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by Tricia Sutton

We piled into Daddy's Ford Explorer for our family ski trip to Heavenly Valley. Daddy had a perverse tendency to disrupt otherwise uneventful car travels. Usually bladder related.

Daddy had to make a pit stop. A fresh blanket of snow made it difficult find a restroom-friendly establishment. He obeys all traffic laws to the letter unless it involves his bladder. “Slow down Morris; try thinking of the desert."

He shot Mama a glance that, momentarily, wasn’t nice. But his anger at her was always fleeting, so he resumed his search. It was cold out, but he was sweating, his concentration had taken a desperate quality. The deadline for finding a bathroom expired. His aim then was to find a privacy screen. Spotting a urinal—a mirage, likely—he abruptly stomped the gas pedal then barreled like a cannonball straight for a snow bank. Upon our arrival, four seconds later, he slammed the brakes, which caused the Ford’s chassis to vibrate then pitch into a three-hundred-sixty degree spin before coming to a halt, nose in to the wall of snow.

He bounded out of the Ford, running and doing the jig, then darted behind the snow bank as we all sat there dismayed at his umpteenth display of bladder dysfunction. He scurried back a few minutes later, red-faced, which I mistook for the wealth of shame he imparts upon us. He ducked in the car and drove about a block, turned up a residential street, and stopped.

Mama never took her evil eye off Daddy. With jaws clinched, she said each word slowly. “What did you do, Morris?” He fixated on the rear-view mirror, too distracted in his paranoia to answer. “Morris!”

“Oh, uh, I…” His body shook, which implied a bellowing laugh to follow. Sure enough, he roared, and in the car at that moment, we all laughed at no-one-knows-what, except Mama. My brothers gyrated, we howled, my sister finally needed air and had to get out, all for … No-One-Knows-What.

Mama’s face never flinched; she bored her eyes into Daddy, and with a steady hypnotic voice said, “I don’t know what you did, but I can tell you what I do know … I know it ain’t funny, and if you think we’re going to make it to our thirtieth with that kind of behavior then think again.”

“Why Reba, it’s never kind to bully me, especially when you don’t know what occurred.”

"Then get your thrill and humor us." She was tapping her foot. "Go on, get it over with; have your fun.”

“It was nothing really," he began, head down to dramatize his sorrow. "But I already had my pants half-near off when I shot around the snow bank, faced the wall, and let the dam break. When I bent down to pull up my pants …" (we had to wait an additional twenty minutes of his ear-splitting laughter before he could resume) "… I saw a whole store of folks gawking at me. Apparently, I chose a storefront to take a leak. I made a bad decision for which I am truly sorry."

"Shut Up."