Sunday, February 17, 2013
A Day in the Country
"Everyone all set for Mom's favorite hotel?" my stepfather asked from the building's intercom.
"Do you need help with your bags?" Mom chimed in.
"No, no, Aaron and I will be right down."
"Oy, they're here already," I told my son, "right at the crack of dawn. Let's go, hurry up before they buzz us again." I looked out the window of our fourth floor apartment, and saw they were parked right in front.
Aaron jumped up and down with excitement. "Are we going to the hotel now, Mommy?" he asked eagerly.
"Yes," I answered, reaching for the heavy suitcase. "We're going to take a l-o-n-g drive with Grandma and Poppie. Then we will be there."
"And I can go ice skating, and play miniature golfing? And I can go swimming and play shuffleboard?" Aaron asked, remembering our last trip to the hotel.
"Yes," I answered, admiring his enthusiasm.
We arrived at the car parked outside just in time. My mother was fiddling with her cell phone getting ready to call me again. "Oh here you are darling," she said to me. "Let me help you with your suitcase," she said getting out of the car and lifting its heavy contents into the trunk. Why was my stepfather allowing his wife to life a heavy suitcase, and why was I?
"Poppie, poppie," Aaron greeted his surrogate grandfather, "where's my toy?"
"Ha-ha-ha," Poppie laughed heartily. "That's my boy. Maybe this weekend we'll go the toy store and buy you something special."
:"I'd like that," Aaron answered, as we settled ourselves into the back seat.
I hated my stepfather's car. The leather upholstery reeked of cigarette smoke. Why can't my mother get him to stop smoking? He had cancer in his family. Steven, my older son, talked to his 'granfather' many times about his smoking, but nobody could get him to stop.
"Well, we're off," my mother said sweetly. "I can hardly wait to smell that fresh mountain air, to taste those delicious blintzes, the herring, the lox ... the cheesecake! she exclaimed. "Oh heaven!"
All I can think of is seeing Steven on Sunday. It's been three weeks since he left for camp, and I can hardly wait to see him!
"Now go slow," my mother cautioned her husband. "Remember, we can't check in until lunch time."
"Well we can always use the facilities," Poppie answered her. "Don't you want to go out and play some tennis, work off the fat?" he teased.
"Look who's talking," my mother answered him dryly, as we entered the Palisades Parkway. The man must be going 65 mph, I think, adjusting Aaron's seat belt to make sure it was secure. That's past the legal limit. "Poppie," I said tentatively, "would you mind slowing down just a little?"
"Just keeping up with traffic!"
However, the rest of us are in luck. A full lane of the Palisades was sectioned off, causing traffic to slow down.
"Damn," Poppie exploded, "It's going to take us an extra hour at least to get there. I knew we should have taken Route 17! He turned to my mother, his face turning shades of scarlet. "Why did I let you talk me into taking the Palisades?" he asked her.
My mother didn't answer but I remembered hitting just as much traffic last year on Route 17.
I felt awkward, so I took Aaron's book of Little Toot from the small tote that I had in the car. "Would you like me to read to you? I asked my son, even though he easily read the book by himself.
"I wanta look at the pictures first," he answered.
Well that did a lot of good, I thought, looking out the window, watching tree after green tree pass by ever so slowly as we made our way up the Palisades. My father had driven just as aggressively as Poppie would like to on long car trips. Mom and I often had to hold onto the edges of our seats.
Finally, we reach Monroe, New York. Poppie needed to stop for gas and I jumped up like a woman possessed.
"I have to have some coffee!" I declared..
"Go right ahead," my mother answered smiling, "I'll stay here with Aaron."
I buy myself a large coffee with lots of milk and bring it to the car with me.
"Oh good," Poppie said, drumming his beefy fingers on the steering wheel. "Now, we can get going!" he declared, just as I pulled back the lid on the coffee cup. He revved up the engine again, and immediately accelerated to it felt like 90 mph, as the tires screeched right out of the parking lot.
The hot liquid spilled right onto my white dress.It was like spoiling a virgin. Worse than that, It burned my leg.
"Mom," I screamed, "the coffee ... it burned me!" Poppie didn't even slow down.
"You see," my mother said to her husband,"you always have to be in such a hurry. Now look what happened."
"Hey, I didn't tell her to get coffee."
What a sport, I think. What the hell's the matter with him? "Please, for Aaron's sake, slow down," I pleaded.
"Do you want me to run back and get you some ice, sweetheart?" my mother asked me.
"No, no, I'll live," I replied. I did not want to forestall this trip any longer than I had to.