My head whirled at the thought… I wanted to punt her out of the car, onto the interstate watching the body crackle and slap across the blacktop. A dormant satisfaction at the thought that I… Terry Jones was successful in taking out my annoying tyrant of an aunt. I gave myself personal badges of valor, courage and charisma. Unfortunately, daydreams suck real hard when being whip lashed back to reality. She demanded something of me, so being the attentive great nephew that I was I unequipped my earphones.
“ What book is that you’re reading?” she inquired. I had forgotten that I held a book, let alone a page. My finger was saving it for later I suppose.
“ All the Other Robots by Isaac Asimov,” I replied autonomously.
“ Oh.” she responded. Waste…of…my…time I thought as I watched my hand twitch repetitively. It must have been my face because not even two seconds later my mom whirled around from the passenger seat of the van. She flashed a concerned smile.
“ You okay back there Terry?”
“ Fine,” I replied sarcastically, cutting my eyes over to my aunt, pursing my lips. She must have felt my presence as she had shifted her eyes with mine. I slashed them back to my mother before she seared her image into my sockets. I couldn’t help looking at my mother pleadingly to get me out. Never in my life had I had such an intense urge to brutally bludgeon or murderously mangle from existence anyone. No one quite like my Aunt Helena. We have to go back three very lengthy and arduous days to get the reasoning behind my madness.
We planned a family vacation, set for departure to Memphis, Tennessee. Eight hours it took, including the time we had to stop and pick up my sister in Louisville, but time whizzes past when you sleep in whole backseat of a comfy rental van. A luxury I had enjoyed until we arrived at the hotel, when I was informed that my Aunt Helena from Florida had decided to invite herself to our excursion, along with my cousin Marissa. My fantasy of eating tender, saucy barbecue and enjoying melodious blues was ruined along with my mother and sister’s. It seemed that my grandfather and my Aunt Eve did not falter at the announcement of her arrival. It was safe to assume that they both knew before hand that we were in for a weekend of complaints since she was invited. I made my way from the cobalt van tapping on my shoes wondering if a restroom was near the door, and by Jove I run into my Aunt Helena already registering in her room.
“ Where’s everyone else?” she interrogated. The rest of our herd was following behind slowly, carrying all our bags.
“ You could have grabbed a bag Terry,” my mother strained, carrying my “light” duffle bag
“ This weighs a ton,” she said lifting it off to me. I of course dropped the bag at her feet informing her that I needed to find a restroom. I followed my sister for a moment only for her to lead me to the women’s restroom. My mother pointed a stray hand and at a sign reading the direction of my relief.
“ It helps to read things sometimes,” Aunt Helena replied insultingly, my keys jangled as I walked away towards the lavatory. I wanted to tell her quite frankly to shove her two cents down her throat, but I washed away that thought along with my hands. It seemed that when I returned our rooms had been assigned and I was so unfortunate as to have her on a completely different wing. My grandfather took the key and limped to our room, as I followed behind him to our suite. We had to return not even fifteen minutes later because our toilet was out of commission and we were assigned to one even closer to the entrance. We all spent a moment cooling off our spaces, as they were quite thick in humidity. Bearing it no longer we left hoping our rooms would be cooler if we returned later, ready to welcome our beds with open arms. A hop, skip and a GPS away we had found our destination to be cuisine oriented.
Technically, we were in Mississippi arriving at our first barbecue joint, not even fifteen minutes from the hotel. Entering the building we were anticipating a near hand and foot calling from a nice family owned restaurant. That was indeed not the case as our server snapped,” How can I help you?” we all retracted our necks at the hissing of our waitress.
“ Seven please,” my mom quipped, as she was the quickest to recover. We were seated and drinks were distributed quite swiftly throughout the table.
“So what are you…um…doing?” Helena inquired as she sized me up with a speedy glance. I was indeed quite chunky (putting it quite mildly) with a slight mammalian condition (again putting it mildly).
“ Track. Shot put and discus.” I answered simply. I was adapting to working with single word answers to her questions.
“Oh, well my daughter threw while she was in high school, she also did soccer did you know she did soccer?” she retorted. How could we not have known about her and soccer she mentioned all the time when I was younger. She was Tristan, part of a Gemini with her brother Tracy who was in the simplest terms very tall, athletic kids. Lauded for any sport they participated in, attention was always magnetized to them. Pretty soon I thought of this and tuned her out to watch news and to have my eyes deviously burrow into the top of my cousin’s dress. Our food arrived and we sampled some of the South’s best meal, ribs and were introduced to the scandalously greasy Memphis cuisine. We left feeling like nodding Weeble-Wobbles in our rental, searching for a place to walk around before resting our bones in a mellifluous bed. However it was impossible to get sleep as I awoke with my A-shirt drenched in sweat, only to find that me and my grandfather’s suite was set at a scorching eighty-one degrees. That and airplanes crept through the air as sonic booms were only a mile away. Moving on to the next morning.
When I woke up the next morning my grandfather had already run into the showers and had his legs in his pants before I even fathomed the thought of getting out of bed. A rapping at our hotel door had moved me from the bed. I peeked my head out to find it was my Aunt Helena and Eve.
“You aren’t dressed yet?” they both muttered in unison, as I responded with a quick no and ran into the shower. I slipped into a new purple shirt my Aunt Eve had purchased for me the evening before at a nearby Wal-Mart. A near ultraviolet tee that glowed on any object I was near, including skin, as we would bake in the sun for the next six hours. While baking and flipping over we mad it to the infamous (according to blues history) Beale Street. The homeless and the buzzed (at ten thirty in the morning) had given us five different directions before finding the museum we were looking for. Our tummies at the same time had not been satisfied, so we wrangled up our crew and headed up Beale Street before the tour started to find a restaurant named Molly’s. We came in and the first thing our server asked is,” What do you want and how may I help you?” in that order. The group sat at the table as blues stars like Howlin’ Wolf and Aretha Franklin streamed across the tables in mini vigils. For the first time in my life waffles had too much butter on them, a teeming glob of butter all over my single pan sized waffle. I swatted it off and proceeded with my meal, before we embarked on our tour.
The tour unfortunately did not go well for me or my sister, as our curator after asking about a couple of older artist that by lot me and my sister had heard of assumed we were know it alls. The whole tour she would ask little trivia questions like a game show or something. I must have raked in a cool twenty points and lost a whole eighty trying to answer her questions. Interrogatively she tested me over something she had just mentioned and things I was supposed to know. How the hell was I supposed to know the founder of St. Jude’s Hospital was Catholic or that the guy who brought Memphis back to the map was shot in the head? Your guess was probably as bad as mine; I just tuned it out and miraculously tuned in when the questioned was spewed. I simply answered; “Sure,” I didn’t care anymore. The tour bus itself made me want to take a shower and put on a HazMat suit it was so dirty. Cushions puffing out of holes and a curious little light bulb that was filled with a mysterious amber liquid gave me an even more unsanitary feeling. It chilled me to know that it was wriggling right above my grandfather’s head and I was hoping that it didn’t burst over his head.
After the excruciatingly informational day with the tour company, we made our way to what was supposed to be the highlight of our trip. The Memphis Barbecue Festival was not what we expected at all. We wanted to masticate until our bellies popped from pork parts. Instead we got to see all the competing restaurants and their families eat and drink alcohol. We got some headache medicine and some coupons out of it, but our dream was shattered again into microscopic pieces. We left and made the trek to our vehicle to return to our sleeping quarters.
The next morning we made our way to a boat ride, which was also chock full of vitamins and historical minerals about the infamous waterway to Mississippi. A couple of sandbars and soft shelled turtle later we were making our way to Tunica, a farmland area with a Harrah’s smack dab in the middle. This is also one of the more embarrassing things to happen to my sister and me. The guards at the door took a look at my sister and took a look at me like we were felons, preparing to kick us out. They were kind enough to give us fluorescent yellow bands that read: under twenty-one. I played around with the thought, as we had to go through the game floor to get to Paula Deen’s buffet. I threw my arms up and mouthed wildly: Oh my God I’m on fire! Yes I did just say a buffet of Paula Deen, filled with the most scrumptious items you felt like a pig at the salad bar. I made it to plate two before my conscience kicked in and said, “ What will your trainer think? Huh Mr. Jones?” The thought of this clinched the gate of stomach to that of a sane eater, as I ended my meal quite abruptly. Though the hoecakes were quite a hard habit to break. I ran back to the thought of my trainer to curb my urge for more.
The kid’s area was set up to blockade small, sticky toddlers and tots and keep the older ones in the arcade. The selection was mediocre, yet somehow I was beckoned to play every game I could in an hour and a half. Our visit was cut short when my Aunt Helena complained that she was ready to leave. Being the buzz kill for the evening she offered to drive, but wouldn’t leave until she knew where we were going. We have a freaking GPS! I thought, melting her face with my mind.
I was ready to leave on this final day as I was dressed and ready before my grandfather this morning. But I hadn’t got the memo that we were meeting for breakfast at the hotel and I was the last to arrive. Mother, sister and myself were stuffed onto one side while the rest were evenly distributed on the other.
“Well y’all are some big folks, you guys look stacked over there.” I walked up to the bar as my Aunt Eve had instructed after I had arrived. I had forgotten them completely after Aunt Helena made a comment about my shirt.
“Oh how very artsy that superhero shirt fits you, fits you very well.” She snapped before guzzling down some more steaming coffee.
“ Sure that’s what it is, thanks.” I retorted sharply pursing my lips ever so slightly.
“ Why do you always got your nose in the air like something’s wrong all the time you and your sister,” I receded into my mind for a quick conference of what to tell in response to that. She was being (lack for better word) a wench, a closed minded persnickety little wench. I would have loved to shove that whole dollar worth of comments down her throat and watch her gag. I wiped my eyebrow and just reached for my sketchbook before everyone else’s food arrived. I sighed and began drawing the salt and peppershakers at the table.
“ Oh you can just keep yourself entertained for hours can’t you and that little notebook. I know somebody that draws too…but I’m sure you can stay entertained with your own imaginings cant you.” At that point I had given up there was no way to satisfying her, so I just ignored her the rest of the day bringing me where I started when she annoyed me with her frivolous inquiry. We shipped her and my cousin on a plane back to Florida and headed back north. We hugged like family members do, and sent them on their way. Good riddance, for a second there I felt like I was about to kill her.
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