My friend and imaginary twin sister Myrna, after years of working for Catholic Heart Work Camp, is a professional road-tripping ninja. She has determined to an exact science the amount of time wasted on rest stops, and so has declared that there is no stopping for the bathroom unless the gas tank is empty. She flatly refuses to drink while on the road and looks at you disapprovingly if you take a sip. However, adventures always happen when you break the rules.
Our recent trip to Charleston, South Carolina started out a little shaky. We left an hour later than planned and the road was filled with an unusually large volume of Florida drivers made even slower by a rainstorm, forcing us to make a back roads detour. Before hopping back on Interstate 95, I used my natural charm and wit to cunningly convince Myrna to pull over at a Blimpie/Exxon rest stop so I could use the facilities and get a snack.
In the restroom, a pivotal thing happened, extending our five-minute rest stop into an all-day event. In the next stall over, I hear Myrna flush the toilet, then scream “OH MY GOSH! OH MY GOSH!” To know Myrna is to know that if an alligator were to come up out of the toilet and bite her on the butt, she would calmly and factually state, “Jenn, an alligator has bitten me on the butt.” So to imagine what would have caused her to scream so intensely immediately brought on a sense of urgency as well as curiosity. My only thought is that she had a baby in the toilet, like on “I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant,” which is one of my most favorite things on television.
As I exit the bathroom stall, she informs me of our predicament.
“I flushed my keys down the toilet,” she said.
“The keys we need to drive the car?” I ask. She nods. I peer into the toilet bowl, questioning how a jumble of keys would even fit down the drain. I inquire.
“Justine told me that having too many keys on my key ring would damage my ignition, so I only have two.”
“I’ve heard that before, but I still have lots of keys on my keyring.”
“It’s bad for your car!”
“Well, I still have my keys, don’t I?”
We determine our next course of action is to inform a store employee. A young-looking girl with a decidedly country accent calls her manager, and while eyeing Myrna says, “Two girls flushed their keys down the toilet. No, they’re definitely not from here.”
Here, we discover, is Hardeeville, South Carolina, a tiny town made significant in our minds only by it’s convenient location off of Interstate 95. A call to dealers and locksmiths reveals that the closest place an affordable key can be made is Savannah, about an hour away. We are forced to turn to the more expensive option of finding someone who can help us at all, since the nearest dealership is closed at noon on Saturday, and the next closest unhelpfully tells us that unless we can tow the car there in the next hour and a half, they will be closed as well. Luckily, Chuck the Locksmith can program keys and is willing to come to our aid.
Over the next two hours we amuse ourselves by playing the claw machine, buying lottery tickets, playing MASH and reliving the scene of Myrna watching and her keys disappear into the toilet drain before she can even make a move to grab them. We’re laughing so hard we’re crying, and by the time Chuck the Locksmith is finished and we’re finally on our way we’ve made a list of who we can blame this entire incident on.
When something goes wrong, I like to play a little game called “Let’s Blame Everybody Else.” Our list included Myrna’s godson Hayden, who helped make us late in leaving this morning, our dear friend Anne who made us breakfast, thus also contributing to our lateness, crazy drivers who can’t drive in the rain, thus making our trip slower and therefore I couldn’t possibly have held it for the whole length of the trip, the state of South Carolina, who’s two-lane-only interstate made for more traffic and added willingness to stop, Justine who told Myrna to make her keyring smaller and me, who made us pee before E.
“This is why you don’t pee before E.”
“Well, obviously I’m better at it, you’ve never practiced and when you do, look what happens. You drop your keys in the toilet.”