20 December 2018

[Perrin Lovett] - TPC On The Road: A Christmas Tradition?

The Vispoli family, Todd, Claire, Ruthie, Bryson, and Lizzie, make their way into the great American Northeast for Christmas. A day out of Anytown finds them departing the Comfort Inn of the Pocono Lakes Region in Pennsylvania. Their ALL NEW Mazda CX-9 SUV (WITH 3rd Row!) hits I-84 just after breakfast, as wet, early morning snow begins to tinkle on the windshield. Let’s listen in on the festive holiday jaunt conversation:

The deft i-ACTIV® all-wheel-drive crunched through the new-fallen icy snow as Twin Rocks Road and the Poconos Inn disappeared behind. Todd Vispoli gripped the toasty comfort of the leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel and smiled. ‘Lordy, I’m glad we went with the Signature!’ Todd beamed.

‘Yes,’ smiled Claire, ‘I enjoy the auto dimming rearview mirror with Homelink® and the kids just love the 38.5 inches of rear headroom.’

TODAY’S C.F. Floyd “National Affairs” Feature is proudly brought to you by Mazda and the All New! 2019 Mazda CX-9 Signature!

Mazda. Automotive excellence, made by Japanese Elves, now available in America.

‘Lizzie’s already asleep,’ piped in Ruthie, herself sleepy and nodding as she looked at her baby sister, tucked snuggly into a car seat on the second row.

‘She’s had a hard morning,’ Todd answered, ‘I, myself, am ready to pass out from those do-it-yourself waffles.’

‘Don’t pass out, dear,’ Claire said, half in a daze, ‘It’s four hours to Mass.’

Eight A.M. and the family was on the freeway, heading North, with less than an hour of Pennsylvania roads left to travel. Coffee-fueled and ready for anything not work-related, Todd and Claire man the front buckets. Little Ruthie, seven-years-old, and tiny Lizzie, barely one, hold the middle. From the rear, with the gear, nary a sound comes from ten-year-old Bryson. Fortnite suffers no idle chit chat.

Second down and goal to go! The Sunday morning before Christmas was a fine, if cold, time.

‘Can we listen to “Dominick the Donkey?”’ asked Ruthie.

‘Not again,’ Claire replied, ‘Ten times was enough last night. And, WODS will be playing it twice an hour - unless they’ve switched to some listless contemporary lineup - which would JUST BE STUPID.’

‘Say,’ added Todd, ‘How ‘bout a little Dandy and the Bass Slayers? They’ve got the best Christmas album. From ninety-seven? Maybe ninety-nine?’

‘Honey,’ Claire sighed, ‘Nobody wants to hear that tired, redneck, Bluegrass-pop vulgarity again. Let them go.’

‘But, they were the last feature in Marshall’s Music Minute!’ Todd boasted. ‘Marshall only picks the coolest, hippest tunes. I think they played Covington last week.’

Claire looked disgusted. ‘It’s been a year now. More than a year. Oxford is behind us. Being the chair of economics at Anytown U means something. Rehashing you and your buddy’s drunken hillbilly music fest doesn’t. And that’s not REAL Christmas music, anyway.’

‘MAAAAAN! My shotgun!’ screamed Bryson, alarmed at some digital development. His eyes never left the iPhone screen for a second.

‘Huh, what?’ murmured Todd as he visually surveyed a mile-marker through the swirling snow - number 22… ‘Okay. Alright. Let’s… Bryson. Bryson? You okay? … Okay, let’s just listen to the rest of the TPC podcast!’ Todd’s finger twitched over the infotainment flat panel.

‘Yeeeeah. About that.’ Claire said, her eyes rolling as white woodlands flew by the window. ‘Last night old M.B. was in a tizzy over the Newton County Board scheme to tax Christmas trees!’ “Exclusive! A week out from Christmas and the local gestapo goes full Grinch!”’ she added in a feigned gravelly voice - ‘Aaaand … “Let’s GO DAWGS!”’

‘We were only in Covington for three years, babe. We don’t need to be concerned about local Piedmont struggles now. Shoot. There’s too much local anywhere. Anytown even! Five the Hive is still going on about the school peanut thing.’

‘Another reason to homeschool, dear,’ said Todd. An odd silence followed, broken by:

‘Hey!’ said Todd, excitedly. ‘I think Da is talking about peanuts this time!’

‘Yes,’ Claire added with clear irritation. ‘He’s concerned about the spelling of “P-nut,” a capital “P” and “nut” as improper grammar. Whoopee…’

Sweet Ruthie, thumbing aimlessly through some volume of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, suddenly looked up. ‘Let’s hear what Miss Bess has to say about Christmas! I love Miss Bess because she loves kids like me!’

‘Darling, sweetie,’ said Claire, her eyes on a passing insurance billboard, ‘we all want to know what happened to “The Greatest Inflatable Snowman.” How did thirty-three kids make it without one for soooo long? But, hey!, Aunt Patty texted me a few days ago. They have one of those big, old, giant, inflated snow globes out in front of their new house. We’ll see it this afternoon.’

‘Patty, Patty, Whoop-Whoop has a new house?’ asked Ruthie.

‘Yep,’ answered mommy, ‘They moved to Bolton this summer.’

‘What’s Bolton?’ Ruthie asked.

‘Bolton is a town West of Bean-town. Out somewhere near Foxborough. You know, where the Pats play?’ Todd explained, his gaze upon a passing fish market truck.

An awkward, silent mile passed in a flash. “Port Jervis, 10 Miles,” a big green sign announced.

‘The snow is starting to get thinner, lighter,’ said Todd, ‘It’s gonna be nice in Bolton tonight. Maybe a white Christmas?!’ A moment’s pause and he added, ‘Speaking of fish (the truck remembered), M.B. promised Kayla would cover the Porterdale Festive Friday Fish Fry in this week’s Corner. Kayla, anyone?’

Claire shifted in her heated leather seat. “Oh, yeah. We all know why you like Kayla, Todd.’

‘What?’ Todd inquired faux innocently and, in truth, somewhat alarmedly, turning a slight shade of red. “What’s the matter? I like the Corner.’

Claire reached over and patted Todd’s knee. ‘We know you like the curver … the corner, Todd. We know why.’

‘Got me, babe,’ Todd smirked. ‘Okay, then there’s Perrin…’

‘Mr. Lovett is scary!’ squeaked Ruthie.

“Sssssigah!’ snorted Lizzie, seemingly wide-awake.

‘For God’s sake, Todd!’ Claire exclaimed, clearly alarmed at the prospect. ‘Last week, crazy man was trying to arm children with AK-47’s to fight off animatronic Christmas lawn characters! “We can beat the Satanic Globalists, one lawn at a time!” he said. “Eff the Elf Vampires,” he said. I think he may be serious. And, he’s seriously deranged.’ Claire wasn’t the biggest fan of TPC’s take on “National Affairs.”

A few more miles slid by as a Winter wonderland unfolded along the highway.

‘The Hudson, Waterbury, Hartford, and we’ll practically be there,’ Todd noted, regaining his composure. “I wonder if Santa knows where Bolton is?’

‘Mr. Lovett says Santa Claus was the creation of Trotskyites on Madison Avenue back in the ‘20s,’ said Claire, letting the disdain flow. ‘“Nothing a bomb won’t cure,” he says, “2033, tick, tick.”’

‘Well….,’ fumbled Todd, ‘Fred might have some insights…’

‘I’ll take Tucker Carlson, if I want the GOP perspective,’ quipped Claire.

“Mmm, hmmm,’ added Todd, ‘I have Kayla. You have Tucker C.’ A smile slowly extended across his face as Claire’s complexion reddened just a hint.

‘Got me,’ Claire giggled. One moment and a hundred snowflakes passed. ‘Kids. What do you want to hear?’

‘Dominick!’ said Ruthie with glee.

‘Baa-baa,’ chirped little Lizzie.

‘Darn it, man! Devastator, I hate you!’ bellowed Bryson in the back.

“Okay, gang,’ said Todd with a cheery smile, ‘Let’s see what Sirius has to offer.’ He nudged the touch panel into action.

The Bose® surround sound system roared to life: ♭ a golden Waitresses oldie beckoned ♭:

Then suddenly we laughed and laughed
Caught on to what was happening
That Christmas magic's brought this tale
To a very happy ending…

Merry Christmas, merry Christmas
Couldn't miss this one this year
Merry Christmas, merry Christmas
Couldn't miss this one this year
Merry Christmas, merry Christmas
Couldn't miss this one this year ....

The CX rolled on. The snow came down. Another Christmas break headed towards history. Another swipe at “fiction” passes. So it goes.

Merry Christmas, to one and all this Season! The Affairs National will resume next week. (Your kids should be armed. Killer holiday bots are everywhere).

Pic by PennDOT/LehighValleyLive.

Perrin Lovett
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