A normal visit to go see my family in Maryland should take approximately 6 hours and 45 minutes. Silly MapQuest with your “estimated” time and distance. You’ve obviously never taken a car ride with the Ripa clan. Haven’t you heard of potty breaks, switching of DVD’s and the numerous stops we make to stretch our legs?
This is not even taking into consideration the “I’m so tired of being stuck in my car seat that even watching the last installment of the Shrek trilogy will not suffice” freak out that takes place every trip somewhere around the city limits of Tyson’s Corner, VA. Experiencing a double helping of the meltdown to end all meltdowns always serves as a great first memory of our vacation.
The long trek up north not only leads to cramped legs, but clogged arteries as well. The dining options on I-95 are less than stellar. The majority of places right off the highway are fast food joints where the focus of feeding the masses doesn’t lend itself to achieving anything better than the remedial level of sanitary scores. It gives a new dimension to the saying of stopping for a ‘quick fill up for gas.’ If you are feeling extremely daring and venture a few miles into an actual town, you normally come across a greasy spoon where the local yokels don’t take kindly to Yankees who order un-sweet ice tea.
This means when you need an extended break from the ‘are we there yet?’ chants coming from the peanut gallery in the back row, your only option is to head to the place where Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers are king and queen. The restaurant I speak of is Cracker Barrel and there are no fewer than 8 locations scattered throughout our trip. For those unfortunate souls who have never experienced this hallmark of the south, you go for the Chicken Fried Steak, but come back for the Old Country Store. While waiting to be seated, you have the opportunity to peruse rooster lamps, Mork & Mindy DVD packs and inspirational salt & peppershakers.
Each store also has a giant checkers board set out on display for those who have already purchased their John Deere Neon Wall Clock. Unfortunately, after the typical spanking I receive from Jenn at checkers, my Sawmill Gravy often does not taste as hearty as I imagined it. Look out Scrabble, there seems to be a new addition to the list of games Jenn beats me like a rented mule at every time we play.
How can this possibly be? In order to excel at checkers, a person needs to possess the ability to examine every possible move before they make it. A plan and forethought is needed to be successful because every move you make creates numerous other possibilities. If this is the case then checkers should be right in my wheelhouse.
As odd as it might sound, it is a game tailor made for those with indecisive tendencies like myself. Worry and stress would appear to be attributes a checker grand wizard should posses. Indecisive people are known to make the simplest of choices larger than life. We fret over every decision that needs to be made. If you think we are a little obsessive over silly choices like pepperoni or cheese and The Office of Grey’s Anatomy, you have no idea what grief is caused by the big time decisions of purchasing a home, having kids and the grand purpose of your life. The fear of the worst-case scenario often causes me not to act.
Even though I know there can only be one outcome to every choice I make, it does not stop me from stressing about a thousand different scenarios that I “believe” could take place. Not wanting to be caught off guard, I try to prepare myself for how the cards will fall if I chose what is behind door number 1,2, or 3. The longer I sit on making a decision the more outrageous and extravagant the possible outcomes become.
In my indecisive mind, something as simple as deciding to swipe the travel size maple syrup containers off the table at Cracker Barrel causes my mind to race about the possible results of my actions. Needing a sugar shot of adrenaline to keep me awake behind the wheel, my sticky fingers would lead to a slower reaction time and the possibility of a fender bender on the highway. I could become addicted to syrup leading to high blood sugar and an early death. Years later I could get a call from the cops saying Maddie or Paige were caught shoplifting and when I begin to lecture them they say, “Dad, the thought that crime was a viable career option started that one trip up to Granny and Pop-Pop’s house when you said you had a hankering for pancakes.” Not being so stealth, the waitress could catch me slipping the syrup into Jenn’s purse. She grabs me by the arm and takes me back to the stock room where none other than Kenny Rogers interrogates me. Luckily, after roasting me for quite a while, he decides to take it easy on me. He says he always has a soft spot in his heart for a gambler.