Friday, September 9, 2011

Caution! Lumpy Land Bumps

Welcome Home 101st Airborne -
 Currahee Nation

Driving our son’s 2004 Jeep Wrangler Sport to Tennessee for his 101st Airborne homecoming was like traveling to the space station in a zip lock sandwich bag, shot out of a potato gun. There was a lot of flapping.

Don’t get me wrong; I love that Jeep. I looked absolutely adorable driving that little red Jeep around Saint Cloud blow-drying my hair. My hair never looked better then after driving to the gym with my top off; I mean the Jeep’s top, not my personal top. If I’d been driving around with my personal top off, well then I would have been arrested for “indecent stringiness,” that according to one of my daughters who walked in on me taking a bath.

She was happy to tell me, “Geez, Mom, the only word I can think of is stringy.”

I wanted to buy that Jeep from Aric; I looked so adorable in it, but because of inspired governmental programs such as Cash for Clunkers, his Jeep is now worth approximately $200,000. So back it went.

It was a loud trip, fun—but loud; what with all the flapping plastic and the sound of tires exploding on highway 24-West. A semi in front of us had a tire blow and a mini-van next to us had a tire dissolve into strips of rubber road trash. And then we hit the lumpy land formations called mountains. Okay, maybe they were hills, but for a native Floridian any pointy dirt where the rain runs off and doesn’t form frog swamps is a mountain. I hate mountains.

My husband, also a native Floridian, seems indifferent to mountains. He drives the same speed, once the cruise control is set, regardless of the changing terrain, car trunks we get close enough to reach out and touch, or number of tire bits flying past the windshield.

At the sight of the sign reading “Caution – 5% Grade” my heart started beating harder, while my hands convulsed around available, exposed metal Jeep parts.

“Honey, you know that I hate stupid mountains. Slow down.” My stomach tried to crawl up through my throat.

“My Dad used to tell us kids that there was nothing on the other side of those stupid mountains in West Virginia when we drove straight up the stupid side, and you couldn’t see anything but stupid sky. Stupid mountains. Stupid vacation.”

My fingers started to cramp and sweat around the noise of snapping knuckle bones, while the sound of my childish screaming banged around in my memory.

“My Dad could be such a jackass.”

The highway swirled and curled. My ears popped. I made note of the guardrail in front of us that resembled twisted tornado rubble.

“Hey? You see that metal railing that is all smooshed down right there?” I would have pointed but my fingers had fused with the atoms in the sissy bar.

“Yeah.” He cruised on, speed unchanged.

“Yeah! It’s smooshed down because some jackass went through it. Slow down! Or one of us is going to die and it ain’t going to be me.”

It was a loud trip, fun—but loud, what with the flapping, snapping, exploding, and screaming.

Linda (String Cheese) Zern

Staff Sergeant Aric S. Zern and Sherwood K. Zern
Fort Campbell Kentucky

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