I didn't say "effing". I said that Anglo-Saxon epithet which (in the form I used) would rhyme with "trucking". While I'm not proud (per se) of my choice of words at times, I'm also not ashamed. Much. (Well, maybe a little...)
So with that being said, let me take you back to December of '08.
It was the Thursday before Christmas. Our plan was to spend the holiday with The Nuke and The WSO at their place in Virginia Beach. Both of the progeny were single back then. The Nuke was assigned to Norfolk, The WSO to Oceana. So they shared a place. A townhouse actually. Very nice it was.
Now The Nuke was visiting someone up in Saratoga Springs, she being on leave from her ship, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. (I know, that should be all caps, but like Tuna says, it's too much like shouting to use ALL CAPS. Unless you're talking about TOPGUN. Then it's not only cool but required. But I digress.)
The plan called for The Nuke to drive down from Saratoga Springs on that Thursday evening. We would then all get a good night's sleep and then head down to the Old Dominion bright and early the next day. A Friday.
But the weather along the East Coast had other ideas.
I came home from work round about 1700 local (that would be 5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time for all the civvies out there. In other words, Mickey's big hand was on the 12 and Mickey's little hand was on the 5, and it was dark.) The Nuke has already arrived at Chez Sarge from upstate New York and proclaims (and yes, I'm paraphrasing for dramatic effect) "Oh. My. God. We need to leave RIGHT NOW! There is a storm bearing down upon us which is supposed to deposit enough snow to trigger a new Ice Age!"
I said, "It's not supposed to start snowing until..."
"Dad, we have to leave now. OMG. Alarm! Alarm!"
Or words to that effect...
So we ate, packed up Big Girl (back in those days she belonged to The Nuke) and approximately three hours later we were headed south on I-95.
So we've got 550-odd miles of driving ahead of us, neither The Nuke or I have had squat for sleep in the past 14 hours and we have a "Winter Storm Watch in effect" (that last bit said with a sonorous tone, of course).
But we figured, it's late, traffic should be light. And, God willing, we will get to Virginia Beach before it starts snowing.
(Before I continue, I need to remark on something. Something critical to our story. In the back of Big Girl is our luggage. Perched atop that luggage is a black jacket. Remember that. It's my primitive form of foreshadowing...)
Well, things went real smoothly through the wilds of western Rhode Island (I swear, no one actually lives there, it's miles and miles of nothing. Um, check that. Little Rhody is called little for a reason. Perhaps I should've said "it's yards and yards of nothing". A bit more accurate.) And oddly enough the stretch of I-95 which runs along the coast of Connecticut was very smooth. During daylight hours that highway can be a choked nightmare.
Things were going well.
That's when we hit New York. First the state, then the environs of the metropolis which is the greater New York City area. Now this stretch of highway is often packed but it moves quickly enough during non-rush hour times.
Not this night.
Now this highway is like 80 lanes wide (no, that would be L.A.) okay, more like six. And some genius had decreed that construction was going to occur along this stretch of highway feeding into the Cross Bronx Expressway. In the "dead of winter". At Christmas. Et cetera, et cetera.
Said construction would, of course, reduce this massive thoroughfare down to one lane.
Yes, that's right.
It took three hours to get to New York and three MORE hours to get through New York.
We rolled into the Vince Lombardi Rest Area on the New Jersey side to refuel Big Girl and fortify ourselves with caffeinated beverages before sailing forth to cross the Garden State. Known to all and sundry outside of the state as New Jersey. Some call it "Jersey". Which I was led believe was a small island belonging to the United Kingdom lying off the coast of France. Again, I digress.
After discovering that Big Girl had a leaky tire, oh boy, and getting that semi-repaired at the gas station at the rest area, we set forth.
Long and wearisome was that drive through the long, cold winter's night. Nary a soul was seen after we crossed into Delaware. We could see the
Delaware, by the way, is the second smallest state in the U.S. of A. Yup, Little Rhody is, indeed, the smallest.
At some point in Delaware, or perhaps it was the Eastern Shore of Virginia, The Nuke declared that she needed to catch 40 winks.
"Dad, you need to take over at the wheel."
Before I could start muttering about crew rest and such, The Missus Herself came over the 1MC*, "You will get behind that wheel, you will drive and you will let our daughter get some sleep! Are we clear?"
"Ma'am! Yes Ma'am! Getting behind the wheel aye! Driving aye!"
Or words to that effect.
About thirty or so minutes, hours, days (I forget) we came to the rest area just before getting onto the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel complex. I pulled in for a call of nature and to smoke a cigarette (for back in those days I did smoke, I don't now).
The Nuke woke up and asked, "Are we there already?" Looking around, she quickly realized that that was not the case. She also noticed that I was standing beside the passenger's door and not the driver's door.
"What? That's it? You're done?"
"Yes, dearest daughter of mine. We are now within 20 miles of your domicile and rather than take direction from you, I thought it best if you drove the rest of the way. We're almost there and there's no other place to pull over and swap drivers."
"Dad. There are plenty of places..."
On this particular occasion I won. She drove. I would like to think that this was due to my superior powers of reasoning and use of logical arguments.
The Missus Herself was asleep. Or semi-so. She just mumbled, "Nuke, you drive. I'll deal with Your Father later." (Whenever she said "Your Father" like that, I knew I would pay the price. But not right at that moment. Much could happen before she... Oops. Digressed again, didn't I?)
So we rolled into Virginia Beach with the sunrise. Well, it was lighter out. Overcast and cold. I'm sure the sun "rose" that morning, we just couldn't see it. But we were at the dwelling of the two sisters: The Nuke and The WSO.
Of course, The WSO was sound asleep on the couch. Awaiting our arrival. We woke her and while The Missus Herself crashed on the couch to continue her wandering through Dreamland the rest of us unpacked the car. Now, remember that jacket?
I picked that jacket up to bring into the house and realized that it was not my jacket! It belonged to The Missus Herself. Where is my jacket? Dammit. I am frantic. Where is my jacket. It was then that the following ensued...
"What's wrong Dad?" The WSO asked.
"Somebody stole my effing jacket!" I answered.
"No one is going to steal your crappy-ass jacket Dad. You probably misplaced it." said The Nuke.
"Really? Somebody stole your jacket? Those bastards!" sayeth The WSO. Who promptly began to pace up and down the sidewalk glaring at everyone who drove by. Accusing them, with her eyes, of being the perpetrator of The Great Jacket Heist of 2008.
I am livid. The WSO appears ready to do bodily harm to someone, anyone, when inside the house I hear -
"What is Your Father ranting about?" Oh dear Lord. We have awakened The Missus Herself.
"Dad claims that someone stole his jacket." The Nuke explained.
"Yeah, can you believe this crap? You guys drive all the way down here and some low-life steals Dad's jacket!" proclaimed The WSO.
"Tell Your Father to look in his suitcase. I told him to bring a light jacket just before we left the house. I saw him put it in the suitcase." said The Missus Herself.
Muttering dark imprecations I stalked into the house, tore into my suitcase and...
...found my jacket...
The Nuke "Dad. You're an idiot."
The Missus Herself "No. That's an insult to idiots everywhere..."
The WSO "Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Geez Dad. You worry me."
Yours Truly "Hey! Who wants some coffee?"
To this very day,
from time to time,
when I least expect it...
one of my daughters will look at me and say...
"Dad, remember that time when someone stole your effing jacket?"
Okay. So I'm excitable.
I really like that jacket.
*1MC = 1 Main Circuit, is the term for the shipboard public address circuits on United States Navy warships.