Simcha Fisher: In which we obtain culture

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A trip to the museum was almost worth the confusing freeway exits and tick-infested car

Gather ’round, friends, and I’ll tell you the story of the day the Fishers went out to get some culture, for a treat.

This is the week we decided we were pulling the plug on the internet. Not entirely, of course. Some of us need it to work, and some of us need it for school, and some of us need it to manage diabetes, and some of us . . . well, we just need it okay? But we all use it too much. So we spent this past week, vacation week, with hardly any internet at all, and we parents tried our best to fill up all that reclaimed time with something worthwhile.

Well, we tried. We went to the dump a lot, and I paid a kid to clean another kid’s room. I’m pretty sure we went to Walmart, and one time I went to see what the kids were all doing, and they were sitting on the floor, looking at the cat. Also it’s tick season, and that’s always exciting in itself. This becomes important later.

The week was wrapping up, and most honest people would probably describe it as a real smorgasbord of thrilling activities and beguiling recreation of all kinds (did I mention we went to the dump?); but I was really looking forward to this day: A trip to the art museum.

Maybe your kids don’t like art museums, but mine do. Or at least, some of them do. Or at least, they go when I make them go. This particular museum is an hour and a half away, but very kid-friendly (scavenger hunts and so on), and it’s full of cool armour and weapons, and last time we went there, the kids found any number of statues with their butts showing. Basically a dream come true for any child. And we sweetened the deal by promising dinner on the way home in an actual restaurant (one with a giant tent for outdoor seating, since most of us still aren’t vaccinated).

The first thing we needed to do was get our vaccines. Yes, in my wisdom, I bought tickets for the museum on the same day that we were getting our second covid vaccines, banking on the promise that any side effects wouldn’t kick in until we had driven to the city, scooped up some culture, and were safely back home again.

My husband and I sat in our car in the parking lot, waiting for the medic to make her way to our spot with her little tray of needles. It was overcast with a random sprinkle or two, which only served to made the buds and flowers stand out more prettily against the grey sky. “Nice weather for driving,” I said to my husband, who responded, as I recall, “Mmmphh.” The old bear, he just doesn’t see the bright side of anything.

So we got our shots, grinned in relief, and zipped home to collect the kids and pile them into the car, for art was waiting! No time to lose! Well, first I had to go on Facebook for a little bit and take care of a couple of things that struck me as vital at the time, but soon and very soon, a mere half hour behind schedule, we were ready to go. My husband would take the middle school girls in his car, and I’d get the big ones and the little ones in my SUV.

The sprinkle had turned to real rain at this point, but that wasn’t the real problem. The real problem was the third row seat in my car was stuck in a “down” position, whence we had put it yesterday in order to haul a year’s worth of junk to the dump. I struggled with the seat, and then I called my husband and he wrestled with it, we kicked it, we lubricated it, we jiggled it, we implored it, but that seat did not want to sit up, so there weren’t enough seats.

And, my husband reported, the back of the car was crawling with ticks from the junk we hauled to the dump. I decided not to know that right now, and did some quick calculations. Right: We could still do this. The trip could still go on, as long as one person stayed home.
My teenage son heroically volunteered. They say young people just aren’t virtuous anymore, and yet there it is.

So 40 minutes behind schedule, we set off through what was now indisputably a torrential downpour. We made decent time, and I only missed one exit and uttered one unholy oath against one especially ungentlemanly driver, and there it was! The museum, bursting with art, absolutely longing to transport us to higher realms of cultural edification. Okay, the one entrance was closed, so we all dashed through the rain to the other entrance on the other side, claimed our reservations, found the bathroom, checked our sopping wet coats, and THEN WE WERE READY TO BE EDIFIED.

Oh, most of the armour and weapons weren’t on display right now. That’s okay, there’s still plenty to see! Such art! Good art, nice art! Look, a Monet, a Dutch master, a bunch of jade whatnot, a statue with a marble butt! And it wasn’t just a good collection; they had such helpful museum docents. So willing to help us! So eager to tell us…
I’m sorry, what?
The museum is closing in five minutes?

And there it was. The museum was closing, and we had to go. Ignoring the cries of the six-year-old who had hardly found any animals on her animal scavenger hunt, it turned its unfeeling marble butt on us, switched off the lights and locked the doors, and back into the rain we went.

And this was sad. But at least we still had a nice dinner waiting for us. Disappointment had made us hungry, so we piled back into the vehicles again. My husband and his crew took off, hanging a sharp right into traffic. I was a little slower to follow, and, not wanting to be left behind in my less agile vehicle, I also took a sharp right and then

GRONCHHCHCHHCHCH.

Yes! I had hit a metal post. Hit it really good! It carved a gorgeous, many-pronged furrow down the entire side of my car, from just under the mirror to the end of the passenger door.

I said…well, you’re Australian. You can imagine what I said. I backed up into the parking lot, hopped out, tried to open the two newly-gronched doors, failed, shook a shaky fist at the gods in heaven, got a faceful of rain, and started the long drive home. I called the restaurant to confirm that they still had outdoor seating, and they did not. “It’s raining,” the girl who answered the phone helpfully explained.

So we went to a drive-thru and bought some fries, and you know what, they weren’t even fresh. I missed my exit (a different exit, this time, for variety). My son reminded me of that time a few years ago when I got him fries and there were some left in the bottom of the bag, and he was planning on eating them, but then I ate them. So it was nice that we were talking on the way home. I thought it was nice.

The whole thing was nice. And now I’m lying here in my wet pants, digesting fries, staring gloomily with one eye out the window at the furrow in my car, wondering if one of the side effects of the vaccine is a distinct feeling there are ticks marching up and down your legs.

At least I know I taught the kids an important lesson today, and that lesson is: Your mother will drive a really long way to see a marble butt. The end.

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