Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Moving Curse

I had dinner with mom recently. I think. It may have been a week or two ago now. Time no longer has any meaning to me. Warning to those who are offered the chance to work from home: make it a point to get out in public once in a while to avoid becoming a workaholic hermit.

It was a lovely dinner after a long day of driving from Dallas to Aggie Land (Bryan, TX - that’s a 3 hour trip one way for those of you who are cursed with the misfortunate to be from somewhere other than Texas) and back; however, mom made it a point to take issue with the way in which she has been portrayed in this blog so far. Specifically, she indicated perhaps, just perhaps, I might have been using my bully pulpit to make her the butt of my slightly skewed worldview a little more frequently than a good son should.

I love my mother. I really do. I wouldn’t have a world view, much less a slightly skewed one, without her. So, in an effort to show her how much I appreciate her and respect her wishes not to be the whipping girl yet again, it’s dad’s turn to be thrown under the bus. I’ll get around to rehabilitating mom’s image in another post. I promise. Oh, and if my sister is reading this by some miracle, I will gladly entertain requests to be left out of this exercise in character assassination. I’ll even seriously consider such a request if accompanied by appropriate compensation.

Now that the solicitation of bribery as a means of avoiding familial libel and slander is over with, we can continue with our story.

I’m not too worried about dad getting offended by my humorous references to his character flaws, real or imagined, as I’m pretty sure he’s still not reading the blog. When I last spoke to him a few weeks ago and inquired as to his opinions about whether he liked the blog, the quality of the writing (he was an English major in college after all), etc., he said, and I quote, “He-eh”. At least, that’s the only way I know to spell the sound that comes out of his mouth when he has no clue what someone is talking about. It sounds like a cross between “hay” and “eh” with a slight hint of a nasal “nuh” in the middle. Or maybe the nasal sound is tacked onto the end somehow. It’s hard to tell.

I’m sure there are lots of stories to tell about dad. The problem is I only know a few of them that don’t involve carefully repressed memories. I think it’s one of the side effects arising from him not being the custodial parent in a “joint custody” situation. One of these days I’m going to ask a family law judge how they figure “every other weekend and two weeks in the summer” constitutes “joint custody”. Seems to me like someone was smoking a joint when they came up with that euphemism, but I digress as usual. Instead, I will focus on how I take after dad.

If you were to ask number one follower, best man and all around good guy, Ken, what is my most notorious curse, he will likely, without hesitation, tell you it is my perverse luck with moving. As in “it’s time to pack all my crap and change addresses” moving. I’ve lost count over the years, but I’m pretty sure Ken and I have helped each other move at least a dozen times. We’ve got it down to a science. However, every time, without fail, on any moving day I happen to be involved with, disaster strikes. I’ve pretty much seen it all: a completely insane soon to be ex-wife (not mine, Ken’s, The Queen is a dream to work with on moving day), dozens of fearless cockroaches chasing Ken and I down to reclaim their sofa that had just been moved in the middle of the night so that Ken’s now ex-wife could avoid leaving a forwarding address (that move was also the scene of the laundry closet wall caked with dryer lint because someone didn’t connect the vent hose…for a few years), heatstroke caused by choosing the hottest freaking day of the summer to move (there is not enough water or Gatorade on the planet to keep someone properly hydrated in 100+ degree Texas heat when the inside of the moving van feels like the surface of the sun), moving furniture up three flights of stairs while coming down with pneumonia (The Queen had to do most of the work that day as I was passing out from fever), thunder storms, furniture that had to go in through a second story window because it won’t fit through the front door and many other fond moving memories.

I come by my curse honestly though. It’s genetic from dad’s side of the family. Mom’s side of the family doesn’t move unless forced to by a tornado. I can prove it, too, with two fond memories from the Annals of Disastrous Moving Adventures.

The first fond memory I will relate is actually the second memory chronologically speaking, but it’s bad form to give your best evidence first. As moving weekends go, it was what has become typical for me: the weather sucked (thunderstorms all weekend) and one of my uncles (mom’s brother) went into the hospital for the final time due to a terminal illness. The bad karma of that weekend could have all been avoided though had my father made a simple, life altering phone call. You see, my dad and my uncle (his brother, not mom’s brother) had season tickets to the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys made it to the Super Bowl that year which gives season ticket holders first dibs on Super Bowl tickets. My uncle generously asked dad if I would want the other ticket. Dad, without asking me, told my uncle that I wouldn’t want it because…wait for it…I was going to be moving that weekend. He and my uncle went and had a great time in Pasadena, California while I was stuck back here in Texas to get run over by the bad karma bus. No, I’m not bitter at all.

The curse actually got started earlier than that though. This particular story will prove, without a shadow of doubt, my curse is genetically inherited from dad. Dad and my uncle owned and ran their own company. Sometime in mid to late 1988, they decided to buy a competitor’s operation down in Houston. Dad drew the short straw and prepared for the move to Houston to become the fearless leader of the office there.

By the time dad was ready to move, it was late December or early January. The week he was going to move, he was out of town for the first part of the week when the weather was perfect: sunshiny and relatively warm for winter in Texas. Dad came back into town Wednesday night, and we started loading the truck on an overcast and chilly Thursday so we could leave first thing Friday morning. Thursday night brought a Dallas, TX version of a blizzard: snow and ice covering everything, dropping power lines, and turning roads and bridges into skating rinks.

Now, I can hear some of you from places that actually have four seasons and see snow outside of a glass globe snickering into your coffee mugs; but, down here in Texas, most drivers think ice goes in your tea and were never given practical tips like cruise control don’t work on ice. Dad and I woke up Friday morning to a winter wonder land and embarked on what should have been a four hour drive to Houston. I know this is beginning to sound like the opening to Gilligan’s Island, but it’s really not that bad.

The snow and ice storm followed dad and I from Dallas to Houston. Ten hours later, dad and I rolled into Houston with a moving van full of dad’s worldly possessions still shiny side up by doing what most other Texans haven't figure out yet, driving incredibly slow. It was well after dark, and a lovely freezing rain gave Houston that cheerful, death on a slab in the morgue look. I don’t remember what floor dad’s apartment was on. What I do remember is being stiff from sitting in the cab of a moving van for 10 hours and then having to unload enough of the furniture to have something to sleep on that night. One elevator load at a time.

Saturday morning, after we unloaded and hooked up the TV, dad and I discovered that Houston had its worst ice storm in decades. Forty plus unlucky drivers managed to have a massive accident on an ice encrusted I-45.

Remember what I said? To people in Texas, ice goes in your tea.

As you can see, my moving curse is most definitely a genetic gift from my father. What I’m still trying to figure out is, given the fact he is well aware of my curse, why does Ken keep asking for my help when he moves?


  1. Coming from a state with four seasons (well, three this year: spring, summer, winter), it has never actually crossed my mind to attempt to use cruise control while driving on snow and ice. Can you lock in cruise control at speeds below twenty anyway?

  2. GunDiva, technically Texas does have four seasons: almost summer, summer, it was just summer a week ago and fall/winter (it usually happens on a Monday or Tuesday). However, you are making the erroneous assumption Texas drivers, who know absolutely nothing about snow and ice, drive less than the speed limit in inclement weather. Texas drivers also think it's great fun to tap their brakes while driving over ice encrusted bridges.


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