Mon Jul 21
Tue Jul 22
Wed Jul 23
Thu Jul 24 (part 1)
Thu Jul 24 (part 2)
Thu Jul 24 (part 3)
Thu Jul 24 (part 4)
Fri Jul 25 (part 1)
Fri Jul 25 (part 2)
Fri Jul 25 (part 3)
The second enemy was the state of New Jersey.
She asked me about rest stops. I hold her that there weren’t any rest stops on I-287. She told me to keep looking anyway.
Only a couple of minutes later, I was proved wrong: There was a sign that read “Rest Stop.” My memory was false!
But the power of New Jersey was strong. Underneath the green road sign was a red addition: “Building Closed.”
H’s frustration was palpable. It showed in the ever-increasing efficiency of her driving. The state of New Jersey responded by placing ranks of vehicle in the left-hand lane of I-287, some of whom were traveling 5-10 miles below the speed limit. It was clear that the drivers were in thrall to the evil will of New Jersey.
We passed by several exits with gas-station signs. H was reluctant to get off at any of them. None of those signs gave any clue as to how far those stations were from the exits, and she knew that New Jersey was capable of delaying the unwary traveler.
Finally, hunger won out. We passed a sign that said there was a Quizno’s off the next exit. Both her bladder and her stomach said that she had to take the risk. We exited I-287.
The state of New Jersey enfolded us in its tentacular arms.
We got to the end of the exit ramp and saw nothing but woods. There was a sign that Quizno’s was to the left, but no clues as to distance. H turned left, and drove, and drove, and drove. It was all residential blocks.
Finally we reached a more developed area… but there was no signs of any gas stations, Quizno’s, nor any other place where we could stop.
H had been cursing more-or-less continuously during this time. She grew louder.
Finally we spotted a small gas station on the right, at a traffic light at which there was a right-turn-only lane. Before H could get there, the state of New Jersey thrust a group of cars into that lane, preventing H from making the turn.
H became hysterical.
You’re thinking, “Isn’t that just like a man? A woman is upset, for good reason, and a guy calls her ‘hysterical.'” “Hysterical” isn’t my word. That’s the word that H herself used, later on, when she apologized.
H screamed at the top of her well-trained lungs. Her insults reverberated throughout the car. The history of scatology suffered a great loss because I did not have a voice recorder at that moment.
To accomplish the feats that H attributed to the drivers of New Jersey, they would have required surgery to add new body orifices. Some glandular alterations would also be required so they could emit new secretions heretofore inaccessible to biological systems.
Hieronymus Bosch could have used H as a consultant when he painted “The Garden of Earthly Delights.”
I was getting agitated myself. I don’t respond well to loud sounds, whether they come from music, sirens, or aggravated people driving my car while I’m a passenger.
It was a hot day. My car’s windows were rolled up and the air conditioner was running. Everyone else’s windows were also rolled up and their air conditioners were running. I still wondered if any of the other drivers could hear H. I didn’t think any of them would do anything if they did, but not everyone takes kindly to a request that they be anally raped with a red-hot poker.
We continued along the street as H clarified the situation: Not only would the drivers of New Jersey required these new orifices and secretion, but so would their ancestors, and probably their descendants.
All thoughts of radiant fruits of passion had fled my mind. I just wanted this to be over.
Some people have an ability: They can give an order in a strong, firm voice and it will be obeyed. Such people are natural-born leaders. They are the kind of people who can be heroes in a crisis.
I do not have this skill. When I try to say something in a firm voice, people are likely to turn on me and say, “What the hell do you know about it?”
In this case, I decided to risk it. In as firm a voice as I could manage under the circumstances, I said, “Turn right here. Let’s make a U-turn.”
I think hysteria had so weakened H’s will that I managed to penetrate its natural resistance. H turned right. She made a U-turn.
I told her to head back. We’d try to turn into that gas station going the other way.
Before we got there, we spotted a small shopping mall that had been previously hidden by the malice of the state of New Jersey. The Quizno’s was there. We turned into the parking lot and found a space.
H didn’t bother to stop the engine. She tugged at the door, trying to get out. She screamed, “Why does your car automatically lock the doors?” Actually, that’s not what she said. She found a noun, selected a verb, and turned it into an adjective. She did this a couple of times. It wasn’t really worthy of her skill.
She found the door lock, unlocked the door, and ran out. Once again, I turned off the engine from the passenger seat.
My car doesn’t automatically lock its doors. I had locked the doors. In my car’s owners manual, it says that the crash-protection features of the car only work properly when the doors are locked. With H driving so efficiently, I thought it a good idea to make sure we’d be protected.
I got out of the car, stretched my legs, and walked into the Quizno’s. H had been to the rest room and ordered a sandwich. She was positively mellow. She apologized; it was at this point that the word “hysterical” was used.
What can you do? “It’s OK,” I said.
She got her sandwich and we returned to my car. I would drive the rest of the way.
Next: Road Trip! (Conclusion)
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New Jersey is indeed a harsh mistress. Some how she seemed to have swallowed me whole from my Pennsylvanian home at age 18, and I’ve yet to be purged from her blackened bowels.
One day, I hope.
Very entertaining road trip series, btw. It’s kept me up until 11:35, and given me a crick in the neck from tilting my head at a weird angle while reading it in bed, but all in all, quite worth it 😀