PENCIL ERASER KIDNEY

For years, my son and I traveled from our home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina to my parent's home and where I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida to spend Thanksgiving with my family.  That was our tradition.  For years.

We would usually travel on the Tuesday or Wednesday before the holiday down I-95 from South Of The Border to Duval County, Florida.  Every year it seemed, around the time on the annual trip that the cold Carolina air would give way to the warm South Georgia coastal breezes, we traditionally and together gave in to our Krystal Kravings!  The first Krystal on our trips back then was just outside of Brunswick at, I think, exit 36.  Whatever exit it is or was, it was the same Krystal where I first told my son's mom that I loved her.  It's an important little fast food place to me.  And as much as we were both hankering for Mother Moon's and Aunt Marilyn's turkey, dressing, squash and gravy in Jacksonville, the initial and overwhelming desire on those trips was to devour our very first Krystal cheese burgers.  For you northern folks, think White Castle.

That whole Krystal thing is just a side bar - some very fond memories.  The point of all this has nothing at all to do with the trip down to Jax before Thanksgiving.  This is about one Sunday's drive back home to Chapel Hill.  And of my son's limited kidney function.  My kidneys were aching that early Sunday morning as well.  We did our best - or all that we could do.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving on Interstate 95 is anything but a piece of cake.  Traveling from Jacksonville to Pedro's at the South Carolina-North Carolina border on that highway on that Sunday is all a timing thing.  Hit "Pedro's South Of The Border" at the giant sombrero landmark before noon on that Sunday, and you are home free.  Anything less, and you are screwed.  The Sunday in question here, we were screwed.  I think we left Jax early enough, but some North Florida-South Georgia road problems did us in.  There was major traffic very early.

Well, as it seems is always the case with me and my car, I needed gas.  Keep in mind that we were only about an hour and a half into our trip home that day.  But my teenage son and I both needed a bathroom stop as well, so it should have worked out.  Get gas, relieve ourselves and get back into the steady and slow flow northbound.  We pulled off at an exit not far one way or the other from exit 36.  But this time Krystals were not on our minds.  We found a sort of combination motel-gas station.  I pumped gas while my son went in search of a urinal.  The motel-gas station had no restrooms.  Imagine that!  An entire motel with NO restrooms.  Or so said the middle aged and foreign born proprietors of the motel-gas station.

Well.  While I was finishing gassing up the car, my son told me there were no restrooms.  I finished gassing up.  Then I walked to the far left of the property.  My son walked to the far right.  We both unzipped.  I could have held it.  My son could not.  And that's the problem.  His kidney is the size of a pencil eraser.  He got that from his dad.  Nevertheless, we were both in this mess together.

So, I let fly with my stream on the left side of the motel-gas station property, and my son let fly on the right side of the property.  I was finished when all hell broke loose.  I think my child was still flowing when the proprietors came charging out of the motel-gas station office, yelling at us in a foreign language.  I understood little of what they were saying, but even in middle eastern-accented yelling, I think I did understand the words, "sheriff, police and arrest."

I zipped up and hauled it back to the car.  I am not sure whether or not my child zipped.  I am not sure he had time to.  He was too busy yelling at the proprietors in words that were even less understandable to me than the foreign words they were yelling at us!

I do remember that I yelled at my son to shut the hell up while I sped off and merged into stop and go traffic that could never allow an irate motel-gas station owner - or a sheriff -to find us.

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