Warning: Due to the graphic nature of this story, you may never go on a car trip again, or at least you won’t want to go on with me.
Ah, the holidays! A time to be with family and celebrate the birth of Christ.
The car was packed full of Christmas gifts, our clothes carefully folded in Ikea bags, and the dog’s supplies. We were ready to enjoy our holiday.
The plan was to drive down to my sister’s house for Christmas. Initially, it would be a surprise, but that was overrated from the get-go, and my kids cannot keep a secret. My son, Max, and I, along with the dog, were heading down to the great state of Tennessee to not surprise my family for the holidays. I was excited to be heading home. We woke up before the sun even began to peek, which made me think about our timing–we would probably be driving through the blue ridge mountains at sunrise, so that was something to look forward to as the idea of a ten-hour drive sunk in.
Ready, set, go. This was it. We ease out of the driveway ahead of schedule. We were feeling extremely proud of ourselves for this and the fact that we felt like we were super organized for this particular trip. Gifts. Check. Clothes for five days. Check. Dog food and treats. Check. Toothbrushes. Check. Phone chargers. Check. Dog. Check. Dog? DOG!? Negative.
Okay…Let’s try this again.
The drive was surprisingly easy for the first five hours. Not much traffic, Lucy sleeping peacefully in her dog bed behind the driver’s seat, good conversation and a little NPR in the background. Usually, about an hour in, we like to stop for a quick breakfast. McDonald’s drive-thru is generally what we agree on, but on this day, neither of us was hungry and, in fact, I seemed to have a slight case of indigestion. Now, I call it slight because I like to brag. My indigestion is generally best described as baby burps or petite burps. Basically, the only petite thing about me–my burps–so, I like to draw attention to them when I can. And they are nothing a little soda can’t remedy.
We speed along 81 south, passing the big rig trucks slowly climbing the hills between the mountains, seeing the sun rise above a ridge until I decide to let Max take a turn behind the wheel. We pull off quickly to switch seats. Max, a newer driver, properly adjusts all his mirrors, the seat, etc. He even checks to be sure I am buckled in. He eases down the exit and merges in like a pro. Strangely, this somehow brings on a few more ‘petite’ reactions from my throat.
“Goodness. Excuse me,” I say. “I don’t know what is wrong with me. I never burp like this.”
About a half hour later, my petite little burps were now becoming a little more prominent. Forceful.Then, suddenly…
“I think you need to pull over,” I say as a put my index finger over my lips like I am trying to get everyone to be quiet. In this case, my burps!
“HERE!” and I point at the exit that says Rest Area. Thank God.
Max starts to pull off onto the exit and then it happens.
“STOP! STOP! STOP!” I scream and cry at the same time and then I literally open the car door and lean out as the car is slowing down. Screw the seat belt.
Max brings the car to a stop. He stays in the driver’s seat as I partially puke all over the passenger door and then proceed to vomit on the side of the exit.
“Um…are you okay?” Max asks as I wipe my mouth with my sleeve.
More throw up, but with this round, I was really able to show my talent. Diarrhea. Yep, you heard it. The gates of hell opened up in my cute yoga pants and Dansko clogs as I stood on the side of the road of a rest stop just out of Troutville, Virginia. Frozen in place, unable to move, afraid of what might happen if I do, my son asks me, again, if I am okay.
My voice weak and shaky answers, “No. I. Am. Not.”
“I think you better get back in the car,” Max advises. I mean, really, he was a champ. What else could he do? So, I followed his instructions, and I slowly lowered my diarrhea-filled butt into the seat. Max didn’t say a word. We drove into a parking space at the rest stop and I just sat there, wondering what to do next. Maybe I should call my mom? Check Pinterest? Surely someone has posted this somewhere. Right? I sat there for a few minutes contemplating all of this when…
“Oh, my God! Oh, MY GOD! Turn the heater off! GOD! Really?” I cried, as the seat was slow cooking my backside. Honestly, who wants a hot bottom? I cannot even imagine.
Enough was enough. I couldn’t become a rest-stop inhabitant. I couldn’t call 911. I had to make a move. This is when I put my big girl panties on–and this is NOT a pun–and moved oh-so-slowly up the walkway of the rest-stop, my legs moving like wooden stilts, with fresh clothes in hand, to fix this mess. (This part I will not disclose–it would undoubtedly haunt you for many years to come, or at least, cause you serious Rest Area trauma.)
And to answer your questions: Yes, I kept the clothes. (Washed multiple times!) No, we didn’t go to Tennessee after that. Yes, Max drove us back home and, five hours later, I was showered and asleep for about two days. Yes, Lucy is a witness to this nightmare. No, I will never go to Troutville, Virginia again. In fact, there are possibly some Wanted signs posted at that rest stop. I better steer clear.