Engaging in yet another long drive, we drove half way across The Mitten in order to spend the night at The Sleep Nazi's house. By this time, I believe my butt was developing callouses and my hands were becoming permanently shaped to grasp a steering wheel. However, it was necessary for me to do most of the driving because Central Planning was actually working from her position in the passenger seat.
Due to the miracles of modern technology, my beloved was able to conduct business while I did the driving. It reminded me a bit of "Driving Miss Daisy", although Central Planning is more pleasant than "Driving's" lead female character by several degrees. And, I must admit, it is something of a wonderment to me that, when I was a child and long trips were taken, you had two choices for entertainment; read a book, or argue with sibling. Work was something that ceased when we left and had to be caught up when we returned. Nowadays, Central Planning missed nary an email while we were on the road. Either that or she has found an imaginative way to game me into driving without looking guilty.
And on the road we were, for several hours, arriving at the domicile of The Sleep Nazi at O-Dark-Thirty, without detours, thanks again to our Garmin GPS and the wonderful people that launched all of those satellites. Despite the late hour, we stayed up for a while and caught up on the news and events of our respective families. One of the things that was discussed was the relationships and politics between various family members, my father-in-law, and his new wife. Predictably, there were some hurt feelings, unsettled emotions, and unfinished business among the various factions, all of which could be settled if everyone just got together and screamed it out.
That's the advantage of having grown up in a Sicilian family; what others see as yelling and screaming, we know to be communication. We yell, we scream, and in a couple of years everyone forgets about it. In order to ease our pain, we eat. That's why Sicilians, contrary to all of those stupid mobster movies, tend to be fat, happy, and loud.
My wife's family is Dutch. Dutch people are nothing if not polite, reserved, and civil. They bottle up their anger and emotions until one day, they kill everybody and everything within a hectare around them. But they are also loving and forgiving. The typical Dutch method of conflict is to politely ignore it until they decide within themselves to forgive and forget. They completely skip over the yelling and screaming part. They are absolutely no fun at all to argue with.
Nonetheless, we all sat and discussed the issues of the day well into the night, whereupon we turned in. When we awoke the next morning, we got the full tour of the house. One thing about The Sleep Nazi and Dr. Teeth; they are the epitome of The American Dream. They met in college where Dr. Teeth was completing his degree prior to entering Dental School, and The Sleep Nazi was studying to be an Art Teacher. They met, fell in love, and got married. Dr. Teeth became a Dentist and joined his father's practice, The Sleep Nazi taught art and sold paintings. She is a very successful artist on top of being a wife and mother. Their house is a reflection of all of that. They have a lovely place in the suburbs that is approximately seventy-five thousand square feet with twenty seven bedrooms and a bathroom everywhere that there isn't a closet. Plus, it has a finished basement.
This requires some explanation; I grew up in The Mogadishu of the Midwest when it was still a blue-collar factory town. Our houses had two or three bedrooms, and those that scrimped and saved had a finished basement. By 'finished' I mean, indoor/outdoor carpet on the floor (because it was easier to replace if the basement flooded), a couch, television set (that was drowned out by the washer and dryer in the unfinished section), cheap paneling on the walls, and if they were really rolling in the dough, a wet bar where the local men could sit and argue about football. Dr. Teeth has redefined the concept of 'finished basement' for me. His basement is a whole other house, complete with kitchen, living room, dining room, bedroom, and, of course, spacious (if not palatial) bathroom. All of this sits upon a beautifully manicured lawn, surrounded by other, similar houses. Even the wildlife needs a gate key to get in. All in all, it made me realize that I am waaaaay behind on the earning curve.
Ever the gracious host and hostess, they opened all of this to two road-weary parents and their children who were on the brink of a psychotic break from being on the road umpteen hours a day for the previous three days. And they spoiled us rotten. The Sleep Nazi, despite her name, is nothing of the sort after a good night's sleep. She is warm, funny, and interesting. She also believes that guests should have their slightest whim acceded to; a trait that endears her to me no end. Since I am a coffee addict, my needs are many and she insured that the coffee never stopped flowing. Dr. Teeth never flinched at my children ransacking his house and pestering him with unending questions about....everything. All in all, they made the day enjoyable and relaxing.
The Fireball and Long Drink of Silence arrived with food for lunch, Dr. Teeth, Long Drink, my FIL, and one of Teeth's progeny played Bocce Ball (!!!) on the back forty. The kids ran amok, the women did, well whatever they did. I was playing Bocce Ball. Later on, I repaired to one of the couches to read a book. A feat I was able to manage for quite some time before I was pelted with Nerf darts by one of Teeth's kids.
Reading is an interesting phenomenon in Central Planning's family. They all do it, or I assume they did it at some point in time since they are all college-educated, but I don't know how they got it done. Anytime anyone attempts to read a book, some strange hormone is released into the brain of the nearest relative that compels them to ask the reader a question. Unfortunately, this trait has been passed on to my own children. Diswan and Datwan can sit and ignore me for hours on end, no matter what I or they are doing. BUT, should I crack open a book or magazine, suddenly I am required to answer all of the mysteries of the world at that exact instant.
All of this to say that a good time was had by all, and the rest and relaxation was a perfect way to prepare for our next ordeal: visiting my family.
Next: Into the Wilderness.