Quote of the week:

“They'd have to shoot me to get me back to Illnois."

~Abraham Lincoln upon going to WDC to become president

Monday, June 16, 2008

Travel Logue, in Reverse Part 1

Travel log in Reverse, Part 1
I’m way behind. I’ve been back a week now from MD, and still don’t have my travels from Vancouver and MD done. I’m going to write my travel tales in reverse since I have almost two weeks worth to report, and since my blog posts the most recent item first, when all is said and done, it will read chronologically. I started this first entry when, well start reading…

I’m on the train home from downstate (Bumblefuck), back to Chicago. Just after we got in the SUV to go the train station-- (and I use that term loosely, as the depot has no staffed station any longer. It now houses a tanning spa {again, using THAT term loosely}, there is a makeshift ‘shelter’ to apparently protect one from the elements, when waiting for your delayed train, there’s no building or station in which to wait—I had to walk out into the street, and cross the tracks, to enter the car I was to board—the freaking engineer apparently cannot bring the designated car to the actual boarding area—but I digress. We were in the car to the train ‘station’, and my phone rings. It’s an 800 number, and I hesitate answering, but I do. It’s AMTRAK,
“Mr. gayCMEguy, I’m glad I got you, this is Barbara from Amtrak, have you received an update on your 11:27 train from town near BF to Chicago?”
ME: With a hint of reservation in my voice--NO, I’m on my way to the station now.
AMTRAK: There are technical difficulties with your train, it’s still running, but there is no air conditioning on the train. The train is only running a few minutes late. We are also providing bus service and are offering you the option of train or bus w/ A/C. The bus will be running on time. You don’t have to tell me or decide now. Since there’s no station with personnel, you just board whichever. you decide.
I immediately regret, changing out of my shorts and into my jeans.
ME: What’s the arrival time difference?
AMTRAK: They’re on the same schedule, making all the same stops.
I decide that I’ll take whichever arrives first, presuming it will be the bus. At about 11:25, the lights flash and the gates go down on the street crossing. Wow, the train is on time! The train does NOT slow down, does NOT stop, and zooms by. When I arrived, there was what appeared to be a bum sitting/slumping in the shelter. I avoided him. When the train zoomed by, he got on his cell phone, had it on speaker. He was contacting AMTRAK about his train. He was southbound while I’m northbound. He makes small conversation about AMTRAK with me and my Dad. He has one front top snaggle-tooth, with the others appearing to be gnawed down to the gums. It was very distracting.
The Maryland trip:
I ran the gamut of emotions and realizations on this trip. Each time I’ve seen my Dad this year (3 x since Christmas), he is appearing more feeble. This year, for the first time, my parents seem old—seemed to have aged greatly. That’s a hard reality to witness. Now, I realize that I’m fortunate in still having my parents here in which to witness such events. But, it’s still hard. Another realization was that my parents have no business driving long distances. I don’t even want them driving to Chicago to see me. My Dad has always driven like an old man farmer. But his driving scared me. I ended up driving the majority of the trip (15 hours one way). The two short stints that Mom drove, was disconcerting in different ways.
Another emotion that ran high was anger. Since I learned to drive, has always been a terrible back seat driver. The last big driving trip I took with them was when I was college age. We went east to DC, and Gettysburg. This was 25 +/- years ago. I vowed then, I’d never take a trip with my parents again. I had thought that years and time might have mellowed Dad in this aspect. I was mistaken in this thought. I wanted to slap the shit out of him. At one point, gritting my teeth, I literally bit my tongue. I have the ulcered reminder still.

I waffled between, sadness for acknowledging the aging processes, to being extremely pissed off at him. My parents wake up before the ass-crack of dawn. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a morning person. Dad took the opening shift of driving. I’d take over when we stopped for breakfast. Sunday evening, after an extremely long and arduous day, filled with ample amounts of backseat driving, we were in Ohio. I was one raw nerve, and my eyes were starting to go batty, so I turned the keys over to Mom. We got through Columbus. I figure were going to stop soon, and I wanted to be able to search for hotels on the GPS (btw Garmin is a piece of shit—it was only good for locating hotels and restaurants, for directions, it sucks, I’m glad I did Mapquest, otherwise we’d still be circling Indianapolis). WE stop again at a rest area and Dad takes the keys from Mom. FUCK. We’re about 15 miles away from Springfield, roughly 60 from Dayton. Dad says, ‘we’ll just go on to Dayton.” I snapped. I said, “NO, we’re not! I’m done for the day. We are stopping in Springfield. I begin searching on Garmin. Because of my job, I discounted rates off the rack rate for lodging at all the major chains. So, I plan to call different ones to see who will give me the best government rate. I see a Marriott Courtyard. I think good, if the rate’s decent, it will be better than the fleabags we’ve been in the past 3 nights. I call. They have availability, and the state rate is $80. , cheaper than the MD Econolodge, and the same as the divey Red Roof Inn we were in the first night. Dad screeching to me, “HOW MUCH is it?! WHAT’s the AARP rate? I ask. My discount is better. I book the room, get directions, as I don’t trust Garmin to get us there. I hang up. Dad, asking me what hotel it is. I tell him it Courtyard, a Marriott discount franchise. “Well no wonder it’s so expensive!”
OH, NO HE DIDN’T JUST SAY THAT. This may have been when I actually bit my tongue. I simply said in a firm, but not angry voice, “This is NOT an expensive rate. It’s less than we’ve paid anywhere else.” I’ve never told my Dad to fuck off, but I came pretty damn close at that moment. My Dad was insistent that he was paying the expenses for the trip. Because of this, we all slept in one room, w/ 2 double beds. When I went up to the desk to check in, I took out my wallet and gave the man cash. Dad kept trying to put his credit card out. I told him I was taking care of it. (If you’re going to bitch about the choice, I’m not holding you responsible.) For the record, it was the nicest, and cleanest of any of the places we stayed. We check in, go to eat (at Bob Evans for the 5th time in 4 days, and 2nd time that day.) Fortunately, the Courtyard had a small gym and a pool. I definitely needed to work out some aggression, as well as needed some serious down time alone. Even though I was exhausted, and really could have gone to sleep, I knew I could not go back and stay in the room with them and keep that last raw nerve from unraveling. I hit the treadmill, did a few reps on the weight machine, and then went and sat in the whirlpool for a while until I got too shrivel. At this point I went back to the room, showered, grabbed the laptop and went down to the lobby bar to have a beer and check email, blogs, etc. The bar was closed, but I stayed down there for over an hour until my eyes could no longer focus, and I knew they’d be asleep.
I was pissed at him. I was pissed at myself for letting him get to me. I’m pissed that we so quickly fell back into the old patterns. I thought all these years later it would not be history repeating itself. FUCK! It was like I was 17 years old all over again. He pushed the buttons. Hell, he installed a good deal of them. The more he needled, the more obstinate I became in my resistance. As if this in and of itself wasn’t a living version of hell, six meals in 4 days were at Bob Evans. This was the payback for my refusing to eat at Cracker Barrel for their homophobic anti-gay hiring policies. OK, end of rant.

The Reception
The reception itself was a lot of fun. Meagan and Adam live out in the country in BF Maryland, by his parents’ on a plot of their land. They are not farmers, but it was farmland country. It was outdoors. They had a covered building, (as many farms do). The weather was unbearably hot and humid—pushing 100 degrees F. Adam (who trained to be a chef) did pretty much all of the cooking, prepping of the food. Meagan had it decorated in a very simple understated elegant manner for an outdoor reception. In what will go down as one of my favorite memories of my life, toward the end of the evening, the DJ puts on Dancing Queen by ABBA. Meagan had been up dancing with various people throughout the night. I hadn’t. When this came on, I looked at her, she at me. I gave her the “do you want to dance” signal. “Uncle Randy, YOU are my dancing queen!” We cut quite a rug (or slab of cement floor). Some of her girlfriends all came up and joined in with us. (Side note, WHY is it that I can attract a bevy of hot girls/women, but not the hot gay men?) This reminded me of another wedding reception years ago, for my friend Janet. She is the last woman I dated before finally coming out of the closet. At her reception, the DJ started playing “Someday My Prince Will Come”. Janet was clear across the room talking to other guests, and came running to me, and said, “There’s only one person I can dance with to this song!” And, we danced, creating a great life memory. This dance with Meagan takes a special place in the memory bank as well.
Adam knows that Tommy (my brother, Meagan’s Dad) like single malt scotch, so he order a bottle of Glenlivet for us. The two of us polished it off by the end of the night. I was pacing myself with the drinking, as I didn’t want to be driving all day hungover. I started with beer, and as hot and humid as it was, I was sweating it out almost as fast as I was drinking. Dustin (my nephew, Meagan’s older brother) was there with one of his best friends. They verbally arm twisted me into doing shots with them a couple of times.
An additional bonus was that I got to see Lisa, their Mom, my former sister-in-law, whom I adore. I hadn’t seen her for over 15 years. When I first came out, she was the one member of the family who was completely nonplussed by it, and accepted it (and me) without question. It was great fun seeing her (and members of her family) again.
…to be continued.


GDad said...

I live down the street from Dan Evans, who is the late Bob Evans' brother.

At some point, you probably passed 10 miles from my house. I wondered what all that swearing was.

mark's tails said...

As the old saying goes, you can pick your friends, you can pick your nose but you can't pick your family.

Sounds as though there are some good apples in the bushel.

So how was the 'Bob B Q'?

gay CME guy said...

Gdad: All of my swearing was under my breathe, hence the bitten tongue. As I later told another nephew once we were back in BF, "My mantra for the weekend in the car was 'Serenity now', from the one Seinfeld episode."

Mark: LOL. On one of the myriad visits to Bob Evans, I had the {spicey, I believe is how it's defined) "Bob B Q", on Sunday evening after we landed in Springfield, OH. Dad, who will not eat anything 'too spicey or hot', asked if it was 'spicey'. My reply was, "If you consider brown sugar and syrup to be spices, then I guess you would call it spicey."
On another note-OK, I know Bob Evans is not haute cuisine. Nor was I expecting a 4 star meal. But the first of 3 breakfasts there, I ordered the Spinache eggs benedict, thinking it was at least on the healthier side of the available options. The waiter asked me how I wanted my eggs cooked. I gave him, what I'm sure was a look of stupified incredulity and said, "Poached!"
We don't do poached eggs here. You can have them braised."--(I think that was the culinary term he used).
Excuse me, but by nature of the name "Eggs Benedict", the freaking eggs are POACHED! And, for fuck's sake, do you NOT have a pan you can boil some water in back in that kitchen?! The same thing happened the next morning at Shoney's when asking for a poached egg. It gives new meaning to the old saying about a bad cook not being able to boil water.

GDad said...

Breathe in, breathe out.