You know how your hands start automatically sweating when someone you barely know hands you their car keys and says, “And ya know, if something happens, just remember–it’s just a car”? You let a little chuckle escape your lips and wave the thought away with a suave one-handed gesture like nothing could ever happen, but inside you secretly think, “Shoot. He’s right. Something could happen and this isn’t my car!” You reassure the car owner, even declining to accept the extra set of keys as if carrying them on your person would in some way implicate you or insinuate that you are, in fact, worried about locking the original set in the car. Or losing them in a swamp.
Now I’m not saying this happened to me per se, but it may or may not have happened to “someone” during our Washington vacation. Let me set the scene for you. (Turn on some scary music while you read to really get the full effect.)
It was a dark and stormy night on Plum Street
It was a wickedly hot day in the dessert. The sun beat down mercilessly overhead. You’d buy milk at the gas station and have cottage cheese by the time you got home. The pavement was melting and so was my make-up.
To combat such misery, our gang of 11 souls piled in two vehicles and headed down to the local “lake” (see the photos and decided for yourself on that one.) We parked our cars and fled to the shoreline seeking the relief of cool water. On the way down to the beach area there was an alleged interaction by two parties who shall remain anonymous to protect their identity. During said interaction, keys were passed and the parties separated: one back to the vehicle and one back to children and Cheese-Its and sunblock.
After a full day of canoeing, fishing, applying lotion, eating, peeing in weeds (who really needs modern plumbing when you can stand in the comfort of grass and burrs next to tatooed men? Talk about over-rated!). Anyway, you get the picture. We were ready to pack it in. The kids were blissful as ever, but we didn’t want to show up at church missing a layer of skin, unable to walk for the sunburn.
We gathered the cooler, tossed the life jackets in our totes, closed the umbrellas and waddled up the 45 degree-angle boat-launching area that emptied into the parking lot. As we huffed and puffed up the steep incline, sweating again in the flood of new heat, the Key Person (KP) searched for the instruments of escape. A look of dread washed over KP’s face and his body froze.
“Did you check your pockets?” Our friend yelled, mouth stretching into a smirk.
“Very funny!!” KP shouted back.
Seriously! Where could those blasted things be?! We abandoned our plans to leave and dragged the kids back down the incline (which I hear they’re using this winter as a downhill ski jump) and to the miles of sandy beaches in search of the keys.
We looked under rocks. We unpacked our gear. Three times. We checked the canoe. We checked the kids. And their diapers. We looked in the other vehicle.
And we did it again. And again. Until we had been looking for about an hour and a half. (Kids: not so blissful now.)
I won’t say that things got R-rated at this point, but there may have been some potty talk from KP. We stood on the shore and recounted the events of the day. What did we do first? Then what? Did you see them on the towel? We wrung our hands and looked at the lake.
Oh my word. The lake.
They had to be there! They must have fallen out of a pocket or the canoe (a-hem) or a pelican swooped down and and stole them as a prize catch (cough).
At this point, we decided that nothing could be done, so we summoned our inner gypsies and all piled in the other vehicle–yes, 11 people in one vehicle. (Don’t tell.) I contemplated strapping myself to the luggage rack, but the bungee cords would have been brutal on my sunburn. Instead, I was nice and cozy on the floor between two bucket seats, staring at the lovely craftsmanship of the gray…interior of the van and smelling the feet of the kid next to me. It’s a good thing I’m so petite or I never would have fit.
When we got home, we all looked at each other, half wanting to puke, half wanting to laugh.
“It’s just a car, right?” our friend chided. “Just tell him that when you call him and ask him to FedEx the spare keys.”
Very funny. The call was made by KP and we were all there to help him scrape the egg off his face.
“I think I offered you the spares when you left here, didn’t I?” Our generous car-lender said.
What can you say? You could lose a UFO in that lake–or Las Vegas for that matter- -and never see the lights twinkling and flashing again. How could we ever dream of finding those doggone keys amid the sooty muck and mossy stones, under seaweed and minnows?
Oh well. It could be worse.
We could have hair growing on our tongues or chronic gingivitis or saggy earlobes.
Instead, it’s just a car.