"What's our favorite word?"
"Fob!" we yelled.
"Who's our favorite uncle?"
"Lee!" we screamed.
"What number do we hate?"
And then my sister and I about fell over laughing.
Kiki's husband is very ill.
My sister Louisa and I had flown to San Francisco earlier this year, so I knew the ropes.
That is why I purchased a seventeen-dollar screwdriver and sat down by my gate.
"Ma'am, is there alcohol in your beverage?" asked the flight attendant as she attached a tag around the handle of my carryon. She said I would be able to find it in baggage upon landing in Atlanta and was looking at the drink I was clutching as if I had given birth to it.
"Uh. Yeah," I answered.
"I am sorry. You will have to leave that here."
"But it's a double."
When the plane landed, I fast walked my way past all the people on moving sidewalks, heart in throat, following signs that pointed to domestic baggage, refusing to step on the train that looped the airport, afraid to get more lost than I already felt.
Twenty-five minutes later I rolled my suitcase next to my handsome nephew who'd offered to pick me up and take me to his parents' home, where the fastest seven days and seven nights that ever were, commenced.
The first evening on the back deck I was greeted with blue skies, a warm sun and a gentle breeze. KiKi and I had a pot of chili simmering on the stove inside as we laughed, joked and took selfies, the way sisters do.
We made plans for the following morning to drive north of Atlanta to a hospital in Roswell to pay a visit to her husband.
Due to medical reasons, there is but one driver license between us two sisters.
The beholder of said card, is me.
Please do not tell the DMV, but just because a person has a driver license, does not mean a person is capable of driving.
I should know.
In my case, I drive like a pro from the black hole here in Harmony Grove to Lodi and back. All the way to the far west side of Madison I am decent. I have even been known to pass a pea picking truck and or a manure spreader or two in my day.
However, I would not be pulling out of my driveway.
I was in Lithea Springs, Georgia.
There are times that one must step out of one's comfort zone to do what must be done.
For me the looming experience was the equivalent of skydiving.
And I have always said that if my plane was spiraling out of control and I had a choice to jump out with a parachute on my back, I would probably turn the opportunity down.
It would have been nice if we would have been in the second to the right-hand lane on US 20 North, for exit A-B toward the I-285 bypass. Actually, we were in the second to the right-hand
lane, up until another lane came merging on in, putting us in the third lane from the right as we watched our exit disappear in the dust.
"That is most of the city I've seen in all the years we have lived down here," Kiki remarked later that night.
"What did ya think of it?"
"Too many buildings."
It also would have been helpful if the lady on google maps could have mustered more than a feeble attempt at a whisper, since I had the volume turned all the way up on my phone and we could barely hear a fucking word she had to say.
We made it to that hospital.
And I had just about stopped shaking by the time we said our goodbyes to my sister's husband, promising to return on Tuesday.
Were we hysterical on the drive back to Lithea Springs?
"Exit 41," yelled Kiki. "Lee Road!"
"Lee Road!" I screamed.
Happy hour took place on the back deck complete with a bit of euphoria and a black crow who took a liking to Kiki.
"That bird is really flirting with you!"
"Caw, caw," she said again.
Being without transportation and a husband in a hospital that is far away is tough. Add a broken vacuum to the situation. Unbearable.
I learned on the following bright and shiny Monday morning that driving in Lithea Springs is out of my league.
However, we managed to return from Walmart with a pretty blue Shark vacuum and a few new fall tops.
Kiki's friend and neighbor Juliana stopped by for a visit that afternoon.
And then there Kiki and I were, back inside that little Sonic Chevy of theirs on our way to her favorite Mexican restaurant for an early dinner in order to beat rush hour traffic.
I missed the turn on my right.
This forced us to take a left out of a parking lot against rows of traffic in both directions.
Not my forte.
And then there I was in the left-hand lane at the lights with my blinker on and the car behind me tooting and motioning.
"Oh my God. He wants me to do a U-turn!"
Where I come from U-turns are illegal in most cases.
I hit the gas and spun that car around in a wide U in order to get in the far right-hand lane with six vehicles right on my tail, flipping me off as they passed.
"There!" said Kiki.
That is when we went over a cliff like Thelma and Louise. However, we were in fact on a driveway that led down a steep slope to her favorite restaurant.
"A margarita on the rocks," I said to the waiter.
"Yes," I answered.
I blame this on my sister Louisa. She always answers large or a double.
The best margarita I have ever had was inside the tallest mug I have ever lifted there in that booth at Monterey's.
"Do not let me finish this," I said to my sister.
I really should have listened to Kiki's advice.
It was unnerving with that cop in my rear-view mirror all the way back home until we made our last turn onto her street.
Never in my life have I had so much fun moving furniture and emptying a container so that my sister could zip around her living room with a brand-new Shark.
There is such joy when it comes to vacuum lines in a carpet that has been waiting for the moment.
Unfortunately, Casper her friendly cat, who was finally beginning to warm up to me, did not share our love of vacuums.
She hates them.
I believe we may have stayed up too late that night sucking up cobwebs and wine, as I was not feeling the best when I got behind the wheel and backed out of that driveway the next morning.
This time however, we managed to be in the second lane from the right in order to merge and onto I-285 and we kept left at the fork just as google whispered to us.
By the way, just because you make it onto I-285, do not expect a picnic.
There are no picnics on I-285.
Again, my shaking had barely stopped as we said our goodbyes to my sister's husband, promising to return on Thursday.
We were in the parking ramp at the hospital when her car began to beep as we closed in on it.
I then had to unlock car doors that I had never locked.
Kiki and I enjoyed another harrowing trip back to Lithea Springs.
"Once we get home, I am not getting back in this car for the rest of the day," I said.
We pulled into her garage.
The garage door came down behind us.
We stepped out of the car.
And that is when we heard four car doors lock.
This was piss poor timing.
The keys were sitting on the driver seat.
And in the back sat our groceries and beer.
Kiki dumped out her purse searching for a spare and checked a few other places while I paced back and forth and tried not to faint.
"There is another fob on the shelf to the right just inside the garage," said her husband over the phone.
There were two.
That is the night our favorite word became fob; favorite uncle was Lee and most hated number was 285.
The next morning, we emptied out her bedroom closet because they say that cleaning out a closet relieves stress.
And then we set out for a real live picnic at SweetWater State Park.
It was a much-needed calm and sweet time there with our feet in the water, cold fried chicken, deli sandwiches and BBQ potato chips.
We returned home full of zest and garbage bags to pack up the old clothes we had piled in her room.
Thursday was our last drive to Roswell.
I wish I could say that the trip was any less traumatic, and that my brother-in-law was feeling any better.
But not all wishes come true.
We did however make it to our destination.
Upon our return to the parking ramp the car alarm went off as we neared it and no matter how many times I pressed the red button on the fob, it would not stop.
I turned the key in the ignition which silenced it and we drove off for another hour and half of terror.
"Lee Road!" we cheered.
Soon we pulled into the garage and the door came down behind us.
This is when life got interesting.
Any time any door of that little car was opened for any reason, the alarm went off. We had nine garbage bags of clothes to take to Good Will the following day. It was a very cramped situation, and it was difficult not to accidentally bump a door just by walking past one. And for some reason I could not rest until every last bag was jammed into that ever lovin' car with the horn blowing.
It was insane inside that little garage on that quiet little street.
After said experience our favorite word was no longer fob. Fob was now nothing more than an F.O.B. to us.
"Sons of bitches grow into fathers of bastards," we joked while waiting on the front steps for a pizza delivery from an Uber Eats App, like a couple proud little old dork ladies with two more evenings and one more day of sisterhood to enjoy.
A visit to Good Will on Friday followed by a shopping mall excursion, was a complete success. Not a straight shot. But. At least our Jekyll and Hyde did not turn into the F.O.B. we knew was inside the little black case.
Back by popular demand we set our google maps to Kiki's favorite Mexican Restaurant.
"This thing is so stupid!" she says. "No. We do not take a left in one thousand feet! We are nowhere near the place."
"Maybe it's a left this time since we are coming from another direction?"
"You have reached your destination," said my phone.
"No, we have not!" Yelled Kiki.
We were stopped at a red light.
There at the end of the strip mall on our left was a sign on the building that said, MONTERERY'S.
This time I ordered the small margarita, which came in a pint.
"Well, I had no idea there was more than one Monterey's," she said.
We had so much fun there in that booth.
We ate so much food there at that table.
We laughed so hard in that restaurant.
And then we pulled out of the strip mall parking lot straight into a traffic jam.
We didn't quite make it.
However, we were in a line.
We just had to wait for the lady in front of us to place her order and then pick it up at the window of the drive through.
"It could happen to anyone."
"Not really," said Kiki.
The last night of the fastest seven days and nights had arrived. Happy hour was over. And, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, did it's darndest to keep our spirits up.
On that Saturday morning, the word game on my sister's phone dropped in the word, fob.
She burst out laughing.
And then it was time to go.
It was a hard goodby.
What fun we'd had.
I wished I could have fixed more than my sister's vacuum and closet.
But I would not trade our time together for the world.
Not even that damned I-285.
At the airport I stepped inside the train.
I did not care that seat 29A was a window seat without a window, just as long as I did not have to fly the plane.
And then I was back home.
Please keep Kris and Buck in your thoughts and prayers.
After dark, comes light.