So Tall, Short, and I were driving home from some errand or other, when all of a sudden, Tall blurted out, “Mommy, turn here! I know a shortcut!” Tall is super-smart (he routinely uses words like, “delusional,” “ennui,” “vilify,” “diatribe,” and “television”), so I was really excited to discover his own version of Mapquest: Tallquest.
I made a right. Then a left. A u-turn. Another left. I circled around the block. I was getting dizzy. What should be a three minute jaunt turned into a 20-minute epic journey/ scenic tour of every street, alley, boulevard, or cul-de-sac within a two mile radius of our home.
For the first time in seven years, I was having serious doubts about my child and his future as an airline pilot. If the tower told him to fly from Denver to San Francisco, who’s to say he wouldn’t take a little detour to New York and perhaps Canada first? He would get fired on his very first day.
Don’t panic, MOV, don’t panic. It’s a joke! He’s messing with you!
“Tall,” I began, trying not to sound delusional, “uh, who taught you this shortcut? Was it Grandpa? Because he lives in Colorado and he doesn’t really know our streets that well. If you drove this way with him, he might’ve actually been lost.”
I looked at Tall’s genius face in the rearview mirror, searching for clues, or at least the little North-South arrow image thing.
“Mom, don’t vilify me yet! I know exactly where I’m going. Trust me.” And then the kicker: “I’m trying to do YOU a favor and show you a new way home.”
Maybe he was unclear on the true definition of “shortcut”? Maybe he thought it meant something about wasting time and making other people in the car lose patience?
“Sweetie, uh, what do you think the word ‘shortcut’ means, exactly?”
“Duh, Mom, it means ‘a shorter way home’.” And then to his brother in a whisper, “Why does she have to be so pedantic?”
Right-left-left-turn-right-across-back-right. I glanced at the gas gauge: it was almost on empty now.
“Look, Mommy!” piped up Short, “We’re almost home now! You’ll recognize this next street. Just look around and think hard.”
All I did was look around and think hard. My whole life was look around and think hard. I was afraid my brain would explode.
“Okay, Mom, last turn,” said Tall triumphantly. “There’s our house. This is precisely the way our school bus goes.”
(“Michigan, Oregon, Vermont”)