The Night the Full Moon Crashed into My House or Something Like That

Once, my sister Michelle (and my children) and I lived in Orlando.  My best friend Lora, who lives in Toronto, called and said she was going to a concert just outside of Boston a couple of  days later, and she wanted us to join her.

Well, it was too late to get plane tickets at a decent price, so Michelle and I decided to drive.  We left my kids at my Grandma’s house (which added two hours to our journey), then kept going from there.  All told, we drove the twenty-one hours to Boston straight through and got there the morning of the concert.  (We drank LOTS of caffeinated soda on the way, but with our singing, storytelling, and game-playing in the car, we usually don’t actually mind such long road trips!)

After the show, we partied with the band, didn’t get much sleep, and left the next day to drive back home.  Now, with my Asperger’s Syndrome, it’s impossible for me to sleep in a car, so on long trips, I usually do most of the driving.  Such was this trip.  Michelle also stayed awake to help make sure I stayed focused, so she, too, got little to no sleep during our adventure.  (Again, we drank lots of caffeine, sang, laughed, and played games to pass the time.)

We hit some bad weather, and our trip home took a little longer than we expected, so when we hit Orlando, we decided to just go home and pick up my children the next day. It was too late to call my Grandma, so I planned on calling her about getting the kids when I woke up.  We got to our house at roughly 2:30 AM on Saturday morning, we each went to our respective bedrooms, and we proceeded to pass out.  Neither of us set an alarm since we figured we’d be up in the early afternoon.

When I finally woke, the house was dark.  It was 6:30 in the evening!  I couldn’t believe I had slept sixteen hours!  Furthermore, I couldn’t believe that Michelle was still asleep!  I went to the kitchen and played the answering machine before I took a shower.  There was a message from my brother Chris.  He told me that his grandfather died.

So, I decided to call Chris and give him my condolences before the shower.  He answered the phone on the third ring.  “Hello?”  He sounded as if he’d been crying.  It was understandable.  I tried to talk to him, but he hurried me off the phone and said he’d have to call me later.  I thought it was a little rude, but then I dismissed it due to his loss and went about taking my shower.

When I got out of the bathroom, Michelle was still asleep.  So, I turned on the television and my computer, then I started to catch up on my email.  However, as I worked, a creepy feeling came over me.  Instead of the light outside getting darker with the sunset, it started getting brighter!  I suddenly had the unnatural fear that the full moon was coming closer to earth and would soon be crashing into my house!

The windows in my room were blacked out (because I like to sleep in a cave without even the light from my alarm clock to illuminate things), so admittedly, even in the middle of day, I could only see a thin line of sun pouring in through the edges of the window.  But I started feeling chills as if it were the end of the world and everybody forgot to tell me.

So, I ran to Michelle’s room and woke her.  It was nearly 8:00 by then.  And after I told her all that had happened, she panicked, too, until we finally thought to look at the date and time on the computer.  Yes, you probably already guessed it…  It was not 6:30 PM on Saturday night when I woke up.  It was 6:30 AM on Sunday morning!

I had slept twenty-eight hours in a row!  (And my sister slept an hour and a half longer than that!) 

No wonder Chris was so rude to me when I called!  Even the times I’ve had mono, I’ve never slept that long!

So tell me: Have you ever feared you slept through the Apocalypse?  Have you ever felt the planets came unaligned?  Have you ever called someone at an inappropriate hour and then had them give you a rude greeting?  Would you have driven from Florida to Massachusetts without stopping for the night?  What’s the longest you’ve ever slept?

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Happy Birthday, Lucille Ball!

As you know, I like to acknowledge the birthdays of my favorite authors.  And anyone who knows me well, knows that I love classic TV and “I Love Lucy!”  You probably know that Lucy was the queen of comedy, but what you may not know is that Lucille Ball was also an author.  She penned her autobiography Love, Lucy which covers her life through 1964.  It was discovered by her children in 1989.

Lucille Ball was born on August 6, 1911 in Jamestown, New York.  She died on April 26, 1989 from an aortic aneurysm.

Happy Birthday, Lucy!

And in keeping with my theme this month of humorous anecdotes, I’ll share the story of what happened when my kids and my sister and I took a trip to Jamestown to visit the Lucy Desi Museum.  My daughter Stefani was ten at the time, and she loved Lucy almost as much as I did.  We were actually celebrating Stefani’s birthday on our trip.  Upstate New York is filled with mountains and rolling hills, and coming from flat Florida, it was a big change when we moved there.

On our way to the museum, I was driving, my sister Michelle was the front passenger, and Stefani and Jeremy were in the back.  We went over a couple of small hills, then finally over a big hill, and on our way down, Stefani screamed at the top of her lungs, “STOP!”

I jumped and slammed on the brakes, and we skidded to a stop.  We nearly ran off the road as the smell of burnt rubber burned our noses. We all turned to look at my daughter.  My heart was beating a mile a minute.  “What is it?” I asked as I tried to catch my breath.

She pointed in between the seats out the front window and very calmly said, “I didn’t want you to hit that bunny.”  (The rabbit that was taking its time crossing the road was still a good 200 feet in front of the car!)

Talk to me: Have you ever braked to avoid hitting an animal in the road?  Have you ever had someone yell in your ear while you were driving?  Do you love Lucy, too?

The Signs Are There

For Today’s Throwback Thursday and our last day of Pet Peeve Month, I’d like to share a story about my final pet peeve: misleading signs.  I can’t stand how many road signs are deceiving.  It reminds me of the song “Signs” by Tesla.  (Okay, it was originally by Five Man Electric Band, but I don’t know that version, or even that band for that matter, plus I think the remake sounds much better, so I’ll stick to the Tesla version, thank you.)

I know this TBT is long, but I think it’s funny enough that you won’t mind once you get to the end.)  One time my sister Michelle and I were torn between two concerts.  We had friends in both bands, and we wanted to see them both.  One show was in the afternoon on Jones Beach in Long Island, New York, and the other was late that night at Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut.  So we decided to do both.

We got to Jones Beach early, and the weather was perfect for an outdoor show.  We had a lot of fun, but the moment the show was over, we said some quick goodbyes and had to book it if we were going to make it to Foxwoods in time for our next event.  My sister drove my car, and I had the map to navigate.  Now, the driving time between these two locations is three to three and a half hours, depending on which route you take and if the weather is good, so our plan was doable.

However, as soon as we crossed over the L.I.E. (Long Island Expressway), the sky turned black and opened up.  Not only was the rain so bad, you could hardly see the front of your own car, but it was hailing as well.  The 5:00 PM sky was so dark, it might as well have been midnight.  Traffic came screeching to a halt or at least a snail’s pace, and there was no end in sight to the bad weather.  Of course, we panicked that we wouldn’t make the next show on time.  And it was at that exact moment that in the midst of all the mayhem, one of the windshield wipers flung off my car and onto the interstate somewhere!  So, as we crawled along, I climbed out my window and had to flip the empty wiper arm up so that it wouldn’t scrape up the window.  (Of course I got soaked.)

This was the in days before GPS, and cellphones still weren’t very popular yet, so there was no way for us to locate a store that might have replacement wipers other than getting off at each exit and exploring the area.  So, we made the executive decision to forge forward without the wiper.  It wasn’t as if we could see any better even when it was on, anyway.

Finally, somewhere between Stamford and Bridgeport, the rain let up to a light drizzle.  Even though it was dry in the car, we felt like drown rats by this time (especially me since I was soaking wet).  It was after 10:00 PM, and we still had more than an hour to go, and we missed the beginning of the show.  We decided to try to find a restroom and freshen up, then we figured we’d hook up with the band after the show and visit with them then, even if we missed seeing them play.  Plus, Michelle was tired of driving and wanted me to take over.

So, with our new plan in action, we felt a little better mentally, and we began looking for an exit.  Unfortunately, in a lot of the New England states, the towns roll up their carpets and go to bed at 10:00 PM (or earlier), so our choices were rather limited.  It seemed like an eternity, though I’m sure it wasn’t, when somewhere near New Haven , we saw a sign for a “24-Hour Dunkin’ Donuts – This Exit.”   So, of course we took “this exit” and followed the arrows that said “This Way to Dunkin’ Donuts.”  We ended up along one of those frontage roads — you know — the kind that’s a two-lane rural street that runs parallel to the interstate.

But there was no Dunkin’ Donuts in sight!  In fact, there were no signs of life anywhere along the dark road.  We could clearly see the interstate beside us , but there wasn’t even an entrance to get back to it.  During our search, the rain picked back up, and our speed slowed to about 20 MPH.  As Michelle attempted to see through the blackness of night, I watched the interstate and noticed that the next seven exits all had signs that said “24-Hour Dunkin’ Donuts – This Exit.”

We were flummoxed.  We didn’t understand how we could’ve possibly passed more than eight Dunkin’ Donuts on the desolate road.  Yet the signs on our road kept instructing us that we were indeed headed toward “This Way to Dunkin’ Donuts.”

Then like a beacon in the darkness, after more than forty-five minutes since we exited, we saw the neon orange and pink DD logo up ahead.  Of course we both had to pee like racehorses by then (I apologize for the TMI moment here, but I wanted you to get a good feel for what we were dealing with), and we couldn’t get there quickly enough.  However as we got to the “restaurant” (Okay, not technically a restaurant… “Shop” perhaps?), the rain was coming down quite hard, and we couldn’t see the entrance which was on the left side of the road.

A few seconds later, and we realized that we’d apparently passed the parking lot, and we looked for a way to turn around.  There were no crossroads in sight, and while our side of the road was nearly desolate, the oncoming line of traffic on the left side was bumper to bumper.

I have no idea why my sister did what she did next, but she turned into someone’s driveway on the right.  “What are you doing?” I asked her.

“I’m turning around,” she said.

“You can’t turn around here.  Look at that traffic.  We can’t back up into that,” I said.

She looked over her shoulder and realized I was right, so she faced forward, threw the car into drive, and sped forward!    I was mortified!

As you can imagine, the lights in the house went on as we drove down the long driveway and into the people’s back yard!  “What are you doing?” I screamed.  “You’re going to get us arrested!”

(As a side note, I’m cracking up laughing so hard even as I type this, that I keep having to take a break!)

She said, “I thought the driveway would have a turnaround at the end.”  (It did not.)

We had to do a three-point turn, which actually ended up being more like a seven point turn (so we wouldn’t run off into the grass and either tear up their yard or get stuck in the mud!), at the end of the driveway which ended at a carport well into the back yard of these people’s house.  The people ran outside with umbrellas and pajamas on and were screaming at us and flailing their arms.  We tried to haul butt out of there, but of course, when we got to the end of their driveway, we couldn’t turn left because there was still so much oncoming traffic.  So we had to turn right and travel a few more miles before we found a crossroad where we could turn around and go back.  We were laughing so hard by this point, that we definitely needed that restroom soon or our bladders would burst.

When we finally made it to the Dunkin’ Donuts, as we pulled into the parking lot, they turned off the light and put up a sign in the window that said they were out of donut flour and would reopen the next day.

Bwaaahaahaaa!  No, I’m totally kidding, that didn’t happen.  (But I bet that’s where you thought I was headed, right?)  When we finally made it there, we used the facilities, ordered some hot chocolate, and asked how it was that we exited where we did, yet we missed over eight more stores on the way.

The cashier told us, “You didn’t miss eight stores.  All those interstate exits lead here.”

I’m sure we looked as stupefied as we felt, but now do you see why I hate misleading signs?

So tell me, was this worth the long read?  Did I cover your pet peeve this month?  Would you like me to do another pet peeve month sometime before next year?  Do you have a tale of looking for a rest stop long after the city went to bed?  What’s the funniest traffic or driving malfunction you’ve ever been in?  (By the way, this was NOT the funniest thing that’s ever happened when my sister and I were on the road.)  What was your favorite pet peeve this month?

Look Out!

I already know that I’m walking on thin ice with today’s pet peeve.  But please hear me out before you get angry.  One thing that irritates me on the road is when I see a motorcyclist with a “Look Out For Motorcycles” sticker…  Wait!  Let me finish!… and that same motorcycle is weaving in and out of traffic!

Unlike when I lived in New York and motorcyclists only cycled a few months out of the year, down here in Florida, there’s never a time that motorcycles are not prevalent.  And at least four times a week, if not more often, I witness motorcycles speeding, whipping around cars, passing two lanes by driving on the yellow line, riding on the shoulder when traffic is otherwise stalled, or commencing in any number of other unsafe activities.

Believe me, I’m all about safe driving.  I’ve shared with you before, when I was a paralegal, it was my job to catalog and file the most gory accident photos, so I’m quite familiar with how horrific carelessness can be.  Additionally, I’ve personally known people who have died on motorcycles.  However motorcycle drivers need to use caution as well.  Some people might even go as far as to say that the cyclist chose to ride a dangerous vehicle, so they knew the potential for risks when they signed on.  I’m not even saying that.  But I feel like the inordinate amount of stickers that warn auto drivers to look out for them is supposed to let the cyclist off the hook if there’s an accident.

Once when I was seventeen, I was driving somewhere, roughly 30 miles away.  I had to take the interstate to get there.  My car at the time was a Dodge Charger, and it had locks that were in the middle of each door and twisted rather than the kind that stuck up out of the door and you pushed down.  You also could not lock the passenger door by simply pushing a button on the driver’s door.

I was driving roughly 60 MPH along the interstate, minding my own business, when I happened to look in the rear view mirror and saw a motorcycle weaving in and out of cars behind me.  The driver (who I would guess was near 30) was beating on car windows as he passed people, and laughing wildly.  Something in me told me to lock my doors NOW!  I had a difficult time reaching over and locking the passenger door and rolling the window up (manually) as I drove, but no more than two seconds after I got the door locked and the window up, the motorcyclist sped up to my car.  He looked in and started beating on the passenger’s window.  I screamed which caused him to laugh wildly.

He stayed with me like glue for over five minutes, beating on my window and yelling and laughing at me.  I was terrified!  A couple of times he tried yanking on the door handle to get it open.  Thank God I locked it!  I tried slowing way down, but he just slowed with me, literally hanging on to the side of my car and laughing the entire time.  I tried speeding way up to the point I felt as if I would soon lose control of the car.  I looked in the rear view, and the cars behind me had all slowed way down (I’m sure to stay away from this dangerous jerk!) and were nowhere near me any longer.  Of course this was the late 80s (a/k/a/ the old days before cell phones), so there was no way I could summon help.  I was crying and screaming hysterically the entire time, and I think that just made the dude more intent on terrorizing me further.

At one point, we went over an overpass, and I actually considered swerving and forcing him over the side, which could have killed him, and frankly could have injured me as well.  I’ve been in other dangerous situations both before and after this incident, but there has never been another time when I actually seriously considered taking another human life.  But despite being so scared, I at least had enough sense to realize something:  I knew if I did that, I’d have to stop and wait for the police, and that if by chance he wasn’t dead but only injured, he would likely kill me with his bare hands while I waited.

So as I screamed and tried to maintain control of my car, it was a full six minutes before he got tired of me and rode up to the car in front of me and bullied them.  My whole body shook as I tried to calm myself down enough to get to where I was going because there was no way I was going to pull over long enough to regain my composure.  So I maintained a steady speed and tried to suck back all my tears, and I witnessed the maniacal motorcyclist reach in the window of yet another car and pull out a woman’s purse and hold it triumphantly over his head before he sped off yet again.

Ever since that day, I never got into my car without first locking the doors, and of course, nowadays cars automatically lock when you reach 10 MPH. (And speaking of that, maybe someday I’ll tell you about one or both of the times someone has forced their way into my vehicle, which were also terrifying.)  But at any rate, yeah, every time I see a “Look Out For Motorcycles” sign or sticker, and/or I see cyclists weaving in and out of traffic, I relive that horrendous experience in my head, and it makes me angry with the irresponsible motorcycle drivers who act like they’re impervious to the law as well as the rules of the road and proper driving etiquette.

So to be clear, I have absolutely no problem with motorcycles and cyclists… who obey the same traffic laws that I do.  And, yes, I will look out for them.  But they also need to look out for themselves.

Talk to me:  Do you ride a motorcycle?  If so, do you obey traffic laws when you ride?  Have you ever witnessed a motorcyclist doing anything like what I described above as far as messing with cars?  What would you have done if you were me?