The next morning, I pack up the tent without being asked. During the hike around Devil’s tower, I take pictures, marvel at the dramatic scenery, and comment several times about how the fresh air is invigorating. I keep a smile plastered to my face the entire time.

Doesn’t help.

We’re about 20 miles into the day’s drive to Yellowstone when I start up with her.

“What the hell?” I say.

Shannon looks back at the kids. They’re all wearing various headphones.

“What,” she says.

“You never told me to buckle my seatbelt,” I say.

“You’re a big boy,” she says.

“You always tell me to buckle my seatbelt,” I say.

“I didn’t notice,” she says. “But now that you’ve called it to my attention, buckle your seatbelt, please.”

“Nope, too late,” I say. “This is like when you get dressed up for a party and as we’re driving there you ask me if you look pretty, and I say yes, and you tell me that it’s too late, and that you should’ve never had to ask. This is just like that. Too late.”

“What do you think? That I want you to go flying through the window and die?” she says.

“No, just maimed,” I say.

“Where did you get this theory?” Shannon says.

“Well, I Skyped with Bill a little during the game,” I say.

“And he said if I don’t tell you to buckle your seatbelt, I want you maimed.”

“Correct,” I say.

“So how would it benefit me to have a maimed husband?” Shannon says. “You wouldn’t be able to provide for the family, and I’d have to take care of an invalid.”

“I wouldn’t be physically maimed,” I say. “Just the part of me that’s a jackass would be destroyed.”

Shannon looks pleased with the notion.

“Now that’s more like it,” she says. “I could go for that.”

“See? Bill was right,” I say.

“Oh, please, you massaged that hypothetical until it didn’t even make sense.” Shannon says. “Would you like to see me go flying through the windshield if it gave me bigger boobs?”

I look at Shannon with disdain, refusing to appreciate the soundness of her logic.

“First of all, that technology doesn’t yet exist,” I say. “And second, why don’t you just admit you noticed my seatbelt wasn’t buckled, and didn’t care.””

Shannon gets quiet, and looks ashamed.

“AH HA! I KNEW IT!” I say. “Even after I was totally helpful and pleasant this morning. I don’t believe it. I’m never gonna take Karen’s advice again.”

I regret these words the instant I say them.

“What do you mean, Karen?”

I shrug. “uh…”

“When did you talk to her?” Shannon says.

“She was…there with Bill…she saw your Facebook status, and-”

“And what? Told you to pretend to be enjoying yourself so I’d be happy?”

I am completely still.

“Well she should’ve told you to be a better actor,” Shannon says, “because I saw right through it. You can’t just automatically be a selfish jerk every time the Celtics are playing and then expect a phony smile to make it all better the next day.”

I don’t like hearing this – being a selfish jerk and then making it all better with a phony smile was my plan for the entire trip.

“I’m sorry,” I say.

“And?” Shannon says. “Are you going to start really enjoying yourself?”

All I can think about is how much of a douche bag I’m going to have to be to see Game 5. It’s not worth it.

“Yes,” I say. “I will actually start enjoying myself.”

“And putting your family ahead of the Celtics?” Shannon says.

I nod.

“I’d like an audible answer please,” Shannon says.

“Yes,” I say. “I’m going to put my family ahead of the Celtics.”

“That’s nice to hear,” Shannon says.

I feel like Indiana Jones after he was forced to drink that hallucinogen Blood in Temple of Doom.


"Alright Indy, snap out of it so we can
close the chapter on this absurd subplot."

But this brainwash is worse – it comes with a price of Game 5.
Shannon leans over and gives me a kiss on the cheek.

“Buckle your seatbelt, sweetheart,” she says.



Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket, Chapter 1: Cribbagegate, Chapter 2: Two e-mails, Chapter 3: Pattern, Chapter 4: Shattered, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee, Chapter 6: Suicide, Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers, Chapter 9: June, Chapter 10: 18 and oh no, Chapter 11: DNA, Chapter 12: Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Chapter 13: Tom Brady and the McGuffin, Chapter 14: Game 1, Chapter 15: Who the H is John Havlicek?, Chapters 16 - 17, Chapter 18: Game 2: Great White, Chapter 19: Pickle, Chapter 20: Marty McFly, Chapter 21 / 22: standard deviation, all the pretty flowers, Chapter 23: Game 3: Black Hills, Chapter 24: Twister, Chapter 25: Game 4, Chapter 26: Patriotic Agony, Chapter 27: Locusts, Chapter 28: skype, Chapter 29: Click, Chapter 30: Superman

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Anonymous JJ said...
I think Doug's wife is quite understanding. My wife would have had me "retired" (just like the flag) on the spot after the hot dog incident.

And regarding the hot dogs, Doug could have said he was trying to emulate fried ice creams. =)

Anonymous Anonymous said...
You know, DVR was invented for just this situation. Record the games, then when you get home, watch all the games back-to-back-to-back. If TV/radio is so hard to come by where you're going, then it's not like you'll have a hard time avoiding the scores while you're out.

Blogger Javi said...
keep the good work ET, this is great!!

Blogger Evil Ted said...
Thanks Javi.

Anon - You are, from this point forward, known as "ROP" (rain on parade). Please refer to yourself as such in the future.