Monday, May 4, 2009

Reflections from a highway rest stop.

Highway rest stops are interesting places, aren't they? I mean, they're specifically designed for people on their way somewhere, to take care of their business, and then continue on their way. Rest stops are for everybody, and this makes for some really interesting people-watching, if you have the chance. If you have time to really take a look around at a rest stop, you're bound to see some interesting, ridiculous, possibly disgusting, and maybe even touching things. This was my experience yesterday. To be honest, I don't find myself in rest stops very often, because I seldom go anywhere anymore. With a really exhausting job, two little kids, and a husband with an insanely unpredictable work schedule, I'm the queen of the "stay-cation." (Doing sidewalk chalk in the back yard with my kids while sipping a margarita is about as close to a real vacation as it typically gets around here...) Or, when I do find myself at a rest stop, I'm peeling into a spot, leaping out of the car, and flying into the bathroom with one kid on my shoulders and another one hanging onto my wrist for dear life, feet flapping in the air behind him, because one or the other is literally seconds away from having an accident. These little guys have a hard time grasping the idea of letting me know they have to pee more than 30 seconds before they are absolutely desperate to go. Seriously, I imagine the thought process in their little heads as we drive along going something like this; "Hmmmmm, nice red truck. Wish I had a red truck. Oooohhhh, a bulldozer. Wish I had a bulldozer. My butt itches. I think I'll hit my brother and see if he gets mad. Oh yeah. He got mad. Heh, heh, heh. I'm gonna hit him again. Heh, heh, heh. Mommy looks funny when she's yelling at me and driving. Her face is really red. Oooooh, another bulldozer. Taxi! A taxi just went by! Cooooool. OH-NO-I-HAVE-TO-PEE-RIGHT-NOW!!!!!" This stream of consciousness is inevitably followed by the ear-piercing cry, "Moooooommmmmmmyyyyyyyyyy....I have to go potty!""Can you hold it, sweetie?" "No, no, it's an emergency!" So, needless to say, my trips to the rest stop are usually conducted at mach speed, and don't afford the opportunity for too much people-watching. With that said, I actually found myself pulling into a rest stop all alone yesterday, on my way back from a few hours spent hanging out with a great girlfriend, laughing, talking, watching a ridiculously unbelievable romantic comedy full of ridiculously good-looking people, eating too much thai food (hence, the need for the rest stop), and briefly remembering what life was like before marriage and motherhood. And, for the first time in a long time, I found myself paying attention to my surroundings. An interesting experience, indeed. So, here are a few observations from that little experience:

Troubling: A huge, immaculate, burgundy-colored Hummer with a "Protect Our Planet" bumpersticker. Ahhhh, the irony.

Irritating: A fifty-something man, wearing those pants that somehow manage to stay up while perched just below his impressively large gut, smoking a cigar, and alternating between scratching his armpit and his butt (I am not making this up!) is joined by a young woman coming out of the restroom. She is slim, attractive, with a to-die-for body. I assumed she was his daughter, until she wrapped her arms around him and gave him the kind of kiss that daughters do not give their fathers. I couldn't help thinking about the double-standard in male-female relationships. It would be highly unlikely to see the same scenario with the genders reversed, eh? He probably owned the Hummer...

Disgusting: Do the same people who think it's OK to poop all over a restroom seat do that at home too? Do they just poop all over their own toilet and walk away? Seriously!

Pathetic: Young couple, oblivious to the fact that there were at least 15 other people within earshot, standing on either side of their car, screaming obscenities at each other. All I could really make out were numerous words I won't repeat here, and "Dairy Queen." I can't imagine what could have transpired in a Dairy Queen that would result in such a litany of cursing and yelling, but maybe they'd been trapped in their car together for too long with far too much sugar in their systems. A recipe for disaster...

Humorous: The little kid from the stall next to me who broke free from his Mom and took off out of the restroom wearing only a t-shirt and tennis shoes and laughing hysterically while she chased after him holding his pants and hollering that he was half-naked! Believe me, that little guy knew darn well he was half-naked, and he was fully enjoying himself.

Touching: An elderly couple sitting on the bumper of their car, holding hands and sharing a banana.

So, it was really fascinating to slow down and take a look around. I highly recommend it. Oh, and one more thing.... When you pull up at a rest stop blaring the soundtrack to Mamma Mia and hop out of your car, you should probably stop singing. I'd like to say that this is something I observed someone else doing. However, it was me happily singing "Dancing Queen" as I walked towards the restroom. It wasn't until I noticed a cute little old lady smoking a cigarette and smiling at me with an odd expression that I realized I was still singing. Out loud. Like a lunatic. Yes, folks, you find all kinds at a rest stop! Including nutty women just like me.

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