Virtue & Mischief: Groaning on Interstate, Kristegian translations


A few weeks ago Krista, the amigos, and I packed up the van after a weeklong family gathering in Brown County, Indiana, and headed back to Greenville. It was a good day for traveling—sunny, warm, not too much traffic.

The kids were content. There were no contretemps of any sort. Somewhere just south of Indianapolis we made a pit stop to fill up the tank, and I took advantage of the opportunity to relieve my bladder. To the best of my recollection, no one else followed my lead.

“Good,” I thought. “Even with my middle-aged-male ‘enlarged prostate issues’ I should now make it home comfortably without any issues! I just hope the kids don’t whine about needing to go in thirty minutes or something!” Foolishly emboldened, I tempted fate just a little by picking up a small cup of coffee on the way out, climbed back in the fully gassed up van, and pulled back onto the highway.

As we circled east and north of Indianapolis, I made a quick executive decision to take Interstate 70 instead of US 36. Krista preferred the latter because the interstate was so frequently under heavy construction and was therefore its congestion level and backups were less predictable. But for reasons that now escape me, I was feeling cocky and lucky so I took the ramp to the interstate instead and rambled in the direction of Richmond, Indiana, and home.

Krista looked over at me with mild disapproval. “I thought you were going to take 36 on the way home? Remember that delay we got caught in on the way over?! Hmmmmm.”

Because I’m one of the few folks on the planet who is fluent in “Kristegian”—her mother, sister are the others, and the amigos are gradually picking it up—I know what “Hmmmmm” translates to in standard English. Because I prefer not to tempt the Daily Advocate Censoring Committee, let’s just say it is an expression of profound disapproval and leave it at that.

We proceeded apace to Greenfield and beyond. “Hah!” I silently mused. “Making fantastic time. Tim, 1, Krista 0!” And then it happened. The traffic grew thick and began to slow. Uh oh. Krista glanced over and sighed. The traffic slowed more and then came to a complete halt. Another sigh. I bit my lip. The kids continued to watch a video behind us, blissfully unaware of the storm clouds gathering.

“Mmmm hhnnnn!” [“I told you so”] said Krista.

“Okay, okay,” I replied. “You were right.”

“Mmmmm hhnnn.” [“Yes, I was. As usual.”]

“But now we have another problem. I have to go.”

“Mmmmmm.” [“Should have thought about that when you took I-70, mister.”]

Ten minutes later we had moved 20 yards and I was beginning to feel the contents of my depressed bladder begging for release. Fifteen minutes after that we had advanced only another 100 yards and I was in pain. Krista pulled down her sunglasses and stretched semi-comfortably in her passenger-side seat. “Mmmmmmmm,” she purred [“This is one moment when it’s actually better to be a woman than a man at this stage of life”].

For the next 20 minutes, as we lurched forward, stopped, and lurched again I looked nervously at the cornfields to the side of the road and contemplated putting the van in “P,” sprinting like a madman into their midst, and providing my own liquid fertilizer. My mild ache and discomfort had now become a full-blown episode of urine-buildup-induced-torture and I was desperate for relief.

I squirmed and groaned. I tapped my foot rapidly and heavily like Thumper the rabbit. I rubbed my temples and twisted in my seat, all in the vain hope of receiving relief from my suffering. Nothing.

By now Krista had transitioned to empathy mode and was trying to come up with solutions.

“Could you pee in a cup or something?” she asked. “I bet there’s an exit just up here. Maybe you can make it.”

“I could pee in a cup or with a pup; I could pee in a bottle at full throttle; I would pee here. Or there. Or anywhere,” I offered, channeling my inner Theodore Geiss.

Just as she began searching for a possible receptacle she spotted an exit slowly approaching.

“Mmmmmm!! Hhhmmmnn! Huhhhhhhhh?!!” [“Hold on! There’s an exit—a McDonald’s. Bathrooms! What’d I tell you??”].

For the next five minutes, armed with hope, a loving wife, and oblivious children, I continued to tap and squirm and sweat. But I endured. I pulled into the fast-food restaurant, screeched to a halt, run-walked through the teeming crowd munching its McNuggets and French fries to the men’s room and urinal which, at that moment, was as precious to me as the Holy Grail. And then I experienced sweet, sweet relief.

We decided to have a quick bite to eat and then reentered the van to finish our journey home. As we drove along the on-ramp Krista looked at me and said, “Hmmmmnnn? Hmmmm—nnnnnhhh.” [“Next time take my advice. I know what I’m doing.”]

“Yes, dear. I will.”

By Tim Swensen

Virtue & Mischief

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