You can’t go back again

We attempted to drive to our shared college town of Columbia, Missouri on Friday afternoon. Poor Tim was exhausted from the week with Auggie (aka Mr. Wakey Man) post-eye surgery. He got off of work early and immediately went to bed.

Kim and I and Auggie showed up around 3 and woke him up to go with us on our voyage back to “the scene of the crime” as Kim says. If he didn’t go, then we couldn’t really go, since steering both Auggie and Kim in their respective wheeled devices doesn’t work with just one wheeler (as I learned earlier during a stroller/wheelchair juggling exhibition at the St. Louis Bread Company).

Traffic getting out of St. Louis was murder. I guess every slacker employer in this city had let their work force off early too on Friday, so cars were crawling all the way out to St. Peters. It took us an hour and a half to go 34 miles. Even those of you in the Beltway or on the West Coast can dig what I’m saying here. My right foot was sore from the constant gas-brake-gas-brake.

So we finally break free of the gridlock and I’m tooling along Highway 70 at a good clip. We pass Kingdom City with a small cheer (it’s 20 miles outside of Columbia), only to come to a dead stop four miles later. What in God’s green pastures is going on now?

We turn on the AM station and wait for a break in the Cards-Cubs game for an update. Well, apparently there was a horrendous two-cars-meet-semi wreck, with all the vehicles aflame, a mere 20 minutes before we got there. The westbound lanes were completely shut down, and we were completely screwed.

About this time, I was sick of driving. Tim and I switched seats (Chinese fire drill!) and he took the wheel. We spotted an opening in the eastbound lanes and gunned it across the median (Go, go, Focus, go, go!).

We made it to Columbia a mere three hours after we left. It should’ve taken two hours, at the most. Ugh.

Why did we go to Columbia anyway? We wanted to go to Whizz Records, which I have not patronized since May 1997. We wanted to go to Shakespeare’s Pizza, of course. We wanted to buy a Mizzou license plate frame for Kim’s coworker.

We got there a little after 6.

This is significant, because everything we wanted to do closed at 6. Aw, man! The only salvageable activity was Shakespeare’s, which we consumed with relish. Kim even drank a beer. I was too depressed about Whizz.

No new records.

No license plate frame.

No fun.

Actually, we did have a great time. We wandered around campus, ogling the new Business School and generally ambling down Memory Lane. ‘One time I was so drunk walking home, I stopped in Arts and Science and bought a Baby Ruth and almost choked to death!’ ‘One time I was so drunk walking home, you all almost had to carry me up this street!’ And so on and so forth.

We even cruised past the old digs on Ross Street. All the blinds were drawn, and it looked kinda sad. Poor Ross Street.

Eventually, we headed home. The drive back went a lot faster, with no major tie-ups.

Did I mention what a trooper my son was throughout this ordeal? He slept most of the way to Columbia and back, waking only to charm the patrons of Shakespeare’s Pizza and to run through the grass on the Quad, looking unbelievably cute and small next to the Columns.

I’m so lucky. But you really can’t go back.