Sunday, March 29, 2009


I'm back from vacation! Thank you all for making my guest bloggers feel so welcome. While on vacation, Husbandrinka, the kids and I drove from upstate to Canada, to see the Niagara Falls. Which reminded me of the driving that my parents and I did one summer, many years ago. I believe that this is what people in the mental health industry call flashbacks.

When I was about 15 years old, my parents and I took a car trip to Canada. I was born when my parents were very young, barely out of their teens, so I assume that by the time that I was a teenager they were good and sick of this parenting shit and decided that the best way to dispose of me and recapture their youth was to kill me with boredom. A drive through Canada was the perfect weapon. I suspect it's the culprit in a few cold cases.

We drove from Montreal to Prince Edward Island, because my father remembered reading "something fascinating" about it once. Of course he couldn't remember what he'd read about it, but when I suggested that it was the birth place of Anne of Green Gables, he rejected it. "No, but It was very fascinating," he told me. Ten thousand times along the way.

If I had to guess how long the drive took, I'd put money on five years, although Google maps insists it's only eleven hours. Maybe cars are faster now. During the time of sitting alone in the backseat and looking at the backs of my parents' heads, I'd invented a few alter egos for myself, planned my funeral and wondered who'd show up, decided that it would be fun if David Bowie were my boyfriend and would pick me up after school in his car so those fucking bitches in my class could die of envy, and wrote a few award winning novels in my mind. By that point, we'd driven approximately twelve miles.

I was so bored with the trip that I decided that the only way to spruce it up was to take up smoking. I'm not sure how the idea came to me, but once it fixed itself in my mind, I knew that as an award winning novelist and the love of David Bowie's life, I had to light up and soon.
I asked my parents if we could stop at the next rest stop.
Now if you're ever on a car trip with my parents, you should know that that lunatic astronaut lady who drove a kazillion miles to see or kill her beloved's new flame wearing Depends was probably trained by them. They do not believe in rest stops.
"Why you need to the stop?" mama asked me and since I didn't think that "I'm working on a nicotine addiction" was the answer that would make them acquiesce and pull into a rest stop, so I pled stomach.
"Stomach what?"
"You know, bathroom," I quasi-moaned (by the way, all these conversations are approximate. If you think that I'm really quoting dialogue from decades ago, I must advise you that you are super gullible and shouldn't be making any investments. As a matter of fact, you should probably have a legal guardian to make all your decisions for you. I suggest myself.)
"Bathroom what?" Mama asked. Somehow in my quest for a smoke, I'd forgotten that mama and papa did not believe that things such as taking a shit were private and were up for family discussion.
"I have diarrhea," I threw her a bone.
"What diarrhea?" She became alarmed. "You had it already? I don't smell it, do you?" she asked papa.
"I'm driving," papa said, cracking the window.
"I didn't shit in the car!" I yelled. It was a miracle that I'd survived so long without smoking in this family, "but my stomach hurts and maybe I have to have diarrhea soon. If you don't mind!"
"Maybe it's not diarrhea, maybe you have your menses. When did you menses last?" mama asked.
"OH MY GOD! I can't believe you are humiliating me by talking about menstruation in front of MY FATHER!"
"I really not listening," papa said. "Did someone say something?"
I seethed in the back seat but afew minutes over we pulled into a rest stop.
"Don't go with any strangers," mama warned. "What if they offer candy?" I asked. I'm proud to say that we are celebrating thirty years of making that joke. Neither one of them got out of the car.
I chose my cigarettes quickly--Virginia Slims because they sponsored the Viriginia Slims tennis tournament and I was such an avid tennis fan that my adoration of Martina Navratillova temporarily lesbianized me.. Menthol, obviously, because it sounded more delicious than non-menthol. I lit up in the bathroom and inhaled. Of course I inhaled through my nose because breathing in the smoke didn't appeal to me, but I liked looking at myself in the mirror holding a cigarette. I rubbed my temples for effect, and then panicked that I'd set my hair on fire. Yes, this was the life. I had my cigarettes to get through this hell of a trip. I rinsed my mouth out for a long time and maniacally chewed a stick of gum before returning to the car.
"I was right," I told mama. "It's a good thing we stopped."
"Unfortunately" my stomach acted up for the rest of the trip, so we had to make frequent stops.
Soon the novelty of my new addiction started to wear off. Shouldn't smoking be more fun?And the whole rigamorole with the mouth rinsing, it was like a full-time job or something. Why don't they make it more kid friendly, like including some bubble gum in every pack? Fuck. So after a few more stops, I decided to give up cigarettes. And I did. Back then we were tough and didn't need all this handholding and patches.
I just quit cold turkey.



Blogger Unknown said...

What a story. I am surprised that they did not smell the smoke on you since you were in such crowded quarters. Or maybe they did and decided to let you hash it our yourself. Wait, I take that back. Somehow I doubt your mother would have let you get away with smoking without saying anything.

March 29, 2009 at 8:30 AM  
Blogger mo.stoneskin said...

Maybe you should have gone out with David Bowie.

Funny story. Can't believe they oculdn't smell the smoke on you in the car!

March 29, 2009 at 8:48 AM  
Blogger Frogs in my formula said...

I always wondered that too--shouldn't smoking be more fun? I wanted to be a smoker in high school but always got sore throats, the spins, etc.

Great fucking story. Seriously.

March 29, 2009 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger rachel... said...

Good for you. This kind of addiction can be hard to break.

I'm going on vacation soon with my 4 children. Thanks for the tip on how to pass the time.

March 29, 2009 at 9:09 AM  
Blogger IB said...

Smoking, like anything in life worth doing, requires a certain...ummmmm...commitment.

I spent many an evening barfing in the hedge behind the garage before I succeeded.

I was very proud.

March 29, 2009 at 10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Though I put down cigarettes for good when I saw Greek's smoking and eating at the same moment, I will dash into Duane Reade for a pack if the thought of taking a road trip with my family came up. And luckily for me, Mr.T doesn't like to think-much less talk about-women and poo, so breaking at every rest stop for a light would work awesome.

March 29, 2009 at 10:40 AM  
Blogger LTYM said...

I was subjected to a couple of family car trips to Canada, too. But instead of smoking, my sisters and I kept busy highlighting the good parts of Judy Blume's "Forever".

March 29, 2009 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger MommyTime said...

Just think, if your parents had provided you with a whole careful of siblings, as mine did, you would have had to go through so many more shenanigans to ensure that the little ones (who would inevitably have seen you and sworn to TELL) kept their mouths shut. Talk about full-time job...

On our version of this trip (which went from Atlanta to the Bay of Fundi in Nova Scotia in a rust colored station wagon pulling a pop-up camper in which we all had to sleep -- or not, as it were), my solution was simply to ignore them all completely and read books. Also to imagine myself as the heroine.

It would have been more exciting, though, to have taken up smoking, which I was unfortunately not creative enough to consider.

March 29, 2009 at 11:10 AM  
Blogger MommyTime said...

By the way, that was supposed to be "car full" not "careful."

March 29, 2009 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger Mary@Holy Mackerel said...

Good smoking story.

Not sure about the Canada is boring part though, seeing as I am a Canadian, and I now feel like I've been stabbed through the heart.

But maybe you would have been bored regardless of where you were going just because you were going somewhere, and with your parents? Is that what you were trying to say, because if it was, okay then, I feel better now...

Gotta go. I have major stomach cramps.

March 29, 2009 at 11:29 AM  
Blogger xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx said...

Next, you'll conquer that heroine addiction!

March 29, 2009 at 1:44 PM  
Blogger Liz Wilkey (a.k.a. A Mom on Spin) said...

I went to Prince Edward Island once! But I was only 7 and didn't think about smoking. . . but, damn, was I upset when my entire Barbie carrying case was blown off the top of the family station wagon as we traveled down the highway! Barbie, Midge, Allen, Ken, and Skipper gone for good!!!!

Car trips to canada stinks!!!!

March 29, 2009 at 2:03 PM  
Blogger Jeanne Estridge said...

Way to tough it out! You should market smoking cessation tapes.

March 29, 2009 at 3:26 PM  
Blogger KiKi said...

Hysterical post. Menthol Virgina Slims...that kills me. Reminds me of all the gals in high school going through their one month of smoking stints. I was a smoker for all of like...a week. And menthol virgina slims it was. But it wasn't for me. :-P

March 29, 2009 at 5:18 PM  
Blogger Captain Dumbass said...

Montreal to PEI? Try Montreal to Vancouver. On the bus. In winter.

March 29, 2009 at 5:55 PM  
Blogger blognut said...

Virginia Slims, menthol light! Ha! That was my brand.

I started smoking when I was 13, but don't tell anyone. I mean it.

March 29, 2009 at 6:41 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

I started smoking at the age of 15 and smoked heavily for years and years. One thing that I look back at is how the hell does anyone actually start smoking??? Those first couple of cigarettes are absolutely disgusting. They taste awful, they make you feel barfy and dizzy and you cough....lots. You really have to commit to it. You have to persevere through all of that misery and torture to develop such a disgusting (and expensive) habit. Not one of my most proud triumphs. I quit completely about 3 years ago, it was the hardest thing (well, one of them at lest) that I have ever done. I cannot begin to express how delighted I am to now be a non-smoker.

I have been a lurker for a while and usually develop a strong pain in my side from laughing at your posts. Thanks for the entertainment!

March 29, 2009 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Welcome back. Our family was covered with I love NY t-shirts and hats when we drove back from New York to Toronto. The customs officer asked my father if we had anything to declare and he said no! It was a long night with the border patrol :)

March 29, 2009 at 8:08 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

So basically, your addiction didn't even last the entire vacation. I wish I had your will power against chocolate.

March 29, 2009 at 9:00 PM  
Anonymous Dejoni said...

Your childhood trips were more glamorous than mine. I had to spend eternity listening to such hits as "I Love a Rainy Night" by Eddie Rabbit while my dad chain smoked with all the car windows rolled up...
Childhood was fabulous...

March 29, 2009 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger the mama bird diaries said...

This is very weird b/c I wasn't talking to my husband tonight about how much the word "menses" just drives me crazy. And he's like, what does "menses" mean?

And now here you are taunting me with this icky word.

March 29, 2009 at 11:59 PM  
Blogger Roshni said...

You're just such an amazing story teller and humorist, Marinka! Its really good to read your blog!

March 30, 2009 at 12:01 AM  
Blogger Miss Cavendish said...

Well. I didn't expect to see my birth province mentioned in your blog! We are also famous for lobsters and potatoes (as well as for Anne). And our soil is fascinatingly red.

March 30, 2009 at 12:39 AM  
Anonymous Andrea's Sweet Life said...

Your parents must have gotten the idea that rest stops are very, very smokey places. No wonder they don't like to stop!

So... what was so fascinating? Don't leave me hanging, girl.

March 30, 2009 at 1:37 AM  
Blogger Nanny Goats In Panties said...

You should totally sell this as a pamphlet explaining How To Quit Smoking. An infomercial would bring you millions. MILLIONS!

March 30, 2009 at 4:04 AM  
Blogger Belle said...

Menthol's always gave me diarrhea as well.

March 30, 2009 at 5:34 AM  
Blogger Vodka Mom said...

I made sure NOT to take a sip of coffee before reading your post. My computer screen is thanking me.

My dog, however, can't figure out why I am laughing with myself.....


March 30, 2009 at 6:35 AM  
Blogger Kabbalah Rookie said...

'What if they offer Candy?!' Oh you are too funny! Hilarious post, as usual!

March 30, 2009 at 7:36 AM  
Anonymous Kristine said...

I smoked like 2 cigarettes when I turned 18, and I quit. I also went cold turkey. I don't know what these wimps are talking about.

March 30, 2009 at 11:37 AM  
Blogger Jennifer S said...

The family car trip is another "back in my day" thing we can hold over our kids. They don't know how good they have it with DVDs and iPods and - seriously - SUVs and minivans. By the time they have kids, someone will have figured out how to banish the need for rest stops by taking a pill ahead of time. You just watch.

I could never figure out how to inhale. And I can't do a cartwheel, either. I'm very coordinated.

March 30, 2009 at 1:35 PM  
Blogger Carolyn...Online said...

That was a brilliant plan and nicely executed. I may start smoking next week on the car trip with my kids.

March 30, 2009 at 2:02 PM  
Blogger Phat Mama said...

Many an addiction has started whilst on a family vacation.

Mine was OTC sleeping pills. And while I could never take enough to actually sleep through the (horrible suffering) joys of an infant and a toddler pooping, vomiting & knowing where every McD's was in a four state radius and demanding a Happy Meal (the toy) from each one..

I did manage to find that delicate balance between stoned on Tylenol Simply Sleep & a nervous breakdown in the McD's colored balls.

March 30, 2009 at 3:21 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

I'm starting to think you need to be on your own sitcom. Hysterical!

March 30, 2009 at 4:28 PM  
Blogger jill jill bo bill said...

Ahhh, that brings back memories...We called the Vagina Slimes and our coolness skyrocketed with every puff....

March 30, 2009 at 4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh snap... you said Fuck

don't ever stop writing...this stuff is just too good

March 30, 2009 at 5:03 PM  
Anonymous peajaye said...

re: the menses. is there a menses society? maybe you should start one.

March 30, 2009 at 5:23 PM  
Blogger Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

haha, awesome. Little did you know that if you kept smoking you would have totally gotten David Bowie to go out with you because you looked so 'cool." Eh, hindsight is 20/20, right?

March 30, 2009 at 6:44 PM  
Blogger bernthis said...

I smoked those baby's for years. I'd go for a five mile run and literally come back, shower and then relax with a cigarette. Can you say stupid idiot?

March 30, 2009 at 7:05 PM  
Blogger *Akilah Sakai* said...

Your. Parents. Rock.

"Diarrhea? I don't smell it."
When did you have your menses last"

Seriously, I'd pay to travel with your 'rents.

March 30, 2009 at 7:25 PM  
Blogger Marinka said...

Mary-- I love Canada! But being car trapped with my parents + being a teenager + being me=OMG!

Akilah--make me an offer. Really. Rock bottom prices.

March 30, 2009 at 7:43 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

Those were the ones I tried too! I do not recall if I had my menses though.

March 30, 2009 at 9:23 PM  

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