Last weekend, as you heard from Ricky in his latest Roof Rack Report, we spent some time in Vermont with my niece Kat, my grandnephew Teddy, and my nephew-in-law David. (I’m not really an authority when it comes to “relative” nomenclature.) David grew up in Michigan . . . and he and Kat have been married only 5 years . . . and they live in Manhattan — and the bottom line is I’ve never really had the chance to hang out all that much with him. So on Sunday, when David and I went cross-country skiing (the “gals” — Kat and Carol — and the Odd Couple — Teddy and Ricky — opted to stay back at the house), we packed in some good “bro” time. As we talked about this and that, David kept coming back to the one thing that had obviously made a huge impression on him: That Ricky will reliably fall asleep within 10 seconds after hitting the car seat — and that he’ll stay asleep for as long as I care to drive.
When this behavior came up in relation to my “annual” cross-country road trips, David said, a little hesitantly, “I’d kind of pictured Ricky more, you know, with his head constantly out the passenger-side window, ears blowing back . . .”
I knew where he was going with this. “You were thinking more along the lines of a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid kind of thing, right? A dynamic duo, rolling along side by side? Not just Beagle Man sort of transporting a corpse across state lines?”
Yeah, that’s what he meant.
And I get it. Sure, if I didn’t need to wake Ricky to have his picture taken at the rim of the Grand Canyon just to prove we were there, I suppose that would be kind of nice. But still . . . without Ricky, Mark and Alison wouldn’t have stopped me in the parking lot of Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn, and we never would have established that Mark’s cousin Charlie played Staples football with Greg — or that Alison’s mother is our buddy Joan’s very closest friend! Without Ricky, Chloe at USC wouldn’t have recognized that my car, parked in front of her dorm, was the very same one she’d noticed at the beach in Amagansett the summer before! Without Ricky, our memorable entrance into Maggie Mae’s in Austin wouldn’t have been nearly so memorable. Without strangers stopping me on the street every five minutes and telling me, “Ohhh . . . that’s the cutest dog I’ve ever seen,” I wouldn’t have had one-tenth the close encounters that make the haul an adventure. Pit stops would have been all business instead of slowing-down-and-smelling-the-roses. Overnights in Comfort Suites and Best Westerns would have been cold and lonely without Ricky’s comical introductory tour of each room’s waste baskets and his snuggling up at lights-out. And there would have been no snoring little furball on the shotgun seat for over 3,000 miles, giving me peace of mind.
Yeah, my Sundance Kid may do an awful lot of sleeping, but for my money, he more than carries his weight.
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