New York Vacation

by Chris Taylor---August 17-24, 1991

Our trip is about a twenty three hour drive so it really didn't matter what time we left, since we would be driving all day anyway. We chose to leave at midnight, after my sister's birthday party on August 16. I began driving and everyone else slept. On our way out of town I saw a sign that said "24 Hour Banking." I just don't understand how they could stay in business. I for one, don't have that much time. After about an hour I gave up trying to figure that out, I pondered a different thought. For about six hours I wondered where the sun was. Then it dawned on me.

The tank was running low so we stopped to get some diesel fuel (that's what our car uses). It was one of those stations where they had gas and carbonated beverages and that was about it. I went in to pay and was witness to one of the most distasteful displays of prejudice I have seen in recent years. A ham sandwich was there wanting to buy a can of coke. The lady behind the counter kept insisting that they didn't serve food there. I did the honorable thing and bought the can of coke and then gave it to the sandwich. Prejudice of that magnitude was just one of the things I saw there for the first time. They had lottery tickets that you could rent. I decided that I should probably rent one just for the novelty of it all. I ended up winning $5000, but I had to give it all back.

I then turned the wheel over to someone else, and I tried to sleep for a few hours. I had a few weird dreams. I dreamt that I drank some wet cement and got stoned. I dreamt that I was in school and my lab partner's magnetic personality erased our computer disk. I dreamt that I finally made it to greener pastures but was too tired to climb the fence. I dreamt that I got a tattoo over my whole body. It was of me, only taller. I dreamt that I gave a skeptic an inch, and he measured it. I dreamt that I polished my neighbors car with ear wax. (Well technically I only polished half of it. I ran out of ear wax.) I dreamt that I won the Psychic of the Year award for 1994. When I woke up I felt like a hundred bucks ... were stomping on my head.

The rest of the trip was relatively uneventful. When we arrived I went right to sleep. This time I didn't have any strange dreams, I usually don't remember any of my dreams but when sleeping in the car it's hard to get any real sleep. The next day I spent taking it easy at my grandmother's cottage out on Lake Erie. I noticed that there was an attractive woman who lived next door so I went over and returned a cup of sugar. She said, "You didn't borrow this." I said, "I know, but I will." Latter that day I was making cookies and needed some sugar. I figured that rather than going to the store and buying some I would first check with my neighbors. I went to the house on the left, but nobody was home. Then I went to the house on the right. The same woman was there and she had a cup of sugar that she let me borrow. One thing led to another and we ended up going to an opera that night. I have come to the conclusion that opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back, and instead of bleeding, he sings. While we were there I saw a woman there with a guy who was so ugly that he would make a freight train take a dirt road. She must have been an archaeologist. They date anything.

The next day I chose to fill out my tax form with Roman numerals. I couldn't figure out what the Roman numeral for zero was, so I went to the library. On my way there an officer of the peace stopped me and told me that I was going 40 miles per hour in a 35 miles per hour speed zone. I told him that I wasn't going to be out that long. I parked the car and headed into the library. On my way in I saw a chicken crossing the road, and I asked him why he was doing that. He said it was none of my business. In the library I was unable to find the Roman numeral for zero, but I did learn some interesting things. I read in The New England Journal of Medicine that 9 out of 10 doctors agree that 1 out of 10 doctors is an idiot. After that I got a dictionary out and tried to find secret messages by reading it upside down. I then found a book called GIRL to GRAB and started speed reading. Someone had carelessly left a bookmark in it, and I hit it. They rushed me to the hospital, but I wasn't hurt badly. When I was released that afternoon I found out that the book I was reading was actually and encyclopedia. When I got back to my car I found that someone had broken in and turned up my radio. I hate it when that happens.

That night the girl next door and I went out to eat. We went to a fancy restaurant. She ordered a dish that reminded me of the heart I found when I was in San Francisco. She wanted me to order snails, but I prefer fast food. At the table next to us sat an optimist and a pessimist. They were arguing. One said, "That cup is half full." The other said, "No, it's half empty." I finally got sick of them going back and forth so I drank it and told them it was empty. Ten minutes later they were going at it again. I told them that their cup was too big, that seemed to shut them up. I then took her to a museum where we named all the untitled paintings with titles like "Boy With Pail" and "Kitten On Fire."

The next day I was reading the newspaper and saw an ad for "Light housekeeping." I decided it might be good to make a little money while I was out here and it would definitely be a resume builder. When I got there they said, "Here, change this light bulb." I told them I would need some friends to help. Since I didn't seem to be cut out for the east coast work, I thought I would see how the shopping would go. On my way to the mall I saw a chicken and told it to cross the road. He asked me, "What for?" I found a really nice decaffeinated coffee table. You can't tell by looking at it. I also bought a cordless extension cord. I think it might come in handy at the lake. I went by a jewelry story and contemplated a purchase, but then I thought, why buy her diamonds if she's not going to live forever? While I was shopping the power went out. I got trapped on the escalator for twenty minutes before power was restored. There's an old saying that power corrupts, but we need electricity. I finally made it out to my car and decided to just sit in it and see how many people I would ask me if I was leaving. I said yes to the eighth one. Next I went to the grocery store. I saw a sign that said, "pet supplies." So I did. Then I went outside and saw a sign that said "compact cars." I decided not to. On my way back to the lake I saw nice home that was made out of rock and a couple of kids throwing glass. I yelled out the window, "Didn't your mother tell you that people who live in stone houses shouldn't throw glass?" Night came and it was time for another date. This time we went to a ballet. Why are they always on their tip-toes? Why don't they just get taller women? Things didn't go very well %that night and when dropped her off at her house I told her, "I've had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it." It's too bad it had to end that way. I guess they say that time heals all wounds, but I'm a little skeptical. If so, why do I still have a belly button? On my way back across the yard the prescription on my eyeglasses ran out. Fortunately I knew my way home.

The next day it was time to lick my wounds and get my mind off of the night before. I just hate the taste of blood, don't you? I decided that the best way to distract myself was to do a little sight seeing. First I went to a museum where they had all the heads and arms from the statues that are in all the other museums. Then I went to the ocean. Did you know that if all the sponges in the ocean were removed, New York City would be under water. I then went to see Niagara Falls. When I crossed the border to see the falls from the Canadian side they asked me if I had any firearms with me. I said, "Well, what do you need?" While I was there I walked up to a tourist information booth and said, "So, tell me about some of the people who were here last year." I decided to ride the Maid of the Mist. It's a boat that goes down right near the falls. They had me fill out a liability waiver. It said, "In Case of Emergency Notify:" I wrote "Doctor" ... what's my mother going to do? I did a little more looking around in Canada. They are having a severe drought. One man said that it's been so dry that he has catfish in a creek near his home that are three years old, and they still don't know how to swim.

I spent all day Thursday looking for my mind. I lost it when I saw milk coming from a cow's nose while it was laughing. Friday I drove around the block in reverse. Wrote a short story with alphabet soup. Watched people through the tines of a fork and pretended they were in jail. Made a list of things I had already done. And put instant coffee in the microwave and went back in time.

Saturday we left to come home. About 1500 feet from a toll booth they had a sign that read, "Check Brakes." Do I look like a mechanic? I'm sure. I gave the lady at the toll booth and extra 35 cents and told her it was for the guy behind me. Then I watched her tried to explain it to him. At the next toll booth the guy told me to have a nice day. I told him that I had other plans. When we stopped for gas I bought a million lottery tickets. I won a dollar. That night, while I was still driving a guy passed me without his lights on. I rolled down my window and told the lady in the seat next to him that he didn't have his lights on. She said, "It's okay. He's blind." When we made it back to Brookings we decided to go out to eat. I was staving and so we went to Bonanza where I could get the all you can eat salad bar. When we left I still had some salad left on my plate so I had to pay them an extra $1.50. I guess I took more than I could eat. It was a great vacation, but I'm glad to be back.

Please note:

This essay is copyrighted 1991 and I retain this copyright. You may freely copy it as long as this copyright notice remains intact.