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It's that time of year again. Our annual trip to a family reunion. We've been doing this for years and this year it was in St. Louis. It always proves to be an awesome time catching up with family that we only see once a year. And while seeing these people are always so much fun, the time I cherish the most is the 5 hours spent in the car. 5 hours. Each way.
I know what you're thinking. 5 hours can't be that bad. I'm sure you had iPods, portable DVD players, cell phones for texting and all that, right? Wrong! This is 1999, folks. Nothing but an AM/FM radio, 4 grown siblings, 2 parents. All crammed in an '82 Chevy Caprise. 3 kids (ages 21, 20, and 19) smashed so close to each other in the backseat you had to sit sideways. The youngest, 14, in the front seat* sitting between Mom and Dad.
*I'm fairly certain that is not a safe seat to sit in, despite there being a seat belt.
No room for carry-ons or personal bags. Barely any room for snacks. Knees pressed up against the bench-style front seat and shoulders squeezed together so hard I could barely move my arms. Of course me, being the shortest, got stuck in the middle. You know, the dreaded middle seat. Slightly humped with the divider down by my feet. I know you know what I'm talking about.
So there you have it. 4 grown kids, Mom and Dad, driving down the lonely highway on a hot July day. Life was good.
Oh, but it can't be that good. We're the K's. We have this thing called "The K. Kurse." (K being our last name, but to protect those in this story, I will keep it abbreviated.) The K. Kurse delivers such things, particularly related to car trouble, like car air conditioners not working on a 100 degree day, review mirrors falling off and random bloody noses and log-sized splinters on what was supposed to be a quiet hike at Turkey Run.
Ah yes, The Kurse. Just ask anyone around us.
Maybe once, just once, The Kurse would be lifted. And so, the road trip started with picking up my 20 year old brother from a camp that he worked at that summer. He was a camp counselor to young kids at an awesome Christian summer camp that we happened to go to when we were kids. We picked him up and headed on down the road to St. Louis.
A short while into the trip, we smell something funky. It smells like, like.... dead bodies.... and rotten meat.... and sewage. My word, what IS that smell? Everyone's checking their shoes, their armpits, their pants. I think I'm about to puke. My sister is getting nauseus.
It's my brother's shoes. After spending the week at camp, wading through the creek and the woods, his shoes reeked of death. Not kidding. We put up with it for the next few hours, but the shoes didn't make it the whole way. It was imperative that they get thrown out. For the health and safety of others.
As we continued our drive, I reached for a can of pop to drink. Not just any old can of pop. Generic store brand red pop.
Bad idea. Me and food items that stain do not go together. Not to mention this can of pop was possessed. I swear. I'm not into things like The Exorcist or freaky devil stuff like that. But this can of pop was out of control. I did the ol' tap on the top to make sure the fizz went down. I carefully, slowly opened the pop top to let all the carbonation out.
Phew. We're good.
A few minutes later.... fizzing.... overflow. Red pop everywhere. It would not stop fizzing. Sucking the fizz and nearly choking on it, I was not fast enough. Luckily the car was a piece of junk* or I think I might've been kicked out of the car in the middle of nowhere.
*Sorry, Mom and Dad, it was a piece of junk.
My hands are sticky and the only thing I could think to do was to throw the can out the window. I'm not one for littering, but it was my only option. I think I even remember yelling at the pop to please stop fizzing. Pleading and praying didn't seem to work.
We finally reached St. Louis. As we pulled into the driveway of my uncle's house, my Dad noticed something leaking from the hood. Green antifreeze all over the driveway. Dad hitched a ride up to the auto store to get some AlumaSeal to temporarily fix the leak. Found it. Success. No more leaks.
After a fun-filled weekend of euchre and pinochle, we made our journey back to Indiana. Perhaps our Kurses were done for the weekend.
One rule you should know by now if you're a "K" kid.... Don't fall asleep in the presence of your siblings. HUGE no-no! My older brother decided to chance it. With the old school discman playing his favorite tunes, he dozed off in the warm summer sun.
No, J, you shouldn't have. With his head lay back and his arms folded nicely, my sister, E, and I conveniently placed twizzlers and granola bars in his hand and took blackmale pictures. (Mind you, this was back in the day when we didn't have digital cameras, so the pictures were good ol' 35 mm prints.)
We snatched the snacks back up after taking the pictures so he would have no clue of our mischieveous activity. Upon his awakening, we giggle to the side as to not let on what we did while he napped.
"Hey sis," he calls out. "Can you hand me a granola bar?"
In as serious a tone as I can muster, "I think you've had enough, mister."
E can't hold it in any longer and bursts into tears and laughter. It wasn't until a week later after the pictures were developed that he knew what took place during that fateful nap. Your fault, J, your fault.
Never again, he vowed.
As we reach our final destination - home - we are thankful to be there. While the trip was fun, we laughed, we sang, we told stories, we were so glad to be out of the car and into our own beds. But I couldn't leave you with a happy ending. No, siree, that's not how we roll. The Kurse was not done wrecking havoc on our family.
As we pull into the driveway - literally, as my Dad turns the car into the drive - he hears a funny sound. He turns the car off, gets out, starts to walk to the front....
Opens the hood and there's antifreeze spraying everywhere. Green, hot antifreeze. He slams the hood shut, thanks God we made it home safely, and shrugs it off as just another run of our "K. Kurse."
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