There's a few things I should say to set the scene for this story, nothing ground-breaking to family or friends, but, in the interests of storytelling. And, before I forget, a thanks and hello to my commentors and new followers - how nice you came on board!! I like when folks leave feedback,so thanks, very much, for taking the time to do so ;-)
So, yeah. How did Denny and I - two twenty-somethings, with an (er, allegedly) MASSIVE combined I.Q., spend so much time getting lost and d@mn near running out of gas???? One answer and one only - our big d@mn mouths.
My brother and I, due to some age limitations (mine) and schedule limitations (his) didn't actually spend a lot of time in the car together. So, it's fair to say that about 75% of the time it actually happened, we got lost. This is what would happen: I'd get in, the radio would go on (invariably, Aerosmith's "Ragdoll" would come on. Without fail -sometimes once on the way, and once on the way back!), we'd either commence verbal hostilities or catch up, and then talk about where we were going. I used to take a lot of buses back then, or walk everywhere, so if we were in Minneapolis, I'd generally have a pretty good idea of where we were, and what direction we ought to go. To this day I orient by south Minneapolis when I get around the cities. Denny - again, allegedly - had a photographic memory, so sheer stupidity or absentmindedness was clearly to blame.
One summer day, heading from south Minneapolis to a get-together at (one of) our aunt and uncles, we ended up running low on gas, near the worst areas along highway 35. We took an exit and immediately started scanning for gas stations. The first thing we noticed is that we two were pretty obviously an ethnic minority in a tough part of town. This was a problem, because we Really should have noticed we were going the wrong way down a one way! The locals, far from being hostile, were waving at us vigorously to get our attention, and turn the car the hell around! If memory serves, we did find a station on or near lake street, and eventually got to the party. Late. Again.
Another such event (a few years down the line. So we should have known better. You'd think.) had us heading up north for the fourth of July. A trip both of us had made about a zillion times each. At some point, along 35, we realized that we could see.....Duluth. Yep. Missed that whole right-hand exit to 'Range cities'. I had been reading him short stories to make him laugh while he drove, we were talking our heads off, and....we lost the entire Iron Range. And, in doing so, missed a (later) critical gas station. By the time we re-navigated towards Sparta, we realized (math geniuses that we were) that we could probably get to Gilbert and refuel there.
If we went 30 mph, and there were no detours for parades. As it happens, we rolled into town, hit a few detours, and made it to the Food 'n Fuel on absolute fumes. For a change, however, we were on time - the parade started about 10 minutes later.
Most humiliatingly (and so memorable that my ears still burn when I think of it), we even managed to get lost going to our young cousin Jake's birthday party.
Jake is the eldest son of my youngest uncle Steve. Steve was Denny's sponsor for his confirmation, and is only a few years older than Denny. Steve's wife Mary was someone who Denny liked, and liked to mess with, even before she was our aunt. So, we were pretty happy to get the invite to come up for Jake's birthday. He was quite young, maybe 5 or 6, and Denny was able to give me a lift and take me to the party, which was north of Minneapolis by a good 45 minutes or so.
Again, the chitchatting, Aerosmith, one-upping each other, until we get to 109th, where we turn right. Both of us had made the trip many times, but we started looking at each other.....we couldn't remember where we were supposed to turn left. Maryland avenue seemed....too soon. We turned on the second or third street after that. And went down the correct number of blocks, to see a blue house, on the corner, where there was clearly a birthday party in progress. We checked for cars we recognized, and decided that maybe our aunt's side of the family made it before our mom's side did. Bunch of kids in the yard, and we decided to park the car. Yes, it should have felt strange that we were early....but we were optimists, I guess.
So, we walk in the house, (I should mention, it really had been a long time since we'd visited Steve and Mary. We wondered why we hadn't heard they renovated!) and this friendly 20-something guy walks into the kitchen and says 'Hi! Can I help you'. Denny and I both knew then we were in trouble, so I say, "We're just looking for the birthday boy." Smile. He beams and says "Well, you found him!!" Denny and I immediately started gasping with laughter, because he'd read my mind. As I was cracking up, I managed to apologize and tell the guy we were clearly at the wrong party, and happy birthday anyway.
As we got in the car, I looked at him, and once we shut the doors I said, "well, at least we didn't start eating his food!!!" After my brother could finally talk he said "I know - I was thinking the exact same thing!!!" We were still laughing when we got to Steve and Mary's but I cannot recall if we ever told anyone exactly what was so funny.
Miss you, bro.