Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Christmas Turtles

This post will be added to The Wonder Years section of my autobiography

Our first Christmas without my sister Margie was spent in Arizona. My maternal grandmother lived there with her youngest son, my Uncle Kevin. Many vacations were spent in Phoenix, Arizona and we always traveled by car. This visit we were one less but it was still a cramped, long, bickering voyage. If you ever traveled from San Jose, California to Phoenix, Arizona you will understand this well. If you haven't, I will endeavor to illustrate it for you...

Imagine, if you will, a brown Buick. Mother and Father are in the seats up front. Three girls ages 13, 15, and 17 in the back and you are the 13 year old. Stuck. In the middle. This is before walkmans. This is also before you've discovered how great books are. Your parents have an eight track playing old country tunes that you've been programed to actually like.

There is a long stretch of desert as far as the eye can see (sorry, it's cliche but true.) In the middle of the desert is a road that looks and feels as if it was paved over a rolling ocean. Your family has dubbed these waves dippity-do's. As this is an annual trip, you are expecting the waves and as soon as the first one approaches, the entire family starts to sing:

Dippity do da, dippity ay!
My, oh my, what a wonderful day!
Plenty of sunshine headed my way.
Dippity do da. Dippity ay!

Yes. It is corney, but it is what you do. Suddenly Mom yells, "TURTLE!"

All the girls groan. Dad blows out a long breath of air.

"John! Stop the car! I saw a turtle!"

"Syl...You said that, what 10 miles back. You thought you saw a turtle..."

"This time it really is a turtle. Stop the car!"

Your mother has always had some strange obsession with finding a turtle on the road. You have not the slightest idea why. Dad knows that Mom will never, ever, stop talking, moaning, nagging if he does not pull over and check for the turtle.

We pull over. Immediately you are hot. Yes, it is Christmas time but you are HOT! And your two sisters have decided to sprawl all over 'their' sides of the car leaving the tiny mid-section for you to sweat in. Since Dad had taken his time hashing it out in his mind whether it was worth the nagging to not pull over or not, he has a much longer walk than he anticipated.

Bicker, bicker: "You're on my side!"..."You stink!"..."Don't you EVER brush your teeth?"..."I hate you!"...

Mom has had enough. Now it is time to pull the age old threat: "If you girls don't shut-up, I will spank you with a cactus!"

This used to work. In fact, we all have had nightmares of picking cactus needles out of our butts. But now we are teenagers. And now we have a common enemy. Our bickering is solved! Now we can rag on Mom!

"As if!"..."I'd like to see you try!"..."Do you actually think we'd fall for that one?"..."Where are your gloves, huh?"

Mom now regrets pulling over for her long sought turtle. We all watch for Dad. FINALLY we see his itsy bitsy figure coming from the dippity-do's. He is carrying something! It is dark and looks a little heavy. Mom gets so excited that she forgives us all and promises that at the next gas station we will all get an ice-cream bar.

Dad's figure gets bigger. Yes. He is definately carrying something.

He arrives and presents Mom with her prize. "Here you go, Syl. Here is your turtle."

A black rubber piece of tire is placed in her lap and we resume our trip.

*A special note*

In the last two years since Mom and Dad have moved to North Carolina, Mom has fulfilled her life's ambition. She has found not one, but THREE real turtles on the road.

They live in a glass aquarium in her kitchen.


Bonnie Calhoun said...

I agree about the dippity, do da....poke me in the eye with a sharp stick

But...Spanked with a that's a new one!

Sheesh, send your mom to New York for a vacation, we've got tons of turtles, except she'd need something a little bigger than an aquarium...we took a snapper out of our pond this summer that weighed twenty pounds and beleive me...we chopped off his head before we weighed him.

I lost a shoe and almost a finger to one that I was careless with, once!

M. C. Pearson said...

Bonnie~ I don't know what kind of turtle she expected to find in the desert except maybe a TORTOISE. But she now has three box turtles. They've also spotted some sort of water turtle near their boat dock. It is HUGE. I don't think she'll try to catch that one. never know about someone with a turtle fettish!

Jennifer said...

My husband's best friend has a turtle farm. He is obsessed. My husband pulled the car over one day to pick up a turtle on the side of the road for his friend. Well, when he got home he couldn't find the thing. A week later, the car stank to high heaven and I don't have to tell you what it was.

Vacations in the brown Buick, fighting with my sister, brings back memories. Sigh. Those were the days.

Trinity13 said...

What a cute story! Now I want to find a turtle on the road!!!

M. C. Pearson said...

Jennifer~ Sorry about the stinky turtle! Not even good for soup now!

Funny how many memories are the same for others!

Trinity13~ Oh no! Spare your husband! Spare your children!!! My mom actually made Dad stop at least three times each trip. At least he got exercise.

Running2Ks said...

I am dying laughing. This is like some "Vacation" movie--but I love this. Did you ever find out the reason behind the turtle obsession?

You slay me, lady. I love your posts more and more each day :)

Jean-Luc Picard said...

A great turtle story!

Fred said...

The Missus is just like this. If she sees a turtle, it instantly becomes her mission to save it, and deposit it in the lake behind our house.

She almost puts us through the window when she hits the brakes, but what the heck, she's saving a turtle.

Kimber said...

Mimi - your story gives me flashbacks of my childhood.....ya, know, the family vacations...where my sisters and I are saying the same things...'move over', 'stop touching me', 'mom, she won't share her lipstick with me!!!'are we THERE yet???!!!' etc. lol!!

We actually did stop to help a turtle across the road once (but only one time, and there ACTUALLY was a turtle in the road) A little tiny snapping turtle - Lord knows how my Dad even noticed it, but he did - and got out -as us girls were saying...."aaaaawwwww isn't he cute, Dad, are you sure he will be safe?" I must say, the girls in our car had NO desire of keeping the silly thing - we just didn't want to see him get runned over....

Anyway, thanks for sharing these moments in your life - they sure take me back - and make me LAUGH OUT LOUD!!!

You have a great way of writing about them!!

M. C. Pearson said...

Running2ks~ I still do not understand the turtle obsession. Perhaps it is because we lived in California and never saw any there (except in pet stores)...who knows? I think she is just plain nutters.

Jean-Luc~ Thank you Cappie!

Fred~ Well, at least she doesn't want to keep it!

Kimber~ Snapping turtles...I think I'd let it die. Sorry, but I like my fingers! :-) Yeah, gotta love the backseat. Especially ones with lines on them!

Ciera said...

Cool story. Made me giggle out loud even though I'm in the "quiet" library!

Jen said...

What a sweet story! I'm glad your mom has turtles now.

My sister and I were so awful in the car that mom used to put the cooler between us so we couldn't even SEE each other. She called it "No Man's Land" and we weren't allowed to reach over it, or even throw things over it, if you can imagine.

Your comment about women and bathrooms over at Captain Picard's blog made me LAUGH OUT LOUD by the way. I know people say that a lot, but I really did :-D

Pirate said...

We travelled the same way. From Salem Oregon area to southern Nevada. In a Plymouth Fury. IK was the oldest so I sat behind dad which was the furthest from mom the enforcer. When they got mad at us and mom started swinging she could barely reach me.

A Human Bean said...

The wonderful driving vacations. My Dad never made much money, but he always insisted we go on vacation. We drove all over this country with three boys in the back seat of that horrible Ford station wagon. I was also the youngest and forced to sit in the middle.

I'm glad that your mother finally got her turtle(s). She now has that dream (obsession) fulfilled.

M. C. Pearson said...

Ciera~ how funny! You gave me warm fuzzies.

Jen~ Weren't we such brats?

Pirate~ LOL 'the long arm of the law!'

Bean~ Stuck here in the middle with you!