austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Well, you ride around on a bright shiny cloud

One of my brothers -- and his beloved wife -- live about an hour away from my parents. Given that both my parents and they live in central New Jersey this is a remarkable feat, but that's just how the highways work out. (I'd rather take Interstate-grade roads, which run a little longer, but my father is convinced a series of county roads is better, since that way there's a greater chance of hitting a deer.) That means they're close enough for weekend visits to have lunch or spend an afternoon or the like, but it also means that it's a pretty big investment of time to go up. So, if I were planning to get together with them, I would make absolutely clear before we started that we were (a) scheduled to meet, (b) were meeting at a designated time, and (c) knew which of the two homes we were meeting at.

My parents are perhaps more adventurous than I am. After making plans to meet my brother after he finished something -- which he expected to take a half-hour to an hour, but which he couldn't guarantee -- we went up in the morning and only made direct contact on the final approach to his home. My mother directed me to call him up and tell him we were about ten minutes away; she claimed her cell phone was in her purse, which was not exactly true. (She had it in the cup holder.) And when I did finally get to call him -- I'm not good with cell phones, so this was trickier than it should have been, and among other things I had to evade new voice mail messages without deleting them -- I told him we were about ten minutes away, and he asked, ``From what?''

It turned out that not only had they not believed we were committed to any particular time to meet up, they also had thought they would come down to my parents' place, because my parents happen to live near an outlet mall, and my brother needs new pants. (He took on a new job a couple months ago that makes it much easier to do more walking to get to the dirty-water hot dog stands he uses for lunch, and is comfortably shedding pounds.) My sister-in-law was also taken by surprise by this -- she was out until about twenty minutes after we got there (my brother had been there), and she greeted us with the slightly forced smile that says ``I won't throw you out, but why do you have this problem with calling first?'' and then she went to examine my father -- who had started sleeping minutes after sitting down -- and to wonder what the small white discs in his hair were. (Our best hypothesis is blossoms from the tree just outside, which was shedding at blizzard levels.) All worked out reasonably well, but I don't know of my brother's got new pants as of this evening.

Trivia: On 8 May 1933 Harold Ickes ordered the Hoover Dam renamed Boulder Dam. Source: Hoover Dam, Joseph E Stevens.

Currently Reading: 1066: The Year of the Conquest, David Howarth. And all that.


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