Yesterday morning we packed up the car and drove our family up north for a few days of relaxation with Spike's family. Our six week old baby is in hot demand and we were excited to show her off to the clan. Unfortunately, this requires a 10+ hour road trip each way. I was prepared for the worst as we pulled out of our garage and headed towards the freeway. I'd frantically thrown most of our belongings in white trash bags that morning trying to anticipate every emergency situation we'd encounter on the road. I'd be ready.
The girls were mildly fussy for the first few hours, but nothing I couldn't handle without too much snapping. We stopped for lunch in Baker, California. The town sported a shady restaurant called The Mad Greek, another dingy shack purporting to sell Fresh Alien Jerky and a healthy line of overpriced gas stations. When my husband suggested we eat at the local Arby's I didn't have much choice. Somehow in our six years of marriage I've avoided eating at Arby's but yesterday, it was the big red hat or alien jerky and I'm a nursing mother so I had to choose the lesser of two evils.
Before we even entered the restaurant I was in a state. Could things get any worse? I was facing an entire day of driving, both my children had poopy diapers, it was 100+ degrees outside and I was eating at Arby's. This was my seventh circle of hell.
"What do you want, sweetie?" asked Spike, as he faced the cashier.
Want? I thought? A week at a spa...the perfect body...a horse that talks... But instead I picked the only thing on the menu that didn't have that nasty roast beef on it.
As I sat trying to juggle eating my lunch with nursing, my toddler dumped a glass of ice water all over me and the baby. No biggie. Well actually...
"This is a NIGHTMARE!" I yelled.
Spike looked at me like I was daft.
"Honey, it's just water."
I looked up with disbelief. Didn't he sense the total awfulness of the situation? A look around the other diners at the restaurant proved that no one else seemed to be sitting in the black hole of rage that occupied my side of the booth. The guy with a handlbar mustache eating curly fries looked at our family with boredom. What was wrong with everybody? Didn't they realize they were spending their holiday weekend eating at Arby's? ARBY'S!!? Where was the outrage?
My attention returned to my family. Spike was still looking at me with an confused smile, Pixie was happily slashing in the puddles of water collecting on my bench and Cher nursed, unflapped and soaking wet. Could it be that I was overreacting?
It's been hard for me to gauge the atmosphere of reality with all my postpartum delusions. Even thought I couldn't understand how, everyone in that restaurant seemed blissfully unaware of the nightmarish situation they were in. I took a deep breath and picked up my sandwich. I could do this. My mom loved to tell us girls, "fake it till you make it." I wrapped my lips around that sandwich and bit down. Much to my disbelief, it wasn't disgusting. In fact, the Chicken Condon Bleu Sandwich is nothing less than divine. I closed my eyes and found that with a little bit of effort, I could ignore the black hole of angst swirling around my booth. As it turns out, happiness is just a delusion away. Right then and there on that bench I recommited to use my delusional powers for good rather than evil. I, Hollywood, could eat at Arby's.