Always, the Lake Superior of spills happens when I’m driving at 70 MPH on an expressway with two screaming children and searching for a pinhead exit on a map.
With dread, I glance back. Red ooze sinks into the carpet so that the dealership can talk us down on price when we trade-in.
I am reminded of the funky 1958 horror movie, “The Blob,” starring Steve McQueen pre-cool, or before the leather jacket and motorcycle. In the film, a vengeful gelatin, Jell-O on steroids, terrorizes a town. Little did they know. Leave Ole Blob in direct sun, and the village folk would be able to scrape up dessert for decades to come.
“The Blob” became a film concept inside a lab, when a chemist invented a polymer lard. When the polymer sat up and did sign language for ‘cookie,’ the chemist was struck by inspiration. “Hey, wouldn’t that make a great movie? A blob attacks a city and holds the mayor’s brunette daughter for ransom.”
“Make her a blonde and Blob here negotiates for two per cent of the gross,” Lefty Bizarre, the agent says, lighting the Blob’s cigar.
In that spirit of something unpredictable and messy, two terms that describe my life, my kids have tried to make their spills Blob-worthy. Even the dog gets in on the action, drooling and slobbering until the dashboard caves in.
But nothing compared to what happened Thursday afternoon. The spill to end all spills. The Hoover Dam buster.
“Mommy, it’s spilling out from the van! The cars behind us are sliding all over the road!”
Already, I can see the grim face of the state trooper. In the glove compartment two slivers of rice paper that couldn’t absorb a tse-tse fly’s urine.
Oh, other moms stock rolls of paper towels that could drain the Pacific Rim. For gooey hands, they have Wonka Whopper wipes. For their husband’s barbecue stain, an Oxy Key Lime detergent stick.
Unlike these revolutionary minutewomen, preparation was never my forte. I never feel quite alive unless I’m unglued. Cell division cannot occur until I am in a hot gaseous state, enabling the release of stress chemicals. At any given hour, roughly 82% of my 100 trillion cells cry out for an elephant tranquilizer.
So, I’m driving with the laid-back flair of Popeye Doyle in “The French Connection,” and my kids are bobbing tetherballs, anchored by seatbelts. Along this stretch of highway are corn, soybean and farmhouses. I’ve heard way too many farmhouse jokes to risk that. Besides. Some Ed Gein lookalike might answer the door. I focus on green signs that lead to rotating logos, triage care and the Department of Homeland Drainage.
“Look for an exit, sons!” I bark.
“But I can’t even read yet,” my youngest protests.
“The spill’s reaching our knees,” my oldest wails.
“Good, I’m thirsty.” The youngest leans over.
“Don’t you dare!” I glare into the rearview mirror. “That carpet’s a billboard for E Coli.”
I lift the napkins to the sun and see my hand easily. Fast food executives designed these things, wanting to save money. Mom shareholders should raid the boardroom and pummel them with diaper bags until they offer cotton beach towels with every purchase.
I chew my lip. I could tear off my shirt and toss it back. The state troopers would then add indecent exposure to my arrest sheet, along with reckless spilling and endangering.
Well, we eventually end up at a gas station. My panic cells recede. We’re strolling through the aisles of the food mart. My youngest wants a juice box. Cherry flavor. My oldest wants a snow cone. A neon magenta. Somewhere, employees at the Red Dye Institute are applauding.
Sighing, I tell myself, live dangerously. Jackson Pollock made millions with his splatter paintings. Our van’s a work of rot. As we leave, I hug the kids. Let’s win one for the Blobster.