I just finished a hilarious book called Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson or, as she’s known on the interwebs, The Bloggess. In her book (which I HIGHLY recommend) Jenny has this cool idea for a ‘GPS for stupid people.’ It’s essentially a GPS based on landmarks rather than mile markers or road names. While I take some issue with the name, the basic idea appeals to me, mostly because I think it’s something my mom would totally go for. Some back story…
Ever since I was a little kid, my mother’s side of the family would all gather at my uncle Ted’s house for an annual Fourth of July cookout. (Technically Ted is more like my second cousin once removed or something, but because he’s closer to my mom’s generation and because ‘second cousin once removed’ is a complicated relationship for a seven year-old to understand, my cousins and I always referred to him as ‘uncle’ or simply ‘Ted’ to make things easier.) Ted’s house is awesome – especially if you’re a little kid. There’s an in-ground pool with these cool snake-like hose dealies that come out of the walls, a Jacuzzi, fun rocks to climb on, a pink bathtub in the backyard filled with cans of soda and beer, picnic tables, cats to play with and a cuckoo clock in the kitchen that totally used to freak me out.
That cookout was the source of many of my fondest childhood memories…like that time my cousin Danny and I snuck inside the house, dripping wet from the pool and ate an entire tray of my grandma’s brownies, or the time my cousin Elizabeth (who was maybe two at the time) chugged her dad’s beer that he’d left by the side of the pool and accidentally fell in ‘the biggie, biggie hole.’ [Side bar: Apparently I am the only one who remembers the beer-drinking part of the story, so I’m either a dirty stinking liar OR I was the only witness, thereby making me the worst cousin ever, both for allowing a two-year-old to chug a beer and for ratting her out – on the internet no less!) What about the time everybody in the pool did the dead man’s float so we could take a picture for potential use as that year’s Christmas card? My family is so awesome. [There is a picture of that somewhere, but I couldn’t find it the last time I went home, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.] Even in the less eventful years I would rejoice in the hours I’d get to spend playing in the pool and yelling, ‘Ma, lookit! Lookit me dive!’ (I still had a little bit of a Worcester accent back in those days. Shut up, it was wicked cute.)
[My mom is the one hovering off to the side, not participating because she didn’t want to her hair wet. *Shakes head at mom’s inability to get with the program*]
Because Ted lives in New Hampshire and according to A Prayer for Owen Meany people in New Hampshire don’t like to give directions – apparently they “tend to think that if you don’t know where you’re going, you don’t belong where you are” and because no one in my family is all that great with directions in any case, we would always arrange a carpool/caravan so at least we’d all be lost and late together. But over the years, due to scheduling conflicts and children with driver’s licenses, my mother and I would occasionally have to go it alone and proudly boast to the rest of the family that we’d only gotten lost twice!
Since I was just a kid at the time I couldn’t be bothered to worry about how we were getting there, so long as we got there – and soon because I probably had to pee. Besides, I was usually too busy blowing up my giant inflatable whale floatie in the back seat to pay attention to where we were going, though it was kinda fun to shout out the familiar landmarks along the way.
Then came the first year that I’d be travelling up to NH by myself. I was living in CT at the time, just out of college and I called my mom to ask for directions. Hand to God, this is what she said:
Get off the highway (no mention of which one) at that place where the state liquor store used to be.
Head towards the big white dome that isn’t there anymore.
If you see that restaurant with the giant rotating turkey (which also isn’t there anymore) you went the wrong way.
Then take a left.
Go up the road for a while and take a right at the brown house with that nice varnished wood siding that used to have a gigantic American flag out front, but doesn’t anymore.
Go past the library.
Pass the high school where Ted used to teach.
Take a right on the road where the race track used to be.
Take a left when you get to the house with the red English telephone box in the front yard.
Then look for a house with uncle Phil’s truck in the driveway and you’ll know you’re there!
Seriously, ma? Thanks, but I think I’ll just use my GPS. You do have their actual address, right? Right?
So I’m here to tell you Jenny, you’re not alone and I would gladly purchase one your patented GPS devices…for my mom.