A few days before we left, I had the brilliant idea of going to the tanning booth... salon... crisper... whatever you call it. I wanted to look nice for my future wife and thought that it would be the best choice. Of course, there was no way in Hades I was going to the booth by myself so I convinced Michael that he could use a little bronzing as well. This was our first time and no one explained to either of us that a tanning bed was the equivalent of the surface of the sun. Both of us burnt to a crisp, my skin was so bad it turned a sickening shade of blue and we actually had to call the emergency room for suggestions.
Our toasted skin made the trip a tad more difficult, partly because it hurt so bad and also because we started shedding skin like pythons, sending up clouds of dust in the car. Now Michael was no Sid in the since that he stayed awake for the entire trip, but he was still a little rusty behind the wheel of a car when it came to open road. When it was his turn to captain my little Ford Contour he generally drove 10-15 miles under the speed limit and would slam on the brakes randomly for reasons only known to him. Because of this, I opted to drive the bulk of the trip, but only on the condition that Michael stay awake and keep me company.
We shared many long conversations about life, school, friends and so on as we traversed the 30+ hour journey through flat, boring landscapes. When we arrived at our first stop, some inexpensive hotel in one of those mid-United States locations, we were exhausted and starving. The problem we discovered was that there was no real food locations to eat at except for a Chucky Cheese. Of course, Chucky Cheese is not known for having delicious cuisine, rather it is a haven for screaming children and robotic animal bands. Neither one of us had a real tolerance for screaming babies, so we ate our disgusting pizza in silence, occasionally looking up at each other in frustration. The only highlight of our meal came when Michael was engrossed in his food and did not notice the large grey mouse amble up to our table to, I don't know, do a little jig. Michael casually glanced up at the approaching rodent and literally flung his food and drink off the table screaming in shock.
"I'm done, dude! I'm done," Michael said, flashing a threatening fist at the fat rat. We called it a night and headed back to the hotel. After shedding about a pound of skin all along the hotel floor, we went to sleep.
In the middle of the night, I had a sleeping episode (see previous post for details on my condition.) I dreamt that an old man was in our room and was attempting to smother Michael with his pillow. This obviously was very bothersome to me and in order to stop this from happening, I bellowed at the top of my lungs while I flung my own pillow at the old intruder across the room. The action startled Michael and he had trouble getting back to sleep. That next morning when he asked me what the heck I was doing last night and I laughingly explained, he got a strange look on his face and said. "That's great Frank, now I'll be sleeping with you in your bed tonight."
Still we ventured on, exhausted, but determined. After a few hours of driving, Michael started to nod off. Normally, I would have let him sleep, after all it was my fault he got very little rest the previous night, but I was starting to get drowsy myself. I needed something to keep him awake. On a side note, I need to explain something about my brother. He has to be the most gullible person I have ever known. He'll believe anything you tell him. Once when he was younger (not a whole lot younger mind you,) Michael was sick and taking his temperature with a thermometer. For some reason he wanted to see what would happen when you stuck the thermometer against the hot light bulb of the lamp. Of course it exploded. I then had him convinced that we were all going to die from mercury poison and even started to gasp for air and writhe on the ground. To which Michael screamed and begged for forgiveness for murdering us all.
With that being said, I glanced over at Michael as we drove and saw his eyes fluttering, I then noticed a rather large dog trotting up in the distance. There was no mistaking it for anything but a dog, in fact it was probably a Golden Retriever. I slapped Michael on his arm and pointed at the dog in amazement.
"Look at that thing!" I yelled.
Michael's eyes grew large and he gasped. "Oh my gosh, what is that?"
To which I answered, "It's a hyena!"
"No way, man! No way! Ah man, what do we do?" Michael bought the whole hyena bit, and he was clearly disturbed by it. I suppose I would be too, had there really been an animal indigenous to Africa bounding up the freeway in Kansas.
More memories happened on that trip than I can list, and it will always go down as one of my most fondest road trips. Michael and I grew closer as brothers and as friends, a friendship, of course, that might be ruined because of this revealing post.
Michael a.k.a. Super Mario