The Great American Road Trip
My wife’s sister-in-law, Eileen Bluestone Sherman, is a playwright. She has had several books published as well as having two or three shows featured Off-Broadway. Among her many achievements she has won an Emmy.
She is very talented. Her son Joshua, who is a physician, is equally talented and also involved in theater. They have combined their talents to produce Perfect Picture, a musical about the artist, Norman Rockwell. It may be headed for New York sometime soon, but for the moment it is being “tweaked” at The Mill in Arlington, Vermont.
Family being family, Linda, her sister, Michele and I trekked some three hundred miles (each direction) for Opening Night. And once again, I proved to be a slow learner, leaving during rush hour on a Friday night heading for New York City in the middle of vacation season. (If you are a masochist you must take this journey.) The road was loaded with drivers who were too cowardly to commit suicide and begged others to do their dirty work. (You know you are traveling with novices when very few autos are using E-Zpass.)
While driving, we noticed a unique type of “multi- tasking.” Believe this or not, one woman was sorting laundry and a one man was reading a book as they traveled at high speeds on Rt. 202 in New Jersey. Still another woman was driving, drinking coffee and holding a phone. Still another couple appeared to be unable to wait to get to a motel. Very impressive group. It was, to say the least, an interesting trip.
Before we left I underwent several medical tests to discover why I was constantly hoarse. I learned that I had a severe case of laryngitis and would have to do as little talking as possible during the next five weeks. I was thankful. I feared far worse. So, I drove along happily listening to the two women and being annoyed (harassed) from time to time by at least eight unwanted solicitor calls that came across my blue tooth phone.
Back to my tale. When we left New Jersey and headed for the New York Thruway I got disoriented. (Polite term to avoid confessing that I had no idea in the world we were!) After wandering about for several miles, we came upon a New York State Police barrack. I immediately stopped for assistance. (Polite term for help.) I was stunned to learn the building was closed. I was impressed. Talk about a crime-free area. Wow … I thought about moving. Then we discovered that the location was really nothing more than a storage area for police cars. When we spotted a State Trooper enter the area I immediately followed him for directions.
Big mistake! Before I proceed let me say that I like and respect the Police. Most are underpaid, underappreciated and forced to deal with society’s garbage. Did I mention dangerous tasks? I don’t envy them. The great majority are really good guys. I have never had difficulty with the Men and Women in Blue. In today’s world their job is impossible. As I have said, they are the good guys with bad jobs. I’ll stick to writing.
Except for the officer I am about to describe. I like police. I never got his name so for the purpose of this article I will identify him as “Attila.” Captain “A” approached our car and immediately demanded to know why we were in a “Restricted Area.” After I apologized for not knowing this was a Restricted Area (there were NO signs indicating so), I explained that we were lost and needed directions. In turn, he DEMANDED to know why I wasn’t using my car’s GPS.
It took less than a nana second for the three of us to realize that “Attila” was not a happy officer. He must have thought we were terrorists. I would not have been surprised to learn that he had been locked in a cage for twenty-four hours and prodded with electric cattle prods by members of some subversive group before going on duty. This was an angry man.
We were certain we would be frisked, the car searched for drugs, proof of ownership and insurance demanded, citizenship proven, finger prints taken, body cavern searches initiated and dogs brought in before we were sentenced to life sentences in Sing Sing for being stupid. This was a bad hombre. To make matters worse he overheard me whisper to my fellow “gang members” that I was glad he hadn’t stopped us for speeding. (Capital punishment is still legal in New York State.) I was also overheard mentioning that I was going to put a copy of my Miranda Rights in the glove box when we got home. Did I mention that Captain “A” seemed to lack a sense of humor? Finally. covered with sweat and trembling, we were begrudgingly given directions and allowed to flee.
If I were Christian I would have screamed “Thank you Jesus” despite my laryngitis.
We finally arrived at our hotel in Manchester, Vermont some six hours later. Once we were in our room (4000 feet above sea level) I hit the sack, But not for long. My breathing became quite difficult and loud. I sounded like a steam engine barreling down the tracks. When I got up I discovered that I had left my inhaler home. I guess I was making a great deal of noise as I sat there gasping because Linda noticed and became quite concerned. Please note that I said “I guess” because my brand-new hearing aids decided this was the perfect moment to malfunction and I couldn’t hear anything!!
I kid you not. This is all true. Yes sir, this was going to be a great trip.
So, for the remainder of our visit I couldn’t talk, hear or breathe. For the remainder of the trip I smiled, looked stupid, heard nothing and said nothing. I kept thinking I was more like a plant than a human. I would not have been surprised if someone had watered me. I sounded, I am told, like a sexually aroused eighty-year-old man in an adult movie theater. About all I had going for me was my silent sense of humor. At least I still had my glasses.
The show was great. The cast was marvelous, the songs enjoyable and the dancing superb.. After Opening Night there was a great cast party where many people—audience and cast, came to celebrate. When we …. actually, for once it was Linda who did all of the talking … mentioned that we had several magazines in the Philadelphia area a group of people joined our discussion. Suddenly one concerned citizen warned us (aka Democrats) to be careful and not write anything political. She was certain that the Trump people in Pennsylvania would attack us and burn our office to the ground.
I was stunned. I knew this was Bernie Sanders territory but I was still stunned. I couldn’t believe that she assumed that just about everyone, like most of Vermont’s citizens, were Democrats. I couldn’t believe that she actually thought the Right would attack us. What really shocked me most was that the other people in the group all nodded their heads as though she was speaking gospel. I began to think I should bring the New York state trooper to talk to these people.
Laryngitis or not I had to respond. I told them that we knew, as they did, that Trump was the son of an unwed gypsy and had really been born in Transylvania. Further, we knew that his wife was really a cross dresser and that his youngest son was the result of his having sex with an alien from the planet Chelm. I went on to say that we were afraid, as were other local papers, to print the truth because we feared the men in the back helicopters would do us harm. No one laughed! But by this point, my dear wife was Googling divorce attorneys.
Much to my surprise, most of the balance of the trip was uneventful. Aside from three monstrous traffic jams it only took us seven hours to slowly crawl home on Sunday evening. As my hearing had evaporated going North, my wife and her sister had to scream directions at me going South. I wasn’t able to hear the GPS system. Sometimes three hundred miles can seem like six.
But the ordeal was worth it. We enjoyed the time we spent with family. The restaurants we visited were great, the show was well received, our hotel was quite pleasant and the shopping in Manchester was great. The people, except for Captain “A” and the “Bernie Lover,” were great and the scenery was fantastic. I even found a store that carried my size fourteen shoes and Linda got some great deals on handbags.
I refer to my shoe size only because when I mentioned them to Linda she wondered again how I could put both of those monstrous clod hoppers in my mouth at the same time. I better go back to reviewing retailers and restaurants even though Linda is fed up. It’s much safer.