When I was a child, growing up in the 60’s, vacations were spent in the back of a Buick. The destination seldom mattered. Because my memories are marred by the beginning and end of the vacation. Spent in the back of the Buick. For days and days. Since seatbelts were years away from invention, my brother and I often fought with the cat over who go to lay on the floorboard or across the back window. The actual seat was seldom needed.
We drove from Ohio to Texas. And then from Texas back to Ohio. And once, we drove from Ohio to Niagra Falls. Just to change things up a bit.
But one thing that left an indelible impression, was how few gas stations there actually were between Texas and Ohio. Dad would fill up the Buick, and we wouldn’t see another station for a time zone. Or two.
And this was unfortunate because I was cursed with an itty bitty pea sized bladder.
When my brother, the cat, and I would need a pit stop, we would holler up to my parents the need to pee. I often, unhappily, would need to wait until my brother and the cat needed to stop. Because the likelihood of them pausing just for my miniature bladder alone was not good.
In case you’re wondering, the cat wore a harness. And peed in the grass just like any other dog would do. She had no idea she was a cat.
As you well know, boys are blessed with the ability to pee while vertical. Thusly avoiding the unpleasant backsplash.
I was never able to manage the art of peeing on the side of the road. Without tinkling on my lacy socks and having a nervous breakdown. Just the thought of it horrified the dignified, prissy, and modest side of me.
This is perhaps the number one reason that I will not frequent a campsite that doesn’t boast of running water and a flushing toilet. I have very good friends who hike two miles to a remote campsite, carrying meager supplies. And a shovel. And they call it their vacation.
I call it hell on earth.
It’s difficult to understand what we could possibly have in common.
I’m not spoiled. I simply understand my limitations.
Because I’m not one to generally pass on my phobias to my children, when my girls were younger, I always carried a child’s potty chair in the back of the van. I’ve never made them squat on the side of the road. Although, somehow I’m pretty sure they would consider it an adventure.
On Saturday, while en route to the grandparent’s house, Jensen asked rather excitedly, “Is it okay if I pee-pee in my underwears?”
In the chaos of getting everyone ready, we had inadvertently forgotten to take a newly potty trained Jensen to the facilities. After he had consumed enough water to keep him hydrated until next week.
At the time, we were traveling on the Causeway. And the only thing that stood between our van, and plummeting to our death in the water below, was a thin aluminum guardrail.
In other words, pulling over was out of the question. Fiddledaddy pressed a bit harder on the gas pedal, prompting future police officer, Emme, to bellow from the cheap seats, “DADDY! YOU’RE SPEEDING!”
He really wasn’t. Honest. But we were traveling a little faster than the seagulls who were trying to keep pace with us.
When he was able to safely exit, he pulled into a rather affluent neighborhood. Affluent as in there was a yacht for each house. “What are you doing?” “The boy has to pee.” “Couldn’t you have picked a neighborhood with a guard gate too? And security cameras?”
He whipped the van into a deadend street. Facing the busy street from which we just exited. All around us were neon flashing “NO PARKING” signs. Well. They weren’t flashing. Or neon. But from the urgency in Police Officer Emme’s voice, they may as well have.
“DADDY! THE SIGNS SAY NO PARKING. NO PARKING MEANS NO PARKING. WE CAN’T PARK HERE. LET’S JUST GO BEFORE WE GET INTO TROUBLE. MOMMY, TELL DADDY IT SAYS NO PARKING.” (sob sob sob)
I, who was more concerned about my son’s over exposure, ran to the back of the van for a large beach towel. Jensen stood at the open door, while still in the van, and Fiddledaddy blocked all eyes by using himself as a human shield. And target, I might hasten to add.
At this point, I was behind Fiddledaddy, precariously perched above a largish drainage ditch, holding open a large brightly colored beach towel.
Which had sort of a beacon affect, and drew considerable attention to our plight.
Emme, meanwhile, was in the backseat making out her will.
Jensen rather enjoyed his first side of the road peeing experience. A little too much. Because, later at his grandparent’s house, he gleefully fertilized every blade of grass in the backyard.
I’m thinking that the family Fiddle might be ready for our first extended family road trip.
All we need is a cat.