If you live west of the Salt Lake/Moanalua area, then you probably got stuck in horrendous afternoon evening traffic yesterday. I still don’t know what caused it, only that it was the antagonist in a sprawling epic in which I played the metaphorical, proverbial Odysseus simply trying to make his way home to his wife and family. What follows is that harrowing tale.
Chapter 1: “If I leave now, I should make it home in time to see the twins.”
Madison has a fever and didn’t go to school yesterday. Just as I was about to leave campus, Lynnette called and told me that I didn’t have to take her to dance. “Great,” I thought. I had a lot of work to do and actually spent the next two hours completing it. It was almost 5:30 when I turned off the air conditioners in my classroom and uttered the words which double as the title of this chapter.
Chapter 2: “Aww, hell no, I’m not driving home in this on an empty stomach.”
I took my usual route to the freeway entrance near Palama Settlement but knew something was wrong before I got to the intersection. The line to turn right was backed up past the elementary school. When I finally got to the front of the line to turn, the line of cars waiting to enter the freeway stretched back across the intersection. A kind soul let me into the lane and I joined the thousands of other souls moving at 15 mph on H1 West. It was a crawl. Traffic was moving so slowly that I had time to decide that not only did I not want to drive in that kind of slog, but that I would rather get dinner instead. I took the frickin’ Houghtailing exit, turned left, and had dinner at Burger King on Dillingham. Somehow I ordered a Whopper instead of a Double Whopper and I was crestfallen when I unwrapped the burger to find a lone patty. I checked the receipt. It said Whopper. Damn it.
Chapter 3: “Babe, I don’t think I’m going to be home soon.”
Dillingham was smooth sailing. I was giddy when I reached the Airport on-ramp because there was no visible back up. Just as I had planned, my meal allowed for whatever had been ruining the flow of traffic to be taken care of. I was accelerating when I emerged above Nimitz Highway and saw all the taillights stretch out before me like an interminable Red Vine, or better yet, Twizzler. I was sad. I called Lynnette and sadly reported the news which also serves as the title of this chapter. She was also sad.
Chapter 4: “I should probably play this safe.”
It was slow going past the airport and the closer I drew to the merge, the worse my stomach felt. As a man who has dealt with a junk stomach for all of his adult life, I knew well enough not to ignore the warning signs of an impending attack. I considered my options. I could get off and go to Target. If I chanced it, I wouldn’t be able to get off the freeway again until the roundy Aiea exit, and then I’d have to gun it to Wendy’s or something to use the bathroom. Yes, these are the kinds of scenarios one must prepare for when one has a junk stomach. I laid up. I drove over to Target. Eventually – in order to kill time – I sauntered around the store. I looked for even more Christmas lights so as to raise the level of our Christmas lights to the level of the Holiday Monger’s satisfaction. But, but, but – I soon realized that such a choice was not to be made by me alone, lest I disappoint the Holiday Monger further. So I picked up an extension cord and DID NOT, I REPEAT SOMEHOW DID NOT buy an Icee.
Chapter 5: “Just like 3:30, but at 7:00.”
I returned to the freeway in Halawa and found the traffic to be flowing much better than earlier in the evening. And by better I mean that it was moving at about the same rate as it does at 3:30 in the afternoon. There were still a ton of cars on the road. As usual, once I finally got onto H2, it was smooth sailing – except for the police officer who positioned himself around one of the bends of H2 because he knew everyone coming off of the H1 debacle would be thinking “smooth sailing!” He caught a guy and that guy was not me. I made it home before 7:30. The twins were still up. I could hear Madison’s throat-clearing from the darkness of her room. I was still upset at myself about the Whopper.
Chapter 6: “Go to sleep so I can play Pokemon, boy.”
I finally captured Avery’s steps on camera. Not long after, we fed the twins their bottles of milk that signal bedtime. Lynnette took Avery to the twins room and I took Cole to our room. We still keep them apart so that if one of them cries, they won’t wake the other. Now, in fairness, I utter the phrase which doubles as the name of this chapter every night, but the irony is that I didn’t actually play Pokemon last night. In fact, I can’t even tell you for sure that Cole fell asleep before I did. I passed out sometime after 8:15 and then jerked awake at 12:03 in the morning. I walked to the bathroom and poked my eyes 14 times trying to get my contacts out. Pro Tip: If you’ve fallen asleep with your contacts in and you awaken in the dark, calmly walk to the bathroom and turn on light. Now, let your eyes adjust to the light. Because if you try to take your contacts out while your eyelids reflexively squint, it doesn’t go over super-well. About 15 minutes after I returned to bed (it took me roughly .0000032 seconds to decide to put off the shower for 4-and-a-half hours), some hooligans set off a massive sparkler bomb (or something) at the park near our home. It was loud and echoed off the walls of our nearby buildings. I swear I heard laughter. It startled Lynnette awake, but miraculously did not wake either of the twins. Abby didn’t even both to bark.
Chapter 7: “But they put in that onion in there, though.”
I woke up 15 minutes earlier than usual so I could shower. My tongue tasted like the onion inherent to the Whopper. I was still tired despite nearly 8 hours of sleep. I contemplated my options. Since I had done all of my work the afternoon before, I assumed I could pull into the parking lot and tilt the chair back for an hour. But then I’d have to get Starbucks after. I decided instead just to go to my room and start cranking out college recommendations.
Today, I found traffic to be lighter than usual. And that allowed me to arrive at Costco for eggs, Dimetapp, paper towels, toilet paper, and two gallons of whole milk before the crazy traffic started there. I did not convince my son that I was his long-lost father and that I needed his help to slay his mother’s suitors. I did not have a blind man feel my face to verify my identity. I did not bend my notoriously stubborn bow, then use it and several dozen arrows to kill my wife’s aforementioned suitors. I ate a slice of pizza and a chicken bake for dinner. Epic.