Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

"Listen, kiddo, Jim Kirk was many things, but he was never a Boy Scout." - Dr. Carol Marcus, Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan


The Boy, a sidewalk, a toy car, and a warm sunny day. Need more?

Everything changes. I know this because The Mrs. gets very angry when I don’t change my shirt enough on weekends. But some things don’t . . . .

As The Boy begins school, I see a list of rules that, had I been exposed to them, would have led to me spending a lot of time at home after being expelled. I’m thinking that this explains why Pop Wilder ran for (and won) a seat on the school board. It’s a bit harder kicking out a school board member’s kid, even if this was the seventh fight this week (and it’s Wednesday).

The rules today seem to assume that the smelly, goofy, dirty, unwashed males of the world are already fit for civilization when they hit the classroom. The Mrs. has managed to beat a modicum of civility into The Boy (more than Mom Wilder ever did with me), and he seems to fit alright into the world.

But, we were talking about how some things don’t change . . . .

One thing that I recall fondly was the time that I finally inherited my big brother’s well-worn Cub Scout shirt. Its cottony-goodness was washed until the point the shirt was as warm and soft as Rosie O’Donnell’s back hair a puppy’s tummy. I proudly sewed the troop numbers on myself and wore it to Den meetings.

On Saturday, The Mrs. and I accompanied The Boy to “Tiger Fun Day.” The “Tiger” in question is the Tiger Cub, a new (1982) subdivision of Cub Scouting.

Tiger Fun Day was, well, fun. The Boy’s first adventure (in full Cub Scout regalia) was to walk across a modified commando rope bridge, a full four feet above the ground. The Boy has issues with height, and I was worried that he’d melt down in front of dozens of Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts about ten feet onto the bridge, in mortal fear of falling into the soft grass chasm below him.

He had a moment, a small one, where he stopped on the line, and I felt like I should go to him to help. I stopped myself. The Mrs. and I watched while he made it all the way to the other side.

“I’m so proud of you,” I said.

“I felt kinda shakey.”

“I know. If you hadn’t felt shakey, I wouldn’t be so proud. That’s what courage is.”

And, lo, courage is part of what Cub Scouts aims to teach. Still the same from the when I was a kid. The other things that Cub Scouts aim to teach were on display as well – friendship, learning, science, extreme nerdishness, and preparedness. I saw adults in Boy Scout regalia talking about the most authentic way to make a teepee. Wonderful.

Cub Scouts is really hideous at teaching entrepreneurship, since they were selling hot dogs (for adults only, kids were free) at $0.50 each. Sno-cones were free. For everyone. I’m pretty sure that the Cub Scout leaders felt bad about charging $0.50 each for the hot dogs, since they made too much money.

We had a wonderful time, and I kept thinking about how very little anything about Scouting had changed. Oh, sure, they would have taken a dim view of our Cub Scout pack leaders (who brought a case of Bud on our overnight campout) but the values of the organization haven’t changed a bit since I was a Boy Scout.

That’s nice. I felt waves of nostalgia as I experienced the day with The Boy. We even drove off to the Scout store and bought a T-shirt for The Boy (he knows this) and his first Cub Scout knife and a Cub Scout pocket watch for his Christmas stocking (he has no clue).

At the store, I found myself with a tear in my eye, glad that despite all of the changes that have gone on in the world, that there is this constant of Scouting between us. Oh, and the constant of loving when things explode.

That never changes, either.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"Oh for Pete's sake, he's fleeing the interview! He's fleeing the interview!" - Marge Gunderson, Fargo


Texas sky from the back of the USS Texas. The Mrs. took this picture. Dang, she’s talented.

The only employment related situation that is more stressful than working at a high pressure job is a job interview. It’s even more stressful when your prospective employers kidnap take you out for a training session.

Alia S. Wilder got herself into this today. Me? I was blissfully at work (late) playing Minesweeper® and drinking a chocolate YooHoo™ while sitting in a bean bag. No, just kidding, I’m not a doctor. I was slaving over a spreadsheet.

The Mrs. called. I could immediately sense that The Mrs. was mad when she said, “I’m mad.”

I’ve got very good empathy skills.

The reason that The Mrs. was MAD was that Alia S. Wilder had borrowed WilderSUV and gone on a job interview, and had been gone (at that point) over seven hours. I’ve been in long interviews, but that seemed a bit much, especially for a college student without tons of mad job skillz.

The Mrs. dredged up the number of the company that Alia was being interviewed by and I called them. Nope. She left . . . six minutes ago. Not enough time to get home to The Mrs. and watch Pugsley whilst The Mrs. takes The Boy to his Cub Scout meeting (makes me proud to see him in the dark blue shirt, and The Mrs. spent seventeen zillion hours sewing patches on). Since The Mrs. had given up her car, the only remaining vehicle was WonderTruck.

WonderTruck was built back when there was a Soviet Union, a cool video game was “Atari”, CDs were for rich people, and Pamela Anderson was only mostly trampy instead of entirely trampy and all hepatitised out.

WonderTruck is older than most NFL© quarterbacks.

So, The Mrs. trundled Pugsley and The Boy into WonderTruck (I could see the steam rising from her ears from the office) and went off to Cub Scouts. For the record, The Boy loves it, and Pugsley hated Cub Scouts, since he is two and is cranky since his 401k just lost about 10% on some Ukrainian mining stocks.

Alia called me up at work when she got home. I was more than a little irritated at her irresponsible behavior.

Until she explained.

Alia had gone to the first job interview and, tellingly, they would not tell her what she would be doing, but yet assured her that most people in the job make about $40,000 a year. Some make $100,000. Now, as to people who have yet to graduate from college making that kind of scratch, well, I get suspicious. Some Eastern European nations don’t have that as a gross domestic product (the gross domestic product of a nation is the sum of all goods and services produced by said nation, excluding Pez™ manufacture) of $100,000.

Oh, sure, you’re saying, “$100,000, that’s like $6.57 Canadian” but even as our currency drops to the point where we’d better off wrapping presents in $100 bills than giving them as presents, $100,000 would still wrap a heiney-load of presents.

Alarm bells began ringing for The Mrs. and I. If it sounds too good to be true, it always is, unless the “it” in question are the new episodes of Dr. Who. We quizzed her after her interview, and were quite skeptical. Outside of being a politician, there are very few jobs that involve people throwing money at you and expecting just a vote or two. Very few people who aren’t college graduates make that kind of cash, except Bill Gates, who makes $40,000 each time one of the trillions of skin cells he has sloughs off.

Alia got to the job interview, and they told her to get into a car, and follow them while they showed her the job.

Door to door sales. After about ten minutes she told them she’d like to go home. “No, we’re out here, we’ve got to get our work done,” came the answer from Door-To-Door Manager Guy.

She repeated again and again that she didn’t want the job, and she wanted to go home, for about five hours. So, that’s not technically kidnapping, since she could have walked away from the sleazy interviewers at any time. It would have been a lot of shoe leather, though, and Alia has short, squatty legs.

I finally talked to her before The Mrs. got back from Cub Scouts. She told me her story, then waited. I said, “Okay.”

“I thought you were going to be mad.”

“I was, but I kept saying to myself that she’d better have a good reason. Being kidnapped during a job interview is a good reason.”
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Sunday, September 23, 2007

"A tow truck? That's a hundred bucks, Dalton. I can replace the van for $75." - Red Green, The Red Green Show


WonderTruck: Seventeen thousand pounds of steel. Also, it sleeps one.

Since Alia S. Wilder has moved in, we’ve found that there’s more laughter around the house, much of it at her expense. Alia has . . . adventures.

It’s not really her fault, but Alia just has adventure follow her around. Like the time she set our house on fire. (This was in a house we owned before Life in Alaska/Wilder By Far started.)

Alia was in the basement, in the middle of summer. She had found a lighter (not really sure where that came from, perhaps a late night showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show® at our house, or maybe I was just cooking itsy bits of steak over it) and had a piece of paper towel. For some reason, she was under the misapprehension that the paper towels we purchased were made out of some sort of flame retardant asbestos-like material, and wouldn’t flash into a ball of flame at the slightest spark. No. Those cost money.

The predictable happened. The flame from the lighter hit the paper towel, the paper towel burst into flames. Thinking quickly, Alia threw the paper towel into the fireplace, where burning stuff is supposed to be. Had all been normal, this would have been a good idea. This being the Wilder house, she could have picked no worse thing to do.

I like to make fires and heat our house with them. This makes us warm. I like being warm, and wood fires are one of the cheapest ways to heat a house. Dryer lint is a great fire starter. During the summer, after cleaning that itty bitty screen that traps lint, I dumped the lint into the fireplace. The first fire of the year starts pretty easily.

So, Alia throws the furiously burning paper into the fireplace, where a great, roaring blaze of flaming lint immediately springs up. Did I mention the damper was closed, so none of the smoke could make it up the chimney?

Thinking quickly, Alia pulled her T-shirt off and began to beat at the blaze with the T-shirt, smoke and flames from the dryer lint jumping up around her. The air pressure from the T-shirt made the flaming dryer lint airborne, like little tiny parachuting burning poodles. Fortunately, the carpet stopped the fall of the burning dryer lint. Did I mention that Alia learned that carpet burned that day?

One of Alia’s more recent adventures involved driving her car down the road when the battery exploded. The boiling acid ate all the hoses and the engine. I can’t figure out a way to blame her for this, but I’m still looking.

Now living Houston with us, she’s earned a bit of independence, and lives in the little cage in the basement room above the garage. She can even lock her door.

So, one night last week, at about 3:00AM Alia decided to change the cat litter that she keeps for the vermin kittens she keeps in her room.

She emptied the litter, and went back upstairs. To the locked room. To the locked room where her keys were. Inside.

Alia tried to get inside, but all inside (with the possible exception of Pugsley, who knows what a 2-year-old does at 3:00AM?) were sleeping, and she didn’t want to raise too much of a ruckus, clad in a black hooded sweatshirt as she was. Alia attempted to figure out a way either into her room or back into our house, but had no real luck. She finally gave up as the mosquitoes drained enough blood for her to feel faint, and then curled up in WonderTruck to spend the night (fortunately it has a bench seat).

For some reason, Alia chose not to tell me the story until today. Why? I can’t even guess. Perhaps she thought I was going to tease her about it mercilessly.

Nah. I’ll just share her adventure with the Internet.
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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"Here's my favorite, on the written test, you drew a little guy with wings from the Led Zeppelin record cover." - OSI Guy, The Venture Brothers


Here is a lizard. The Mrs. deems it to be a GEICO©. I think that means it will give us good car insurance rates, provided we don’t crush like an Easter egg it in our unfeeling hands. Maybe I’ll just squeeze it a bit. Lower premiums. I’m not cold blooded after all. But the GEICO® is. As a note, those are not my back hairs, but hairs from a teensy weesny dog.

Once I was young. Of course, Demi Moore was once young, too.

Anyhow, The Boy often listens to music around the house. The Mrs. and I don’t allow him to listen to rap, because we’re very worried he could then grow up to be Don Imus, or, in the best case, we’d get a nasty letter from the school. Thus, The Boy has the alternatives of listening to anything but rap. Most often, he listens to classic rock. I know, I know, “You Shook Me All Night Long” seemed impossibly dirty to me too when I first heard it.

She was a fast machine, she kept her motor clean . . . wow. She showers. And she’s fast.

Hot stuff. (Note: Pop Wilder in the WilderBunker told me to stay away from fast women but I married The Mrs. even though she won several High School track races and is thus demonstrably fast. She also showers.)

But things change.

In the 1960’s “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” seemed rebellious, but “I Wanna **** You Like An Animal” (real title “Closer”) debuted in the 1990’s, well, it hardly elicited a yawn. Given the trend, I’m just a teensy bit more comfortable with the pre-1990’s stuff.

So, The Boy listens to classic rock, and on occasion jumps up and turns up his radio when “Jump” comes on, because “It’s my favorite song.”

Which brings me to stupidity and music, at least as it relates to boys. As a kid growing up, I heard Led Zeppelin™’s version of “The Immigrant Song” which starts out “dun-dun-dun-dun-DUN-duh” with Robert Plant© going “aaaaah-ah-ah-AAAAAAH.” If you can’t figure out which song that is from that, well, you’re not alone. Keep reading.

After hearing this song on the radio one bright sunny summer day during the Reagan decade (Morning in America, dudes), I experienced an intense desire to own it, on a thing called a record so I could listen to it, well, whenever.

If you younger folks haven’t heard of this cutting edge analog “record” technology, well, let’s just say that your parents used to sit around and listen to hunks of spinning plastic whose only saving grace was that they were bumpy enough to make noise when scratched with a diamond. Oh, and you had to tape two pennies on top of the diamond or else it was totally worthless. In short, a record player and the associated amplifier are exactly like an I-Pod© that weighs about six hundred pounds and draws 4.3 MegaWatts. Headphones were extra, and if you wear them you look like Princess Leia©. And the headphones weighed sixteen pounds.

So I was on a quest. I had to find this new band that had put this song out. I went to the local record store and attempted to convey to the owner what song I was looking for. I went so far as to try to sing Robert Plant’s® falsetto high to a complete stranger. I’m sure I sounded just like Garth Brooks® strangling a cat in a hot shower.

Given that she had no idea what album, band, or even music genre I was looking for, she pointed at the racks of albums in the store. I began looking based on the cover.

A band that had a song so powerful and intense must, must, have a really cool cover.

Satan© might even be on it.

I proceeded to purchase an album a week for a year attempting to find this song, at $7.25 an album. That’s like $377.00 Reagan dollars. That’s $746.38 in Bush II dollars, according to the American Institute for Economic Research.

After a year I finally found out that this song was “The Immigrant Song” and was available on the album Physical Graffiti (which came out when Gerald Frigging Ford was President).

I was thrilled by my new discovery, having no idea that Led Zeppelin™ had broken up after the untimely death of one member while engaged in drunken debauchery reading the Bible alone in his room while I was just out of grade school. Led Zeppelin© produced eight albums, but only seventeen minutes of actual music if you subtract “Stairway to Heaven.”*

I marched into the record store after a year of purchasing albums by Canadian heavy metal artists (ever hear of Raven© or Helix™ or Great White®? I have.) and discovering Dio® and Judas Priest™ in the process, well, I was ready to buy the album.

I went triumphantly to the album rack. A double album? $14.95????

$14.95???? No way. Too expensive.

I now get to look forward to The Boy being hideously disappointed when he learns that all of his classic rock icons are old fuddy-duddies who live in mansions in England and are way older than his dad (David Lee Roth, I’m talking to you).

Make me smile. It’s not everyday that a man get’s to crush his son’s dreams. Besides, soon enough he’ll be listening to whatever will be popular in a decade. Maybe he’ll discover Nirvana©.

It sure won’t be pretty when The Boy finds out that they only have three albums.

*I like Led Zeppelin©
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Sunday, September 16, 2007

"Happy Birthday. You know, the lawn's not gonna cut itself." - Red, That 70's Show


The Boy’s highway design. Notice the right turn from the left lane? And the center lane can turn right or left, but the left lane can only go forward? He must work for TXDOT.

It’s nearly time for The Boy to assume all the responsibilities of . . . a seven year old. The Boy will be deliriously wiping icing out of his hair and entering the sugar-high zone tomorrow. His list of wants are as small (and odd) as I’ve ever heard of. He wants:

a watch,
a pair of binoculars,
walkie-talkies, and
Ghosthunters™ DVDs.

I was going to add that The Boy wants Paris Hilton to stay away from all cameras and media forever, but, that was really my wish. My birthday’s coming up soon, and you know what I’ll be wishing for when the zillions of candles set off the smoke detector.

I give The Boy a hard time about his age. The Boy (wisely) wants no part of growing up at this point. If I joke that he will be, say, 17 or 70 instead of seven, it makes him nearly as angry as John McCain, which is very angry, indeed.

So, The Boy has a list of things he wants, but they’re unusual. For the longest time he lobbied for an infrared camera, and only gave up asking for one when I pointed out that one would cost more than my car. At that point The Boy reluctantly relented and gave up on that idea, but not after putting a 4-SAIL, CHEEP (WIL TRAD 4 INFRARED CAMERA) sign on my car.

Despite my refusal to purchase an infrared camera for him, The Boy has adjusted well to Texas, perhaps the best of all of the Wilder family. The Boy loves the climate, loves his school, and loves our house. The Mrs. and I pine for the long dark nights of brutally cold winter, yet The Boy wants to live in a semi-tropical paradise. What’s the matter with that kid?

Tomorrow, though, paradise or not, he turns seven. Which is nice, because as he grows older he’s ever so much more interesting. He’s finally reached the point that when I call home to talk to The Mrs. during the course of a business day, he’ll answer and we can have long talks about most anything.

The Boy’s goal at this point in his life is to see a ghost, and he doesn’t count the remnants of Corey Feldman’s career as ghost-like enough.

Mainly, The Boy is a happy, goofy kid who does pretty well on his spelling tests.

Good enough. No hurry to get to 17.
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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"As actors it is our responsibility to read the newspaper, and then say what we read on TV like it's our opinion." - J. Garofolo, Team America


The Boy runs free. Just wait until he has a mortgage.


It’s more than just a slogan you see on a t-shirt, it’s also the brand name of, ahem, feminine products. Perhaps that’s what’s meant when people say that “Freedom isn’t free,” since if you took that literally, you could get arrested for shoplifting. Freedom probably costs at least $3.98.

Despite lots of press and haggling over exactly what the word freedom means, I looked upon the ultimate arbiter of all knowledge, Wikipedia, to see what freedom was. Wikipedia has two articles on freedom as an intellectual construct, both of which were very short and didn’t add much to my knowledge of what freedom is. The also had an article on a hip hop artist named Freedom Williams, who performed on a song called, “Things That Make You Go Hmmm.”

I did look up the character on Lost Enlightenment philosopher, John Locke because there was a reference to him somewhere. Despite having a really, really unfortunately long nose (his beak would have entered a room roughly six months before he did, were he on a dead run), John Locke was really, really skinny.

I’m not sure I trust skinny people with long noses (the infamous Clown Incident of 1974 led to that), so I decided to ignore anything John Locke might have said. Besides, the Wikipedia article had all sorts of words and stuff that I’d have to read, and that would seriously undermine my capability to do my favorite kind of research, which is just making stuff up.

I finally settled on the following definition of freedom: doing what you’d like to do, and not having to do stuff that someone tells you to do. Sounds similar to . . . liberty.

Good. We’ve just reached the nightmare of every parent of every two-year-old. Especially if the two-year-old is 195 pounds and six feet tall. I think most school teachers would agree that a group of six-year-olds with liberty is probably a very bad idea. It would probably be worse if the parents of the six-year-olds were crack-crazed personal injury lawyers. Worst case? The crack-crazed personal injury lawyer parents are also on the school board.

There must be something that counterbalances this whole “liberty” thing.


What is the counterbalance to liberty . . . wait . . . responsibility? Responsibility might be the thing that prevents you from acting like a six-year-old with crack-crazed personal injury lawyer parents, as tempting as that sounds.

We have a Statue of Liberty, but, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of a Statue of Responsibility.


Nope, nowhere near Congress. Pretty sure it’s not out in California.

Where ever could it be?

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

"If they come through Texas, I done played with them." - Rufus, Kill Bill, Vol. 2

The Leaning Tower of Texas. Actually, it's the San Jacinto Monument, and it has an elevator to the top. It's tilty because I was too lazy to walk back farther to get the whole thing in the picture. 570' tall.

In the eighties nineties, Texas had a series of commercials that they ran that ended with the tagline, “Texas, it’s like a whole ‘nother country®.”

Outside of the exact definition of what “nother” means (it could be defined as a test-tube mother, I suppose), I did recall from the blurry depths of high school history that Texas had gained independence from Mexico, and, for a brief period of time, was an independent nation. This would explain the US flag and the Texas flag being flown at the same height, not something you should try if you were, say, Massachusetts. If you tried it in Massachusetts, you might be asked to take a car ride with a Kennedy. Nobody comes back from a car ride with a Kennedy.

On Saturday, however, we decided to take a ride to San Jacinto to see a bit of our new nation state. San Jacinto isn’t, despite the name, a new Taco Bell™ mixture of the same six ingredients they use for everything else, yet somehow “cheesier”. No, San Jacinto is the Birthplace of Texas©.

We drove up to a monument, which is 570’ in height, making it the world’s tallest war memorial. This, for a war that lasted slight longer than the average time between invasion and surrender of France, is (in my personal opinion) a bit presumptuous.

It turns out that the Mexican President, General, and Pope, Santa Ana (no relation to Santa Fe) had been chasing the Texian independence fighters back towards Louisiana with a vastly numerically superior force. The Texians had really no choice besides retreat or listening to an eternity of mariachi music while drinking frosty Corona© beer on a beach. They chose to retreat. Santa Ana followed them, and decided to go out for an afternoon stroll with about 1200 of his troops. At approximately 4:30 PM the Mexicans were on siesta (I’m not making that part up) and Sam Houston and 900 of his Texians stormed the Mexican positions and won the battle in about 18 minutes (still not making that up), which is still longer than the average French “time to surrender”.

Having lost his army and his pants in a strip poker game with Sam Houston, Santa Ana signed surrender documents, and the nation of Texas was born. History does not record if Sam could fit into Santa’s pants.

100 years later, the San Jacinto museum was built. 71 years after that, the Wilder clan paid a visit.

The museum is neat. It costs the horrendously high $1.00 for folks over 12 (The Boy and Pugsley were free) and has a gift shop where The Boy paid his hard-won $3.00 from emptying Alia S. Wilder’s litter box (well, not really her litter box, she has cats that use it) for a shiny Texas Ranger badge. The Mrs. took a picture of me next to Santa Ana’s portrait. He looked rather somber and grim, perhaps because he was covered by about a thousand pounds of gold braid and medals he’d awarded himself, including the “Lost to a bunch of yokels in Texas” medal.

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The Boy taking careful aim at a distant Klingon warship.

We also wandered over to the USS Texas, the only battleship to serve in WWI and WWII still in existence. It’s parked on A1 through D-1, if you really must know. Neither The Boy or I figured out a way to break it. The USS Texas was being readied for an overnight group of Boy Scouts, and we ran into them several times during our trip through the museum and the ship. The Boy Scouts were, frankly, polite and nerdy. The Boy joins them on Monday, becoming a miniature Cub Scout, something called a “Tiger Cub.” He’s hoping convinced that the USS Texas is haunted, so that when his troop spends the night he can see a ghost.

The Boy and I entertained ourselves by swiveling and elevating the anti-aircraft guns. We brought down two Japanese Zeros and one German ME-109. It was a slow afternoon. Unfortunately, now Japan and Germany have declared war on Texas.

I think most Texans would be okay with that.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I'm pregnant, I'm an opium fiend, I'm in love with a poet named Shelley who's a famous whoopsy and Mother didn't die, I killed her.- Sally, Blackadder

The Wildermobile was packed tighter than this this weekend. Thank goodness for tarps and straps. And sweet, sweet coffee.

On the beginning of a long Labor Day weekend, I got in the trusty Wildermobile and headed due north. From Houston, almost everyplace of interest is north, what with the ocean and all making the entire concept of “south” merely some sort of bizarre geographical abstraction. Since the Wildermobile was not configured of amphibious operation, I decided to stick with “north” as a general direction. Up first light umm, sometime fairly early, I got in the car and hit the road on a road trip. By myself.

Why by myself? The Mrs. put the kibosh on this being a family trip, since everyone (The Mrs. herself, Pugsley, and The Boy) had some sort of ebola/SARS/bird-flu thing going on. In truth, I was feeling just a bit Dengue-feverish (or maybe it was a bit West Nile?) but decided to press onward. I drove. For hours. Finally I got out of Houston. Then I drove hours more. Then I got out of Texas. Driving across Texas is difficult, because, frankly, there’s so much Texas to drive through. Once you manage to get through Texas, though, you can cut through states with the rapidity of Paris Hilton going through trust fund heirs.

So, I took the opportunity to go solo. I drove The Mrs.’ rig because it is bigger and I was going to pick up another Wilder, Alia S. Wilder, to be exact and all of her junk. Alia S. Wilder is a relative that’s close enough that you would drive a bazillion hours to go and help. In this case help is translated into “I will drive and help you move from Anytown, USA to Houston.” I finally get to Anytown and proceed to go to Alia S. Wilder’s house? Nah. I’ve got a buddy in town who puts a mean grill on a burger. I’ll pick Alia S. Wilder in the morning. My buddy has beer, too.

I wake up at the appointed time the next morning, and arrive at Alia S. Wilder’s apartment. She meets me in the parking lot. I see her appraising the Wildermobile. “Think everything will fit?” I ask.

“Oh, yeah, there’s lots of room. Come on up to the apartment. I’m all packed.”

I follow her up.

I survey the scene of desolation, and see that every horizontal surface is covered by, well, junk. I don’t mind (at all) helping people move. I draw the line, though, at packing anything for them. How do I know the difference between a priceless family heirloom and mummified cat droppings? Not the kind of moral hazard I like to open myself up to. Alia S. Wilder isn’t packed. The words to the Shelly poem, Ozymandias spring to mind.

“Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair.” I even quote them.

I then walk into the bedroom and see a queen size bed. A queen size bed. I have no idea what kind of car you drive, but I have never driven an enclosed vehicle where a queen size bed will fit inside the passenger compartment. I think that Yao Ming might have such a vehicle, and it might even fit in the driver’s seat area with room to spare.

Immediately I spring into planning mode. The first plan is to pretend that I’ve never been there and just run away screaming into the mid-day Sun, foaming at the mouth. A second option would be to go and get a cheap trailer, and move the junk. I sold my old trailer in Fairbanks, and could use something to haul . . . well, I could always use a trailer, even if I can’t think of a damn thing I’d ever use it for.

My buddy with the beer and the good burgers is available. We go buy a trailer and hook it up to my vehicle, with he and I doing a good Curley and Larry imitation in the meantime. I had no idea that he could make a trailer connection shoot dirt clods, rocks and dust into my face at nearly the speed of sound, but, I did get to trot out my “n’yuk, n’yuk, n’yuk, wise guy, huh?” for his amusement. Fortunately he knows the eye-gouge-block trick.

So, at five p.m. we finally load up the Wildermobile, the trailer, and head into the sunset.

The journey itself went fairly quickly. We talked about everything, I drove the whole way, and only slept a little. At five AM on a Sunday morning we pulled into the local Wal*Mart© parking lot and I dragged my stiff carcass inside and bought . . . two dollars worth of cat litter and two dollars worth of cat box.

We got home before the Sun broadcast it’s deadly electromagnetic spectra upon the earth, and I crawled into bed. The Mrs. had been up fretting and worrying the whole night, yet when Pugsley awoke I booted her out of bed, all sick and tired to watch the kids.

The moral of this story? Your mother was sick and tired. Your father did that to her.
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