Tuesday, June 19, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 15

Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on June 25th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 16 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 15, Issue 16

Trippin' out while road trippin'

Why I prefer the roads less traveled


I really enjoy a good road trip. I enjoy it even more if I don’t have to drive. I’m not especially fond of driving long distances. I think this is because of the many years I spent crawling along on the Los Angeles freeways from college to college to teach as an adjunct professor of art history.

Prior to that, I spent years crawling along the Black Canyon Highway in Phoenix, Ariz., to attend Arizona State University in Tempe, a trip of 40 miles each way. There was even a miserable period of one year when I commuted once a week from Phoenix to San Bernardino, Calif., to teach at Cal State San Bernardino. Oh, the sites to see on that drive! Sand, cacti, boulders, the quaint town of Quartzite, and the devil’s own speed trap—Blythe.

Now I no longer travel the highways and byways alone. I comprise a trio along with The Brit and Britween (aka Jibber and Jabber), my London-born, Cockney husband and our often-cocky grandson, now 12. Traveling anywhere with these two characters is an exercise in keeping my composure. Jibber gives me directions on how to drive, while the always voracious Jabber the Gut tries to divert me to various drive-thru eateries. Oh, the merriment never ends!

Lately I have had to do all the driving because The Brit’s license recently expired. So one afternoon we headed to the DMV office in San Luis Obispo so he could renew it. We pulled number 666, and sat in the waiting area from Hell with the rest of the souls of the damned. We were finally summoned to the brimstone counter at 4:10 p.m. and told that written tests are given only until 4:30.

“It’s only 18 questions,” the DMV staff member explained. “Do you think you can do it in 20 minutes or would you rather come back another day? Mwahahaha!” The Brit, his confidence bolstered by my elbow in his ribs, said, “Sure, I’ll give it go!”

Most of the questions simply require common sense to answer. Easy, right? But I’m talking about The Brit, a guy who learned to drive on the wrong side of the road. He forgot to answer one question entirely and missed three more. He answered the question “You must notify the DMV within five days if you: (a) sell your vehicle; (b) are in an accident involving injury or property damage; or (c) paint your car a different color.”

The correct answer is (b), but my English husband sensibly answered (c). Yes! Common sense dictates that you must notify the DMV as soon as possible after you repaint your car! Really? God forbid you should change the color of your car and not tell the DMV about it! My poor, sweet husband has never failed a DMV test in his life, until now.

“Don’t worry,” the DMV staffer said. “You can come back and retake the test. Of course, you will have new test questions. Mwahahaha!”

All the way home, The Brit continued his nagging tutorial on how I should navigate the streets. “Watch your speed! Stay in this lane! Move into that lane! Mind the stop sign!” Finally, from the back seat came my vindication.

“GrandDad, are you sure you’re qualified to tell Grandma how to drive? Who just failed his driver’s test?” That’s my boy! I proceeded to pull in to the first McDonald’s I saw.

However, I must admit that nothing compares to the times I’ve driven long distances with my mother. This woman has a bladder the size of a pea, and madam must pee often.

My brother, Mikey, and I have taken a few excursions with Mom and marveled at the frequency she has watered many a flower along the way. He and I used to yell out of the car windows, “Mom, stop! You’re washing the road away!”

Once we even pranked her by driving off, leaving her behind at a rest stop while laughing our butts off. Of course, we didn’t go far and went right back for her. We’re not idiots! She’s our mother, for Pete’s sake, and has the power to revise her will. We turned right around and Mikey opened the door for her, only to hear her say, “Hang on, I need to pee again.”

My mother surpasses any GPS or Google maps app. She knows the location of every rest stop from Phoenix to the California coast and places in between. She’s like the female Johnny Cash, which is why I penned this tribute to them both:

“She’s gone in Winslow, Reno, Ajo, don’t ya know. Payson, Needles, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Wickenburg, Scottsdale, Pioneer, and Tucson. Flagstaff, Banning, Tonopah, and points beyond. She’s gone everywhere, man, wet the desert bare, man, peed in the mountain air, man, caused a few folks to stare, man. She’s gone everywhere!”

You would think I’ve learned my lesson by now, but noooo! I have planned the ultimate journey to Hades for all my transgressions—a trip with The Brit, Britween, and Mom to that Sin City in the desert, Las Vegas. Booking a hotel to meet everyone’s criteria was the first hurdle.

The Brit plans on seeing old work buddies at an annual convention so we must stay close to the convention center. Britween wants to eat and do fun stuff. Mom wants to sleep above a casino that’s close to the bathrooms. And me? I just want a bit of luxury, perhaps a whirlpool bath and to visit the hotel spa for a manuel massage. I hear Manuel is pretty good!

Next time I will fill you all in on the details. Until then, dear friends, please pray for me.


Ariel Waterman, sadly, has inherited her mother’s small bladder. Send her extra rolls of toilet paper via her editor, Ryan Miller, at rmiller@santamariasun.com.

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