Pedro's Christmas Vacation
Snide Remarks #22
"Pedro's Christmas Vacation"
by Eric D. Snider
Published in The Daily Universe on January 12, 1998
I drove home for Christmas. It's 640 miles from Provo to Lake Elsinore, Calif., and I was pretty sure that Pedro (my 1987 Hyundai Excel) could make the trip, despite the fact that he occasionally overheats just on the way to school, sometimes when I'm not even DRIVING him.
But I didn't want to make the trip alone, so I convinced my friend Rob, who lives not too far from Lake Elsinore anyway, to ride with me. We figured that even if Pedro broke down and we had to buy an entirely new car, it would still be cheaper than flying. And, even if Pedro broke down and we had to WALK the whole way, it would still be more COMFORTABLE than flying. (Also, we wouldn't have to eat those peanuts in the impenetrable bags made of space-age polymers.)
We also knew that driving home would give us plenty of Bonding Time, though of course we did not discuss this out loud. Guys do not acknowledge that one another's friendship is valuable to them, because to do so would be an obvious admission that they are sissies, and it would be grounds for shunning. Real men don't NEED friendship; this is why they behave like such jerks most of the time, to prevent the possibility of someone desiring to be their friend.
But Rob is a good friend, and I'm not afraid to admit it. I've already admitted to driving a 1987 Hyundai Excel which I have taken the trouble to name; why should I be embarrassed at my machismo being questioned even further?
We knew that driving to California would be a big test. Sure, we have fun hanging out normally, when we're just watching "The X-Files," or eating 99-cent Whoppers, or debating which typographical error in that day's Universe was most amusing. But you never know what's going to irritate you until you spend 10 hours locked in a car with it, especially when you have a short attention span like I do. I was afraid that by the time we reached Beaver (town motto: "Yes, There's Actually a Town Called Beaver"), I'd be wishing Rob were someone else, or that he were dead. Normally, of course, I don't wish he were either of those things, and he usually isn't.
And so, throwing caution to the wind, we barged out onto I-15, headed south, feeling young and carefree as we cranked up the stereo and let the wind blow against our faces as we put the top down. Then we realized that Pedro's top wasn't supposed to go down, and we quickly put it back up again.
We drove and drove, all the way down the middle of Utah. Despite what you may have heard, most of Utah is really quite ugly. The space between Springville and Cedar City consists mostly of the same one-mile stretch of landscape, repeated over and over again like the cheap backgrounds they used on Yogi Bear cartoons. I would not be surprised if people who live in Panguitch sometimes drive into Scipio and think that they are home. It all looks the same from the freeway, and I am fairly sure that all the people in both places have names with two capitals letters (LeVar, RayDeen, LeHeber, etc.).
This brings to mind an amusing anecdote from 1992, when I (Note: Do not do this) took the bus from Provo to Los Angeles. We stopped for lunch in Fillmore, and while I was sitting in a little diner having a cheeseburger, a young fellow - obviously a "local" - walked in. He and the waitress had the following exchange, which I am not making up:
WAITRESS: Hi, Sugar. Hey, y'all got your hair cut!
YOUNG FELLOW: Yeah, I'm goin' on my mission next Wednesday.
WAITRESS: Oh. (pause) Want one last cup of coffee before you go?
YOUNG FELLOW: Yeah, I better.
I'm sure I do not need to explain the ramifications of THIS little conversation. I am just glad that this was his LAST cup of coffee before his mission, although I do wonder how in the world he ever got up at 6:30 a.m. without a cup of joe to clear his head. I know I occasionally had to be beaten in the head with a rubber mallet. (Although I suspect that some of these beatings were not necessary to get me out of bed, occurring as they did in mid-afternoon, sometimes while we were tracting.)
Anyway, Rob and I eventually stopped in Las Vegas. This was mainly to eat dinner, but it was also because Rob wanted to gamble. Rob had not been to Las Vegas since he became of legal gambling age, and he wanted to experience the thrill of putting quarters in a slot machine. I told him he could achieve approximately the same thrill from putting quarters in a urinal, but he refused. So I recited all the famous quotes, many of which I made up, about why we shouldn't gamble because it's trying to get something for nothing, and besides, Las Vegas is just so tacky and stinky, but he still wanted to try it. So I watched as he got five dollars in quarters, then I looked on smugly as he put each quarter in, one at a time, and won ten dollars, which he pocketed and left, five dollars richer than he had been when we came in. I guess he learned HIS lesson! This was a major test of our friendship, especially when, in a fit of jealousy, I attempted to duplicate his good fortune with my own five dollars in quarters, and got the exact same results, except for the "winning" part.
Aside from that minor incident, the trip was uneventful, and we came out of it unscathed and unkilled. We still watch "X-Files," and we still occasionally eat 99-cent Whoppers. And I wonder which mistake in the Universe will be funniest todey?
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
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