I’m so pleased to have Philip Rivera as a guest on the blog today. His book, Suburban Luchador: The Cul-de-sac Chronicles, is hilarious and I’m thrilled to share with you one of the chapters that made me laugh out loud. I firmly believe laughter is fantastic medicine and we could all use a good laugh these days.
Presenting, without further ado, and with all the fanfare required… Roadside Temporal Anomaly!
I looked at the GPS to survey the upcoming terrain on our journey to the Florida Caverns. We were three hours into our very own “National Lampoon Florida Vacation” and within the next two hours we would arrive at our destination in the Florida Panhandle. My crew consisted of Lieutenant Commander Yarei, Weapons Master Elias (my then four-year-old and heir to my throne), Chief Morale Officer Selah (my then two-year-old) and Private Pampers (Analise, my then one-month-old on her maiden voyage). As captain of the S.S. Minivan it was my job to keep an eye out for strange roadside anomalies such as the World’s Biggest Ball of Yarn, Alligator Freak Shows, or Bigfoot Sighting hotspots. If fate smiled upon us, the next bathroom break would line up with one of these road trip treasures considered by many to be the real wonders of the modern world.
Tall pine trees lined both sides of I-10 like giant sentinels reaching up to the endless blue sky. According to the GPS, my flight path was westbound on this highway for the next 150 miles. Surely I would come across something bizarre and otherworldly like Yard Whales, two-headed chinchillas or chainsaw art if I just kept an eye out… and believed. An hour into I-10, I started losing hope. Was this trip destined to be a desert of disappointment? Was there nothing left to believe in?
We pulled over for gas and I took a minute to review my GPS coordinates and flightpath. Still a straight line all the way to the Caverns with no anomalies to report. Except… what was this I saw as I ran my finger along our trajectory? Could it be what I thought it was? I yanked the gas hose out of the van, slammed the gas cap, jumped back in the pilot seat and roared my six cylinders to life. After distributing Big Foot Beef Jerky sticks to all passengers with teeth, I gave them an update on our arrival time, wind speed, and outdoor temperature. The upcoming surprise, however, I pondered on my own.
My current location was mile marker 131. According to my navigation chart, the anomaly was at mile marker 161. This gave me approximately 20 minutes to prepare my instruments for the upcoming temporal experiment. Since no major discovery is ever validated unless there is a witness, I would have to let my Lieutenant Commander in on the secret.
“I need your help, and you have approximately 20 minutes to accept.”
Yarei was leaning back, reading the latest edition of Momma Brings Home the Bacon. She looked at me casually from her magazine, obviously not understanding the urgency of my request.
“I need you to cue up the Back to the Future main theme song on your phone,” I said with the resolve of a weather-worn captain.
“The what? Why? You know what… never mind.” She started tapping and swiping her phone. After seven years of marriage and a riveting blog full of stories like these, she knew when I was on to a groundbreaking idea.
I nodded my appreciation, checked the navigation equipment and stuck my index finger out the window.
“Based on wind currents and traffic, we’ve got 10 minutes to the temporal anomaly.”
“You’ll see. Keep an eye out for mile marker 161.”
“Got it. I’ll give you a mile marker countdown.” Her interest was piqued. I couldn’t blame her.
A few minutes passed before the first announcement.
“Mile marker 151 is approaching.”
It was time for a final instrument check and instructions for my co- pilot.
“Ok, see the dashboard clock? This is where we are.” She nodded in agreement.
“This is where we’re going.” I pointed to the clock on my phone.
“This is our soundtrack generator.” I indicated her phone, cued up with the Back to the Future theme song.
“On my mark, I want you to tell me what time it is on my phone. If my calculations are right, in approximately -,” I checked the GPS, “… four minutes, we will be sent -” I paused and swept my hand across the horizon, “… one hour into the past!”
“We what? I think it’s just a time zo—”
I put my index finger on her lips. “Shh. There’s no room for doubt. It’s time. Cue the song.”
She tapped her phone and the Back to the Future theme song blasted through our speakers.
“One mile to marker 161!” she yelled.
“Ok. I have to get this thing up to 77mph!” I yelled back. “Hold on kids!” In the back seat, Elias and Selah were watching The Adventures of Milo and Otis for the third time in a row. They had no idea what was about to happen.
We flew past marker 160 and I pressed down on the accelerator. The speedometer started climbing. 70, 72, 74, 76, 77. Mile marker 161 was in view and quickly approaching. Although it was a clear, sunny day, a lightning storm swirled over the distant horizon.
“Brace yourselves!!!” I screamed at my crew as we passed by marker 161. Milo and Otis barked and meowed.
I looked at the time on the dashboard: 1:32pm.
“What time is it on your phone?” I shouted frantically at my wife.
“12:32pm! You did it, honey!”
“YES!!! YEEEESSSS!!!” I shook my fist in the air and released a maniacal laughter. “We’re in the past!!”
“Yaaay!” yelled Elias and Selah. Private Pampers released a long fart.
“Can we get out now?” they asked.
“No, no, no!” We risk meeting our younger selves and disrupting the whole time/space continuum. The consequences could be disastrous! We have to continue straight to the Caves. Everything will be safe there.”
Temporal experiment complete, we set a course for the Florida Caverns just off highway I-10. At our current speed, we would arrive in 40 minutes within this newfound, ancient time zone.
But, what was this? Approaching on the right I spied a sign advertising Carhenge, a replica of Stonehenge made out of junk cars. Rumor had it this roadside treasure was built on top of a now-covered sinkhole, which was actually a portal to a parallel universe where Wal- Mart greeters ruled society. So I adjusted my trajectory and flew into the black hole, pondering on my tiny crew’s chance of survival.
Even though we were only one bout of boredom away from a meltdown, imagination has a way of transporting even the most mundane moments into awkward adventures everyone can jump into.
You’ll have a grin on your face after reading this! Philip’s story reminds me of so many fun road trips with my own family. And who doesn’t love Back to the Future?! #roadtrip #shortstoryTweet
Philip Rivera is the grown-up version of Calvin, from Calvin and Hobbes, that got married, moved to the suburbs, had four kids, and bought a minivan. When he’s not changing diapers, judging ballet moves, or fighting ninjas, he moonlights as a humor author. His stories prove that minivans, child-rearing, husbandly duties, and teaching high school can be the subjects of epic adventures. His book, Suburban Luchador: The Cul-de-sac Chronicles, is a collection of humorous slice-of-life stories loosely based on his average Joe misadventures. Philip’s stories highlight the magic found in mundane life… if only we let our imaginations get carried away.
Take me to Amazon, I want to buy this book!
2020 has been a little nuts-o, but I hope there are many more awkward adventures in all of our futures. Life with God is always an adventure, I wonder where He’ll take us next!
Until next time,