>>> Text-Heavy
By staff writer E.E. Southerby
Volume 39 – July 6, 2003

Now Playing: “Winter” by Tori Amos

Road trips can be plenty of fun, especially if you don't have to take them with your family. Well, I don't know about your family specifically, but if you had to take a road trip with MY family you'd probably beg for someone to stop the car on the side of the road so you can get out and get shot by some hunters who were aiming for a deer but probably shouldn't have been on the side of the highway to begin with. That's why I was thrilled at the prospect of making the seven hour trip to London with my friends for Canada Day weekend, which is a lot like the fourth of July except it takes place on the first of July and involves more Beavertails. Here's what happened:

-About an hour into the trip there was a traffic jam. Now, this was no ordinary traffic jam, mind you. This was a historic traffic jam of epic proportions. There was some big accident and miles of highway were closed down. It was impossible to turn around, and movement was so slow that people were getting out of their cars to barbecue rotisserie chickens on their portable hibachis. We didn't start moving again for three hours, at which point we were diverted to the United States (of America) which is a completely different country than our intended destination. How so, you ask? Well, for one thing, they don't close down a hundred miles of freeway every time there's a traffic accident. Also, they have Arby's.

-Quote of the Moment: About two hours into the Traffic Jam of the Century, someone said “Gee, if it's this bad, I hope at least someone's dead.” Well, turns out he was right. The next day we found out there had been one fatality and another person in critical condition, and I bet he was disappointed with that tally. Seriously, I thought I was stuck in traffic with Theodore Kaczynski.

-Most car games involve some kind of attempted telepathy. It's inevitable. The car will be silent for a while, and then somebody (possibly me) will blurt out something like “Try and guess what number I'm thinking of.” And then for the next five minutes the car will become an orgy of numbers and other mathematical atrocities (“Square root of PI!”), interspliced with the not-at-all repetitive “Nope, guess again.” Eventually, people will give up and the car will get silent again. Moments later, someone will yell out “I'm thinking of a type of tree. Try and guess what it is.” (The answer, by the way, is Mahogany, which I'm not even sure is a real tree. I should go to the arboretum and find out.)

-If you're tired of playing shouting games, and someone forgot to bring the Travel Yahtzee, then there's really only one other type of game to occupy your time when trapped in a car like an expanding sponge dinosaur in a small Tupperware container. That game, of course, involves hitting someone else in the car, or being hit. The most famous variant of this game is the “Punch-Buggy” brand of violence, but you can really apply it to any make or model of motor vehicle. (“Punch-Buggy-Hyundai-Elantra-No-Punchbacks!”)

-Off-Topic Corner, The Musical: I think there should be a game called ‘Nahtzee'. It would be played just like Yahtzee, except when you won you got up and shouted “Nahtzee!” while raising your left arm in triumph. And if you lose, you have to go invade Poland.

-Every car trip has a designated Music Nazi. This is the person who decides what song will be playing at all times, and rules over the radio or CD player with fists of fury. The Music Nazi will almost always be the person in the car with the poorest taste in music, because we all know that the people with the least informed opinions on a subject are those most passionate about it. There are two ways to deal with the Music Nazi. One is to let him or her have their way and play whatever songs he or she desires. The downside is that, after hearing “In Da Club” remixed 50 different ways your head will probably explode. Your only other option is to poke the music Nazi with an umbrella until you get your way. The downside to this is you will soon be minus an otherwise perfectly serviceable umbrella.

-You remember in “There's Something About Mary” how they said that rest areas weere crawling with orgies in the bushes, because truckers got really lonely and congregated there? Well, they lied. Believe me, I've looked. You know what you CAN find in the bushes behind a rest area late at night? Poison ivy and an army of fire ants. Stupid movie.

-Have you ever thought about the kinds of people who work at rest areas? Who the hell is going to drive 80 miles to work the night shift at McDonald's for $6.85 an hour? I'm just saying, don't feign surprise when they urinate on your food. You would too.

-I think every highway driver plays the game of ‘How much over the speed limit can I go before I risk getting pulled over for speeding?' You start by going 120 in a 100 zone, figuring that no cop will pull you over for doing just 20 over the limit. Then you start rationalizing, saying “Well, 130 is only 10 more than 120, so I don't have to worry.” Pretty soon you're barrelling down the freeway at 175 and praying to Allah that you don't get creamed by that cement mixer.

-Finally, we got to our destination. Our seven hour trip took a little more than eleven hours to complete, but we all made it alive and well. Which, I guess, is more than I can say for those people who got into the accident that shut down the highway and, apparently, most of the Western Hemisphere as well. And since I have no room here to talk about the actual vacation, I think I'll make this edition of Text-Heavy a ‘To Be Continued…” type of thing, so next week you can expect to read all about how we sat around for an entire long weekend and watched censored versions of movies on TV. I bet you're all just wetting yourselves in anticipation. TO BE CONTINUED…