By Mark David Blum, Esq.
This morning, I was reading an essay about regrets that parents had in childrearing and things parents regretted and wished they could take back.
While I have many regrets, some far too intimate to ever share, what follows is an essay I wrote to both clear my conscience and to perhaps raise a chuckle or two from my own idiocy.
This story arises from the adventure west taken by the Blum family back in November 2001. We all decided to leave Syracuse and return to our roots in California. So, we proceeded to load up the truck and move to Beverly; Hills that is. Six and a half days we were on the road. Six and a half days three people jammed into a Dodge Ram 1500 pickup driving 100 mph from Syracuse to California.
There are ten stories that could be told about every mile driven that November but one tale will always stand out. It isn’t just with me either. You ask my youngest or my bride and they will cite this event as moreso monumental than the monument about which it entails.
So we had been driving (I had been driving) about 500 miles or so each day for about five days. Those two had bladders the size of a pea. Taking a bypass through St. Louis so the Mrs. could visit a friend, we then cut southeast and were headed through Arizona. This was days after I had gone out to the truck one morning and it so smelled like “ass” that I woke up everybody up and said nobody is getting into the truck until they washed their ass.
On the fourth day, it was probably my Mrs.’s bright idea that we should take a brief detour and see the Grand Canyon. We were going right by it (said the lying motherfuckingsonovabitch map) and well heck, it was the Grand Canyon and we “were” going to driving right by. So the next morning started miserable enough with the typical motel checkout and breakfast full of grease and carbs and off we went racing the sun.
By my advance calculations, we were not going to make the Grand Canyon. In order to get there and have time, it was going to cost us an extra day on the road. We would have to stop early, spend the night in Nowhere, Arizona and then drive up to the Big Hole the next morning before returning to the highway westbound. I did not want to do that.
The Mrs. said otherwise. She said we could do it and wouldn’t spend the night. So we drove even faster toward this magical spot somewhere out there in the middle of nowhere. On the map, we identified the exit and route from the major interstate directly to the Grand Canyon.
Eleven o’clock. Noon. One, two, then three o’clock come and we are still not at the exit. Now the inevitable fight starts. “We’re not going to make it.” “Then we can stay the night.” There is nowhere to stay the night in the middle of the desert.” “Fuck.” “I hate this shit.” And it was all downhill from there.
With crashing bloodsugar because I refused to stop because I wanted to get to this god damned hole in the ground so the Mrs. and the kid would stfu, I became a man possessed. I stared hard at the highway as the miles inched by and that so long sought after exit approached. FINALLY. Almost 4pm and we finally reach the exit. The first thing that was immediately evident was that I was not moving at 85 mph anymore. If I was moving at all, it was 30 mph and that was only because the speed limit mandated it along with the traffic lights at every corner. Now I am ready to explode but still expecting not to have to deal with all this bullshit for very long because according to the map ….
That is when I saw the sign.
“Grand Canyon National Park, 75 miles.”
Despite every guarantee of the First Amendment, I could not possibly publish what came out my mouth at that point. Suffice it to say, that everybody in that car and in the surrounding states was the target of my profane loud spittle driven wrath.
“Are you fucking kidding me? Seventy five miles of this crap? We are never going to get there today. Who’s god damned idea was this?” etc.
Luckily for all involved, the city traffic eventually gave way to an open highway. This did not help matters as it was about the most desolate highway imaginable. Windy, twisty, two lanes and not a sign of civilization in sight. Tall stands of trees blocked all view and no vehicles came from any direction.
“Where the fuck are we?”, said a voice from behind the wheel. With every passing mile, tirades of epithets and verbal attacks and threats to just drive the truck into a tree were hurled left and right. The gas gauge was dropping like a stone, my bladder was pressing, and the people who put me in this hell were sitting right next to and behind me.
Like a madman I ate those miles and screamed and yelled the entire way. I had no control over myself at the moment and probably would have been tasered by police for my own protection. I can imagine my hair standing on end, eyes wide with adrenaline, white knuckles on the steering wheel, and a line of drool running down my face. You could almost hear the arteries inside my head popping one after another and my teeth shattering from pressure of my locked jaw.
Suddenly, we popped out onto another highway with about 2 miles of motels, gasoline, and other salvations. We then came upon the entrance to the park, were told by Mr. Ranger the park was closing in an hour, still paid out what felt like half the national debt as the entrance fee for an hour, and followed the signs that said “big hole, this way”. We got there, bolted from the vehicle, I peed for about 20 minutes, smoked a pack and a half of cigarettes, didn’t see either one of them the whole time we were there. Then I walked over, gazed at the vast emptiness, did my best Chevy Chase impression, and went back and sat in the car until I returned to near normalcy.
It is funny now to sit and look back in this episode with a twisted sense of humor. At the time, it was pure hell for all involved. Forever, this shall be one of those moments I shall regret and pray for a do-over. I know my wife and daughter will never forget those moments and shall probably tell that tale far beyond my own years. “Your grandfather was such an asshole; there was this one time we went to the Grand Canyon and ….”