My mother-in-law and I decided to go to Idaho a couple of days ago. I needed equipment for the restaurant (mugs, tongs, handcuffs, and olives) and she wanted to pick up some quilting materials. I knew that Boise would have a store that carried all of these things, and so I only charged her $200 bucks to ride along with me.
About 2o minutes outside of town, we were stopped by hundreds of cars and trucks sitting on the Interstate. It was windy, and the pavement was sheer ice.
A 2-hour delay, the trucker next to us said. Two semis had slid out and wrecked, blocking all East-bound traffic.
Two hours? In the truck cab with my Monster-in-Law?
I immediately consumed the bag of Sun Chips that we had, and inhaled all of the sliced apples. If only one of us was going to make it through this, I wanted it to be me. She tried to share the chips and I yanked the bag away, baring my teeth and growling.
I asked MIL to jump out and see if the trucker next to us had a TV in his sleeper cab. I saw him making eyes at her earlier, and thought that maybe I could pawn her off on him. She refused, saying something about the tattoo on his forehead that boasted the mud-flap girl. Art is in the eye of the beholder, I told her. He’s a sensitive soul, and obviously appreciates the female physique. She wasn’t buying it.
An hour went by, and I was about to lose my mind. MIL had just started dozing off, and I contemplated jogging home. It was only 25 miles, and I’m in excellent shape. I could be back by 2 o’clock, just in time for Days of our Lives. If the roads became cleared after I was gone, I was sure that someone would honk and wake her up.
I listened intently as she began to snore, and when the first signs of drool appeared, I quietly opened my door. She instantly woke up.
“What’s going on?” she asked. “Are the roads clear?”
I smiled sweetly and said that no, I was going to talk to the guy behind us to see if he had some whiskey. I was thirsty.
I had noticed in my rear-view mirror that the guy had a wild look in his eyes, and I thought that maybe we could encourage each other to do something stupid like rally the median to jump on the West-bound Freeway above us.
I left her in the cab of the truck so that she could continue her conversation with the empty bag of chips and apple rinds.
The guy in the truck behind us knew what I wanted the minute I was within earshot.
“You wanna go first, lil’ lady?” he asked, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel. I nodded, and demanded that he back up 30 yards. I needed to gain momentum if I were going to launch over the ditch before heading straight up the embankment towards the opposing traffic.
I jumped back into the truck, and MIL recognized the look of determination in my face.
“Don’t do it,” she cried, grabbing her chest as if having a heart attack. “Please! Let me out!”
I started the truck and threw it into 4-wheel drive, then said softly in my best MovieGuy voice, “We’ll die out here, lady, and your son seems to like you. So hike up your skirt and grab something, ’cause we’re goin’ for it!”
She began to scream.
I backed up quickly, noticing the mud-flap tattoo trucker guy shaking his head violently and mouthing the word NO over and over again. Bah, I thought. Pansy.
I floored the gas pedal, and felt the tires slipping on the black ice beneath us. We jutted forward, and slammed down into the ditch as I screamed alongside my MIL, GO GO GO GOOOOO!
BAM!BAMMMM! the tires slammed down into the ditch and then gripped the dirt below the foot of snow. The back end then caught up in the ditch, but we were already in a steady vertical position heading up towards the Freeway.
I could hear the cheers of the cars and truckers behind us as we rallied up the cliff. MIL was yelling something about breaking her hand that was grasping the OHSHEET handle, but I was too busy looking for the 70mph trucks aiming for us on the upper Freeway.
The truck lurched onto the pavement, and the back end slid out like a fish. We spun a few times, and it reminded me of the times my dad would take me to the beach. He’d grab my feet and yank me in the air, spinning me around and around until he’d launch me into the ocean. Usually he missed, and I’d land on the hard sand. It hurt bad, but he’d say that it would put hair on my chest, and that would always cheer me up.
I was able to recognize the danger of spinning off the road from my race car days, and remembered the advice that Danica Patrick had once taught me. I threw the truck in neutral, and steered opposite the turn. Or was it into the turn? Bah. Whatever. I got the truck pointed forward, and MIL began WHOO HOOing me. Or maybe she was throwing up – who knows? I was busy watching the cars and trucks behind me trying to attempt the same maneuver. They were all getting stuck, and then jumping out of their cars and pounding their fists in the air.
Fools. They deserved it. Only after years of intense driving experience would I have even thought to try what I had.
So that’s how I saved my MIL from sudden death. She hasn’t spoken to me since, but I’m sure it’s because she lacks the proper words to thank me. I’m sure I’ll get some sort of Thank You gift from her soon; maybe something that sparkles or has a high alcohol content. She’s good like that.