To our darling son who wants to go to a gaming convention in Texas next summer – an epic road trip with his friend and his friend’s brother who will technically be an adult by that time, and doubtlessly fully capable of assuming all the responsibility for your posse:
We do trust you. It’s not that. And dad sincerely apologizes for snorting Pepsi out his nose at your heartfelt plea. That was insensitive of him.
Our ‘no’ should not be taken as a reflection our trust or lack thereof. Nor is it a statement about your friend, or your friend’s brother. Or their whole, entire family or their ancestors for that matter. We’ve never met these people, so we obviously can’t form an opinion about them.
You asked me “What could possibly happen” to two boys who will be sixteen by then, and a just-recently-turned-eighteen year-old on a road trip from Idaho to Texas.
That’s an excellent question.
Let’s assume that you, your friend, and your friend’s brother are as well behaved as anyone could expect for a group of young gentlemen on such an excursion: refraining from using the car stereo, talking, or doing anything to distract whoever’s driving (well below the posted speed limit); and remembering to hold doors for people, use table manners, say please, excuse me, and thank you, and so forth. We’ll assume this behavior as a baseline for the purpose of this conversation.
You asked me “What could possibly happen” to two sixteen year-old boys and a just-turned-eighteen-year-old on a road trip from Idaho to Texas. You know I have an imagination, and the first list I developed in response to this question was, well, let’s say it was rather fantastical. I went ahead and crossed some things off, including your falling into a spontaneously formed sinkhole that’s actually a crater to the center of the earth. That’s probably pretty rare. I also took avalanches off the list, since it will be summer.
The list we have now, while not exhaustive, is far more realistic, in no particular order, and without regard to any calculation of odds that any one or more of them might happen.
Things that could possibly happen to two sixteen year-old boys and an eighteen year-old on an epic multi-state road trip:
The semi-driver on a thirty-six hour no-sleep bender – Does your friend’s brother have the reflexes he needs to navigate on the freeway around the a sixteen-ton behemoth randomly changing lanes at 80 miles per hour right next to you? I’m talking about REAL semis on a REAL freeway, not the ones on the Xbox. I’ll answer that for you, no. He’s likely been driving for fewer than three years. Freeway skills take time.
The potentially life-threatening illness – Does anyone traveling with you have the ability to tell what your temperature is with the back of her hand? For that matter, do any of you know the difference between the stomach flu and food poisoning? How about the symptoms for meningitis? What about the plague? Flesh eating bacteria? FLESH-EATING-FREAKING-BACTERIA, people. That’s a real thing. You have a plan for that?
The Act of God – You’re talking about traveling to a state that has dust storms, hurricanes and tornados (I’m pretty sure). What do you do when hit with the storm of the century, huh? Don’t forget, Texas is also a Bible belt state, so you could also be dealing with swarms of locusts depending upon God’s mood. You boys have a locust plan?
The Hitcher – Remind me to put this on our Netflix list if you haven’t seen Rutger Hauer serving up fingers and fries to C. Thomas Howell. Serial killers are out there, son, and they’re almost always looking for a lift.
The Zombie Apocalypse – Imagine being separated from your family by a couple thousand miles when the end of days is upon us. Remember how this is supposed to go down? You and Colin are both the brains and the muscle of our outfit. Dad and I will ultimately prove to be useless anchors because our middle-aged sentimentality won’t allow us to grasp the realities of the new world, but WE WILL be reason enough for you and your brother to stick together as well as provide poignant, fireside monologues about how life used to be.
At least until we’re set upon and eaten in the heart-rending season finale.
I know what you’re going to say, and yes, this is all stuff that could still happen while you’re under the supervision of someone we consider a responsible adult.
Except, dude, I DO have a locust plan, I KNOW what Rutger Hauer looks like, I have the reflexes of a freeway ninja AND I can tell if you have a 1 degree temperature at twenty paces by the look in your damn eyeball.
So, yeah, what I’m saying is there might be a family trip to Texas in our future so you can go to your gaming conference … er, convention. Whatever.
Do we get to dress up?
You don’t need a whole list of reasons to vote, do you? Thank you, mucho.