“Stupid rental car,” my wife growled.
“Huh?” I bumbled, snapping out of an exhausted daze. “I thought we liked the rental car.”
Having ventured to Maui with my parents, we’d rented a minivan that would comfortably fit the six of us and our fleet of Traveling Toddler Circus props. Even with the two extra adults there was still plenty of room. Compared to the 4-door sedan we usually cart the kids around in and into which certain strollers only fit one way (when inserted with ninja precision), it was a veritable vehicular vacation on top of our location vacation. In fact, it had inspired us to seek out a van of our own once we returned to Phoenix. Or so I thought as my wife suddenly slandered our steed’s good name.
“We do like it, except for this stupid speedometer. I have no idea how fast I’m going.”
Straightening up on the passenger side, I leaned towards my wife at the wheel to survey the dash. The numbers and gauges shone brightly up at us as we traversed the dark, sans-streetlight coastal road. On this particular night my parents were out on a date and my wife and I were headed back to the hotel with our passed-out munchkins. When it’s just the four of us, my wife usually opts to drive due to her propensity for motion sickness and a particularly vocal flair for back-seat driving. While many of my male peers might see this as gender-role sacrilege, I assure you, this is the optimal driving arrangement.
Examining the dashboard, I saw exactly what my wife was talking about. A digital gauge displayed her speed in kilometers per hour rather than miles per hour.
I was already mourning the morning walk.
Before we’d even traveled a block my dog had decided to lead the caravan, walking directly in front of the jogging stroller, her hindquarters mere inches from the front wheel. I don’t know why she insists upon this walking arrangement–maybe she likes to think she’s in charge–but(t) it never “ends” well for her, typically culminating in me literally running her ass over. It begins when she looks back at the stroller and decides she is terrified of it, so terrified that she freezes in place, causing the usually-taut leash to slack and wrap around the stroller’s back axle, putting us at a dead stop just after the tire bumps her square on the cheeks. I do my best to stop before the butt-bump, but she forces me to tailgate her at an unsafe following distance.
On this particular day, she had jumped to deer-in-headlights mode so abruptly and forcibly that it had pulled her harness clean off. (We attach the leash to her harness and not her collar because after years of scientific research, we have determined she would rather be choked to death than respond to leash tugs.) And because my dog just barely qualifies as obedient, I knew I had to act quickly on this leashless freedom unless I wanted to choose between:
1) chasing her around the neighborhood, loudly cussing her out while she thinks its a game, waking the Twins from their stroller catnaps and yielding a sterophonic meltdown; or
2) tritely employing the if-you-love-her-set-her-free-and-if-she-never-returns-she-was-never-yours axiom, which would most likely mean never seeing my beloved canine again, as she would surely make a grand exit from this life in Harry Houdini fashion while performing her famous freezing-in-front-of-an-oncoming vehicle trick.
It was in that moment that I remembered I am a ninja, as my keen, subconscious reflexes sprang into action, one-handedly snagging her by the tail, keeping the other hand firmly planted on the stroller.
She turned her head towards me, dumbly panting with glee, as if to say. “That was fun, Dad!”
My wife, who was valiantly driving the entire Pseudonymous clan home, pointed out the passenger-side window. I perked up from an inevitable doze and glanced in that direction, but found nothing of interest. While I was trying to make something up about how, yeah, they should really fix that pothole–think of the children!–so as to not ignore her, she elaborated. Kind of.
“No, the thing.” This is what happens when my wife gets tired. She loses the capacity to communicate verbally. She had initially opted for a completely nonverbal interaction (the pointing), and I knew that this helpful-yet-cryptic verbal qualifier took a concerted extra effort on her part, so I was thankful for that. (That may appear to be sarcasm, but it’s not. I really did appreciate it knowing how drained she was.)
It had been a grueling Sunday. We’d planned to cart our travelling circus to Grandma’s house, but did not plan on waking up at 2:30 a.m. for my son’s teething emergency, which in turn made him realize he was hungry, which in turn made him realize it was kind-of-almost-but-not-really morning and a phenomenal opportunity to hold an animated roundtable discussion with Mommy and Daddy regarding such hard-hitting issues as “Dah-gaah,” “Nn-gee,” and “Naaaaah!”
As we futilely attempted to recover from our guest appearance on our son’s late-night talk show, we had also been keeping an eye on our poor, ailing daughter, whose fever—despite a steady clanging of more cowbell—had returned after what we thought was a few days of relief. With it came bonus features like labored coughing, booger mustaches, and projectile sneezing (now with 50% more slime!). Quite certain our daughter had acquired her first cold, we planned a return to the pediatrician the following day. We just needed to make it until then.
I now followed my wife’s finger more closely, and realized she was pointing at the pocket in the car door (is there a name for that thing?), inside which was our emergency stash of 5 Hour Energy. “Oh, right,” I eureka-ed. The Case of the Pointing Finger had been solved!
As I’ve mentioned before, the exhaustion of raising the Twinfants often makes the drive home worthy of such feats as self-inflicted face slapping, high-volume externalization of one’s inner monologue (“Don’t you dare fall asleep! Think of the children!”), and the occasional power-up beverage. My wife and I have massacred the drive home time and time again with 5 Hour Energy and have dubbed it the Secret Weapon, with permanent installations in both of our vehicles. While taste is not one of its virtues (“Berry” is our favored flavor), we can’t deny its effectiveness. You can literally feel the energy coursing through you after drinking it. (Find out why in this post’s 500-Disc DVD Special Edition Bonus Feature below.)
Of course, in the heart of the scorching Arizona summer–during which we brave 100° F-plus temperatures like nobody’s bidness–a parked car creates a microwave-like atmosphere, scalding everything in its path and tragically damaging any forgotten chocolate into feces-like masses that do taste the same, but not really. We love our coffee piping hot, but we do not feel the same way about 5 Hour Energy. It is best choked-down cold, with a remark to the effect of, “It’s not that bad, I guess.”
However, today, our automobile had greenhoused our Secret Weapon to what felt like 150° F as it radiated in my now-trembling hand.
“Um, it’s pretty hot.”
“Do you want me to stay awake or not?”
“All right,” I muttered, unsheathing it from its tamper-safe wrapper and removing the lid.
“Is it gonna burn my mouth?”
“Don’t think so.”
“Will you check?”
“How?” Yes, I actually said this. Parental exhaustion has sparked a new brand of idiot conversation for both of us. We sometimes become worse at making inferences than my former seventh grade students.
“By drinking it,” she duh-ed.
“Oh, right.” I menacingly stared down my aqueous adversary as the stereotypical whistling score of a Clint Eastwood Old West showdown came from the back seat. “Thanks, kids,” I said, remarkably unfazed by my four-month-old twins’ newfound whistling abilities and knowledge of American cinema.
Especially during my wife’s double-barreled pregnancy, more seasoned parents made a point to warn me, “Your life is no longer your own.” Although I’m fairly new at this, I feel the stereophonic nature of my status as a parent warranted me a full understanding of this early on. And as I “Eye-of-the-Tiger-ed” myself for the courage to imbibe this infernal concoction, I reminded myself that parents must often endure obstacles they would not normally expose themselves to, for the good and safety of their offspring. Think of the children! I thought.
I tipped the tiny bottle back and took a miniature, fiery swig. While its temperature was, in fact, at a tongue-worthy level, its taste was very much not.
“Oh. God. It’s… so bad…”
“No, not hot…”
She pulled the bottle from my hand. “It can’t be that bad.” In she plunged, taking in full gulps. Her hand suddenly jerked forward, yanking it from her now-grimacing mouth and staring at it as if it had b!tch-slapped her. “Okay, yeah. It’s that bad.”
Then she looked me in the eye before adding, “But I’m exhausted.” She went back for round two, tipping it completely upside-down in her mouth.
I love this woman.
She finished half of it, and handed it back. “I only need two and a half hours of energy. Then, it’s bedtime.”
I don’t know why, but sometimes when something tastes particularly unfavorable, there’s a backwards sort of allure to it. On the surface, the expression “This is terrible. Here, taste it.” does not make any sense at all, but for some reason, we still taste. That fascination—paired with the fact that I, too, needed to be operational for the next two and a half hours—culminated in a full-on chug of the remaining “Energy.”
Seven Hours Later…
“I don’t understand. If it’s 5 Hour Energy and we split it, how are we still awake?”
“Shh! I think they heard you!”
Additional Twinformation About 5 Hour Energy
(Amaze Your Friends!)
A 500-Disc DVD Special Edition Bonus Feature
It should first be noted, O Loyal Reader, that in no way is this post intended to knock the 5 Hour Energy product. While its taste is not the most stellar in the caffeinated beverage family, its efficacy is indisputable, and we depend on it for that reason. We just don’t recommend serving it scalding unless absolutely necessary, as demonstrated here. We also do not recommend it for daily guzzling, or, for that matter (again) unless absolutely necessary. Here’s why.
While my wife and I laid awake that night, we whispered sweet nothings in each other’s ear wondering what the hell makes it so effective. I crept to the kitchen in ninja mode–hurdling every couch and Exersaucer in my path–to get a bottle, and here’s what we found on the back:
Then, we did the math. If my wife and I split a bottle, we shared an impressive 8333% of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin B12, or 4166.5% each. This means that, having drank it on Sunday, June 5, we technically do not need to worry about our B12 intake again until 41.665 days from then, which will be July 17. We found this dosage just a little excessive, and are glad we usually only drink a few gulps, versus the whole frickin’ thing.
That being said, the verdict: way better Secret Weapon than daily wake-up agent.
You heard it here first.
Unless you already knew it.
But I heard it here first.