Rendered Fat Content


On the Sixth Day of Christmas, cabin fever settled in. Losing our minds, we decided to take the boyz to the Air and Space Muse See ‘Em.

The A&S Muse See ‘Um is conveniently located on the far side of a very scary suburban ghetto halfway to the Blue Ridge Parkway from our place, ringed with several competing layers of multiple-lane freeways which serve as parking lots most of the day. I packed a decent snack if not a lunch, and even though Georgie had weenied out on breakfast, we bravely headed out. Two minutes later he was pleading for the snack bag. (Told ya!)

Ten minutes later we were imbedded in one of DC’s infamous traffic jams. I’d seen the sign, Left Lane Closed at Exit 41, Three Right Lanes Getting By, but didn’t know where exit 41 might be and everything seemed to be flowing along fine until it wasn’t. The snack bag was opened as if we were an Arctic expedition stuck in ice. We might just as well have been. (Reminder to Self: See what happens when you get on the Beltway?)

The anticipated jaunt became a slog with adolescent blood sugar crisis written all over it. I pulled over into a strip mall, by which I mean the road was ringed with nothing but strip malls, where I found a Vietnamese restaurant. Ronnie’s suddenly feeling ill and turns skeptical about everything on the menu. I order garden rolls and hope to be able to convince Georgie they’re hot dogs. Fine lunch anyway, and we’re back on the road, heading the wrong way as it later turns out, just an hour later.

A few twists and turns, with one frustrating U-Turn behind a Bennington’s which looked like it had selected that particular location because much traffic would be forced to U-Turn in its back parking lot, we arrived, nearly three hours after leaving the cabin our fever had driven us from. I was already homesick. The boyz are quibbling on the hike into the place, ignoring dad, acting like the irreverent dweebs they can sometimes be, and so embarrassingly. Some days, they seem satisfied to follow along without throwing up much dust. Others, they’re about as discrete as a string of empty cans dragged behind a honeymoon car. Today’s excursion was stacking up to become a putt and drag affair.

I was under the mistaken impression that this particular museum might be a place where we could just stroll and chat, the boyz following along or zooming ahead in the enormous hangar filled with vintage aircraft. But the place has TVs and electronic displays, each of which Uncle David’s exhorted to stop and see, even though none of them interest me. I came to see the real thing. Also, one corner was set up with simulation rides, and both boyz instantly decided that riding those would be the true purpose of the visit, even though the adults refused to even consider that option.

Ronnie landed a space shuttle, albeit a little to the left of the actual runway, regaining pavement before losing momentum, and, surprisingly not breaking up. Georgie wanted to look at the televisions. The crowds grew in direct proportion to shrinking attention spans. Ronnie wanted to see everything. Georgie seems more satisfied playing on the stairs and instigating butt jokes.

I probably shouldn’t have insisted upon seeing the control tower. The longish line was the last thing any of us needed as the sun started settling lower. The boyz were basically uncontrollable by then, and Georgie got a Vulcan Death Grip from his Uncle David and leaked some crocodile tears. We managed a quick walk around the tower before joining the line for the down elevator and exiting.

I channeled Mr Toad on the drive home, but then I always channel Mr Toad’s Wild Ride whenever I’m on the freeway. The boyz were hoping to go swimming but didn’t have suits with them. I was hoping The Muse might take ‘em thrift shop shopping, a completely ridiculous idea that nonetheless gained traction as I shakily described our passage to her. That gave me an hour or so to sit on my hands and breathe deeply before walking to the neighborhood pool where I sincerely hoped the boyz might tucker themselves out.

I suspect that the harshest forms of cruelty are inevitably self-inflicted. Driven from our cabins by a strange delusional fever, we clog the freeways heading essentially nowhere. We get to spend some time together in slightly different surroundings; in other words, we parade our inept uncle-ing around in public before gratefully fleeing back to the cabin and the fever and the possible solitude lounging there. Georgie almost screams, “I don’t know but I’ve been told, I don’t like no po-ta-to,” then laughs maniacally. Ronnie chimes in with the descant part, and the whole excursion echos into that public stairway to irrelevance. I think it was Georgie holding cadence as we stumbled back toward the car: “Butt, two three four. Butt two, three four...”

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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