Subourbon Mom

Laughter–A Gift Wrapped in Toilet Paper

images-8Last weekend we attended the annual Montpelier Hunt Races in Virginia. For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you may recall that the stately Montpelier event has always provided me with literary fodder. One election year, I was interviewed in my inebriated condition by an Irish news channel about my thoughts on what it’s like to live in a swing state (see “Schwing State”). Last year, Hubby had an “accident” in the parking lot that involved road rage and karma sent straight from the animal world (see “Traffic Martyrs & Sliders” and “Chipmunk Popsicles”).

This year, I was given a gift. It wasn’t wrapped in Wal-mart Christmas paper with a stick-on bow, or delivered in a turquoise Tiffany box, but it was a gift that I think is priceless—it was a bend-over-because–you-can’t-breathe-oh-my-God-I’m-crying-belly laugh.

Maybe it happened because it’s been a difficult couple of months; maybe it was the wine; or, maybe it happened because sometimes there are just those moments in life that come together to make the perfect storm of funny at the time. Either way, I’m grateful.

My friends Stacie*, Helen* and I were walking back to the tailgate after shopping among the vendors. Helen is single and younger than Stacie and I, and still cares what other people think about how she looks, and about retaining her dignity. We’d watched Helen try on hats, agonizing over gray or brown, feathers or not, and by the time we left the area, I was long past caring about hats, and more concerned with getting back to place our bets on the next race. Halfway there, we made a pit stop at the port-a-johns.

Helen is also a slow learner—despite knowing me for several years now, she still made the crucial mistake of telling me how much she HATES using port-a-johns.

While we were waiting, a guy came out and said, with his eyes watering like he’d been cutting an onion, “I know they’re not supposed to be great, but that was awful!”

“Why? Did someone take a crap in there?” I asked, trying to find something to say.

He looked at me in pure wonderment and nodded. “Who does that in one of those?” he whispered, and walked away.

Helen’s eyes bugged out and she looked like she might bolt, but somehow she summoned her courage and went in anyway. Must have been all those beers–liquid courage, on so many levels.

As soon as Helen was inside, Stacie and I looked at each other, grinned and took action. Stacie went to the back and I went to the front of Helen’s port-a-john, and we banged on the walls like the Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse were thundering by.

Helen screamed.

Stacie and I ran, hiding around the corner. Predictably, Helen came storming out of the port-a-john, strutting her angry 5-foot-3-self across the field.

As she yelled at us and pointed her finger, we couldn’t help but double over laughing—

Helen, jaunty new brown hat slightly askew, was trailing a 3-foot ribbon of toilet paper from her shoe.

While it may be a location joke (you had to be there), to us, it was funny.

When you’re an adult, these moments don’t come nearly as often as they do when you’re a kid. Kids know how to belly laugh, and they don’t care who sees them or how loud they are. As adults, we may occasionally have those laughing fits that make you cry, but we usually try to hide them behind our hands or we leave the room. This time, I didn’t do either. I let out my full-throttle laugh, which as you may know, is pretty freakin’ loud. I’m sure people were staring, appalled at our behavior at such a dignified event—and I don’t care. We laughed until we couldn’t breathe, and it was wonderful.

So thank you Helen, for sacrificing your dignity (albeit unwillingly). And thanks to Stacie, who laughed right along with me. Gifts don’t always arrive with a card and a song—sometimes they arrive on a ribbon of toilet paper.

*Names have been changed to protect my friends’ professional images. Now, if we could just get rid of all those pictures with red cups…

Traffic Martyrs & Sliders
November 16, 2012, 1:00 am
Filed under: Middle Age, Parenting | Tags: , , , , , ,

You’ve all seen them as you’re stuck in a hideous line of traffic going from four lanes to two, or as 20,000 people are trying to leave a stadium at the same time. Either way, somebody farther up is LETTING PEOPLE IN. That person is a Traffic Martyr.

Sacrificing your spot in line for a Slider (a.k.a. the I’m-going-to-try-and-get-over-even-though-I-saw-the-line-backing-up-a-mile-ago-guy) not only rewards rude driving, it has historically caused an immeasurable and unrecorded rise in health care costs. The lemmings behind the Traffic Martyr have to up their Lipitor dosage, or risk having their hearts explode as their blood pressure escalates faster than the General Patraeus sex scandal.

If you are, or ever have been, a Traffic Martyr, maybe you’re one of those genuinely nice people who believe in letting Sliders in once a day. I’ll bet you even do it with a smile and a wave. And you probably believe in unicorns.

But I doubt you’re really that nice, down deep inside. Letting Sliders in your lane probably made you feel good, maybe a little self-righteous, and definitely a little superior. After all, you were the nice one. I’ve been there myself. And in the right situation, Traffic Martyrs can be useful, like when they slow the pace down enough to let you safely whack your teenager with a “punch-buggy-no-punch-back” hit while driving with your knees.

But if there’s one thing people hate more than Traffic Martyrs, it ‘s Sliders.

When Hubby encounters a Slider attempting to invade his driving space, he usually creeps up until he’s one inch behind the car in front, blocking the Slider. It’s as effective as a girl saying “let’s be friends.” Hubby’s move usually results in lots of honking and bird-flipping. But recently, in a rare act of being a Slider, Hubby ran into the ultimate Slider Hater.


At the horse races last week (the same ones where the Irish news interviewed me), Hubby was trying to leave the infield with 10,000 other wind-burned, inebriated tailgaters. Having thoughtfully parked on the end of the aisle, facing out, he was quickly ready to merge into the line of stop-and-go traffic. One driver, however, was very upset that Hubby was going to be allowed to join the vehicular Conga line so soon. But instead of quietly cursing the Traffic Martyrs and like most people, Slider Hater called out to Hubby:

“You can’t just get in line! I’ve been waiting here for a half-hour.”

Hubby, having already gotten permission from the Traffic Martyrs around him, answered in typical Slider fashion, “Seriously, you’re not going to let me in? We’re all just trying to get out of here.”

Slider Hater: “Hey Buddy, I’ve got my kids in the car back here. Now you can do the right thing and let me go first, or you can do the wrong thing.”

Now, to be fair, Hubby had gotten permission from all the other cars around him,and Slider Hater had probably been sitting there for a while. Tempers were flaring. “It’s a rental,” Hubby yelled back. Daughter #1 cringed.

Hubby then attempted to merge. Misjudging the width of the rental car, Hubby took out the front of Slider Hater.

Yep, that was fender-bender #3 for our family in nine days.

Karma….freakin’ chipmunk.

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