"Canada 2003" story # 23

Trans-Canada Highway, Saskatchewan           August 6, 2003

All summer long, Johnny, Adam, Julie, and I had been spending a lot of time together. We traveled together. We worked together. We hung out together. We slept together in small tents.
     But, on the day we left Ian and Linda's Howpark Farm, the level of intimacy was about to go up a few notches.
     On the Trans-Canada Highway at Brandon, Manitoba, Adam and I hitched first. We didn't get picked up for two hours, so Johnny and Julie kicked us into walking a ways down the road into the Prairie countryside.
     A short time later, Johnny and Julie came rolling down the highway in the backseat of a white Toyota Corolla. It pulled over. Johnny and Julie pretty much took up the backseat by themselves, so I didn't even bring my bags as we ran to talk to them.
     But, Johnny desperately pleaded with the Filipino-or-Asian-looking female driver, "They can fit! They can fit!" For some reason, she agreed.
     By some great miracle, we stuffed and prodded and exhaled completely, and were able to get the backseat doors closed. We four Canada-trekkers were sardine'd in the back. We'd put some bags in the trunk, but many others were on top of us.
     Julie sat on Adam's right leg and my left, with her head bent down from the ceiling. A sea of luggage that included food bags, water jugs, totebags, and Julie's large backpacker backpack, buried us to our necks.
     My left leg was rapidly going numb beneath Julie's butt, and Johnny told stories of people losing limbs during travel due to things like that. The scariest thing about all this was that the ride could potentially carry us seven hours in our direction.
     Our drivers were okay. The short, glasses-wearing driver, Tam, showed no personality or happiness. The passenger was visiting Brit, Ewan - the type of Brit whose face always looks disgusted by anything and anyone not British. These young hosts were returning from playing in a rugby game, so you can gauge how large Ewan was and how far back he needed to keep his seat.
     I wanted to be a gracious guest, so I offered Ewan some chocolate-chip cookies Linda had given us.
     Ewan turned them down. "No." But, I wanted to be gracious; I persisted.
     "Don'cha want some cookies?"
     "Nah, mate, I'm good."
     Johnny asked Ewan, "Do you guys have chocolate-chip cookies in England?"
     Adam angrily erupted. He couldn't believe Johnny could ask such an offensive, demeaning question of the great country of England. He berated his Baltimore buddy, "It's not a third-world country!" Heck, England probably has chocolate-chip cookies, jelly-filled donuts, possibly even pizza-bagels.
     I insisted on getting the cookies out anyways. This was ridiculous, because their bag was located somewhere near my knees.
     ... Have you ever seen those tiny, square, handheld puzzle games? They might have the numbers one through fifteen written on little tiles, or else pieces of a picture? And, you want to re-arrange the tiles, but in order to move any one tile you must first move in that specific place with the only opening? ...
     That's how it was to move in the back of Tam's Corolla. In order to retrieve my cookies, we had to begin by shuffling bags and body parts on Johnny and Adam's side of the car. Unlike Pompeii, the cookies triumphantly surfaced.
     Ewan wouldn't take a cookie, for all my work. Johnny and Adam accepted some. However, their arms were uninhibited only from the elbows down. They couldn't even reach their own mouths, so they fed the cookies into each other's mouths. We all, in the backseat, cracked up. Crumbs crashed down their chins. Because we were close enough to feel one another's laughing, it made us laugh even more. Tam and Ewan just drove on, silent, probably annoyed.
     After thirty minutes, my left leg felt like it was turning gray. We couldn't go seven hours like this.
     We were near the Saskatchewan border when Tam, without warning, pulled over into a gas station. Her gas tank was full. She was kicking us out. Could you blame her?
     As it turned out, she wasn't kicking us out. I was surprised. She helped us stuff some more bags in the trunk, and we were much more comfortable afterwards.
     We were still really squished. Julie still numbed my leg until I put her fully on my lap. Blue-eyed Johnny, the shortest one in the group, volunteered then to lie down across all our laps.
     We continued giggling like idiots. The humor got pretty low-brow, especially when we passed the city of Regina - for obvious reasons, due to what that name rhymes with.
     Johnny kept poking us. Or, he made his wrist go limp, then pushed it at us grossly. Meanwhile, the rest of us dealt with the awkward dilemma of where to rest our arms, since we didn't want to rest them on Johnny's groin.
     We kept giggling like idiots in back, for nearly the whole ride. Tam and Ewan just drove on, silent, probably silently hating us.
     "I wouldn't have picked us up," said Johnny ironically. We idiots giggled. Our rapport with the drivers further tumbled.
     Amazingly, the ride wasn't uncomfortable enough that my three friends couldn't fall asleep. And I had Tam play some of my Argentinian music on her tape-player. We were making ourselves obnoxiously at home in the back of Tam's Corolla.
     We passed Moose Jaw - another great Saskatchewan town name - and Johnny sat back down. He taught Adam and I, "You have to take advantage when a lady's around." He smiled, and grabbed Julie's arms and legs to wrap them about his waist and shoulders.
     Of course, if any one of us guys would've made a romantic pass at shyly-cute Julie, we certainly all would've, because we're just that competative. And we probably all would've lost equally.
     Our seven-hour day, crossing the yellow fields of Saskatchewan, came to an end. We arrived near our destination, Maple Creek. Tam and Ewan drove on, probably wishing they would've left us in Brandon.
     That ride had been awesome. It was the signature moment of the trip, I say. My only regret was that we didn't get a picture of us cramped in the car.
     Johnny, Adam, and Julie probably all would've disagreed with me, and most of them vehemently so.
     However, if we were that squooshed and could enjoy ourselves, I would maybe wanna stay on this trip forever ...
     okay, just not in Tam's Corolla.

- Modern O.
with Johnny, Adam, and Julie

Thanks to Tam & Ewan for the ride!

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