I don’t mean like eating cereal or changing your pants – sure, those things are pretty hilarious, but I don’t think you should do those things.
In the late summer, I like to stick the girls in the car – all of them, wife, kids, dogs – and drive down to Hocking Hills. The main highway is Route 33, and you can’t do anything very hilarious on it; the cops sit around along the side of the road every couple of miles, scowling at everyone passing them, like my nasty, horrible cat when he hangs around the bird feeder.
Route 33 isn’t all bad – it’s just one of those stretches of road where the cops are firmly in charge. You don’t want to screw around.
However, parts of it are really gorgeous, like the new bypass around Lancaster, which they blew holes right through hillsides to build.
I’m not a big fan of Lancaster, so I’d probably think the bypass was cool even if it went under Lancaster, and there were zombies attacking the whole time. Lancaster freaks me out.
But there are back roads all the way to Old Man’s Cave, if you know your way around. I can get you there from my house in Grove City without touching Route 33, if you don’t mind the occasional unpaved, gravel road, and if you don’t mind a little company – it’s not a terribly original idea.
Sure, regular people in cars use the back way, and sure, I’ll bet some of them know more efficient routes than I do, but it’s also a route taken by bicyclists, all decked out in their colorful Tron outfits, pedaling along in grimacing herds.
Then there are the bikers, out in the sunshine for a nice rip into the hills, riding in packs like the bicyclists, but not grimacing. Invariably, they are grinning, and who can blame them?
A hilarious thing to do when the girls were just a bit younger, was to pretend like the bikers were a single motorcycle gang, and that they were actually our arch-enemies from college.
The thing to remember about little kids is, practically anything makes sense to them if you can put it in sentence form. I’d reach up and tilt the mirror just slightly and mutter, “Oh, crap.”
Subtlety is key there – you want them to ask you what the problem is, not just start talking. There’s no guarantee any given time you start talking that they’re going to immediately start listening to you, and the joke is all about delivery and flow. They can really screw you up by missing the beginning.
Usually one of them would ask what the problem was, and I’d say, “It’s the Diablos. They found us.”
Marilyn would snap straight up and look a little too horrified. “What?”
“I don’t know how, but they found us.”
“Where’s the crossbow?”
And I’d glance at her grimly. “I left it on the dresser.”
Then we’d spend the next half hour pretending to throw the Diablos off our trail, or talking grimly about the time we had to get in a crash-up derby with the Diablos for the deed to Uncle Marvin’s farm, or the time the Diablos captured me, but I had a knife in my boot and escaped.
“Had to cut a man that time,” I’d tell them, letting my eyes get dark and haunted. “It does something to you, when you have to cut a man.”
Like the opposite of Santa Claus, the girls would kind of understand that there was something wrong with the logic of the situation. Santa Claus is just a bit too good to be true, but they want to believe it. My arch nemesis motorcycle gang is too silly to be true and they really didn’t want it to be, but then again, just look out the window. There they are.
“Don’t look at them! That’s Wheels McGilllicuddy right there – he’s killed five men!”
It’s better than a built-in DVD player, in terms of keeping the squabbling down for an hour-long drive. Nothing brings a community together like a perceived threat.
Also, Mom and Dad aren’t a couple of squares if they’re the only thing standing between you and the Diablos.
Another hilarious thing to do while you’re driving involves longer trips, the kind where everyone has a pillow and books and snacks and blankets. The forever trip, where it’s like we live in the car, we’re shaped like the seats. I’ll bet there’s an odor associated with that kind of trip.
It’s considerably more amusing to do this to your daughter as opposed to your wife, because your daughter doesn’t have any political recourse. Your wife doesn’t like to be terrified, and she’s also capable of being sort of terrifying.
What I like to do is wait until the wife-or-daughter in the shotgun seat is asleep, then wait again until she’s starting to stir, starting to suck in a lot of air in a sleepy, nasal yawn, starting to smack her lips and sniffle and move around.
Then what I do is lean my head back against the seat and close my right eye. You can drive just fine with your left eye – in fact, it’s perfectly legal, driving with an eyepatch or only one eye – and the good thing about the left eye is that you can’t see it from the passenger seat.
People tend to think of your eyes as a pair, so if they can only see one, they assume the other is doing something similar. So I cock my head just a little, let my jaw hang open, and close my right eye, and wait. Maybe snore a little bit, through my nose.
Pretty soon, the wife-or-daughter wakes up and notices that I appear to be sound asleep like she was, going seventy-five miles per hour. Hilarity ensues.
Now, I don’t know how hilarious it would be, but if you were really looking for trouble and you either have a good lawyer or you are one, then I think you should try pretending to text while you’re driving.
Do it someplace safe, like at a stoplight, but do it right in front of a cop, just start pounding away at the buttons, laugh theatrically at what you’re typing, and don’t let on that you removed the battery before you even left your house an hour ago.
Then insist you weren’t texting, when the cop pulls you over. Then refuse to give him the phone, tell him you’ll see him in court. Then get a statement from your wireless provider, showing that there was no activity on your account for an hour, at the time of the ticket.
Put the system on trial, you know what I mean?