Recommended wine for today’s entry: Domaine de Menard Colombard Sauvignon. This is my friend Becky’s current favorite white wine, and she gave me a bottle that I saved to enjoy with my mommy. I took it to Virginia and we concur — it’s a great-tasting, crisp, citrusy wine that was the perfect sip as we sat on mom’s deck and watched the sun set over the mountain at the far end of the lake. And it’s priced to be enjoyed with all the sunsets of summer. Ahh…
OK, I’ve returned from my six-day, six-state, three-ballgame, one-thousand-glasses of wine little jaunt through the South, and once I am a bit caught up on sleep I will pass along some of my take-aways from this trip. For now, though, I will tell you the story of a similar journey we took three years ago.
Because I am undoubtedly in the running for Mother of the Year on an annual basis, I was a great guy and decided to take my two daughters and one of their boyfriends for a fun few days at the lake house that my mom and her boyfriend have in Virginia.
We had a wonderful visit and I was able to supress my totally neurotic side and allow the kids to drive the jet skis at 50+ miles per hour, even though one of them didn’t have a driver’s license and doesn’t know how to ride a bike.
All I had left to endure was the drive home. It’s an eight-hour drive from Smith Mountain Lake to my home, the first four on winding, nervewracking mountain roads, then the last four on a major interstate.
When I say that these roads are nervewracking, I mean it — they offer hairpin turns and beautiful scenery at exactly the same time, so that you are naturally drawn to take your eyes off of the road. When you take your eyes off of the road, you naturally drift to the right a bit. Then, normally, you would be on the shoulder and the rumble strip would alert you to your deviation and you’d scoot safely back to your lane with a mumbled cuss word.
Except on these roads they skip the shoulder and the rumble strip and offer instead a sheer drop to a rusty trailer with a still in back and four lecherous hillbillies waiting with rope in case a car with three blonde women falls from the sky and lands in the hog pen.
I guess what I’m saying is, on this particular trip back to Kentucky, I had driven through the white-knuckle part and thought I was home-free. I was on I-64 going through West Virginia when my older daughter awakened from her 250-mile nap in the backseat and sat up.
“My seatbelt’s twisted,” she whined.
“So fix it — you can unbuckle it,” I said. No problem, right?
“It is unbuckled,” she said, talking fast. “It hurts.”
Her boyfriend confirmed that she was, indeed, twisted in the seatbelt, even though it was unbuckled.
“There’s no way it’s that twisted. Just spin around until you’re not twisted anymore.” I was, as always, the voice of reason.
I was reasonable until I looked in the rear view mirror and saw that she was about to have a panic attack and she was elevated a little — the seatbelt was retracting into the car’s ceiling and taking her with it.
Then the panic came full force and by the time I found an exit she was lifted up sideways with her butt smashed against the window. Every time she inhaled hard, which was happening at a rate of about 75 times a minute, the belt constricted a l-i-t-t-l-e more, until her waist was a trim 12 inches. It was a look that worked for women in the forties, but on her it just looked like her head was going to pop off any minute.
So I catapulted down the first exit ramp I saw, landing me in the heart of Steelton or some other former manufacturing town that now had the look of a ghost town sans the charming saloon. The only place open — or showing any sign of life — was the local version of a 7-11. It was, after all, two in the afternoon.
So after trying to extract the panic-stricken teen myself in a church parking lot, we bolted to the convenience store. Handily, there was an EMS truck parked in the lot, engine running because in Steelton one never knows when a meth lab will blow.
Politely, I tapped the window and the 400-pound medical professional dozing on the seat ambled out and followed me to my car. I’m sure that when he saw my SUV with a teenaged girl’s butt hanging sideways in the window, he was thinking, “Damn Kentucky crackers. Whole freakin’ state oughta just be blown off the map.” But he opened the door and took in the freakshow within. Then he snapped open his switchblade.
By this time, the captive daughter was hyperventilating, and my other daughter and I were standing patiently behind the large, sweaty public servant wielding a sharp knife.
“You really don’t think there’s any way to get her out without cutting the belt?” I asked, knowing that seatbelts are about $400 because once Beanie the rat-dog chewed through one in the five minutes it took to deliver her sister to the kennel.
“I ain’t seein’ no other way,” he said, slicing deftly through the fabric that is shown to hold test dummies flung into a brick wall at a hundred miles an hour. Cut through it like a stick of butter.
Then he turned his head and shot a wad of chaw-spit onto my younger daughter’s flip-flop clad foot.
He was kind enough to deny my offer of payment, seeing as how I had a $400 repair bill, a child who was traumatized to the point of exhaustion and a really pissed-off child with wintergreen Skoal dripping between her toes.
So tonight we waved to our buddies in Steelton as we whizzed by at about 90 miles an hour…