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And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street

Posted Jan 27 2009 6:33pm
Yesterday, I had the unique privilege of driving 220 miles in PennyVann with three children. I thought I'd timed things well--I took the younger two to a Halloween party and wore them out, picked Dixie up from school and headed out of town at 1:30, a.k.a. Nap Time. Added bonus? Dixie's school is a half-mile off of the tollway to get out of town. A glorious plan, all in all.

We've almost made it a quarter mile when Dixie's pressing need to pee is proclaimed from the back seat. Problem? Charlie's already asleep. Gah. I promise a potty in a few minutes. I start thinking of the route we're taking and if I know ANYBODY who lives along the way, who I could call on my cell phone and ask to drop by and shove a little girl through their cat door in search of a potty. No one comes to mind.

The problem of traveling alone with three children is always the potty problem. Inevitably, someone will have a pressing need every forty-five minutes and someone else will have *just* gotten to sleep. I make it to the first town out and stop at the tiniest gas station I can find. I park in front, make sure I can see the bathroom door from the parking lot, then send Dixie in so that I can stay in the parking lot with a sleeping boy. Dixie comes out, Melody decides she needs to go, but doesn't want to go alone. I send Dixie in with her.

Oh, did I mention I was already in costume? After dressing as a distressed fairy, I decided I resembled more closely a depressed fairy. My hair was unwashed and unbrushed, my eyeliner smeared, my glitter globbed. I kept my scraggly tutu in the hopes that people would at least know that I intentionally looked as I did, though I did leave my mangled wings and battered wand in PennyVann.

I just about decided to grab Charlie and run in when they come out. Apparently, they'd knocked the soap dispenser off it's pedestal on the wall and were fixing it. Deciding I didn't want to know the details, we left. Melody decides that Charlie needs to be big like she is and go potty. Ignoring my many protests, she tries to get him out of his car seat. Charlie wakes up because the girls are squabbling over whose turn it is to sing.

We're about fifteen miles down the road when I remember the box. My sister-in-law had sent a Halloween package to the kids, but we hadn't gotten it until that day due to a series of amusing events that I'll skip over to save time. I pull over, open the box and it is like the heavens opened up their glory and presented the most perfect gifts before us.

They buy us enough time to get the girls lulled to sleep. Sweet. Only Charlie is NOT asleep, and very insulted to find himself flanked by sleeping sisters. He decides to liven things up by alternately pinching them to see who wakes up first.

Then I start seeing the most bizarre things along the way. The first is a prosthetic arm in the middle of the highway. I really, really hope that it was a mannequin or a halloween prop and not someone's medical device they paid a few grand for and were going to show up at their destination only to find themselves, well, one-handed.

Further down the road I see a hermaphrodite bovine. I kid you not. I look over and see what is clearly a bull, only he (she?) has a sagging 'cutter' (as Melody calls them) that is almost dragging the ground. My curiosity almost gets the best of me, but I decide to travel onward.

Girls wake up. The need to pee is once again pressing upon us. We are almost to Brownwood and I promise the girls a potty in the near future. This promise is delayed by a traffic jam.

Those of you who have never been to Brownwood, TX probably read that sentence without falling out your chair in hysterical laughter. It's a shame, really, that you cannot possibly understand the irony of that. It takes me twenty minutes to go three miles. In Brownwood. Apparently, the 3:50 Friday rush is a complete bear during construction. I can only surmise that High School Fut-bol must have something to do with this. It is, after all, a Friday night in October in small-town Texas.

We go into The Wal*Mart. Remember my costume? I find myself hoping that I am not the ONLY one in costume. Many of the men I see have clearly been working on that particular facial growth pattern for weeks in anticipation of 'The Big Day'--and I really hope that is the case. Judging from the amount of camo in sight, I remember that The Wal*Mart is doubly packed--not only is Friday Halloween, but Saturday is a far more sacred day--the opening of Deer Season.

Sigh.

We travel onward, only to come to a complete stop in the middle of the highway for a good five minutes while a one-year-old scraggly black kitten meanders its way across the five lanes. I sit there with my flashers on. I briefly consider hopping out to rescue this creature, only to decide that I really don't need another passenger.

Then I come across the largest single piece of road kill I've ever seen. I swear it had to be a bear. Laying on it's wooly black side it rose at least three feet high. Large black bears are not indigenous to west Texas.

We did finally make it to my parents' house but it was the strangest assortment of roadside entertainment I'd ever encountered. Dr. Suess couldn't have found anything stranger, not even on Mulberry Street.
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