It’s also important to note that, when my dad was pulling a bottle of pills (yes, a bottle of pills) out of the pocket of his cargo shorts, a tumble of grape stems fell out. How long they’d been there, neither he nor I wagered a guess. I just picked them up and threw them in the rest stop garbage can. When it comes to my dad, it’s sometimes best not to ask questions.
Like why he would toss three loose plastic hangers into the trunk of my car on top of his luggage (a half-filled duffel bag and a grocery bag of toiletries/manuscripts). I pulled the hangers out and started folding his crumpled t-shirts. He said, “I must learn to fold those things.”
I said, “I tried to teach you about five years ago.”
He said, “I know! I can fold towels. You taught me to fold towels. I just haven’t got a hang of the shirts.”
Moreover, my father is alternately insomniac and snoring, so sharing a motel room with him is a goddamn mess.
When I say insomniac, I don’t mean the staring-at-the-clock/quiet-general-fretting kind. I mean futzing around, rattling pill bottles, and, if possible, breaking coffee makers.
And when I say snoring, I don’t mean the regular-tempo honk-shoo of the cartoons. I mean an arrhythmic, confusing series of sounds, not a cacophony like it used to be, but something like
1. a silent intake of breath;
2. a series of 5-8 short uhs (imagine someone pretending to burp) 1-3 seconds apart;
3. a long silence, during which an auditor would certainly assume death;
4. a final exhalation, satisfied-sounding like the one someone might make after passing a fart that’s been held in too long;
That’s my travel companion.