On Saturday, Saxon, Emma and I took off for Branson, Missouri to the Ozark Canopy Zipline Tour. (Extreme vacations are a part of my grand scheme to overcome my phobias and not feel like I’m 50 years-old.)
At seven a.m. we loaded into the car for the three hour drive. This time I had planned ahead and outfitted Emma with electronics all charged up and a brand-new pair of earbuds. We drove for an hour in blissful silence until Emma took off her earbuds and piped up, “So which would you rather be – a werewolf or a vampire?”
A little background here… Emma is obsessed with these type of questions. The past week Saxon and I had been held hostage by a barrage of hypothetical questions.
“Which one?” Emma asked, “vampire or werewolf?”
I answered, “I’d rather be a unicorn.”
Emma said, “That wasn’t the question. Either chose a vampire or a werewolf.”
“But I don’t want to be evil.”
“Choose,” Emma commanded.
“But I don’t want somebody else’s blood in my mouth,” I said. “And both of your options are bloody.”
Emma said, “That’s why the question is tough. Which is it? Vampire or werewolf?”
“I know,” I said. “I choose to be one of the My Little Ponies. I want to be Pinky Pie or Rainbow Dash.”
“That’s not one of the choices!” Emma was becoming distraught with my obstinance. “Vampire or werewolf!”
“How about if I were a unicorn who was really angry?” I asked.
Saxon interrupted. “I want to be a werewolf. Because that only happens once a month when the moon is full.”
“Stupid,” Emma muttered under her breath. “That full moon thing is just a myth.” She put her earbuds back in and proceeded to ignore us.
Saxon and I shrugged and went back to blissful silence.
I stopped at a Kum & Go in Springdale, Arkansas for a pee break. Then I realized that I had made breakfast for everybody but myself that morning. My tummy was growling. I purchased a non-fat strawberry yogurt.
We all got back in the car and I was steering it out of the parking lot when Saxon said, “You’re not going to eat that and drive are you?”
“Yep, I sure am.”
“That’s dangerous. Just park the car and eat.”
I put on the brake and took a bite.
Saxon said, “You can’t just park in the middle of the lot. Somebody will hit us. Plus that’s rude. You’re stopping other cars from driving through the lot.”
“I was just going to take one bite, then move on,” I said.
“Park and eat,” she said.
I sighed, put the car in reverse and backed into a parking spot. I parked and began to eat the yogurt.
Saxon said, “You were breaking the social contract.”
“You were breaking the social contract,” she said. “The social contract is when people surrender their personal desires for the good of all. In this case, you can’t park just anywhere you want because then everybody would do that and where we be then? It’s breaking the social contract.”
“Drop it,” I said. I took two more bites.
“Are you mad at me?” she asked.
“I’m getting there. Just drop it, okay?”
Two more bites.
“I’m just saying that you can’t park anywhere you want just because it suits you,” she said.
I glared at her.
“You are mad at me,” she said.
“If you knew what was good for you, you’d drop the subject and talk about something else.”
Emma leaned forward and said, “I’d want to be a vampire. So I wouldn’t have hairy legs.”
Saxon and I both sighed. I drove twenty minutes in silence feeling like a very angry unicorn.
“You’re not going to be mad all day, are you?” Saxon asked.
“If I was a werewolf I’d rip your head off right now,” I mumbled.
We reached the Branson Zipline without further incident. Mostly because none of us talked. We parked and checked in, put on several layers of clothes (it was cold) and went with our tour guide to gear up. Dave, the tour guide, was a short man. He was Emma’s height. Emma mistook his short stature to mean he was her age. So she buddied up to him right away.
“I have a question for you, Dave,” she said. “Which would you rather do: Kiss a oppossum or hug a tree full of termintes?”
“That’s a tough one,” he said. “Depends on what kind of tree. Is it a marshmallow tree? I could hug one of those. I love marshmallows.”
Emma smiled. She had found a soul mate. She said, “Here’s a joke for you, Dave. Why was the cat scared of the tree?”
“Because of the bark?” he answered.
They both hooted with laughter.
“Excuse me,” I said, tightening my harness. Dave looked at me. I turned my back to him, “Does this harness make my butt look fat?”
He failed to see the humor. Either that or as a man he’s been conditioned to treat these types of questions with kid gloves. “No, ma’am,” he said, “the harness is quite flattering.”
We walked across the hanging suspension bridge for our first zip of the day. Emma chattered behind Dave, “So, here’s another: If you were stuck on a desert island with your mother, a beautiful woman and your best friend, who would you kill and eat first?”
Saxon stopped and read one of the historical signs along our zipline route. “Really?” she asked Dave. “This sign says that in 1849 a man was killed by a bear in this exact spot.”
“Uh huh,” Dave replied as he attached her safety rope to the zipline.
We were standing at least a hundred feet up on a platform. We were going to jump off the platform and zip eight hundred and nineteen feet to the next platform. He had Saxon ready to go. I was up next.
“What I’m saying is,” Saxon continued, “that sign makes people think he was killed by a bear on this platform, but obviously this platform wasn’t built in 1849.”
“I think the sign means that he killed the bear on the ground under this platform,” Dave said. (He said it patiently I might add.) “And,” he added, “I think all those signs are more for amusement than anything.”
“They’re not true?” Saxon asked, horrified.
“Probably not,” Dave answered.
Saxon crossed her arms. “That’s breaking the social contract. When a sign is posted like that, people assume that it’s true. If it’s a lie, it’s breaking the social contract.”
I stepped forward and pushed Saxon off the platform. We watched her scream all the way across.
Emma looked at Dave and asked, “So which would you choose: dying by ziplining or dying by freezing to death?”
We ziplined seven times and walked on ten suspension bridges. By the time we were done, we were on a dopamine high. However, the high was gone by the time we were leaving Branson and we were exhausted before we even began the three hour drive home.
We stopped at IHOP. We ate more than we should have and drank a pot of coffee. As we were leaving, I picked up my purse. It felt heavier. Much heavier.
“What the hell,” I muttered. “My purse is heavy.”
“Ssshhh,” Saxon muttered.
“Ziplining really makes your arms tired,” I said. “My purse feels like it weighs a ton.”
“Be quiet,” Saxon said. She grabbed me by the elbow and pushed me toward the exit.
“Did you put something in my purse?” I asked.
Saxon pinched me, muttering, “I said be quiet!” She threw furtive looks around the restaurant as we walked out the door.
I got in the car and opened my purse. It was filled with grape jelly packets, sugar and sweet ‘n low packets and those little plastic cups of cream.
“What the hell?” I said. “Did you put all this stuff in my purse?”
Saxon said, “We’re out of those things at home. This way we don’t have to go to the store right away.”
I glared at her.
“Plus, if we get hungry on the way home, we have stuff to munch on.”
“Seriously?” I said. “We’re going to drink tiny cups of half and half and eat grape jelly with our fingers?”
“No,” Saxon huffed. She dug around in my purse and pulled out something else. “I’m not stupid. I got a spoon, too.”
“That’s stealing!” I said.
“No, it’s not,” she said. “We paid for that with our breakfast. They take the loss of jelly and creamer into account and it’s disbursed over the price of meals. We paid for it.”
“Okay, it might not be illegal,” I said, “but it’s definitely breaking the social contract.”
Saxon crossed her arms and pouted. I drove for a while. Finally after twenty minutes, I asked, “Are you mad at me?”
She didn’t answer. I drove another twenty minutes. “Are you going to be mad all the way home?”
She still didn’t answer. I looked in the rear view mirror at Emma. “Emma, stop eating the grape jelly,” I said. “Save that for later when we’re starving.”
“Okay,” Emma said, “Hey, here’s a question for you… would you rather –”
“No!” Saxon and I both shouted at the same time.