Imma take a break from ranting and tell a story, is that cool with you?
Fortunately, I lead a life where I usually do not have to get up at six every morning. I don’t call myself a morning person but I still like to get up early and give myself a couple of hours before starting the day. I value my sleep so I don’t usually go out late at night or stay up too late. It’s not easy to do but I think of emerging from a great night’s sleep is one of life’s greatest simple pleasures. Did I mention that I’m fresh out of college, underemployed, and living at home?
Lately, my usually undemanding and unintrusive employer where I mentor autistic adults had asked that I attend an orientation and a CPR/First Aid training class. They were both all day long starting at nine in the morning and happened on days that were back to back. Given the two hours that I like to give myself in the morning and the hour-long commute, this meant that I had to get up at six. For reasons that I cannot remember, possibly because I was trying to catch up on Invader Zim, I couldn’t get enough sleep, so I arrived at these classes tired, unenthusiastic, and disengaged. I probably ended up not learning how to calm down an autistic person when he gets pent up over something.
Those two days also happened to be the last two days that I was in New York City before heading down to Beaufort, North Carolina for a week to attend the wedding of my father’s god-daughter (by the way, they’re French, not the Italian mafia). I was going in the car with my father, my stepmother, my cousin, and her boyfriend for a 14-hour drive. I also had to get up at six but since my father turned 60 the day before, I was reluctantly up until one in the morning celebrating and generally being hedonistic at some pseudo-French restaurant in Williamsburg. I went to bed bordering on drunkenness and still unpacked.
The packing scenario the next morning was a blur to me but I thought I had everything packed. Up until we left at ten (we were planning on leaving at eight), I randomly remembered things that I forgot to pack, usually little things like cigarettes, which I only bring when I anticipate boredom or downtime (as everyone knows, cigarettes turn a sad sack with no friends into a philosopher). After we finally left, one hour into the trip, I suddenly realized that I forgot my toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and cologne.
Because of this, I was slightly apprehensive throughout the 14-hour ride. A whole week without essential bodily cleaning supplies is a strange thought for a privileged yet economically incapacitated 20-something. And I thought I packed everything. I actually considered telling everyone in the car but even I doubted myself. I barely remember packing my shoes but I know I packed my shoes. Also, I didn’t want to look like an absent-minded dolt, since I was doing a lot of last minute packing throughout the morning. I like to think that I don’t care what people think but I kinda do care.
While everyone else was in the car having a good time and laughing over the trivial pleasures of life, I was plotting how to get my hands on a toothbrush and some toothpaste. In summary, my amazing plan was to hope that one of our rest stops had a toothbrush and some toothpaste available. Deodorant was optional. I did see a toothbrush on the street on the way and thought, “well, that solves the toothbrush dilemma. All I have to do is borrow toothpaste from someone and I’ll be set.” The problem was, I saw this toothbrush while we were going 70 mph on the highway so it wasn’t like I could just get out of the car and pick it up.
In a vain attempt to get the toiletries off my mind, I channeled my inner OCD patient and started counting cars on the opposite side of the highway. I like multiples of three and Fibonacci numbers and I strongly prefer multiples of 12 and anything that equals 2n, n being any number. I got to 17 before hitting a long stretch. Oh, God. 17. Then six more cars passed. 23.
Somewhere between two and three hours into the trip, my father gave me some fatherly advice: “Son, a wedding is the place to get laid. Love is in the air and…” I tuned out, occupying myself with the thought that I won’t get laid on this trip because I left my toiletries at home. The smell of coffee breath will be free to build up over the course of a week. I hoped that there would be a cute girl who has a fetish for guys with coffee breath and yellow teeth while acknowledging that this wish is absurd, self-serving, self-destructive, and unjustifiably apologetic of bad hygiene.
Back to counting cars. 31. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is not happy with me.
Next, I tried reading Oryx & Crake. I got to a part where Oryx wanted to order pizza. At the same time, there was a conversation in the car where Starbucks was mentioned. For a quick second, I thought Oryx wanted to order pizza from Starbucks.
Counting cars again. 37. I have an esoteric hatred for prime numbers that are not Fibonacci numbers. Don’t cross me if I wake up to seven emails in my inbox instead of six.
On the way, we came across a town in Virginia called Dumfries. I encounter the sign name while stuck in a traffic jam so the sign was staring me in the face for about 15 minutes. Dumfries. Dumfries. I stifled my laughter lest my family thought I had the sense of humor of an eight-year-old. College graduates with Latin honors are above that kind of humor! They didn’t seem to notice the name. I mean, come on. Dumfries. It sounds like an affectionate nickname that a member of the mafia or Moe the Bartender would throw around. “Ey, dumfries! Git ova here.” My father thought ‘Spotsylvania’ was funnier.
Okay, let’s try the cars again. 43… Wait, 44, 45, 46… 47…… 48! Wait, do motorcycles count? I decided they didn’t because I’ve become a masochist at this point and I’m enjoying it.
We finally get to the house. It’s close to midnight. I run inside with my bags. I open my travel bag. The toiletries were there but I had forgotten a decent belt for my suit pants. I’m definitely not getting laid this trip. Fuck it, I’m going to bed.