Sweet Mother of Pearl! (Fargo, part one)
I packed the kids and a weekend's worth of belongings into my dilapitated old Crown Vic, and we set off down Interstate 94. My little brother, Dan, was graduating pharmaceutical college on Saturday in Fargo, North Dakota, and the whole extended family was going to be there.
In preperation for our journey, and in anticipation of the hell that was to be, traveling with my kids in the backseat, I bought a couple of handheld video games for them to play. The $20 was money very well spent, as they were too distracted by flashing lights and beeps and blips to notice it when their brother was breathing wrong.
We chatted and looked at cows, and ate tons of junk food. It was only a five hour trip, and in retrospect, I didn't need to bring ALL that food, but hell, we never get to take a roadtrip, so I indulged them. It's allright.
About two hours into the trip, we pulled into a rest stop so I could check the car's ever-leaking antifreeze and oil and the kids could blow off some steam romping through the woods. An hour or so later, with the car's fluids topped off and my children almost entirely steam free, we loaded back into the car. I'm feeling really proud of myself now, as we're cruisin down the highway. I was just so darned responsible! I had fought the urge to ignore my car's fluid levels! I had taken the initiative to set the boys loose for a while! If I kept this up, I'd be a real grown up in no time. Adulthood, here I come!
Video games chirped away in the backseat, bologna sandwiches were eaten, and many more cows were observed. After about 45 minutes, Zack says, "Mom, did you know the gas light has been on for a really long time?" I moved my hand from it's constant position on the wheel, and indeed, my gas supply was completely drained. It wasn't low, it was OUT..all the way past the red mark. "Ahh shit. Thanks, Zack. Glad you told me."
So, I start looking for the next GAS sign, but the only thing I saw was a sign reading, "Next rest area 116 miles." I was hoping this didn't have any direct cooreltion to gas stations, or we were in for a long walk.
Finally the post showed GAS 4 MILES. I really didn't expect the car to make it that far. Adam, my 6 year old, became worried, kept saying over and over, "Oh no. Oh great. we're gonna run out of gas and have to walk to Fargo now."
I told him at least it was a beautiful day, and the gas station wasn't too far away, and it'd do us good to get some fresh air and exercise anyway. He still panicked. Zack said, "Mom, quit trying to make him feel better. We're gonna run out of gas, and It's gonna SUCK!"
So I kept my mouth shut and drove.
Then my mind started doing that strange thing it does when I'm running my car on fumes. I thought I should drive slowly, pressing the gas pedal rarely, to conserve the gas. Sure, it would take longer to get there, but it would save on the gas!
Then I thought, I ought to floor it and get there ASAP, because the longer you drive, the more gas you use, right? I told the kids what was on my mind, and we talked about it and realized it didn't make a shit's worth of difference. We were gonna run out of gas either way. We laughed our butts off until Adam freaked out again, and we all shut up.
I followed the signs to find the fuel, but all we found was a run down looking shop. I told the kids to stay in the car. Inside the shop were two older men, doing something with a giant, twisted heap of metal. I walked in and asked for
directions to the next gas station. He told me. I told him I'd been running on fumes for several miles, and I'd hate to have to walk with the kids. He told me he was sorry to hear that, and we left. Asshole.
We barely made it to the gas station, coasting the last ten feet up to the pump.
Once we stopped and were confident there was no walk to Fargo in our immediate futures, Adam let loose with a very loud and excited, "SWEET MOTHER OF PEARL!"