The road trip
(Editor’s Note: Get ready to laugh! This is one of Dalton’s best, especially when you consider recent events in the Charleston area. Be sure to read to the end. You won’t want to miss it!)
“If you want to make yourself useful…” my lovely wife, Grace, began.
“Make yourself useful” is Grace’s euphuism for “I could use some help here,” particularly when she is awash in activities. The request that followed was to fill her car with gas, top off the windshield washer fluid, and check the tires’ air pressure. During the last few days I had heard Grace and my Aunt, Toogie, talking about a car trip. Toogie owns a condo in western North Carolina. I dimly recalled them talking about the mountains and I assumed they were headed there, as they often do during the warmer months in Charleston.
“Do you want me to get it washed or vacuum the inside?” I offered as Grace handed me the keys to her car.
“Thanks, but we’ll do that when we are back,” Grace replied, patting my arm as she studied her notes. Grace is the consummate planner, making a list of all the things we need take with us when we travel and what needs to be tended to at home before we leave. She and Toogie were reviewing the checklist like any good pilot and copilot would do before takeoff.
“Sunglasses?” Grace inquired.
“Check,” Toogie answered.
“Snacks and power bars?”
“Check,” Toogie responded adding, “How about a map?”
“No need,” Grace replied, “I have MapQuest and Google Maps on my phone, but remind me to keep the power cord with the phone so the charge won’t run down during the trip.”
“Will I need my checkbook?” Toogie asked.
“No. Credit cards will be fine. But be sure to bring your coupons in case we can use them. Oh, and let’s take the cooler and some ice packs.”
“Anything else?” Toogie queried.
“I think that’s it,” Grace mused and, after a pause, added, “We’ll want waters for the trip. I’ll put some in the fridge now so they will be cold.” Turning to me she announced, “Now there is deli meat in the fridge for your lunch and a casserole there, too.”
“Aye, aye, Captain!” I rejoined, offering a fake salute.
Ignoring my weak attempt at humor, Grace continued, “If you do warm the casserole, be sure to then turn off the oven.” Before I could respond, Toogie chortled, “Call us if you aren’t sure about how to use the appliances since you don’t seem to use them much when we are home.”
Absorbing those instructions I asked, “When are you coming back?”
“Not sure. We’ll call you,” Grace replied. “So be sure to leave your phone on.”
“When are you leaving?”
“Early tomorrow morning. The traffic should be lighter then.”
“Now when you go through Columbia,” I offered, “stay in the left lanes headed west and then in the right lanes coming back.”
“Columbia?” Grace scoffed. “Who said anything about Columbia?”
“I thought I heard you say you were going to the mountains.”
“Mountains? We’re not going to the mountains.”
“Then where are you going?”