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Little Pink Sock

More Family Fun

So I thought about this anecdote the other day.  I realized that if I ever become famous or important in any way, I want all of the stories I can think of about me as a kid out and available because then there are fewer things with which I can be blindsided. 

When we were living in Germany while my dad was stationed there, we took frequent trips to other cities, some in Germany and some out of Germany.  Department of Defense schools also seem to be very encouraging of students taking trips.  Maybe it's not an institute-wide thing.  Maybe it was just the two teachers I had.  They made us give little presentations on where we went and what we did when we returned from little vacations.  I guess it made an impact, because talking in front of audiences has always been second nature.  Now don't read that and believe for one second that I don't get crazy-stage fright, because I do.  I've thrown up a few times before going out there.  I have just never been one to agonize over presentations and the like, well, until the five minutes before my turn (during which I become a mess).  Anyway, I'm completely off track. 

Ok, so my mom decided to drag my dad along and take all three of us girls to The Netherlands.  We all got packed up in my mom's Volvo 240 stationwagon.  My older sister at one window, my little sister in her car seat at the other window and me stuck in the middle.  My favorite part about road trips was stopping at the shop on the way out of town to get food.  We got brochen and liberkase for sandwiches.  They were uber-messy and we ended up with flaky bread crust flakes all over us.  Those sandwiches were amazing.  >>Sigh<<  Anyway, so we were in Northern Germany driving along the autobahn.  My mom is driving and my dad is "navigating".  "Navigating" means that he is supposed to be watching the map, but he's likely dozing fitfully as my mom keeps waking him up as he drifts enough to start snoring.  So my mom starts seeing signs that are triggering warning flags in her head even though she hasn't been driving in Germany long enough to be 100% sure of every sign.  So she asks my dad (after waking him up for the billionth time) where she should go.  I guess he figures out where we are, because he tells her that everything's fine and she should just stay on the autobahn.  Well, I'm pretty sure he fell asleep fairly quickly, because he looked really surprised when he realized there was a bunch of honking and my mom was driving through a city. 

Apparently the autobahn had ended in the middle of Essen, at the time a large industrial city with not-so-friendly drivers.  So my mom, with her months-old German language skills and my dad with his non-existent German language skills are trying to navigate this convoluted city.  My mom finally snapped at my dad to just leave her alone and she'd figure it out.  I don't know if it was because they made a concerted effort, but I don't remember my parents fighting much before I was six.  Well, I was six now and this was about to get ugly and I had no idea.  We get back to the autobahn after a terrorizing while in Essen with honking and swerving and yelling.  I think if that had been my only experience with driving when I had the opportunity to get my license, I would have run away in silent terror.  So we survived and my mom, while continuing to drive on the rediscovered autobahn, glared at my dad.  My dad, in a voice more innocent than it should have been, asked why she exited the autobahn in the first place.   It was as if he'd thrown the "LIVID" switch.  There was no crescendo.  She peaked immediately.

Mom: Give me the map.
Dad: Wha-Why- No.
Mom: Give me the map, Tony.

Dad hands it over.  Mom, while still driving, proceeds to find our location on the map and then ask my dad in the scary-sweet voice:

Mom: What does a dotted line mean, Mr. Boy Scout?
Dad: >>pause<<
Mom: (full volume again) IT MEANS THE ROAD IS PLANNED, TONY.

She then proceeded to hit my father with the map.  My dad grabbed the map from her.


He then hit her with the map.

The backseat was utter silence.  My older sister stared out the window, occasionally rolling her eyes.  My little sister, at two years old, was fairly oblivious, possibly asleep.  I was wide-eyed and petrified watching this altercation.

When we got home from this trip, I returned to school and my first grade teacher, Mrs. Eisenminger, asked me to tell the class about my trip to The Netherlands.  Yeah, I have no idea how to spell her name.  I could barely spell my last name in first grade.  Giving first graders a teacher with a name like that is cruel.  But back to the story.  I apparently didn't want to tell anyone about my trip.  Then she took me aside and asked me what happened, like a concerned teacher, I told her in very, very hushed tones:

Me: My mom and dad almost got a divorce.

Yeah, I didn't know what a divorce was.  I knew it happened when your parents fought too much and the result was scary.  I had no idea what it was, but it was bad, like no one in the family was allowed to laugh or smile or eat chocolate if there was a divorce, and Christmas, well, Christmas was canceled or you only got socks and underwear.   Poor Mrs. Eisenminger was horribly concerned and told me I could just sit down and didn't have to tell the class anything.  When I was at home that night helping my older sister set the table for dinner, my mom got a phone call from my teacher. 

Teach: Mrs. V, how are you and the doctor?
Mom: We're doing well, and you?
Teach: Oh, I'm fine.  How was the trip?  Did everything go well?
Mom: (suspiciously) It was lovely.  Is everything ok?
Teach:  Well, Denise was a little upset at school today because she seems to think that you and the doctor are having marital problems.  She said you two almost got a divorce over your vacation.  
Mom: >>Laughs<<

The phone call concluded cordially, but rather than talk to me about fighting and adult relationships right away, my mom called her mom to tell her the story and then called my dad's mom.  So while I was stressing about losing chocolate and Christmas with toys FOREVER, my mom was laughing it up with my grandparents.  Looking back as a quasi-adult...I'd have done the same. What?!?  It was funny.

~Blue Skies~

Quote of the Day:
[on North by Northwest  (1959)] Our original title, you know, was "The Man in Lincoln's Nose". Couldn't use it, though. They also wouldn't let us shoot people on Mount Rushmore. Can't deface a national monument. And it's a pity, too, because I had a wonderful shot in mind of Cary Grant hiding in Lincoln's nose and having a sneezing fit.
~Alfred Hitchcock


with increasing ferver..I love your wit and dry humor.