Earlier in the week we asked our San Francisco-based readers to regale us with tales of awful family roadtrips past, for a chance to win tickets to Killing My Lobster’s newest play, KML Hits Highway 101. And boy, did you deliver. From cereal-scented vomit to harrowing encounters with poultry, you are people who need comedy — and quite possibly therapy, but that’s not really our domain. To thank you, each winning contestant will receive a pair of tickets to the opening weekend performance of their choosing. So, without further ado, in no particular order, here are the McSweeney’s-worthy winning stories…
Jenny: “We’re Here”
It was a family tradition. Eight or so hours after we had left, and Mom and Dad has long since stopped fighting about who had taken too long to get the kids together and everything packed when we said we were going to leave at eight for pete’s sake and well who was no help at all just waiting on the couch tapping his foot instead of helping get everything ready. We had crossed the state border and now the ’76 school bus yellow Volkswagen van was winding along some 1.25 lane desert highway. On one side a mountain that shot up and up and occasionally spat dusty orange armadillo-sized boulders onto our path. On the other side, a canyon that went down and down and occasionally eroded suddenly as the van trundled against its edge.
What kept this bohemian tradition from being stifling was that, this time, it was literally suffocating. The night before, our German shepherd dog faced off with a skunk and emerged victorious and reeking. We considered abandoning her to the campsite but her drooping face moved us to pity and so we loaded her in after bathing her in tomato juice. She smelled exactly like a skunk pizza baked in an SPCA. The temperature vaulted into double digits and my sister and I stuck our noses desperately out the windows that could not be rolled down but merely popped out two inches.
Hairpin turns. Skunk pizza dog. Heat. John Denver.
Hang on, we’ll be there real soon, my Dad encouraged.
Instead, I threw up the fruit loops, instant blueberry pancakes and Kool-Aid. This new noxious aroma prompted my sister and soon we were both hurling in stereo. Greta the Bad Dog gave one last heavy pant and erupted all over the floor. As the chorus finally ended, purged and weeping, Dad pulled into the campsite. The parents sighed.
After that, they discovered Dramamine and drugged us during driving.
Paco: Paco and Maude
I went on a road trip with my grandma when I was 10. My grandma is really hilarious and not unlike Ruth Gordon in Harold and Maude. When we finally got passed the busy highways of outer Chicago she pulled over and looked and me and said, “I’m tired. You drive.” I didn’t even hesitate. We exchanged seats in her baby blue Dodge Aries K. Thankfully it was an automatic. I’ll never forget the huge rush of excitement that came over me when I sat behind the wheel and seeing my grandma smiling like a Chesire cat as she dialed in her beloved Chicago White Sox game on the radio.
We drove thru rural Iowa listening to the game while my grandma and I made up knock-knock jokes.
“California in the morning.”
I can still see my grandma, Helen Tonkavich, with her remarkably white feet hanging out the window, with the smell of corn in the air and the sound of the ball hitting the Cardinal’s catcher’s glove.
I have not driven since.
Sang: I Feel Like Chicken Tonight
At the age of 15, I was forced out of my comfortable home with air conditioning and my 30 day non-stop marathon adventuring on Nintendo’s game console adventure “Legend of Zelda” to Venezuela — the South American country famous for humidity, petroleum and a colorful politician named Hugo Chavez. During this two week trip, I was forced to consume a meal consisting of chicken which in of itself was unremarkable except for the part where it was mercilessly butchered before my young adoloscent eyes. I pleaded that as delicious as “freshly murdered” chicken may taste, I would rather decline. My parents thought that would be rude and demanded I eat it. Per the rules of karmic retribution, I was afflicted with massive amounts of digestional trauma for the next seven days requiring me to spend most of the trip visiting the many fine public restrooms of Caracas with its beautiful murals and David Lynchian nightmarish toilets. It did not help that locals kepts forcing coconut juice on me to “settle my stomach” which unbeknowst to me at the time is an apparently powerful natural laxative. To this day, anytime I hear the Venezuelan calyspo music, my colon spasms in abject terror.