned on my blinker, and then moved into the right lane since there wasn’t another car coming for eight miles. This aggressive act of vehicular maneuvering incited another series of rash horn trumpetings.

At this point, I started an internal tirade: Hey, buddy! What’s your deal? Are you illiterate or just choosing to ignore my Florida license plate? Is it just possible that the plate gives you a clue that I may not be familiar with the area? That I may be chauffeuring my mom around to another cleverly hidden antique store? That your bullying horn antics make me want to say something unladylike because you’re jumping on my last nerve?! HUH?!!

Mom threw a glance over her shoulder. “Boy, he sure has his Fruit of the Loom’s in a twist about something. I’m glad you’re so calm when you drive. I’d be a nervous wreck. Oh, look!” She swiveled her head and tapped the window with her pointer finger. “Village Antiques!”

© 2014 – Traci Carver

Needing Chutes and Ladders

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Beautiful Albemarle Inn of Asheville, NC

Beautiful Albemarle Inn of Asheville, NC

“You know what used to drive me crazy as a kid?” Mom asked as we made the journey by car to Asheville, NC, for some R&R.

“Grandmother telling you that you were going to get cataracts if you hung your head out the car window?”

Mom paused. “Well, that, too. But no, what really worried me was that God didn’t have a birthday. When the preacher would say that God has always been, it worried me. How can you not have a birthday?”

“Or a belly button.”

“A belly button? Glad I didn’t think of that one when I was eight. I wouldn’t have slept for days trying to figure it out.”

We still had an hour and a half to go when the rain hit. And then the hail. We didn’t talk as much then, unvoiced fears of four car pile ups, jaws of life, and a dinged paint job on a car less than a year old hanging thickly in the air. And yet I’d wager that even with the Brillo pad hail and the water pressure like that of Niagara Falls that we’d still have love bug guts on the grill of the car when we stopped.

The rain had finally slackened enough for us to see a few yards off the road when Mom spotted an antique store. I followed her pointer finger and yelled over the noise of the rain, “Don’t think we’ll make that one!”

“We’d need Noah’s Ark to get over there!”

“And even then there’d be the concussion to deal with from the hail!”

“Last thing I need is for someone to hit me on my weak spot!”

After this jolly banter at volume 42, we rode in silence until the rain finally abated. We pulled into the inn’s parking lot at a little past six and stretched from the long ride.

“Look at that,” Mom said with disgust. “There’s still bird poop on the windshield.” If only the betting windows had been open an hour ago.

Inside we found a room worth the ride and deluge. “Look at that carving on the bed!” Mom exclaimed, as she knocked her fist against the headboard to test the quality of the wood. “That’s good stuff,” she declared, but then she took a step back. “How in the world are we supposed to get up there?”

“I think we’re supposed to use the steps.”

Mom took one look at the wicker aid and said, “Yeah, when I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, I’ll break my neck on those. Take those away.”

I put the offensive baby ladder in the small sitting room and returned to find Mom with one leg scaling the bed, one arm wrapped around the hand carved post, and the other clawing the air for a grip on the headboard. She finally made it with an Oomph! and then leaned over the side to gauge her altitude.

Alley oop!

Alley oop!

“If I roll off in the middle of the night, I’ll be in full body traction until I’m 80.”

I took my own turn in climbing up the other side, and without those baby steps, it was quite a challenge for the hip flexors. That nautilus machine in the gym doesn’t do half the number on your hip that taking a nap in this bed does.

After an hour of watching TV, I heard Mom sigh. “Great. I need to get down. I guess I’ll just make like a fireman and use the poles at the end of the bed.”

I watched with amusement as she maneuvered along her side until she dropped over the edge and I heard her feet make contact with the floor.

“Bend at the knees,” she said and padded off.

© 2014 – Traci Carver

My Dear, You Look Radishing

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Sometimes you just have to know when to run for it. That fight or flight response kicks in and you know that punches will be less effective than a trail of dust, so you kick up your heels and get out of dodge. I had an experience like this once in a local grocery store, and while there was no pedal to the metal, I did make good time on the aisle corners with that buggy. Like a million others before me, all I wanted to do was buy a few vegetables. Enter Weird Grocery Guy.

The perfect place for an ambush

The perfect place for an ambush

I was standing in the produce section trying to decide between asparagus or zucchini squash when I turned to find him blocking my cart.

“Excuse me! I don’t want to interfere with your shopping, but I simply had the urge to tell you that I think you’re beautiful.”

As far as opening lines for men declaring their affections against a backdrop of Portobello mushrooms and pole beans, it wasn’t a bad start. But the fact that he was blinking like a caution light, sweating profusely, and gesticulating like an Edgar Allan Poe narrator made me take a step back into the red cabbage section.

“Oh, I don’t want to bother you!” Blink, blink. “I have zero expectations about dates!” Jab wildly into the air. “I just think that women like you should be told more often that they’re beautiful.” Blink, blink, blink, mop forehead.

“Oh,” I said, curling my fingers around my buggy handle and scouting the area to my immediate left for an opening. “How. . . nice of you.”

“Oh, don’t mention it.” Arms flailing. “I’m the perfect man for the job!” Blink, blink.

Two thoughts crossed my mind: one, why couldn’t rising unemployment rates put this man out of a job, and two, why didn’t I have the FBI’s number on speed dial? I was just about to arm myself with red potatoes and pelt away, but then he stepped around my buggy to close the gap, and I took off like Secretariat at Belmont. To heck with asparagus or fresh squash. It was feeling more like a double-bolt-your-door-and-have-a-slice-of-frozen-pizza-while-oiling-your-shotgun kind of night by the minute.

I made good time through the candy aisle and finally shook him in the cheap wine section. He must have been a Baptist, since no self-respecting member of that denomination would be caught dead amidst the Chardonnay lest a deacon spy him and set up an intervention plan to pull him back from the evils of alcohol. Sometimes it really does pay to know your local demographics.

I can lose him in here!

I can lose him in here!

I shopped cautiously the rest of that trip, and when I reached an end cap of an aisle, I tentatively peered around the corner before emerging in plain sight. At the end of the soup aisle, I saw WGG with another victim hemmed in by the salad starters. I couldn’t read expressions from that far away, but I could see the broad, sweeping arm motions, looking as if he was trying to land a plane on the Vidalia onions. By the time I reappeared on the other side of the pastas, Victim 2 was wheeling away with enough velocity to lay tire tread on the linoleum. Just another satisfied customer of the Beautiful Compliments industry.

© 2014 – Traci Carver