Sandy Watiff Off-Season
Waffle Breakfast Bickering
Trees: the Forrest and the Woods
Facing the Challenge
Travel Portrait 14
Sandy Watiff Off-Season: Part 2
June 27, 2008 [listen]
I. Road Tripping
"Not a problem," I said drowsily. My son's mother
and I were discussing his and my vacation logistics. (We
have daily post-nuptial evening updates.)
"The plan is to leave a couple of hours before
sunrise. He'll be in his pajamas for part of the day, but
maybe I'll have him in shorts and a t-shirt (when he goes
to bed the night prior), then I'll have him put on his sweats
later. Something like that. I'll make sure that he has his
blanket. He will be able to sleep in the car."
"Listen. I'm not worried about him sleeping in the
car," she alerted. "I'm worried about you falling
asleep while driving the car!"
"But I'm freshest early in the morning--and I've taken
a day off one day before leaving for Maine. This will ensure
that I'm well rested."
"You better pull over and take a rest at the slightest
Which for me would be frequently--my son's mother always
makes me blink, take pause, when I think of her: that whole
no confidence whammy stresses me out and exhausts
me, that and my lack of conscious synaptic activity when
not multitasking. I am a person who requires simultaneous
cerebral and visceral stimuli. Such intellectual and physical
activity releases boredom, invigorates me.
However, she and I both knew heed had to be taken. After
all, this vacation was our first extended father and son
adventure--a legitimate cause for concern. Only natural.
II. Adventure Underway
I finally got the compact car loaded--four hours after
sunrise. Within this amount of time my son was able to fully
awake, eat a complete breakfast, get dressed, and ask me
repeatedly, "When are we leaving?"
"Just one more storage container," I exclaimed
as I lifted up another onto the luggage rack.
"Aw, c'mon, daddy!"
Okay. Get in the car and buckle up."
"Let me move your backpack and tackle box."
"Are there snacks in there?"
"No. Your activity books and drawing materials."
"Oh yeah, that stuff."
"Yeah, that stuff," I mocked as I rearranged
the contents piled inside the car--adding another twenty
minutes, delaying departure even more.
"Turn on the DVD player."
"Alright. Let's go, but we will have to first stop
at the gas station to fill up."
"Mighty fine 'mobile you have there. How's the mileage,"
small-talked a vagabond. "Looks like you're goin' on
a trip or somethin'. May I pump your gas for you?"
Before I could respectfully decline his offer, he made
an appeal for forgiveness.
"Oh, I see amongst all the things there in your 'mobile,
you got a kid. Sorry."
The vagabond flashed his palms out towards me, then twisted
his hands sideways, palms-up as if expecting a tip. His
eyes darted over my shoulder as his lips pursed.
I turned around to greet his taller-by-a-foot partner-in-service,
who greeted me with a frustrated, "Hello."
"See-yah," I indicated as I removed the gas cap
and began to pump regular unleaded.
"In broad daylight," I thought to myself, "At
a busy gas station--and I haven't even got on the expressway.
Are they their spouses sitting over there at the intersection
island? With a dog--and duffle bags? Is she holding a
Were these guys thinking about.
"Not too inconspicuous," I critiqued myself out
loud as I got into the car.
I drove over to the intersection leading to the expressway.
I checked to see if my downloaded directions to Maine were
still tucked away in the overhead visor, then I reset the
odometer. I took a second look over to the vagabond wives.
Their husbands had not returned from their hunting
III. Roadside Nap
I figured I could get some rest while my son ate his lunch.
We pulled over to the side of the turnpike after purchasing
some drive-thru fast food. (We decided to forego the lunch
daddy had packed.) I scarfed-down my burger as my son leisurely
ate his contentments and watched cartoons on his
DVD player. Waiting for him did provide me with the opportunity
to lull for a moment. I pressed the hazard blinkers' button
on, and then dozed as the car rocked side-to-side as the
freight trucks sped past.
"Let's get moving, daddy."
"Ready," I asked waking.
"Been. I have to go potty."
"Me too, son," I said as I turned off the hazard
lights and started the car.
I accelerated down the turnpike shoulder until reaching
the speed limit, then I pulled onto the road proper.
"Son, see all those green signs?
"Don't you mean forest green," corrected
my crayon color-conscious
"Sure. Yeah, well, let me know when you see a sign-blue
blue sign," I hipped
poorly. "You are the navigator. Keep an eye out."
"Over there, daddy," directed my son.
"There. Read that blue sign."
"Rest area. Two miles. That's about five/ten minutes
away. Can you handle that?"
"I think so," he said uneasily.
I acknowledged my son's trepidation by increasing the car's
miles per hour.
IV. Bladder Control
The second most glorious day, as attested by my son, the
first being when he was able to walk on his own accord,
was to be able to control his bladder. This meant not wearing
a diaper and having the ability to use the toilet by his
command. He expressed great delight in understanding his
bodily functions. So much so, he has taken to contest me
on the subject matter.
At the risk of crossing the line, this milestone, bladder
control, will eventually degrade to farting and pissing
contests, as opposed to upgrading to contests of being more
big, more strong, and more fast. Such future sophomoric
behavior will mature later. For now, I am in the moment.
We pulled into the rest area, parked the car, unbuckled
our seatbelts, and made our way, semi-hastily, to the men's
room. We relieved our bladders, washed and dried our hands.
We went to purchase some concessions. My son stood in line
for a smoothie; I for a double espresso, foregoing the thermos
full of house bland coffee I had brought along from home.
We went back to the car, buckled our seatbelts, and drove
back onto the highway.
Having drunk my espresso, I opened one of the many bottles
of water I had packed. I needed to keep myself hydrated
even though I was taking a diuretic: a vicious circle for
me, for us. I had to request that we make more frequent
stops, "because daddy had to go potty."
Meaning I was the reason for disruption and delay in getting
to Maine. However, these frequent disruptions, while delaying,
kept me invigorated to the extent that I remained cerebrally
and viscerally stimulated, as did the intellectual and physical
After the third stop for relief, my son's mother phoned
to see how we were doing. The time at which she called was
the estimated arrival time for Maine, if we had departed
"We're heading into New York. I decided to sleep in,"
I remarked, then provided an explanation. "He's fine.
I'll activate the speaker."
The two chatted extensively. My son expressed his happiness
with the trek thus far, although he stated that he wanted
to read audio books, so they transitioned to discussing
her events of the day, thus winding down the conversation.
Suddenly, my son interrupted her to report that a low-flying
airplane was approaching.
"We're passing through Newark, mommy," I interjected.
"Okay, daddy," she replied.
Traffic was starting to get congested.
"We should probably hang-up now."
"Okay," she lamented
"Bye-bye [insert cute name here]."
My son grabbed his read-along picture book as I placed
the CD into the car's player. I put on my headphones and
listened to some podcasts. Between the five CD set and the
podcasts, we were able to occupy our attention, holding
off the travel's ghastliness.
We made our way through New York with little incident,
not stopping until Massachusetts where we had a pizza dinner.
We were back on the interstate. I continued to listen to
podcasts; while my son took out his sketchbook and drew
the image paused on the DVD player's screen. These activities
lasted through dusk. We made a brief stop for dessert, and
then continued onward for the last part of our journey.
To our chagrin, fatigue started to settle in.
"Are we there yet?"
I itemized the remaining states we needed to pass through
to get to Maine--a short list, but three hours more until
our final destination.
"Do you want to listen to your stories?"
"I want to listen to music!"
"Do you know how to ask!?!"
I put on his favorite CD. He fell asleep within four songs,
the fourth being a lullaby. I turned off the CD, removed
my headphones, and welcomed the silence.
"Did I just yawn!?!"
I took pause to commend myself for drinking king-sized
iced teas during lunch and dinner as well getting that double
espresso. These caffeinated beverages spared the thermos
of coffee I had brought along from home. I made ceremony
of every sip. I made toasts as if I were saying prayers
of thanks. These offers of gratitude led me up the highway
Two hours later, after a thermos full of toasts, I had
to go to the bathroom, really bad. My son was deep
in slumber. We had just exited off the interstate to pass
through a downtown Main Street before entering the
last highway as designated on the downloaded directions.
While driving through this town, I tried to find an open
convenience store, but unfortunately all stores were closed,
except for that one
a gas-and-go. As I pulled into
the parking lot, I immediately realized that this gas-and-go
was actually a beer-n-go. With bladder pressure growing,
I had to make a decision.
"I need a snack to contemplate."
I ate my packed lunch: mint eggplant, garlic mushrooms,
olives, feta, crisp bread, and watermelon. Too stark a set
of tastes for this time of hour, so I chugged down an 8oz
bottle of water. Not a good idea given the circumstances.
Nevertheless, I was sated enough to decide that I would
pee along the side of the highway. I, loopy as ever, circled
the beer-n-go until oriented as to the direction of the
highway I should be headed.
Approximately five miles along the arterial, I pull over.
I am feeling uncomfortable and uneasy about this situation.
"This road is fresh tarmac--too well paved for my
miscreant behavior," I sighed. "But I have no
choice. I have one teensy weensy empty bottle in the car--and
the thermos is off limits!"
I turned on the car's hazard lights (flashers).
I get out, walk around to the passenger side of the car
to relieve my bladder. Not a minute passed before a police
patrol car parked the regulation distance behind me with
lightbars strobing. I am anxious because I have to
urinate without further delay or else, yet I have to explain
myself--or else. Fully invigorated, I did my gotta-go
dance--with a light show, no less!
I have to make this conversation quick, so I conjure up
my best disco-speak and body language.
"Got a kid in the car, snoozing [sweeping finger point].
I have to [bobble-head bobble]! May I [wiggle, wiggle]?
You know [wink, wink]."
"Just checking to see if you were okay. That's
all," stated the officer.
With strobe lights turned off, the patrol car sped off,
Satisfied with my success--my pick-up approach still
has the same effect--I did a happy dance.
1. Clap. Step, step.
2. Zip. Step, step.
3. Jiggle. Jiggle. Hop.
4. Wah, wah, wah.
6. Shake. Shake. Shake.
7. Tap. Tap.
8. Shiver. Shiver, hop-hop.
9. Zicka-zicka. Zip.