======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ==== ======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ====
“What time is it?”
“Okay. What time is it now?”
“It’s still 2:35.”
“….Daddy, what time is it now?”
“Grant, if it was 2:35 ten seconds ago, and 2:35 five seconds ago, take a wild guess at what time it is now. That’s right, it’s 2:3…okay, it’s 2:36 now but still. Just watch your movie, bud.”
They were about thirty minutes into their five-hour hike to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and other than persistent questions about the time and forgetting Grant’s headphones, things were going smoothly. He and Grant didn’t take multiple hour car rides too often, but a combination of a birthday party to go to and just an opportunity to see some friends got them on the road for the weekend.
As he drove, he kept kicking himself for forgetting the headphones, which packed a 1-2 punch of unfortunate circumstance. As if he didn’t get his ears blasted with children’s movies & TV enough at home, he was now listening to Alec Baldwin yapping away in The Boss Baby while cruising down the highway too.
This also meant that if he wanted to listen to any song or podcast that contained content he’d rather have Grant not repeat in preschool (pretty much all of them) that he’d have to disconnect from Bluetooth and just pop an earbud in, which was not ideal. With the most recent episode of Pod Save America in one ear and Alec Baldwin trying to do whatever the fuck a boss baby does, they made their climb up I-35.
As they sat in bumper to bumper traffic in Austin, he began to dwell on his uncertainty over Grant’s lack of long drive experience. Five hours wasn’t eternity, but a lot can happen with a small child stuck in a car seat for five hours. Best case, they roll up to his buddies driveway with a clean car and a happy child who just needs to stretch his legs.
Worst case, he pulls in the driveway with a child screaming bloody murder in his piss soaked pants while throwing Goldfish at everyone he sees.
“Daddy, my movie is over, can you turn on something else?”
“Sure you don’t want to play a game on your tablet, or take a nap?”
“No I wanna watch Trolls!”
If I have to listen to “Can’t Stop The Feeling” one more time I’m going to can’t stop this car from driving off a goddamn bridge.
“…Alright, give me your tablet and I’ll put it on.”
“Oh, I can do it myself.”
“Then why did you even….whatever, alright.”
As the Anna Kendrick-led opening harmony of the movie began he slightly grimaced and turned his podcast up a few notches. With traffic clearing up and almost two hours down, he pushed on. Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a driver start to come on into his lane.
Smashing his brake and clearing out just as the Ford Expedition pulled the “I’m changing three lanes with no signal, good luck everyone!” maneuver, he forgot all sense of surroundings.
“Jesus Christ, you stupid fuck! Watch out, dipshit!”
He hit him with a honk and a finger as the car made its way down the exit ramp. Watching the car disappear off to the right he started to settle back in and remind himself that only idiots stay mad while they drive. As he checked his speedometer to get it back to a shade above the legal limit, a voice from the backseat perked up.
“Jesus. Fuck. Dipsit.”
“Heyyy buddy, those aren’t nice words. I just got a little mad and shouldn’t have said them.”
“Jesus. Fuck. Dipsit,” repeated Grant, smiling gleefully this time.
“Grant, I’m serious. Those aren’t nice words and we aren’t going to use them anymore, understand? Keep watching Trolls.”
He grinned “OoooKkkkaaaayyyy, Daddy.” He turned his attention back to the tablet in his lap, but continued to hum a tune that sounded suspiciously like the word trifecta he had just been uttering.
Coming up on hour three provided something of a dilemma. He’d pounded coffee that morning and could now feel that coffee battering the gates of his bladder. He looked in the rear-view mirror and asked Grant “You gotta pee?” and was hit with a silent head shake no.
Grant had always had a superhuman bowel-holding ability for his age. Kid was like a camel; hadn’t taken a shit at school so far that year. While he trusted Grant’s ability and also respected him for only wanting to use familiar toilets, he knew he couldn’t risk being stuck in traffic and Grant having to let it loose. Also, he felt his kidneys starting to cramp from his morning cold brew trying to escape.
It was time to stop; the only problem was they were driving past towns with more cows than people, and respectable public restroom facilities were likely few and far between. Seeing a sign for a Shell station one exit ahead, he decided it was time to take his chances because the alternate was pissing in a Gatorade bottle in front of his son and sealing his fate to grow up a weird kid.
He pulled up into the sole parking spot outside the station and got Grant out of his car seat, despite his pleas of “But I don’t have to gooooo!” The pair squeezed back through the small hallway leading to the restrooms, working their way around the cases of water clogging up the hallway enough to certainly pique the interest of a fire marshal.
He felt his ribs about to crack from holding his piss. “Alright, buddy, we’re going to go in here, Daddy’s gonna go pee, then you — sound good?”
“I don’t want to go.”
“Tough, you’re peeing, let’s go.” He jerked the thin wooden door open.
A gust of pure diabolical shit scorched his nostrils. Gasping for air he sized up the toilet. The seat was shockingly clean, but the bowl was caked with a display of dysentery that would’ve wiped out your entire party on the Oregon Trail.
“Daddy, it smells bad in here.”
Uh, ya think?
“We’re going to be in and out of here quick, Grant. For the love of God, don’t touch anything.” Grant stuck his hand in his pockets as his father strode to the toilet, wondering why of all the Shell stations in all the world, he walked into this one. He knew he had to go, but he also knew this would be a urination that would haunt his dreams forever.
After he finished he washed his hands twice then looked at Grant, “Okay, ready to go?”
Grant looked at the toilet, then back at his father. “Daddy, I don’t have to go.”
He stared at Grant. “You know what, bud? I trust you.” Let’s get the hell out of here.
As they got to the car he opened his door and told Grant, “Turn around real quick, bud.”
“Daddy, what are you spraying on me,” Grant giggled as he felt the mist hit his pack.
He finished his work and withdrew the can. “That’s called Febreze buddy. Now here, rub this Purell in your hands.
Aside from Grant learning the phrase “In the kitchen wrist twistin’ like a stir fry” when his father turned music on after incorrectly assuming he was sleeping, the rest of the ride went off without a hitch.
As they walked up to his class on Monday he looked down at Grant and said “I had a fun weekend trip with you bud. Remember when Mrs. Hinkle asks to say you had fun at the party.” Please have that be all that you say, I can’t afford to have to find you a new preschool.
“Okay, Daddy, I will, why do you keep saying that?”
They arrived at the door of his classroom, with Mrs. Hinkle waiting to greet all her students.
“Hey, Grant! How was your big weekend trip? Did you enjoy the party and your long car ride?”
Grant looked from Mrs. Hinkle to his father.
Don’t do it, kid.
Grant giggled, then blurted “THERE WAS POOP EVERYWHERE!”
Mrs. Hinkle looked uncertainly at his father.
“To be honest ma’am, it could’ve been worse.” .
Image via Unsplash