Last Sunday, after Kassie Jackson's wedding (which I will post pix and blog about shortly), Rowdy and I headed south for our cruise to the Yucatan Peninsula. Our sailing mates, brother Chad and his missus Jennifer, picked up my delinquent husband up from his peer pressuring cousin Rocky and then swung by Norman to get me from my overnight stay at Lyndi's. Our vessel, the Carnival Ecstasy, wouldn't be boarding passengers until 12:30 pm the next day, so we decided to rent a room in Galveston, a far superior solution than waking up at like 3 am on Monday to make the treacherous drive to South Texas. Of course, I could have seen my boys for an extra day before we set sails. Either way, the Sunday departure allowed our long drive to be an extra vacation day as opposed to a hustled and hurried dash to the boat, which is what a Monday departure would have most assuredly been.
Somewhere in Dallas Chad and I agreed that it was, in fact, time to crack open one of those fabulous six point beers most Texans are so gleefully proud of. It's that or George Bush, so I think the beer is definitely the one I'd highlight, too. Well, Pat Green and Ron Paul and Willie Nelson and Kinky Friedman and Ann Richards and certainly Molly Ivins are all pretty rockin Texans,' I suppose. And Texas has given me Mark Anderson, the liberal bull hauler, and I'm sure most of you know my deep running affections for him. Since Oklahoma finally legalized tattoos and the lotto, this six point beer is the undisputed champion of south-of-the-Red-River-Okies. We love it! By the early afternoon, Chad and I were sharing a six pack of Bud Light tall boys.
Somewhere during our drive through the Lone Star State Jennifer told us she wanted to swing into College Station to visit her long time friend Austin. About a week ago he and his wife had their first child and, since we were in the driving vicinity, Jennifer wanted to meet the little guy.
Little did she know that this trip into the leafy Texas center would produce perhaps the greatest gaffe in history, a true foot in the mouth situation if I've ever seen one. But, I will get to that in a quick minute.
College Station is a small drive off the highway and into territory none of us were familiar, so the other three on the trip decided to purchase a map. Because we were venturing off the main path and into the Aggie woods, I agreed. However, this also lead me to telling and retelling my quite accurate travel strategy of no maps. It is this: FOLLOW THE SIGNS. Miranda, I know if you are reading this you are agreeing. Through countless beer-soaked trips our parents should have never let us take all over the damned country, we always made it home safely with this fail-proof policy. And we were drunk teenage girls. It's simple: Go to Oklahoma City and then follow the sign to Dallas. Get to Dallas and drive until you see the sign for Houston. Go to Houston until you see the sign for Galveston. Of course if you veer of the well-traveled path, you will need some sort of reasoning system for the unfamiliar community, but if you are just a traveling through, it works. But, for some unknown reason, Chad and Rowdy held doubt on this plan and periodically made clever little jabs at my system.
When Jennifer first mentioned stopping at Austin's, I didn't realize where he lived. And even had I known, I had no idea where that actual location was. I didn't mind swinging by Austin's in light of the new babe, but I was also pretty tired from a late night of photography and a long day of driving and beer drinking. However, any sacrifice I may have felt I was making by prolonging our trip for this visit was more than compensated for with tear-jerking, awkward laughter when we left his home.
Holding her friends' new son, Jennifer admired the baby as she caught up with Austin and his wife Melissa. Just five short days earlier, Melissa had given birth to Tucker. Both she and her husband seemed amazingly calm considering they are both first time parents. Austin's living room is small art gallery of crisp, brilliant photography with a wide range of subjective focus. Since I do consider myself a quasi-artist, I slowly scanned his impressive work like a potential buyer, assuming the photos were for sale in the first place. A team of varied reporters on CNN or Fox or whatever news outlet Austin was watching updated us, their captivated viewers, on the progress for NASA's quest for Mars. The trip to Austin's, it seemed, would be a very typical, non-eventful stop among old friends.
Like a war veteran or red-faced football coach, parents of older children love to tell brand new parents various stories about their own growing and adventurous kids. Some wax nostalgic, often misty-eyed recollections of bringing the soft baby home. Others are funny tell-alls about early mishaps or charming conversations with toddlers. And then of course there are the cautionary shock doctrines of the morphed mom and/or dad. You know the ones, dragging the kicking kid from the store or oil-based paint drenched over new carpet or simple debates with the formerly perfect urchin over what will or will not be played with. After the old moms, me and Jennifer, got our baby fix from Melissa and Rowdy had nicotine floating around in his blood stream like bubbled crude after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, we were ready to convene our travels. As we were leaving, Chad was throwing around a little parental fear mongering as he detailed random fits and/or arguments he has had with his four-year-old Paden. We old parents love it because even when you are explaining these moments of leg kicking, shrieking goodness to even the most intelligent of new parents you can see in their eyes they truly believe their tiny miracle will never behave so appallingly. It's funny because we can still remember when we had those same ridicules ideas when we were new parents.
With the front door opened, I joined Chad's conversation of doom by assuring him and Austin that Paden always behaves like a good boy when he is at my house. He plays and he eats well. After I explained his exceptional behavior, I turned back toward Austin and his wife and said, "Paden does act good at my house, but then again, kids are scared of fat, red-headed women."
Without missing a beat, a smiling Chad then looked right in Austin's eyes and said, "Well, then you shouldn't have anything to worry about."
Okay, take a minute to let that all absorb. Yup, that's right. Chad inadvertinly called Austin's wife fat just five days after she delivered a baby with her standing five feet away.
My typically insensitive husband, who had already walked about ten feet out of the house when Chad made this God awful remark, turned to him with total awe. So you know, when Rowdy Little realizes the full ramifications of something like this so quickly, it's bad.
As it is, Chad is one of the nicest guys I've ever met. In my mind, he is about the last candidate I can think for intentional rudeness. I think it goes without saying that he just hadn't heard my entire statement or didn't realize it all until after he had said that awful and really, really funny statement. You see, Melissa is a redhead. The redheaded portion of my statement was either all he heard or his mind was so saturated with stout Texas brew that it just didn't register. When the words rushed out of his mouth, they were as unstoppable as the forceful hurricane byproduct gushing over Lower Ninth Ward levees. The comment Chad made was certainly not what he had intended to say, but he said it nonetheless.
As soon as the four of us opened the doors to their Blazer and poured in, the laughter and shock spilled into the vehicle. Chad had quickly realized the full scope of the wordy exchange and the three of us damn sure had. Rowdy and I both wanted to stop laughing, but we just couldn't. And, of course our cackling only encouraged Chad to as well, although this was only because he just didn't know what to do and felt like an asshole. Poor Jennifer sat as still as a statue. Trying to make light of this hysterical and embarrassing situation, I asked her if she was going to miss Austin and I could tell she knew the tragic tongue slip would be funny if it in were some gut-busting sketch comedy skit. But, since this bore the solid potential of tears for a freshly postpartum mother who is also the wife of one of Jennifer's oldest friends, she was too nervous to laugh just yet. We discussed each and every reason Chad should call to explain and apologize and each and every reason we shouldn't. Naturally the reasons for calling go without saying, but then what if she hadn't heard? If he called and Melissa had somehow missed this dreadful tongue slip then she would have to know about it for no reason. On the other hand, Austin could've been consoling her at that very moment, vowing to never expose her to the wicked venom of Chad Little. In other words, none of us really knew the right way to handle this. After a few minutes, Chad manned up and called. The regret in his voice would have been recognizable for a deaf person. After all, Chad is a great man. He immediately apologized and flowed into a heart-felt explanation. Austin said that Melissa had not heard it and the relief lifted off Chad's face like a space shuttle into the sky. After a few moments of repeated apologies, Chad ended his phone conversation with Austin a ton of bricks lighter. Naturally Rowdy and I seized his golden opportunity to gig Chad, suggesting that Melissa had heard him, but both Austin and Melissa are far too kind to mention it. In all honesty, I don't know what she heard. I do, however, know that the four of us laughed for days and days about it. Most of the time the shocked regret would wave over Chad's face when this incident was reopened, but the laughter would roll with it. It was just unreal. It was like witty comedic writing at its finest.
So, for all you lazy readers who skim over the top and bottom halves of a posting, let me recap one last time:
Noting that kids often behave for me, I suggest that kids must be scared of "fat, redheaded women."
Chad looks at his friend whose recently postpartum wife is standing next time him and says, "Well, you shouldn't have anything to worry about then."
It was awesome.