Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Why Do Cars Have Wheels?

CINCINNATI, Ohio, and ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Well, I'm back from Cincinnati, trying to put my life back together. Traveling always screws everything up, although since I'm moving to California, it's hard to tell the difference.

I'd planned to leave for Cincy on Thursday and return on Sunday, but my 105-item to-do list delayed our departure until Friday. The usually 5-hour drive took 7 hours due to construction near the Michigan-Ohio border and a bad accident on I-75 in Cincinnati. Mara and her husband Kurt must have wondered what they were getting when I finally arrived, wild-eyed from two solid hours of Benny's "Philadelphia Chickens" CD. Not that I'm complaining, since the CD and songbook spared me two hours of "Why do cars have wheels? Why are trucks big? Why do cars need gas?" and so on.

Mara and I promptly launched a steady round of late nights and excessive beer-drinking, always a sign of a successful weekend. Mara talked me into staying an extra day, prompting a flurry of phone calls where I canceled a babysitter, asked my brother to check the cat and fretted over missing a birthday party for one of Benny's friends. Mara is very persuasive; she should work for the U.N. She dragged me out to a bar after my 7-hour drive, leaving the children with Kurt. The next day we went to the park, the zoo and another birthday party. On Sunday we went to brunch and a Greek Festival. By then I'd had it, but she cajoled me into a pool party. I hate pool parties and was relieved that we arrived too late to see anyone.

Benny and I zoomed home on Monday to the music of "Rhinoceros Tap," arriving at Benny's daycare at 2:30 p.m. There I was regaled with a vivid account of the missed birthday party, which had some sort of dump truck theme. I was told the birthday boy and his mother constantly asked for Benny and that a personalized hard hat was waiting for him, lonely and neglected. Guilt-ridden, I drove home and left a groveling message on the birthday family's answering machine.

But I'm finished traveling for now, thank goodness, until I head to Indianapolis on July 6. The cat is at the vet's having some sort of dental operation, Benny is at daycare, and the temperature in Ann Arbor is topping 90 degrees. Good to be home.

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