Jen Jeffrey: My Old Kentucky Home
My oldest sister who still lives in our home state of Kentucky recently informed me that she was selling the house our dad used to live in. I had lived there with him during my teen years and I fondly remember many things from that house. My sister knew that I had always wanted the solid oak bookshelves of our grandfather’s and she asked if I would be able to retrieve them.
I enlisted my three sons’ help, but only one of my twins and my youngest son could accompany me. We all had work or other priorities to where this trip would have to be in one full day. Driving to Frankfort is about a five-hour drive – well it is for me… my sisters all seem to make it in less than that, but I am a granny driver who doesn’t like speeding tickets.
I planned to visit with my sister in between driving there and back and make time to unload two huge bookshelves with attached hutches.
Do you remember your grandparents’ furniture? It is the heavy kind that was built to last and was a true piece of furniture. I remember as a little girl visiting my grandparents’ home in Murray. In a long hallway stood the massive bookshelf-cabinets with a hutch on top and there were three of them lined up all together. It took up the whole wall and ceiling and that was one of my favorite things to see as a child.
I am not sure where the third piece of the ensemble went over the years, but there was no way I could pass up the chance to have something sentimental to me as well as have the ‘they don’t make ‘em like that anymore’ furniture.
Though I am living in my mother’s fully furnished home and there was absolutely no room to bring the book shelves here, I still wanted to get them and would put them in storage once we got them to Tennessee.
My cohorts would be Nathan Carter aka ‘the responsible, dependable one who uses his brain’ and Andrew Carter aka ‘the soldier who is too much like his mother.’ He is an avid Vols fan who was determined to somehow keep up with the Alabama/Tennessee game.
Andrew, who I have called ‘Bug’ since his toddler years, has been showing more maturity as he has gotten older and he actually chose to help his Mama, over giving me an excuse to stay home and watch the game. I was impressed!
I picked up Nathan first and set my purse in the back seat. When we got to Andrew’s we switched seating arrangements and Andrew got up front. I saw that my purse had been tipped over and I asked Nathan when he sat in the back seat, if anything had ‘crawled out” – wrong choice of words. My brave soldier son who served a tour in Iraq has a fear of spiders. He put his feet on the dash and erected his whole body up in the air asking, “Crawled out?? WHAT’s crawling?” He is animated like his Mama and will risk his tough reputation if it will get a laugh.
After setting the GPS and all of us chatting a bit since it had been a while that we had seen each other, I wanted to bring back the nostalgia of when my young men were boys and how we used to do on road trips. I expected us to play the alphabet game, where we found words that started with each letter of the alphabet on signs as we drove by, but breakfast was on everyone’s mind.
We stopped at Dunkin Donuts near Athens and got breakfast. Nathan and I are a lot alike too – as in ‘joking is fine’ but not ‘acting-a-fool.’ Andrew has never really had a filter on that. He is not embarrassed to say anything out loud and cause a scene. As we sat at the table eating, I had sunglasses on top of my head and my hair had fallen in my eyes. I had a donut in one hand and a napkin in the other, so I tried to toss my hair back but remembered my sunglasses and quickly decided not to toss my hair – which looked like I had some sort of tick. Nathan likes to catch me in any situation that he can make fun of me for and began exaggerating my head motion. Then Andrew jumped in and got loud acting foolish and yelled out “47!” for no apparent reason. I got tickled because they were making fun of me and, even if they were trying to embarrass me, they were still adorable to their mother.
When we got in the car, breakfast had given us the wake-up energy we needed to have fun. We all wanted to talk and interrupted each other so Nathan (the analytical one) used reverse psychology and began whispering. Then he whispered, “If you whisper, they will listen” to spoof the movie line “If you build it they will come.” We were all movie buffs when the boys were growing up so there are many times our conversations will enlist movie lines to help us get a point across or to make each other laugh.
If I don’t get time to floss after eating, I will sometimes chew gum but I tire of gum-chewing fairly quickly and usually get rid of it when I can dispose of it properly. When I saw Andrew roll his window down and throw out his gum, I remembered all the years that my little boys would hand me their sticky gum when they were through with it, so I wanted to see what Andrew would do when I handed him my chewed gum.
He actually took it and threw it out just as he had his. I laughed because it surprised me. I then remembered that he was a daddy now and probably has a lot of messy things handed to him. When I mentioned that fact, he ruined my grandmotherly moment when he came back with, “I have handled dead bodies – nothing fazes me anymore.”
After the first few hours of talking and laughing, we stopped for a restroom break and Andrew got in the driver’s seat, Nathan got up front and I was in the back seat. Nathan grabbed his phone and got on Facebook. He read out loud a few of the posts on Facebook of our mutual friends and after a while he got quiet as he played online. Throughout the trip, I had my recorder and spoke things that I wanted to remember of our trip to be able to write about. They guys heard me speaking softly, “Road trips are different today with everyone getting out their gadgets.” So Nathan decided to include us in his online world and looked up jokes to read out loud. Some were funny and some were not. When Nathan read a corny joke, it would remind Andrew of a joke… whose jokes were not always so clean. Andrew is the epitome of a soldier and, though he is a good man – he has that crass military mentality and is not afraid to use it.
After listening to my guys “being guys” and acting the way they always have as brothers, I noticed the beauty outside of the trees turning more colorful as we drove farther north. I would point out, “Look at the trees!” and it would go ignored – they didn’t seem to share my love for observing the beauty of nature.
After hours of fun listening to my guys tell jokes, the noise became annoying. Andrew’s phone kept going off, Nathan was reading jokes and the GPS kept interrupting us and telling us where to go… the beauty of the mountains drew my attention.
Nathan’s jokes were getting cornier and cornier. He told a turtle joke and Andrew said, “Turtles are pretty good and you can cook them right in their shell.” There is a lot that Andrew has learned over the years being in the military and nothing he says surprises us. I asked, “What do they taste like?” and I knew right away what he would say – so in unison we both spouted off “chicken.”
Then Andrew added a quote from the movie, “The Lion King” and said, “Slimy, yet satisfying.”
This prompted us to play our old game where we quote movie lines. Andrew had started off repeating lines from the movie “Liar, Liar”. Jim Carrey is so theatrical anyway so his movies are quite memorable, but that one was always a favorite of ours and we knew the dialogue well.
After Andrew started a few, Nathan joined in and then I repeated one. Without explaining rules or planning it, we just ad-libbed by falling in taking turns with a line and we knew whoever got stumped would lose. It went on forever and none of us missed a beat. I think all three of us knew the whole movie by heart. What was funny was quoting a line in random order and the lines were hilarious in the order we were saying them.
We tried a few other movies, but we were all pretty tired and were running out of steam. Nathan had us rolling as he read a story online and had made an old Uncle-Sal-from-Brooklyn-voice. As he read, he kept hacking in between a few sentences as if he had a hairball caught in his throat. Each time he did that it had me crying with laughter and my mascara was running.
Nathan finally started the alphabet game just as we had passed the last of the signs. He had gotten to the letter H before Andrew and I even started! After we drove for what seemed like a year, Andrew all of a sudden remembered that we were playing and shouted out a word from a sign. We were already board with it by that time and the game faded off.
We sang little sing-songs they had learned as children and I would grab my phone to record them. Each time I started to record, Nathan and Andrew would get quiet and not sing. It frustrated me to no end! Finally I was able to record us singing stupidly and it made my day.
When something was said repeatedly, it seemed to get funnier each time. We also ran another phrase in the ground after Andrew had said, “That’s what SHE said…” We kept repeating that during various conversations and it kept getting funnier.
Our road trip was all stupid-fun. Lately I had been seeing a sequence of 22s again (my God-wink number) and I would spout off each time I saw one… which was a lot. I don’t look for them, but when I have an instance of seeing them, it is when I ‘just happen to be looking at something with a 22 at just that moment’. Andrew began yelling “47!” again, after I would call out a 22.
When we got to my old house, we loaded up the furniture, visited with my sister for a while and watched the Tennessee/Alabama game which didn’t make Andrew very happy as we barely scored. We had even worn our Big Orange shirts. I blame Nathan for our loss… he wore green.
Seeing my old room where I had spray-painted the door my favorite color (red) brought back many memories – especially the diagonal red line across the ceiling that happened accidentally. I took a few photos and then we started back. The trip was long to do it all in one day – loading furniture, trying to watch the game and get a visit in with my sis, but it was worth it to me. To be back home in Kentucky and able to say goodbye to one of my childhood homes and to have my grandparents’ furniture was very special.
Traveling with my goofy sons was priceless.
“The Road Trip” Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=754S4v89KhA