You can’t have Christmas without a little family drama now can you? This is a short/long version of events leading up to Christmas day. I say short/long because it’s greatly summarized, but still…have a seat.
The original travel plans: I get in on Friday night from NYC. I drop my mom off at the airport Saturday morning so she can get to Biloxi early to help my granny prepare for Sunday. I go to dinner Saturday night and Kim gets home later Saturday night from D.C. We then drive to Biloxi Sunday morning for a family Christmas potluck.
The best laid plans often go awry.
The reality: My mom is exhausted Saturday morning (because her social schedule is better than mine) so she never takes the flight. Meanwhile my uncle calls saying he needs a ride. Not to worry, Kim has a great plan! My mom and uncle will leave Saturday evening at 5 in my car and Kim and I will still leave Sunday morning in hers. Cool my mom says. My uncle comes over and the car is packed.
Then I come in.
“Mom you know that really great plan Kim had?” She’s walking and talking. “Yea?” “Who was it great for?” She stopped walking. “Robin,what?” “Never mind.” “What do you mean?” “Nothing.” “What?” “I’m just saying Kim’s plans are always great-for her. I’m the only one who is affected by the new plan, and now I’m without a car and I can’t go to dinner. And Kim still gets chauffeured there. Because guess who will have to wake up and drive her? Me. My mom really did look tired. I regretted saying it at all and I saw she felt bad. “It is really dumb to take two cars down there…” She asked my uncle what he thought. “Baby I’m on your nickel. Whatever you say goes.”
After texting, calling and polling the audience, Shyril Beck spoke. It usually takes her about ten seconds to make up her mind, but add a mother, her daughters and a Christmas dinner on the line and we had ourselves a dilemma. ” Okay. Robin, you’ll go to dinner with your friends. Me and Phillip will go eat and then when Kim comes we’ll pile in her car and go. Done. And come home when she texts you. All I need is for her to get here after driving 12 hours and you to still be in the streets.”
The last plan worked. I came home at 1:30.
My mom was tired from the week (and probably us) and Kim was tired from her drive so I drove with my Uncle P as the “co pilot”. We listened to music-everything from Luther to Taylor Swift, ate Kim’s salt and vinegar chips and talked about funny stories. I drove and drove and drove-until I swear I started hallucinating. “Uncle P I keep thinking I’m going to see someone walk out in front of the car like in Gothika.” “Baby, if you hit something keep going. We got this.” Eventually it started raining and the car was asleep, including my “co-pilot”. I was about to be too. The cones were turning into people. I was 3/4 exhausted and 1/4 terrified. When we got to Mobile I practically fell out of the car. “Y’all I’m hallucinating. I saw Gothika.” “Maybe you could have told us that before hour 5,” Kim said. “And I know what girl in the nightgown you’re talking about, but her name isn’t Gothika, the movie was called Gothika.” “Nobody is on that road but you baby,” said Uncle Phillip. “And I know y’all say I swerve, but I could always-” “I’ll drive,” interjected my mom. We made it in at 6 am.
In Biloxi we ate, wobbled and Kim and I lost money in the casino. Then we drove home.Rihanna was playing. My mom said, “Rihanna gets on my nerves.” Kim and I glanced at each other. “Why mom?” “She’s stupid.” “You told us to never say the word stupid.” “Yea, but she is.” “Anyone can be emotionally controlled. I could.” My uncle spoke. “No you couldn’t.” “Why not?” “Because you have a crazy uncle.” The car ride kept playing out like this. Things were going great. “Ok. Ok. Everybody, if you could be the best at anything what would it be? Anything at all!” Kim immediately put on her headphones. “A parent,” said my uncle. “I’d be the best parent.” I felt shallow for thinking of a talent. “Mom?” “Nothing.” “What do you mean nothing?” “I mean I don’t have to be the best at anything.” This game turned out to be boring.
Suddenly the car started shaking and we screamed in unison, pull over! When we did the back tire was shriveled up. Expletives flew. My uncle jumped out the car. Kim followed. My mom rolled her eyes. I was texting. My uncle couldn’t get the tire off with the jack. I called AAA. A police officer pulled over shortly after and he was as nice as he could be. “Y’all I’m going to stay right here behind you until somebody comes.” And I did see somebody coming. From the woods. Emerging from the darkness. My heart dropped. This it it, I thought. Gothika has found me. My mom saw them too. “Kim, get in the car,” my mom snapped. My uncle didn’t flinch. He later said, “baby, nothing scares me, but I was watching.” “Gothika,” I screamed. “Robin, shut up!” Kim screamed back. It turns out their car broke down some ways up. The officer left to help them. “Mannnn I’m not going to talk bad about police officers for a minute,” my uncle said. “Me neither.”
The man from AAA finally came and he put the spare on. Then we went to his tire shop. Then we went to McDonald’s. Then we drove home and talked about what we would do without a cellphone if we were stranded in the dark. Uncle P said he would sleep. I said I would get out the car. Kim said she would too. My mom said that was stupid. “Mom, don’t say that.” “They tell you not to get out the car. And Robin, who could you outrun? They found a man the other day dead in the snow.” “Well now you’re changing the scenario. I never said I’d walk in the snow.” And the car ride continued like this. “God is so good,” I said after a while. “Imagine if this happened to me and Kim without y’all.” My mom agreed and added “Jesus take the wheel.” My uncle wasn’t listening. He was busy talking to no one in particular about Halle Berry in Gothika. Kim put her headphones back in. “I came up with something.” “What mom?” “I’d be the best tire changer in the world.”