Given the choice, I prefer to travel on anything but an interstate highway. I find interstate highways mind-numbing, with mile after mile of the same hideous fast food offerings and dirty gas station bathrooms, but sometimes I have no choice. Time and distance require that I get on the interstate and drive balls-to-the-wall to get to my destination. Such was the case on my recent trip to Texas, which began with a one-day, twelve-hour interstate dash from my house in Kansas City to my sister’s near Austin and ended with the same one-day, twelve-hour push to get back home.

To keep my sanity on such drives, I listen to audiobooks. For that reason–with the exception of the half hour or so it took me to drive through the glorious Flint Hills in Kansas, which would be absolutely impossible to ignore–I couldn’t tell you much of what I saw along the way. On the drive to Texas, I hung out in present-day Los Angeles the with characters in Jill Smolinski’s novel, The Next Thing on My List, and, on the drive back, I bounced back and forth between post-World War II London and the Channel Island of Guernsey while listening to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. With regards to the latter, if you have not read it yet, do NOT pass Go! do NOT collect $200! until you read it. Seriously. I’ve listened to it twice now, and I guarantee you I’ll read and/or listen to it again. Something I rarely, rarely do. It’s that good. I repeat. It’s that good.

Anyway, as you can well imagine, I was pretty wiped out after both days of driving–good books notwithstanding–and looked forward to a good night’s sleep. My sister had a bed all set up for me when I arrived at her house, and I wasted little time getting into it. About 3 a.m., I awoke groggily in need of a wee and immediately became alarmed. I couldn’t move. Where in the hell was I? The room was pitch black–seriously, not a single speck of light–and I was lying ramrod straight, completely surrounded…encased, really…by what? Where am I? Why can’t I move?

As the fog lifted, I remembered I was at Amy’s, and then I realized why I couldn’t move. I was sleeping on one of those double-decker inflatable mattress thingies, and the goofy damn thing had lost just enough air to turn me into a wiener on a bun. If I hadn’t had to pee so badly, it would have been funny, but I was stuck. Really stuck. You know how they tell you to remain calm in the face of adversity. Well, that thought never crossed my mind. After rocking back and forth a bit, I finally got my arms un-wedged from my sides enough to begin thrashing around like…well, like I don’t know what, but I guarantee you it wasn’t pretty. After a good deal of commotion and a few bad words, I managed to free myself and make it to the bathroom.

Problem solved, right? Wrong. It was only 3:30 a.m. I was still desperate for sleep, and my bed looked like it had given up the will to live. The electric air pump was sitting right there, but I’d never used it and had no energy or brain cells left to try and figure out how to get it attached, started, or stopped. Besides, if the mattress had a hole in it, it would just go flat again anyway, so I laid back down on the bed with my arms and legs spread wide. You know, like your childhood swim instructor told you to do when she was teaching you to back float, to increase your surface area on top of the water and all that…yeah, just like that.

The next morning, my sister popped her head in at o’dark thirty to wake me up–as if she really needed to–and said sweetly, “I think the mattress may have lost some air.”

You think?

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