November 12, 2013

Packing a Suitcase and the Car: A Dad’s Epic Journey

When it comes to family vacations, Dads are only in charge of packing two things: their own suitcases and the car. Sure, we offer to pack for our wives—quite the kind gesture, if I do say so myself—though time and time again our wives politely decline, claiming that if we were allowed to pack for them they’d arrive at their vacation destination with nothing but lingerie and a box of Combos. They make this ill-advised assumption without taking into consideration the fact that Combos are delicious.

Super delicious.

We also altruistically offer to pack for the kids, but that gets shot down too. I’m unclear why this gets such an emphatic NO! from our wives, but I can only assume it’s because our wives are thoughtful and know how exhausted we are from a long day of debating which wide receiver to pick up off the free agent wire in our fantasy football league. I’m sure our wives are also confident that this is the year our team, Men at Twerk, will break that streak of 17 consecutive losing seasons and, quite possibly, finish at .500. (Talk about a Cinderella story!)

So, like all dads, when we recently started getting ready for our trip to Disney, I focused all my non-fantasy football league energy toward packing my suitcase and packing the car. With our trip only days away, my wife gave me a deadline to have my bag packed and ready to go.

“No problem,” I said, as I meticulously piled undershirts, underwear, socks, shirts and shorts on the bed in neat little rows—a long way removed from my college days where I grabbed a pile of clothes from my (kind of) clean laundry basket and shoved it in my bookbag, hoping that there were at least one pair of boxers and one t-shirt (bonus points if it was my awesome Blink-182 concert-Tee1).

I was taking this trip seriously, letting my wife know I was grown up and could handle the responsibility of packing appropriate clothes for our trip. I left my Reds jerseys behind in favor of stain-free shirts that would not only be comfortable, but would look nice in family photos with Mickey, Minnie and Donald. I scrapped the athletic shorts and opted for cargos, allowing for enough pocket space to store tissues, sunscreen, Advil and all the other necessities of a trip to Disney. I even packed two spare pairs of undergarments “just in case.” That’s right, I’m now a prepared “just in case” guy, ready to handle any spills or unexpected kid vomit tossed my way. I spent at least two hours debating through clothes and packing what I believe most would call The Perfect Suitcase.2 And it was zipped up and ready to go, sitting right by the dresser with three days to spare before our departure.

Next job was to pack up the car. Packing a car is an underappreciated art-form, and only celebrated by Dads who recognize how difficult it is to pack everything you own except for the microwave—and believe me, when you have kids, your wife will pack everything you own except for the microwave—into the trunk of a car. Thankfully I have the luxury of owning a minivan, which means my wife also packs the microwave.

This is where all those years of playing Tetris (and your arthritic Nintendo thumb) finally pay off, as you maneuver piece of luggage in between piece of luggage, squeezing snack bags and DVD bags and potty seats all around, piecing it all together until you can push down the trunk door and it goes click. Ah, that sweet click. That sound signifies a masterful accomplishment, one that you will revel in as you recall every teacher who ever said “Frankly, Mr. Klems, video games are a complete waste of your time.” (Ah Mr. Miller, how wrong you were.)

My wife, impressed for the first time in our 8-year marriage, showed her heartfelt appreciation through her words:

“If you forgot something, you’re a dead man.”

“I love you too.”

For the 15-hour drive to Disney, I was proud of myself. Sure, we didn’t pack as many Combos as I would have liked and Men at Twerk were on the verge of another mid-season meltdown, but my suitcase was packed and the car was skillfully loaded—all thanks to me. With so much stress before any major trip, it’s important as a husband (and a Dad) to take care of everything your wife asks. If you can alleviate a little stress, even if it’s simply by taking care of yourself, then you should do it. And when you arrive at your destination, the stress will be over and the fun part begins.

Unless, of course, you arrive at your destination that’s 15 hours away from home and realize something is missing in the trunk of your car. And that something is this:

The Perfect Suitcase. Zipped up and ready to go. Sitting right by the dresser. 3

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1 Unless, of course, the road trip was to see a Blink-182 concert. Rock-show etiquette clearly states that you can’t wear a concert-Tee of the band that you are going to see. If you do, everyone else there will consider you a total loser. EXCEPTION: Rick Springfield Tees at Rick Springfield concerts. (If this is you, clearly being judged is the least of your concerns.)
2 Oooooh … sounds like a potential name of next year’s sub-.500 fantasy football team!
3 The Grant Street Target in Orlando is now $150 richer.

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Anonymous said...

OK, Brian, this made me laugh. I saw that picture and it caused "shoulders-bouncing" laughter LOL


Kara Uhl said...

Hahaha—great post. Hope you had fun on your trip!!!

SoMo Mom said...

So funny! That just happened to friends of ours EXCEPT it was the husband that forgot the wife's suitcase ... Yeah ... it wasn't pretty.

Damien said...

I feel your frustration. This very day I packed a delicious lunch of leftovers from eggplant parmesan in a tupperware container. I sprinkled parmesan cheese on it, put in two slices of bread, pasta, and ricotta...and promptly left it on my counter. It is no doubt serving as an obelisk for my cat, who is now starving and doesn't know why.

PS: I have thanked my Tetris addiction several times: packing, organizing books and CDs.

Sharon S. said...

As usual, love it! My hub is the *only* one able to pack our minivan and get everything to fit. He is also the one who--when we only had our first-born and were flying to Florida for Christmas with our perfect little infant--left the fully stocked diaper bag on the kitchen table. We didn't realize this until we were at Midway waiting to board and needed to change our little man. We learned a lot about each that day--good things and bad! And do you know that Midway Airport (at that time, at least) did not sell diapers, bottles or baby formula? :) Ahhh, the memories! Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane, Brian!

Jeff Hay said...

Hey Brian,

Been there and forgot that...

You can buy most things, but commando at Disney is not cool...

Take it easy... keep up the good stories!

Jeff (