I first came across the term “picaresque” when I was about 13 and assigned “Catcher In the Rye” to read for school.
It meant, I learned, a story about a journey: literal or figurative, or ideally both.
Today I’m traveling to New York for Book Expo America 2012 and while I’m taking a literal journey, your assignment is to
Write A Story In Which Your Hero Takes A Literal And Figurative Journey
3 thoughts on “[Prompt] Picaresque”
Virginia, thanks for ‘playing’! What a trip. I loved the lines “Ralph loves Delaware” and “I have no wrinkles because my face has been perpetually pulled back by this vigorous velocity” 😉 Well done.
Wow! What a trip. Good job.
Are We There, Yet?
I belong to the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Faster than the Speed of Light Spouses.” In his foolish youth, driving fast was a requirement of my husband (then boyfriend). To impress him I completed my road test in less than 2 min. and 40 seconds. Of course I was called back for two encore performances before I passed and got my license. Still my husband found this to be an admirable trait in a possible mate.
Fast forward to the present and we see that one of us has not slowed down behind the wheel. This has become a challenge for me, the passenger, to stay calm during these rapid road trips. Initially we started out on small excursions to our cabin in the Adirondacks. My husband, Ralph, was always bent on beating his personal best (i.e. the incredible short time it takes to travel 120 miles). I, on the other hand, learn to speed read signs during the trip; good eats, restrooms, yard sale, free kittens. To pass time and keep my husband entertained, I read him jokes forwarded to me from my internet friends which I downloaded before deleting them (the jokes not the friends).
Oh, we had favorite spots to visit and different routes to travel, but it all came down to the same goal. How fast can we get to the cabin and will that time be beaten on the return trip? He had learned that the tri-state area troopers did not share his enthusiasm for speed.
Now that we have moved to the Sunshine State, my husband is facing an even greater challenge: traveling round trip between New York and Florida in record time has become his new purpose in life. Since I am not a big fan of air travel, we make this expedition at least four times a year. Yet, when I hear my husband say, “Start packing the car.”, an icy feeling slides down my spine in spite of the warm weather.
I actually take notes as we travel along I-95 to mark the best radio stations, restaurants, and shopping outlets (not that we are going to stop & shop). Even my bladder gets the message that nature better not call too many times during the trip.
We always leave at the ungodly hour of 6 a.m. when I stumbled bleary-eyed into my husband’s van. I find myself sharing room with all the Floridian treasures we are transporting to our deprived friends and family in New York. Meanwhile, I have a pillow, blanket, puzzle books, CD’s, drinks, and snacks on hand to keep me and my husband well fueled and entertained. I’m ready to keep my hubby sated with pretzels, breakfast bars, and bottled water. I pledge also feed the dashboard selected discs of his favorite songs.
In less than three hours we have flown through Florida in good spirits. At least Ralph is in good spirits because I have fallen asleep and am unaware that we have broken the sound barrier. We have to stop in Georgia because I need more coffee to keep myself awake to find the trendy radio stations. As we zoom along, we become excited as we see our first South of the Border billboard; “Pedro says to slow down, Ralph. Your wife is cringing beside you!” This barely gives me time to prepare my shopping list for the North Carolina outlets. (Ralph stops here only because there is an all you can eat pizza franchise.) He fills his stomach with food and I fill car with designer purchases.
I like going to Virginia because everything here at the gas station is personalized; T-shirts, key chains, shot glasses, and baseball caps which bear my name. The hitch is getting my husband to break his momentum long enough for me to indulge myself. I’ve even considered a “slow, drop, and roll out the car door” if I could find a way to get back in the car. If we avoid meeting the Virginia Highway Patrol, we slip into Marylandington quickly and quietly. I’ve created that name because I’m not sure where Maryland ends and Washington begins since it is now so dark out all I see are the tail lights of the other cars trying to get out of our way. It is here that Ralph finally takes a break to rest his eyes and get his second wind. As we approach Delaware, he is once again in good spirits because he has yet to be pulled over by state troopers. This leads him to believe that he and his car are like Wonder Woman’s plane; invisible.
No sooner do we read the “Delaware Welcomes You” sign when we see the “Welcome to New Jersey” sign. Ralph loves Delaware. We move on to New Jersey, a state that fills us with anticipation because we are about 120 miles away from our family. According to Ralph, we should be there in 75 minutes!
When we have finally reached our destination, I stagger out of the car, kiss my kids, and tell them I love them. I also thank God for another safe trip and pray that He gets us safely back to Florida.
Don’t get me wrong, there are perks to this type of travel. We do bond, enjoy good conversation, and play games like “is that driver texting, talking, or taking a coffee break?” Furthermore, I have no wrinkles because my face has been perpetually pulled back by this vigorous velocity. The downsides consist of leg cramps and listening to Ralph arguing that with the GPS system: our tom-tom will say “your estimated time of arrival is…” to which Ralph replies “That’s what you think, Buster. I can beat that by 40 minutes.
When they voice their concern, I tell all my friends that there’s no use to worry about it. There’s nothing I can do but sit back, “relax”, and enjoy the journey because- oh, wait we just reached our destination. That was quick!