Monday, August 24, 2009

The day I went to Dairy Queen

If you have siblings, you’re no doubt familiar with the somewhat absurd number of bonding moments people of matching parentage share. It is my belief siblinghood (or in my case, sisterhood) necessitates these moments so that, upon fighting viciously over a pair of shoes and very actually wanting to off one another, said siblings think “awwwh, but there was that one time with that one incident when we really bonded”…and thus become so sentimental that the aforementioned desire to murder in cold blood is postponed for the next YOU USED THE LAST BIT OF SHAMPOO AND NOW MY HAIR IS FOREVER RUINED screaming-match. You think I’m exaggerating. I am not.

And as Sister and I have been known to engage in great and terrible battles rivaling those of H. Potter and He Who Shall Not Be Named (I’ll allow you to ponder who I’m calling Voldermort in this such scenario), it is reasonable to assume we share even more sappy sisterly-bonding moments than the average blood-relatives. Nature is trying to keep us alive whate’er way it can. And for the most part, these incidents of reconnecting are cute and completely harmless.

But as our most recent sibling-bonding-venture proved, that is not always the case.

So last July 4th I holidayed with Sister in her home of Charlottesville, VA. We did many sisterly things during my stay (including drinking dessert wines in 100+ degree heat and thusly seeing one another liquored up for the first time), but the most memorable moment happened at a very unlikely place:

The local Dairy Queen.

Now, Oklahoma’s Dairy Queen population is woefully sparse, so this was my first trip to the Land of the Blizzards and I had no idea what sweet treats were in store for me. We both opted for Thin Mint Blizzards…and in case you are confused, these are actual, real-life GIRL SCOUT COOKIE Thin Mints we’re talking about here.


This dessert-concoction was essentially the best thing ever on the entire planet, and I repeatedly said so to Sister as we enjoyed our Blizzards in tandem. It was so indescribably good in fact that I encouraged her to take a picture…an incident that only further legitimized our DQ time as a bonding moment, as my 1550 SAT/doctoral-candidate sister attempted to take said picture with the camera turned backwards and upside down. Underneath all that fancy edumacation is just an incognito valley girl.

So onward and forth and what not. This year, the DQ Girl Scout Cookie Blizzards are back (Tagalongs this time, which I daresay enticed me even more than Thin Mints), and as Sister and I were convening one time only over the summer for a cousin’s South Carolinian wedding, we knew we had to seize the opportunity to rekindle our DQ Sisterly Bonding Moment by seeking out Blizzard numbers 3 and 4.

So we’re in SC, blustering about from one Bridal ToDo to the next, and suddenly we find ourselves with several hours of time to kill and a car free from parental control. Sister promptly proposes we pursue the nearest Charleston Dairy Queen, and I enthusiastically agree (as it’s nigh 4,000 degrees in South Carolina and we’ve so far spent the day having our faces melt off as they do in Raiders of the Lost Ark.) So we announce our plans to the group of gathered relatives and prepare to set forth on our journey.

As they’re also unceremoniously without agenda, our cousins Erin and Patrick decide to tag along (no pun intended). Sister and I briefly explain why we’re going to DQ while on vacation in a foreign land, and though they’re somewhat amused by the tale it's clear they’re more escaping an afternoon with the Aunt/Uncle Brigade than enthusiastically assisting us in our bonding time. But no matter, we welcome the company and hop into Rachel’s trusty German car.

First, we GPS our destination- a feat not easily completed, as this GPS is new (being that the last one was stolen from within my trusty German car…but no hard feelings *ahem* BASTARDS). So once we’ve finally selected “Dairy Queen: 7.6 miles” we begin our quick jaunt to kill some time and consume some calories.

So we’re driving, and driving…Cousin Erin tries to understand more completely why we’re even doing this in the first place, but the story doesn’t translate well to third-party participants and we revert back to discussing our family’s level of dysfunction as compared to others. Oh bugger off, you do it too.

Then Sister is exiting, as directed by her co-pilot Cousin Patrick (who, coincidentally, really is a pilot), and we’re all excitedly instructed to “help me look for the Dairy Queen, you guys!!” as the GPS has announced “arriving at Dairy Queen”…and yet there is no DQ to be found. Ahh, modern technology.

So we’re looking, and looking…Cousin Patrick directs us to a cluster of fast food joints thinking it our “best bet,” but still the DQ evades us and we’re starting to question whether Sister took the right exit or not. (She fiercely argues that she did, and if any of us want to drive we are more than welcome to do so.)

Then, just as we begin the painstaking task of retracing our steps (assuming the DQ must be hidden behind some pesky bunch of Palmetto Trees), Cousin Erin begins fervently tapping her window and saying, “umm, you guys?”

Our current BUT MAYBE IT WAS JUST OVER THERE AND YOU MISSED IT BY DRIVING TOO FAST line of arguing quiets to a soft hum, and I turn to look at Cousin Erin perched next to me in Rachel’s trusty German backseat. “You guys,” Cousin Erin repeats, and I can tell by her bemused facial expression that I’m not going to like what she has to say.

Then she points out her window, and as we all turn to look in unison she says “That China Gourmet looks an awful lot like a Dairy Queen.”

And indeed it does.

So we laugh, a little irritated perhaps but nonetheless amused that our handy-dandy brand new GPS found us a China Gourmet Formerly Known as Dairy Queen. Sister pulls over her trusty German car, and after several minutes of “ahhh Hell” play-bitching we begin to design Ice Cream Adventure: Plan B. After debating for at least 9 minute as to whether we want to pursue the next closest Dairy Queen (which is now some 12 miles away, according to the POS GPS), we recall another ice cream place just down the road that seems far more desirable a destination in that we know it actually exists. So we rally together behind Plan B, and we’re off.

Tensions are notably higher than when we began our quest, and all four of us are dramatically glued to our windows in a valiant attempt to not drive right past this place and become hopelessly lost (as we’re still mad at the POS GPS and have momentarily given up on it). So we’re peering at the passing shopping centers, ignoring the increasingly bothersome traffic and Sister’s erratic driving (which I can only assume was caused by her intense desire to spot the ice cream parlor first, thus requiring her to drive without ever actually looking at the road). So we’re cruising along, and as I begin to think this whole ice cream thing was a dumbass idea anyway Sister shouts “There! There, there it is!!” and stops abruptly in the middle of traffic. We all shout for joy as she flips on her blinker, and there’s quite a bit of “thank GOD this is almost over” chatter going on as we pull into the parking lot.

And then the chatter stops.

Because the damn ice cream place isn’t open.

Not only is it not open, we realize as we drive past…it’s never been open, and probably won’t be until it’s roof and floor and plumbing and such has been completed. We all voice our distaste for the bastard store-owner who opted to put up a sign prior to opening for business, and then we sit silently for a minute, contemplating the ugly truth that we are once again back at square one.

I’ll tell you that at this point, I decided I’d had enough of this ridiculous pursuit and would just as soon go back to the hotel and play Memory than continue on with the quest. (I kid you not about Memory…our hotel had it in the lobby, and after losing several games of Checkers to Rachel we whipped it out as a much needed ego-boost for me. Memory is the only game I have ever, ever beat Sister at playing…and yet I digress.)

But my cousins and Sister have more enthusiasm than me, and it is therefore decided that we will not give up, DAMMIT. We’re going forth to the next Dairy Queen.

First we swing by the China Gourmet Formerly Known as Dairy Queen, just to be sure we haven’t missed the real DQ hidden behind some tanning salon or what have you. Once this is confirmed, I am instructed to call the next DQ…to verify its existence, don’t you know. So I do, and I feel ridiculously retarded doing so. “Yes hello, so are you- umm, are you actually a Dairy Queen? I mean, are you still a Dairy Queen?” The perturbed DQ lady tells me that yes, they are still a Dairy Queen, and I hang up…only to promptly redial to make sure they have the Blizzards that started this whole Godforsaken trip. And they do. So off we go, again.

It’s important to note (in case you’re one of the 3 Americans who do not have a GPS) that in GPS language, 12 miles can mean a 15 minute jaunt or a 3 hour expedition. I think it estimates distances as the crow flies, and as I am no crow nor can I fly it’s always very disheartening to hear “12 miles” and then arrive at the destination several eons later.

And it’s also important to note that, when you are pursuing something frivolous like a Dairy Queen and therefore do not wish to embark on a day-long voyage, it is an ominous sign when your GPS instructs you to merge onto a six-lane-mass-of-cars-and-bridges-and-chaos type of highway. But that’s exactly what ours did, and seeing as no one could think of a way out at this point we silently obeyed.

So now we’re wedged in traffic, and Cousin Patrick is confusedly glaring at the GPS. “What is this ETA thing about?” He asks, and I explain that it’s our estimated time of arrival. Then he responds that he indeed figured that out (of course he did, you dumbass…he flies PLANES for a living, so he can probably work your GPS), but he doesn’t understand why it says we’ll arrive at the Dairy Queen in approximately 1 hour.


Now I should also mention that though we have an afternoon to kill, we do have to be back in Charleston for Cousin Bobby’s rehearsal dinner in t-minus just a few hours. So now we’re frantic for 2 reasons:

1. Our demon-possessed GPS continues to hurtle us further on a hopeless venture into the Great Beyond
2. Even if we do survive our trek, we might be late to Cousin Bobby’s pre-wedding ToDo and thus be quite literally crucified by our respective parental units

Outlook not good.

But before we can say “to hell with it” and abort the mission, Sister again slams on her breaks…only this time it’s for a good reason. Suddenly and without warning, we are surrounded, SURROUNDED by angry South Carolinian drivers. We have unceremoniously entered a TJOUS (Traffic Jam of Unusual Size) and are unable to budge 3 inches without smooshing into somebody’s bumper, let alone leap across 6 lanes of traffic to the exit we are sloooowly (but surely) passing.

And just as we’re all about to give up on life due to the total lameness of our Epic Fail adventure, Sister goes to step lightly on the gas…

And her trusty German car dies.

Now Sister is good at many things, but staying calm in tense situations is not one of them (just sit next to her at OU/Texas and you’ll know precisely what I mean). So her car goes dead, she hesitates for two seconds of WTF JUST HAPPENED mental processing, and then in the most hysterically dramatic fashion you can conceive of she tosses her skinny arms into the air and slams her hands on the steering wheel.

And Cousin Patrick just loses it.

Now Sister is clasping her head with both hands, repeatedly exclaiming “MY CAR DIED—IT JUST DIED” over and over to no one in particular, and Cousin Patrick is being of no help in the passenger seat as he absolutely cannot stop laughing at Sister’s display of severe and utter uncoolness.

So Cousin Erin joins in with Cousin Patrick, and then so do I, and soon all three of us are laughing so hard we can barely breathe as Sister gestures theatrically to the cars around us that HER CAR IS DEAD AND SHE CAN’T DO A DAMN THING ABOUT IT (and glowers hatefully at us for poking fun of her in her time of greatest need).

Then after turning on her hazards (which is the only thing Sister and I know how to do when our cars don’t work properly), she puts her trusty German car in park and tries the ignition once more.

And hallelujah praise Jesus, the damn thing actually starts.

The rest of our venture proceeded without catastrophe; it wound up taking us far less than an hour to find our Dairy Queen (as GPS’s suck and are completely worthless), and we trotted through north Charleston’s most ghetto-fabulous mini-mall to inhale our Blizzards in the food court (as that is, in fact, where our Dairy Queen was located). Pretty fitting to the rest of the afternoon, if I do say so myself.

And thanks to some more of Sister’s erratic driving, we arrived safely home with time to shower (and decompress) before the rehearsal dinner. So in some small way, our adventure was a success.

But even though we got our Godforsaken Tagalong Blizzards, and even though they were every bit as tasty as I’d dreamed, I daresay we won’t be embarking on another DQ voyage for quite some time.

That is, unless Sister and I get in another fight soon…

So I suppose I’ll see you at Dairy Queen in about a week or so.

Much love.


  1. This sounds a bit like my day yesterday. Utterly ridiculous, yet absolutely hilarious. haha. And your posts are probably one of the few things this long I'd bother reading. You are so funny!

  2. DQ is full empty promises. I got addicted to their cherry dipped cones, but then they started taking them off the menu. It became a game of trying to find one that still offered them....It's slightly pathetic how many DQs we would stop at on a road trip. But ohhhh, the goodness when they had them!