The assorted crap worked for a while. Luckily, we'd gotten pretty smart and planned a mid-trip stop for lunch, to give boy a break from his car seat. So just as he was getting tired of a plastic microphone (it makes your voice echo when you speak directly into it, without any batteries whatsoever -- it's actually kind of cool), we rolled into the parking lot of a Chili's restaurant in Brenham, Texas. We'd driven right through a cold front, so we blew into the restaurant's front doors along with a whoosh of biting, frigid air, but that still didn't account for the drop in temperature when the clientele there got a good look at us. After I'd make a quick pit stop and returned to our table (a short walk that took me throughout the main dining room and past the bar, then back again), I sat down and asked husband sotto voce, "Um, just curious -- do you think our medical insurance covers gunshot wounds?" To which he immediately replied, "My God, you get that vibe too?"
It always amuses me when people see my husband, who is of Middle Eastern heritage, and assume that he's scary. Because you have to know him for about three seconds to realize that he's about as far from scary as Teddy Ruxpin was from not-creepy. I was commenting on that to husband as we sat, not-enjoying our meal, and I said sarcastically, "You know, that's what drew me to you in the first place -- that air of danger you exude." At that unfortunate moment, our waiter arrived to refresh our drinks and I'm pretty sure he overheard me, which probably didn't help our case.
We finished our meal, bundled boy back up in his car seat (despite earnest protests to the contrary) and set out to finish the drive. Since he'd seen just about all our tricks by then, boy was really letting us know he was ready to be DONE with the time in the car. We started in with our nursery-rhyme-song-and-dance, running in rapid succession through the ABCs, "Row, row, row your boat," "Mary had a little lamb," "London Bridge," and the magic penny song ("Love is like a magic penny / hold it tight and you won't have any / Lend it, spend it, give it away / It comes right back to you-ooooo"). When the whimpers started anew, we pulled out the big guns -- the Kenny Rogers CD we'd purchased on our LAST road trip.
Turns out, there are two songs on that CD, tracks five and six, that hold a mesmerizing, lullaby-like quality for our boy. We listened to "The Gambler" and "Love Will Turn It Around" at least a dozen times each, because not only were they causing long breaks in the crying, they were even soothing boy to the point of dozing off. And once again I learned something as I sang along with The Incomparable Kenny Rogers -- even though I've known the lyrics to "The Gambler" for probably more than twenty years, New Year's Day was THE FIRST TIME it ever occurred to me that the song is about more than poker. (Yep. I never said I was brilliant.) Imagine that -- stirring life lessons brought to you by the guy whose grin later graced the packaging for both pineapple and deep fried chicken.
We listened to that song so many times that in order to deal with the monotony, husband and I not only sang along but began acting out the song. It's become something of a one-woman-show I do now, and I have high hopes of getting husband to break out the camcorder so I can show you what "The Gambler" looks like in pantomime. (Coming soon. If you're lucky. Seriously, I'm smelling a Tony.)
Habby dew year, everyone.