“I spy something tan.”
“Right. Your turn.”
“I spy something greenish.”
“I spy something tan.”
“Hey guys, I have a game we could try.” My husband jumps in before the two teenagers in the backseat can continue their monotonous game of I Spy in the desert.
“I use this in training,” he explains. “Just repeat after me. Are you in honey?”
Not real keen on listening games, I nevertheless agree to participate. After all, one can actively observe sagebrush and the occasional cactus for only so long.
Of course, there is the sporadic litter strewn along the seemingly endless highway. Why do people do that? Do they dump trash on the floor in their homes, too? Most probably, I decide.
And the random roadside crosses—some weathered, others hauntingly fresh-looking. Although, they aren’t truly random, are they? Each cross painstakingly placed where a life tragically ended. I vow to pray for the families left behind—and the souls taken from this earth much too soon—every time we pass a cross. Spotting two more on the right shoulder and another on the left, I decide my silent oath will likely keep me ‘praying without ceasing’ for the remaining six hours and forty-two minutes of this road trip.
“Honey, are you with us?”
My husband’s voice jolts me back to the game at hand. “Yeah, start.” I can pray and play at the same time, can’t I?
“One red wagon.” I roll my eyes and glance sideways at my husband. This is the game?
The three of us participants sit in silence.
“You’re supposed to repeat.”
So one by one, we do.
“One red wagon, pair of pigs.”
We take turns repeating again. And again. And again.
“One red wagon…five fat felines.”
“One red wagon…five fat friends.”
“Mom, it’s felines, not friends. Why would you say friends?”
Ummm. Good question. Let’s see... Fat felines made me think of my friend Karrie—who isn’t fat, but she has a fat kitty cat. Karrie made me think of Joelle, and when is our next quarterly lunch get-together? Which made me think of the time we surprised Cindy, and I wonder when she will be visiting again. And next time we should include Laura—who I haven’t seen since high school. And voila. Five friends—never mind the fat part.
I don’t bother explaining this to the male occupants in the vehicle—they most likely wouldn’t follow my logic anyway.
“You’re out, Mom.” Bummer. And just when I started enjoying this game.
“What d’ya say boys? Do we give her another chance?”
“Only if she pays attention.”
“Stay focused, hon. You’re still in the game.”
“One red wagon….nine nutty nervous Nellies gnawing nubby fingernails.” How does my husband remember all of this? Shouldn’t he be using that brain space for something more important—like remembering the anniversary of our first date?
“Speaking of nutty…The Nutty Professor with Eddie Murphy isn’t nearly as good as the original with Jerry Lewis. You guys need to see it sometime—I’ll rent it for us. It came out in the ‘60’s, I think. Anyway, Jerry Lewis is sooo funny. There’s this part…”
“Mom, we’re in the middle of a game here. It’s your turn.”
After repeating all nine phrases flawlessly, I smile smugly.
Finally we reach the last round. Maybe I’ll survive this game after all.
“One red wagon…twelve tiny tots teetering between tinseled trees.”
Mom used to make us drape tinsel on our tree one strand at a time. Maybe that’s why I despise tinsel. Or maybe it’s because of the horrendous silver stuff covering my in-law’s trees. I feel a tear form, realizing this will be the first Christmas without that garish, glittering tree.
We pass a cross with two intertwined hearts; I pray.
“Mom?! You’re up.”
“Sorry, I got a little distracted. And stop rolling your eyes at me.”
“How do you know I'm rolling my eyes at you? You can’t even see me.”
“Because I’m the mom. Okay…one red wagon, pair of pigs, three trilling birds, four funny words, five fat felines, six silent sentries, seven slimy slugs sliding slowly down the slippery cement, eight eccentric Englishmen entering England enthusiastically, nine nutty nervous Nellies gnawing nubby fingernails, ten tired travelers traversing tough terrain, eleven lounging lizards lazing on a lounge chair, twelve…um…”
Uh-oh. What’s next? Something about tots—maybe. Think. Think. Yes, I’ve got it.
“Twelve tiny tater tots tasting terribly terrific.”
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