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Out of Bounds By Geary Leason

The Smedleys Hit the Road

It is that time of the year when Leon and Myrna Smedley, longtime resident Geezers in our retirement community, make their annual pilgrimage North to visit their only offspring and her husband and their three offsprings. Leon regards this yearly trek in the same light as visiting his proctologist, anticipating the frequent aggravation that always unfolds in these journeys. Myrna, on the other hand, sees these trips as the highlight of her year, giving her an opportunity to listen to someone else besides His Highness, Mr. Know-It-All.

The following is Leon’s account of their trip: “Right off the bat, the cost of taking these two week trips starts running like a New York City Cab meter. For starters, our precious Beagle, Abigail, is dropped off at Maude Fricket’s Pet Motel at $35 per diem, not including food and treats. (Cost 14 X $35 = $490 plus food charges). Since our cat, Rufus, refuses to go to anyone’s home or kennel, we need a “Catsitter,” someone who will drop in twice a day to empty the litter box and lay out some food. This service cost $20 per day times 14 equals another $280 out the door and we haven’t even left yet!

Some additional expenses added to the cost pile are new tires for our 1998 Ford Crown Victoria plus lube job, $590. I hire a local lawn guy for $150 to keep our garden watered. I arrange for a neighbor’s young daughter to water our house plants, $75. (I can’t trust her to do the cat. If the plants die, we can live with it; if the cat would perish, Myrna would make sure that I did too!)

We are finally good to go, heading for Rugby, North Dakota which is about fifty miles east of Minot, which is about a hundred miles from nowhere. Our daughter, Marybeth, lives there with her husband, Leigh (pronounced Lay) Z. Bhum, and their three teenage sons, Kalm, 13, Klayton, 15, and Krafty, 18. Since Rugby is approximately 1150 miles from FFB, this trip will require two nights stay in motels along the way, costing about $85 per night. The food and snack costs run much higher than the lodging expenses as Myrna is the designated hitter when it comes to eating. (Her size, full figured, is the reason we bought the Crown Vic as it was the only sedan that she could fit into comfortably).

We arrive in the afternoon on day three of the journey pulling in to the driveway of a very modest wood framed tract house, set on a small lot overgrown with weeds, junk and garbage strewn everywhere. (For a minute I thought I we were still in Arkansas). To say the least, our daughter had some bad luck in choosing her lifemate, as it was learned early on in their marriage that Leigh, the husband, my son-in-law!, had a history of severe crippling allergies. He was allergic to work! And he was incurably allergic to non-alcoholic beverages! He also had a weight problem so bad that he could not even lift a finger to help anybody including himself!

But because I am already out about two grand on this excursion, and never mind that Rugby, ND does not have any motels, we are constrained (translates as cheap) to stay with the Bhum’s as they put us in Kalm’s bedroom, measuring a generous 10 x 12 and furnished with a lovely twin bed, circa 1975. Keep in mind Myrna’s robust figure when you think of my sleep comfort, as we share this postage stamp sized bed, to say nothing about the lumpy mattress that exudes a penetrating aroma of teenage body odors.

The next few days were a blur as the family interaction unfolded. All our meals were takeouts and /or trips to fast food joints all paid by, of course, me “Gramps.” Daughter, Marybeth, who works two shifts as a CNA at the local nursing home to keep the wolves away from the Bhum door, had no time or energy to cook. Leigh, of course, was unable to help as he was pinned to the twenty-year old Lazy Boy, totally exhausted from cracking open a dozen cans of North Dakota’s finest (and cheapest) beer, Old Moose Pilsner.

God, in His unfathomable way, to make up for Leigh’s allergies, gave Leigh the Gift of Gab and the Mind of a Narcissist. Every day, I was subjected the ego-centered blather, a stream of consciousness – gushing from Leigh’s meaty lips. The three teenage grandsons were absolutely no help here in relieving the torturous monotone as the only language they spoke was Mumblese, which has a vocabulary of only three words: nope, yep, and “dunno” (don’t know.)

We left after only two full days, as we had “received” word that our dog, Abigail, had been bitten by a rat at the Pet Motel, so we had to go! I promised (fingers crossed and lying through my teeth) that we would stay longer next year as I gunned the Crown Vic out of the weedy driveway, spinning gravel everywhere, while barely missing the rusted lawnmower and the smoldering burn pile. P.S. Abigail was “OK” by the time we got back.”

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