I’m BACK!

I would ASK if you all missed me, but those butterscotch-sweet comments speak for themselves. You guys are the BEST! Thank you for making me feel like the belle of the ball. Unfortunately, in real life I am feeling a lot more like the Ty-D-Bol Man caught in a perpetual flush. This weekend was F-U-N with a capital F, but the 30 hour car ride has left me reeling. With my head on spin cycle, I am ever-so-slowly rejoining reality. It’s almost 8 PM. I am still in my PJs, I have not brushed my hair, but I did this morning brush my teeth. Things are looking up.

We left Thursday morning for the reunion, and drove straight through to Davenport, Iowa. The family had reserved a block of rooms at a local hotel, and upon arrival John & I discovered we’d been given the “Honeymoon Suite.” Sweeeeet. Well, it would have been, were we not also sharing it with our two children. Oh well. We joked about the mirrored ceiling the rest of the weekend, and instead of a seductive soak in our massive jacuzzi, the ladies and I took a pre-party bath together. As my younger daughter said, a little weird, but still fun.

We spent much of the weekend partying b/c THAT is what my family does best. Some families drink to escape, but us, we drink to further enhance our feelings of good will. We are one fun loving bunch. We played games, swam in the indoor pool and spent a boatload in the arcade. We ate. We are SCHOLFIELDS after all. We ordered pizza from 2 different Midwestern chains, with specialty pies called The Inferno, The BLT, and The Taco Joe. I had never seen a pizza covered in Doritos before, but now I have. Not quite as strange as seeing that pizza with a whole fried egg on top like I did in France, but. strange nonetheless.

The weather was cold and rainy for much of our stay, making Philly seem positively balmy by comparison. On Friday, a hotel employee came round to announce a *Tornado Warning* until 5 PM, saying we might have to evacuate to the basement. WOW. Getting my drunk on in a darkened basement might not have been my first choice, but I’m always game for something new. The wind shook the building, and the rain came down in buckets – actually leaking through the roof in places – but that was it. No evacuation. Perhaps next time.

Saturday was the formal luncheon at Deere Run, the John Deere golf club. It’s a lovely place and seemed a particularly fitting choice for the event, given that my grandfather worked for them most of his life. After eating, we took turns lining up for posed portraits, which although slightly tedious was still sort of fun and of course much appreciated by G-ma. It’s amazing how little everyone has changed in 10 years. My cousins, aunts & uncles all pretty much look the same. If it weren’t for the kids, we could still be back in 1998. I will keep telling myself that anyway.

Later in the evening, we met at the hotel-cum-retirement home where my grandmother lives. This rendezvous was for a very special event. The Wearing of the Scholfield Family Reunion T-Shirts. This tradition states that all family members as well as Guests (and yes, we do provide t-shirts for them as well) must don an Official Scholfield Family Reunion T-Shirt for a prescribed length of time, during which many photographs will be taken for posterity. This tradition seems to divide our family into one of two vocal groups: The Lovers of the T-Shirts and The Loathers of the T-Shirts. These white tees are emblazoned with emblems from all of our past reunions, and on the back is written your name and a catchy slogan. I will not tell you mine b/c it is a FAMILY SECRET, but this year there were some new winners. For instance, my cousin’s new husband from Down Under got, “Lawrence: Australian for Scholfield”. Yes, We ARE CLEVER. These t-shirts switch hands every so often, as a new person is elected to produce the new batch of emblems. At this reunion I requested that my Aunt send them to me next. This may or may not have something to do w/ the fact that my mail service is so PISS POOR I’ll likely never receive them. Oops. No need to confess where I stand on this most precious family tradition.

This weekend was a trip. It was a physical haul, driving straight through from Philly to Davenport, Iowa. BOTH WAYS, With only 2 DAYS of heavy drinking in between. I of course have vertigo. again. Which makes me almost as depressed as leaving my family. I have lived my whole life so far away from my relatives. And now my parents and my only sister also live 800 miles away. When we parted on Sunday, I was sobbing like a baby. But worse. I love my family. They are GREAT in every sense of the word. Fun. Full of life. Even my 95 year old grandmother. Now that I am home again, I miss them terribly. I know scores of people who long to escape from their relatives, but not me. I only wish we lived closer.

Today is my grandmother’s 95th birthday. It’s hard to believe. 95 years is a damn long time. 90 years longer than my younger daughter has lived. 60 years longer than I have been around. A whole lifetime of time. And although her body is failing, her mind is still strong. She dishes her guilt with almost surgical precision. She may have a brain tumor impinging on her thoughts at times and occasionally garbling her meaning, but she is still very much with it. So she’s confined to a wheelchair, she gets around. And even has a BOYFRIEND. My 95 year old grandma, as frail as she is, is one tough old bird. God bless her.

The way you drive speaks VOLUMES.

As much as I wish it were otherwise, I spend a good portion of each day driving. My older daughter to or from school. Running errands. Going to the post office, the library, the grocery store. What have you. And living in the middle of a big city, all this driving inevitably causes a whole lotta STRESS. Some nincompoop cuts me off without any semblance of turn signal. Another jackass sidesteps the WHOLE LANE OF TRAFFIC to speed past us in the BIKE LANE. Another guy just can’t wait for the light – or by the way, the elderly man CROSSING THE STREET. Frankly, some of these folks should not only have their licenses revoked, they should be pulled bodily from their cars and beaten senseless.

I curse frequently while driving. I hate doing this, since I pretty much always have one or more children in the car with me. We have actually had discussions about “mommy’s language” – how un-lady-like it is, and how it should not be repeated in public. I am glad my kids are bright, b/c other than peppering their day-to-day speech with an above average use of the word “Crap” they have heretofore suffered no other ill effects of my potty mouth.

I am a cautious driver. This stems from several things. 1) I value my children’s safety above all else and will not jeopardize it to get to [WHEREVER] ten minutes earlier. 2) I value YOUR CHILDREN’S SAFETY as much as I do my own. 3) I like people and do not want to hurt them.

B/c of this, I stop at stop signs. And when I say I stop, I mean I am probably the only damn driver in West Philly who comes to a physical halt-machen at the intersection. I stop. I look both ways. I make sure there are no bicyclists approaching. If there are, I wave them through. I do not give a shit if some psychopath behind me cannot wait 20 seconds for me to do this w/out their face turning purple. F*CK THEM. They will be the one going to jail for manslaughter, not me.

Driving here in Philly is bad b/c 1) there are inexplicable intersection nightmares, such as 30th & Market. WHERE ARE THE TRAFFIC ENGINEERS?? Green lights get traffic moving, especially onto the highway. MAKE THEM LONGER & MAKE THEM CONSISTENTLY GREEN ALL THE WAY ALONG. As it is now, the gridlock has traffic tangled in both directions from JFK all the way to the Walnut Street Bridge. If I had to deal w/ this every single rush hour I would GO INSANE.

2) Obeying the law is optional. And I am not exaggerating. The “roll-through” has been elevated to an art-form here in Philly. People speed. They swerve. They cut. They do not wait their turn. They do not like letting people in – unless you are attractive. And as everyone knows we’re all just a bunch of fat ugly slobs, you can imagine what this leads to. The cops do not enforce 99.9% of the traffic laws b/c they are too busy trying to keep us from killing each other.

3) Philadelphians are selfish like few others. Not all of us, mind you, but a whole whopping percentage of the population. Enough to make you think twice about trying to cross that street. When I was pregnant with my first child I used to walk home every day from work. 4 miles. from City Hall to West Philly. I was nearly hit more times than even I care to repeat. AND WHY? B/c most people suck. If they aren’t stopping for a full-term pregnant woman, you sure as hell know they AIN’T STOPPING FOR NO ONE.

4) Lastly, I would hazard a guess that upwards of 35% of Philadelphians drive illegally. And by this I mean w/out a license, registration, insurance – or all of the above. Sometimes in a stolen car. What do they care if they hit you or your car? It’s not their money. They are willing to take the chance b/c here in Philly at least, there’s no reason not to.

The way you drive speaks VOLUMES about you as a person. It accurately communicates your level of compassion and humanity better than almost anything. For instance, one of our neighbors is a very nice person, a deeply religious man, a hardworking husband and father, and yet, just last week, he nearly RAN MY HUSBAND OVER at the end of our block when John was riding his bike. WHY? B/c he didn’t recognize John and was interested in speeding up and cutting off that guy on a bike. People feel a sense of entitlement behind the wheel of their car which verges on sickness, and they behave in ways they’d NEVER otherwise would b/c of it. They feel protected in that cocoon. It’s like Jekyll & Hyde. For others, driving simply unleashes the INNER NATURE. Are you a control freak? Fast lane doing 55. Are you completely self-absorbed? Yakking into your cellphone, making a left turn from the right lane. The list goes on.

A car may be classy, but it’s only a car. The model you drive may communicate your taste or your circumstance, but it often has little to do w/ your true level of class. B/c THAT cannot be bought. Rich, poor, it all boils down to one thing. You can’t polish a piece of poop.