Thursday, April 4, 2013

On The Road with Mom

My mother and I made it safely to HQ, but we've remained on the move.  We've been tackling Ikea and Costco instead of tooling along the interstate, which is a good thing because the interstate can be tiresome.  The first two days were pleasant, in a Holiday Inn Express and Macaroni Grill kind of way.  By the second night, though, I had had it with mall food.  We were spending the night in a little town called Abingdon, Virginia where we found The Peppermill.  They had a decent white wine from Spain and speckled trout.  All was right with the world.

The Peppermill
The next morning, we set out with the intent of leaving the highway to take the scenic route through Virginia on a road called the Blue Ridge Parkway.

That there is a stock photo from the internet.  The closest we got to the scenic route was Total Car Care near Christiantown, Virginia.  I can't remember if there were any massive crosses springing up from the hills around Christiantown.  I just remember it was near the exit to Virginia Tech - but there are a shit ton of giant crosses on the hills of Tennessee and Virginia.  I can see why Doctor Monkey  has become a militant atheist.  Unfortunately, Doctor Monkey was seeing doctors all day on Thursday, or Mother and I might have visited with him and had dinner in northwest Tennessee which would have altered the entire trajectory of our trip.  Doctor Monkey VonMonkerstien is an artist and improvisational comedian in cranky pants who can alter any trajectory and very likely the space-time continuum too. The Total Car Care experience might have been avoided by his famously good cooking.

Here's Total Car Care:

And their back lot:

We wound up there because the Check Engine light came on for no good reason.  Subaru Foresters have a notoriously idiosyncratic gas cap.  If the gas cap isn't on just right, the car doesn't like it and zaps the Check Engine light.  If I were a more suspicious type, I'd think the car manufacturers and mechanics conspired to make sixty bucks every now and then by running a computer diagnostic and hitting the reset button.

As it happened, Mother has been driving this very same Subaru for something like eight years and never once had an issue with the gas cap.  I, on the other hand, knew all about the gas cap quirk because when Velvet and I still lived in the old HQ on Central Park West, the building had a cheap parking lot and I had my brother's hand-m-down Subie.  My sister has it now because we keep Subies in the family.  I've driven for weeks with the Check Engine light on because I knew the sensor was just fucked up.  

Mother has had more significant automotive difficulties than I have - most memorably a VW Dasher with an accelerator that had such pronounced tendencies to stick that she decided the best way to get the dang car to stop was to drive it through the dealership window.  Fortunately, it never came to that but when she and Dad went to trade it for an Oldsmobile, the dealer told them it was eaiser to get rid of the clap than a Dasher.  Between that car and the one that stalled out on the freeway in Houston because the mechanics who were changing the oil forgot to put in any new oil - Mother's not taking any chances with an engine light. We pulled off the highway into the parking lot of a handy elementary school and called my father.  Then we called Triple A.  
The friendly, efficient fellows at Total Car Care would have been happy to send out a tow truck in 45 minutes, but since they were within spitting distance, I convinced Mother to brave the drive to the garage. They worked us into their busy schedule and got us back on the road in an hour and a half.   Mother was a little rattled, though.  It's unsettling to have something go wrong with your car when you're in the middle of NoFuckingWhere and you know with absolute certainty that you've used every single one of your mechanical skills by raising the hood of the car.
We agreed that it was best to stick the main road until she was satisfied that all was well with her trusty Forester, but we'd gone over a hundred miles before we relaxed back into our groove.  Once we both confessed that we fucking hated Virginia, our sense of humor was restored.  In the nick of time, as it turned out since the best restaurant around for miles was this Denny's:

Mother ordered coffee with milk and the young waitress brought her this:

You could see the Blue Ridge Mountains from the parking lot, though, proving we sometimes find little compensations in life.

Dad flies in tonight, and he and Mother will be heading back to Texas on Sunday morning.  Tomorrow is Velvet's 22nd birthday, so Dad is stopping by one of our favorite barbecue joints before he gets on the plane to bring Velvet a pecan pie.

Goode Company Barbeque often says, "You might give some serious thought to thanking your lucky stars that you're in Texas."  I'm thanking my lucky stars I'm in New York City, but Velvet and I do like that pie.

I'm also thanking my lucky stars for my mom.  Looking at the main road and the scenic route as a metaphor, I can see that my mother prefers her journeys to follow a more predictable path.  She likes to have a clear idea of what to expect going forward, even if it's Denny's and the Holiday Inn Express (which for the record was a good value and reliably clean).  Mom likes good values that are reliably clean.  I do too, for that matter, but I'll take the road less traveled almost any time.

The Blue Ridge Parkway doesn't count as a road less traveled, however.  It's a country highway that is well maintained for tourists. The speed limit is 35 mph once you hit Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Forest, so it would have taken us all damn day to get the hell out of Virginia, which may be filled with nice people but struck me as a hillbilly haven - and I'm counting those destructive, manipulative warmongers at the CIA in Langley as redneck hillbilly bastards.  They may be more sophisticated than the folks raising gigantic crosses on every clear cut hill they can find, but from where I sit, the CIA acts kind of like those bad boys in Deliverance.   I've never seen Deliverance myself because just hearing about it back in high school was alarming enough - but I believe it's a lot like the scene in Pulp Fiction where Bruce Willis and some other guy have been held captive by pervs who shoved ball gags in their mouths before committing acts so unspeakable even Quentin Tarantino shied away from splashing it across the screen.

I suppose you never know when you're going to run into pervs with ball gags.  Mother's worries tend to be more garden variety, but there was enough unpleasant unpredictability in her early life that I fully get why she prefers the main road.  She likes to make sure her family is safe, comfortable and well-fed too. 

Yesterday, April 3rd, was my 17th anniversary of getting out of the looney bin.  I continue to celebrate the fact they let me out after a couple of weeks because the doctors didn't have to.  My insurance company would have covered a whole month.  When you considered how many people - most of us, I'm betting - struggle with feelings of abandonment our whole lives, I'm really glad to have parents who not only supported me through thick and thin but also go out of their way to bring pie.
That must be Thing of Beauty #067-101 (Explore Beauty from realia)

Blessed Be


Life As I Know It Now said...

I want predictability of course because I grew up in a very fucked up dysfunctional environment. However, even with all that, I still like the out of the ordinary too and like the scenic route because I love the beauty of nature. Seeing all those crosses would have pissed me off. WTF is wrong with these people that they gotta put up implements of torture from centuries ago and celebrate them as if they were magic? That is fucked up IMO.

Blessed be to you too :)

intelliwench said...

Dr. Monkey mentioned that you would be in our neck of the woods. I'd should have given you a holler -- you passed within 25 miles of me, which is nothing around these parts. (I have to drive 25 miles to buy a bottle of wine or liquor!)

I love Abingdon's architecture, and the Peppermill's a nice spot for a decent meal. They have a chocolate pot-au-creme that is better than (most) sex, too.

The people around here are really lovely, even while condemning you to eternal hellfire if you haven't accepted their savior as your own. Most violence is kept within familial bounds, but I still wouldn't want to break down on the BRP.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Wise choice in The Peppermill, we've had many a good meal there. So sorry I missed you and your sweet little mammy. Hopefully next time...

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

Yes ... Most of us struggle with those feelings.... sometime I truly wonder if I'll ever 'get over' or process through abandonment issues... but all I've collecting in honestly trying to is worth the roadtrip ....

Yours looks like it was very memorable. Nice!

Vancouver Voyeur said...

I've heard about the Peppermill, but never been. I've been on the BlueRidge Parkway countless times, and you're right, it would take you all f'in day to get out of Virginia that way. I like the road less traveled when I'm by myself and no one's bitching at me about the time, a schedule, or how bored they are, otherwise, I have a need for speed so I don't have to stay locked up in a metal container with less than pleasant traveling companions. So why did you drive down that far? I think I must have missed something. I thought you were driving to Texas, but then you mention your father flying up? Focus, I need to focus. :-) Happy Travels!

Gail said...

such a fascinating and multi faceted journey, you, Mom, mountains, Dad, Velvet turning 22, realizations up the wazoo, Peppermill, coffee with MILK, and on and on. All god stuff, good stuff indeed.
Love Gail

Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

It might be a useful, albeit a potentially chilling, exercise to survey the news for a week with the single intention of identifying--as nearly as possible, from the published accounts--an average number of events which could/might be attributable to genre of crominal, the perverts with ball gags. I'm guessing the number's not all that large, but sufficient for Tarrantino's purposes...You don't actually need very many to disturb your weekend's plans.

Anonymous said...

Mother ordered coffee with milk and the young waitress brought her this:

Heh. Reminded me of the time I asked for peach cobbler a la mode, and the waitress asked me if I wanted ice cream on top.

Anonymous said...

"......because the interstate can be tiresome........"

Not in Florida! Ask Mr. Ronald Poppo!

".......the best way to get the dang car to stop was to drive it through the dealership window. Fortunately, it never came to that but when she and Dad went to trade it for an Oldsmobile, the dealer told them it was eaiser to get rid of the clap than a Dasher......"

Are we channelling Sarah Palin? And as far as 'getting rid of the clap', assuming by 'clap' you do not mean HPV, it is quite simple to rid one's self of the stigma these days. Let me know, I'll write you a 'script'.

" bring Velvet a pecan pie......"

So is it "puh-CAHN" or "pee-CAN"? We've Internet Flower Orders coming from both Arkansas and Georgia and if I don't pronounce the word correctly, depending on to whom I'm speaking, I can kiss my non-commission goodbye.

The 'problem' with "Deliverance", and this is why you should view it, is that it is difficult to decide who the 'bad guys' are in the end.

"......I suppose you never know when you're going to run into pervs with ball gags......"

I know! Don't that suck? I reckon there's a business opportunity here: "Pervs-r-Us" or some such. Where's that American "Can Do" spirit?

"......I'm really glad to have parents who not only supported me through thick and thin but also go out of their way to bring pie........"

Country roads
Take me home
To the place
I belong.
New York City
With the parents
Take me home, with a pie.

mac said...

HA ! The check engine light came on in my Dodge a week after I bought it and has been on since...that was January 2005. But, I was an aviation mechanic in the Army. I don't sweat pickup trucks much :-)

I drove through much the same area of Virginia in January (my trip to the inauguration). It is Purdy up there.

rexvisigothis said...

@SR: sorry to reprise my apparent role as bringer of bad news,( but better you hear it from me than the dick doctor). A new variety of clap is abroad in the land, resistant to the easy cures of your yout'.

PENolan said...

mac - you went to the inauguration? Did you have fun?
Intelli - dry country, huh? I thought about you as we were passing through.
We passed through disses neck of the woods when we went through a little corner of Georgia somewhere between Birmingham, AL and Tennessee.

Libs, there's lots of fucked up shit out there. I'll look for my magic in the woods ANY day.

Doctor Monkey - she really is kind of turning into a sweet little mammy (only with a sledgehammer).

Gwen - Gigi has a fantasy where we take a road trip to your house.

V.V. - I flew to Texas, got mom, some small pieces of furniture and a few family treasures, then drove up to NYC from Houston with Mom. Dad flew up to NYC and we all put some finishing touches on the apartment, then they drove back to Houston with, although they went through Nashville on the way home so they could visit my nephew at college.
I saw a LOT of green roofs while driving through the countryside and thought of you every time. They're cute, but sometimes a little too cute. Depended on the homeowner, I imagine, but still good looking.

SR and Rex, I don't know what to say to either one of you except that I said "Dang" long before anybody ever heard of Sarah Palin outside of Alaska. I invite you to look at a few episodes of King of the Hill by Mike Judge then you will see how I often talk. Rex will verify that I sometimes sound like I just got off a tractor, especially when I've been drinking.

Anonymous said...

I like to say "daing" - makes me sound Australian.
I liked that cartoon, "King of the Hill"; I identified with that 'bug-killer' character.

I know, frightening, right?

mac said...

Yeah, we drove up the week before, got way-layed by a blizzard in the mountains. We were driving in the gf's Honda, she got stuck on an offrmp. But, luckily, my country boy skills paid off, as I took the little CRV off-roading in order to get us back on track. Eventhough, she nearly crapped her pants, she was a trooper and didn't say a word...but did request we stop at the next available place and "ride the storm out" in a comfy bed. The room we found not exactly a four star establishment, but better than seeing her frightened to death from my winter survival driving.

Interestingly enough, we got tickets from Lamar Alexander. I think, maybe, there wasn't much demand for tickets from his camp ;-)

All told, it was a great experiance.

Cali said...

Sounds like a pretty great trip. I can't imagine many things WORSE than being trapped in a car or hotel room with my mother for days on end. I just can't take the constant criticism and mean-spirited jabs that much time with her would entail. I mean, a two-hour holiday dinner makes me want to open a vein with my seafood fork.

PENolan said...

Cali - I'm very proud that my mom and I get along so well together that we can be in a car for four days without fighting. We both worked at making this a great relationship back when I was in therapy. We both benefitted from my therapy so in some ways it was like 2 for the price of 1.

Cali said...

Ah, therapy. When I went through my first MAJOR depressive event @ 27 I went to therapy for a while. My mother refused to continue paying for it because all I was doing, according to her, was using her money to complain about her for an hour every week. Not to be too Freudian here, but she really IS the root of most of my problems. When a child's first actual memory of her mother is her leaving to go work in another state for another month without telling her child goodbye it just doesn't bode well for the future relationship. It's really no wonder I have an ingrained fear of abandonment. The fact that she is oh-so-superior in every way to most everyone, including her only child, pretty much guarantees that child will grow up with an inferiority complex, too. Only recently have I connected the dots and realized that she's a narcissist. It all suddenly made sense. Of course she stopped paying for my therapy! She was always going to do that because if I get better I will stop worshiping her and acknowledging her continued superiority! I FINALLY get it. Now I just need to work out the childhood sexual abuse and I'll be golden-- at least on the inside. :-/

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