Thursday, April 29, 2010

Austrians, Fishies, and Bears. (Oh, My!!)

What would you do if you won the lottery today?  My answer always shocks people, but I swear it's the honest truth.  Before the ink had dried on the winning check, I'd hire a driver.  Full time.

Not one with a fancy limo, mind you, my own car would do just fine.  I just want someone to pick me up and take me where I want to go while I sit in the backseat, contentedly reading the paper, sipping coffee, or napping.

I really, really hate to drive.  I'm using the word "hate" here, preceded by the adverb "really."  Really. Hate it.  Actually, I don't mind long road trips.  I love packing up the car, filling the backseat cooler with sodas and snacks, and hitting the dusty trail.  Just don't ask me to drive. (Because I hate it.)

I think one of the reasons for my intense dislike (or hatred) may be that driving, particularly on long trips, makes me very, very sleepy.  I can pound the coffee, take shots of "5 Hour Energy Drink," smack myself in the face several times, and still, my eyelids will grow heavy after only a few minutes.

I'll admit, this happens when I'm a passenger as well.  The first road trip that Alan and I took together, he estimated that we had been on the highway for exactly five miles when he looked over and saw me completely unconscious in the passenger seat!  He was amazed!

I explained to Alan, in my defense, that my highway-related sleepiness is something I come by honestly.  I've been trained.  Here's how:

Throughout my childhood, my Dad worked carpentry and coaching/referee jobs in addition to his teaching gig.  He did this so he could afford to take his wife and five children on vacation every summer.  Each August, we'd drive ten hours up to his fellow teacher-friend's cabin on the Key River, in Ontario, Canada.  There was also an amazing summer when he bought a used Shasta camper (the pull-behind-the-car kind!), and took us (and Grandma Simmons!) on a six-week trek out West, to California and back!  Lots and lots of driving, and my Dad did it ALL.

Dad was a very organized traveler.  He insisted we leave for each trip no later than four o'clock.  In the morning.  Seriously.  He said this was to beat the traffic, but as I've grown older, I know this to be a big, fat lie.  See, these were the days LONG before comfy mini-vans, personal DVD players, and Gameboys.  We kids had books, one toy each, and a couple of travel Bingo cards.  Our vehicle was a station wagon, complete with "hump" inside.  I can tell you, it grew old pretty quick.

Dad insisted we leave at 4:00 am because he knew he'd have four or five hours of blissful QUIET while we all slept.  We'd literally go to bed in our traveling clothes the night before the trip.  Then, in the dark of early morning, Mom and Dad would pack up the wagon (that's a stock photo on the right, but it looked a LOT like this!), start it up, then come wake us to get in the car.  It was seamless, we'd be back asleep before Dad got the Chevy out of "park."

But eventually, we'd awaken, and all bets were off.  Dad would notice us stirring, then slump a little in the driver's seat, knowing what was inevitably about to start:  Girl Scout songs.  Lots of them.  ALL of them.

My three sisters and I were all very involved in the Girl Scout program. Our Mom even served as troop leader for the majority of our involvement.  As a Girl Scout, for one week in July, we attended a residential, sleep-in-tents camp, where we hiked, swam, roasted marshmallows, and learned many, many, many campfire songs.

Weird, stupid songs.  Let's see, there was one about the Austrian who went yodeling on a mountain top, a bear that chased the singer up a tree, a "fishy" that got frozen in the bay, and another that made absolutely no sense whatsoever, called "Doodeley-Doo."  All the songs, of course, had corresponding hand motions. We executed them all to perfection.

So, my poor father was subjected to hour after torturous hour of his four daughters, along with his wife (Mom enjoyed those obnoxious tunes WAY too much!), belting out song after song, along with the appropriate hand and arm choreography.  For years, we thought my brother, Jack, the baby, had ear infections.  He was constantly grabbing his ears and screaming in pain whenever our "car concerts" began (I was just kidding about that last part, but the kid HAD to have been in agony!!).

Recently, in a rare, non-comatose moment on a car trip, I decided to perform several of those old Girl Scout songs for Alan.  I got about half-way through the "Austrian Yodeling" song when he loudly, abruptly joined in and changed the song's lyrics to something about the Austrian happening upon a nuclear bomb.  "BOOM!  And he DIED.  EVERYBODY DIED.  THE END," Alan raged.  I sat in silence for a few minutes with my arms crossed, staring out the front windshield. Finally, I quietly quipped, "That's NOT how it goes."  He told me I looked tired and suggested I take a nap.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my Dad suffered a stroke over Christmas, and is still recovering at a rehab facility.  My sister, Jennifer, and I visited him there recently when he was having a particularly bad day.  He was tired, he didn't feel good, and he was refusing to take his meds.  The nurse stood their holding the paper cup containing the pills, but nothing anyone did could get him to swallow them.

Suddenly, I had an idea.  I sat in a chair at the foot of his bed and declared, "Dad, you either take those pills, or I start singing the 'Fishy' song.  Loudly."  Dad turned to me, terror flashing in his eyes, trying to determine whether or not I was bluffing.  I took a deep breath and opened my mouth, about to let the first strain fly.  At that, my father grabbed those pills and downed them faster than Lindsey Lohan doing shots at a tequila bar, then held up his hands in defeat.

Powerful thing, that Fishy song.  Gives me ideas.  Just think of it -- Today: Dad's meds.  Tomorrow: World Hunger!  But first, a nap.  Where's my driver?

Thanks for reading!

43 comments:

Rachel Cotterill said...

I'm *awful* for falling asleep in cars. My eyesight isn't good enough for me to drive, so I'm always the passenger - and I can be asleep within seconds.

I love that you can make your dad take his tablets by threatening to sing campfire songs! :D

gregj said...

Ah yes, road trips in a station wagon. We never went on any long ones, just a couple hours to visit grand parents, but they seemed longer. I was youngest so I got the hump or had to lay in the back, and if I didn't face forward, I'd get car sick. Ugh.

Melissa @ Cellulite Investigation said...

I went on a bus tour of Ireland once and the driver played Enya the whole time. I missed so much of the countryside because of that darn sleepy music!

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Hey Great Post!

Funny I hate driving too - same reason. And I'm like a baby it lulls me to sleep. I should try having someone drive me around at night because I bet I could finally get over this insomnia!

Rita/Fighting Off Frumpy said...

So funny! Your dad still has an aversion to the Fishy song. Can't say as I blame him ...

I am the SAME WAY when it comes to driving. I can be fresh out of a ten-hour sleep and still get heavy-lidded after a few minutes. I don't get it.

yonca said...

I'm still laughing to the part how you made your dad take his pills:)
Thanks for following my blog. I'm your new follower now! And really enjoyed to read your post today. Have a great day!

KathyB said...

Hysterical!!! Where on earth did you find the picture of the Shasta trailer???? We did have the red station wagon but the trip out West was in the green one, I think.
You never told me that story about Dad with the pills. I'm totally cracking up - and yes, I will now have that song in my head all day. AUGH!!!!

THE OLD GEEZER said...

I want to be the first to apply for the job as your driver.
I have over 45 years of experience driving in the Los Angeles area and I'm still alive! I'm a little crazy but I'm still alive. I think?

Kakka said...

My daughter has a form of car sickness that makes her fall asleep - maybe you have that as well? We used to make up songs when we were kids, and then my girls went to Girls Brigade and there was a whole of of songs - the Frog song was the best. My hubby hated them too. Good luck on getting a driver some time soon. xxx

Taylor-Made Wife said...

I hate driving too. and I fall asleep almost immediately. Great, fun story!

Bossy Betty said...

You brought back a lot of good memories of car trips--thanks!

What power you have with the Fishy Song! I am sure it would make me want to take medication too!

Cheeseboy said...

Your dad sound so cool. You've described this scene perfectly - it's almost like it's something out of a movie. I don't know any Girl Scout songs, but I can only imagine how annoying they are.

Fortunately today with portable DVD players, laptops and Nintendo DS's, we don't have have to worry about Girl Scout campfire songs.

Lisalulu said...

LOVE IT, you must be my twin, I am asleep in 5 minutes on car rides.. even to work.

Eva Gallant said...

Loved this post! My dad sang and drove on our family outings: "Show me the way to go home. I'm tired and I want to go to bed. I had a little drink about an hour ago, and it went right to my head! I loved it!

Mumsy said...

I enjoyed this post so much. It reminded me of what we did while on a long trip when I was about 14.

I love to drive so I do all the driving around here.

That was so cool what you did to get your dad to take his meds.

Maybe one day you will get that driver. Hugs!

Sylvia K said...

Fun post and did bring back memories of traveling with my four kids -- getting a motor home was the best thing we ever did!! Now I can look back on those trips and remember all the fun that we all had which is more than I can say about the years before we got the motor home! Have a great weekend!

Sylvia

christy rose said...

What a fun post to read! :)

magically ordinary said...

So funny because I would hire a driver first too! And then I would quickly hire a laundress as well.

ReformingGeek said...

I love reading your childhood memories. My dad also liked the early starts. Thanks for explaining why!

We had one of those station wagons, too.

I don't mind driving but Hubby prefers HIS driving and I don't mind not driving either.

Now, how to get my mom to do things......hum....singing.

lori said...

Your poor dad - I can relate! I used to do the same thing with my three hooligans. I took them on many a trip without another adult and always left at 4 and prayed for 2 hours of quiet until they wanted breakfast! When I'm old and refuse to take my meds, I wonder if they'll threaten me with a round of "stop touching me!" "mom, she's touching me!" "No, I'm not!" "Stop touching me!"

Lindzena said...

I despise driving too!! It doesn't put me to sleep though, I'm just way too over anxious. That's half the reason I ride the bus to campus every day. The other half is how cheap it is, and the fantastic people watching.

RawknRobynsGoneBlogWild said...

This was a great post, full of layers of fun. I totally relate to the driving thing and have been called the most boring passenger in the world, because I fall asleep right away. I'm also the worst driver in the world, so I hate driving. I know most of those annoying girl scout songs plus "Make new friends.." Yuck.
Cheers,
Robyn

Looking for Blue Sky said...

Give me a great car and I love driving! But perhaps not if I had to listen to the 'Fishy Song'- for those of us who've never heard it, should we go google it perhaps?

Teresa Evangeline said...

As Robyn said, "Layers of fun." Love this post. I miss my dad... :( If he were still here, I'd threaten him with the Camp Jim song. But, that's for one of my future blogs. I do love your blog. Always fun to read.

Joanie M said...

I remember my girls learning all those silly songs too. They LOVED camping! Gina camped with her troop but Dani went to a themed Girl Scout Camp 2 years running as well as camping with her troop.

Denise said...

What a great story. We had our long driving trips too and every time we went up a hill, my Dad would say "Okay, everyone lean forward" because we kids were told this helped the car make the long ascent. Yes we actually believed him.

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citymouse said...

I remember singing like that during long trips. My kids all have iPods plugged into their ears so we've been spared (?) that.

Hope your Dad is on the mend.

Elle said...

I love this post so much! It reminds me of the road trip my dad took my siblings and I on to visit my aunt in Connecticut. My sister and I didn't sleep at all the night before, because we were busy writing songs to sing in the car. Our favorite, by far, was "I have to pee," which was sung to the tune of "Carol of the Bells." I thought my dad was going to abandon us on the roadside somewhere along the way!

I have a couple awards for you on my blog!

suenosdeuomi said...

Amusing post and so well written. I do not relate, not to the falling asleep, the hating to drive or the family outings by car. I learned to drive in my thirties and it was so liberating and gave me an until then unknown freedom and mobility. I do relate to getting up way before sunrise to go on long road trips, the roads are so pleasantly empty and the excitement of what lies ahead seems palpable. And yes, long trips do require belting out songs with no holds barred.

Shannon E. Kennedy said...

Hey, I found you on Elle's site "A for effort B for Blog"
that was a fun read, but I couldn't have done it in a car, or on a plane, or in a boat - makes me nauseous.

Eternally Distracted said...

I absolutely LOVE driving... Mec has a driver. i just don't understand her and she doesn't understand me... but that's what a blog is for ;0)

Fingers crossed for that win!

Jessica said...

I have vision problems and cannot drive during certain times of the day, so my husband is stuck behind the wheel 80% of the time. I think because I do not drive very often, I'm a nervous driver.

Happy to see you have the ability to use the "Fishy Song" for good.

Boomer Pie said...

As a kid, our family station wagon had wood on the side, 6 kids and 2 adults packed into it along with a ton of vacation stuff. My mother never physically drove...only verbally. I wouldn't mind having a personal driver especially if he looked like that dude in your picture. Nice post!

Angie's Ad Lib said...

Oh, girlfriend that was hilarious! My Dad left at 4am too, but it was because he couldn't sleep; he was sooo ready for vacation every year. He'd catch a couple of hours and then we'd pile into our Ford Super Cab truck and sleep in our JAMMIES. (We'd change in the backseat when we got up.) :)

I can see my Dad's shoulder's slump too when he saw us stirring. One vacation we took our Aunt and Uncle. On that trip Aunt Ruth taught us "Running Bear"...a torturous song with catchy tune, hand motions and endless verses. We sang it every year after that. It became the vacation song.

My Dad got a great idea to pack up only the front part of the truck bed with our stuff and then let my brother and I camp out in the back for the full day trip to the Ozarks each year. In later years he has apologized for putting us back there. He exclaims, "If I had ever had an accident you and your brother would have been dead." No accident; no problem, Dad! We loved camping out! We'd honk at each trucker going by and a few passers-by even showed us Playboy centerfolds. Dad didn't know until the rest stop. :)

Your tale made me think of my own fond memories. Thanks for sharing them with us!

Jerry said...

Dare I admit that I prefer to start my car journeys at 4:00 a.m. It has to do with clear highways, no sun in the face, and piling on the miles before anyone else.

Of course, I enjoyed this immensely. I now wonder how tortured my father was with my sister and I as we ventured down the road in his station wagon. I do believe every family had a station wagon back then.

Traveliest said...

It would be great to have my own driver. But driving can be fun sometimes especially when there's no traffic and there's a nice music playing. :)

Rebecca D said...

I too dislike driving... strongly... I have to drive, and as the mom of teens I have to drive a lot... in fact, some days I feel like I'M their driver as they sit in the back seat and munch away on the snacks I prepared for the day so we wouldn't be tempted by fast food... I always thought I'd want a personal chef, but come to think of it...I kinda like cooking, but driving is something else... I think I'd like a driver too...

Sinful Southern Sweets said...

You're too funny! I believe your dad may have been awarded the same name that I have been tagged with, "Trip Nazi." LOL! I'm all about leaving at 4 am too. And yes, its absolutely to have a few hours of peace :)

Betty Manousos:cutand-dry.blogspot.com said...

I loved your story! I hate driving too.
Thanks so much for your wonderful comments!
Have a great week ahead!
Betty xx

Erin said...

HAHA! Great story! I have the sleepy car disease too. It's something about the gentle rocking and white noise of being in the car that lulls me right to sleep . . . I need a nap just thinking about it.

Momza said...

HI there! I am not sure how I got here but I'm glad I did! Hilarious story!! Love that you knew what to do for your dad...I bet he smiled too!

Shan said...

Just trying to get caught up here (sorry if I splash you while trying to keep my head above water).

This reminds me of several things... the trips we took in our RV; dad drove while my sister and I danced and sang in the aisle. Those were fun, and I don't think Dad minded because we were dancing to his music. And the trips with my ex-husband from California to Oklahoma. I could never stay awake on the way there, but always did about half the driving on the way back (and yet I will swear to this day that his family was lovely... I don't know what my deal was).

I hope your dad is still recovering well and that he's no longer in need of Fishy threats!

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