Hiding Out in My Car

Did you know that Americans consume 20% of their meals in their car? Instead of being disturbed by this nugget of information my response is yum.

I’ve had some of the best meals of my life behind the wheel. I’m not talking about fine dining, of course, but when you can hand off a teething infant to your husband, flee to your escape pod and enjoy a chicken sandwich with honey mustard from the Chick-fil-A drive thru where the only sound is you sucking down a chocolate shake it can be a luxurious dining experience.

My car is my safe space, my retreat, my very own tiny home. It’s where I go to hide – from my family. Yes, my kids are years past the teething stage, but I still, at times, sequester myself in my vehicle.

After a spring break trip last year where I, at times, felt like I was being held hostage on a hormone roller coaster called “Extreme Mood Swing” – come for the death-defying drops and stay for a G-force so intense you’ll need years of empty nesting to recover – I eagerly informed my brood that as soon as we arrived home I would be going to the grocery store.

I was gone four hours. Four blissful hours where I set in my car, reclined my seat back and read a book while enjoying a Culver’s butter burger with fries. I was so happy and content I didn’t even feel a smidge of shame when I went through the Culver’s drive thru again, two hours into my post vacation recoup, to get a cookie dough concrete. That meal ranks up there with one of the most delicious epicurean events of my existence.

The only down side of hiding out in my car is that sometimes I’m busted by my family.  After all these years they’ve only, kind of, caught on to the fact that my many trips to the store are in reality mental health breaks.

A couple of weeks ago, right before Christmas I was about to lose it. I still had gifts to buy, cookies to make, a freaking Secret Santa (Just why on the Secret Santa? Why don’t we call it what it really is? A week of buying crap from the Target five dollar bin for your co-worker) and a mother and brother-in-law in town. I had to make a run for it.

Under the auspices of needing gift wrap I bolted for my car and high tailed it to one of my top 10 happy places – the Freddy’s drive thru where I order a Chicago dog. Once I got my food, I pulled into a parking space, blasted my car’s butt heat, pulled up a book on my phone and settled in for time a renewal.

After about an hour I got the dreaded text “Where R U?” which meant is was time to return home. Two hours later the whole family piled into my car to look at Christmas lights and that’s when my lie was discovered.

My car reeked of Chicago dog. If smells had a rating it would have been at DEFCON 1. I had put the Freddy’s bag on the passenger seat, which also had its heater on, and I think that served as a turbo intensifier. It was as if I had a hot dog with extra onions aromatic diffuser in my car.

The Chicago dog odor prompted a flurry of questions from “Did you bring everyone Freddy’s? To “Is that you’ve been doing for the last hour?”

I felt duty bound to confess. So, I shared with my family that I did indeed a Chicago dog for lunch – eight hours ago.

Don’t judge. Every mother needs her secrets.

10 thoughts on “Hiding Out in My Car

  1. Kat says:

    After sharing this essay with my husband he only saw the picture of the Chicago dog… He told me to look it up to see if there was one in our area. There is about 30 miles from us. They had lots of pictures and a menu. He was practically drooling reading all the details. Guess where we’re headed for lunch now??? Thanks for the public service announcement! 😀

  2. Janet says:

    Four weeks ago I went out for a desperately needed wine date with a friend. We were at the winery from 5-8:30. I’d known I was at the end of my rope with my husband and 3 teenagers. I had actually, for the first time ever, packed a bag and had snuck it into my van. I was honestly thinking about getting a hotel. I decided to go to a movie by myself first. Did the whole dining experience thing with the recliner seats. It was also right before Christmas. I didn’t go to the hotel after all. I went home and managed to get through the rest of the holidays, but my mini-excursion with the possibility of a hotel did help!

  3. Angela says:

    Oh, my gawd! You are my people! I thought I was the only person in the world who went through Culver’s drive thru twice!

  4. Lisa Royal says:

    My car is my private cocoon, where no one can intrude (as long as I don’t answer my cellphone). I find a shady place to park (Florida heat)… and put myself in “time out”. Sometimes I read a few pages of the book that is always in my car. Sometimes I just recline my seat and close my eyes for a few… and I can’t count the times I’ve gone thru a drive – thru less than a mile from my house and sat in my car to eat. Even when there’s no one else home to bother me… Because at home, everywhere I look, something is waiting for my attention. My safe zone. My bubble. My car.

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