Marriages are built on trust. That is, you can trust your spouse is lying to you and you just have to know how much—so you can lie in return at an appropriate level.
That’s how it works with my wife, The Pearl of the Orient, and me.
For example, when we pack the van for our winter migration south, it’s up to the Pearl to lie to me about the volume of items we have to take with us and it’s up to yours truly to lie to her about how much actually will fit in the van—and still leave room for the driver and one passenger.
The Pearl, understanding this, will confidently lie, “There’s only a couple more bags, Jack,” Meanwhile, she drags four more oversized cases out of the attic for a few “extras.”
Understanding this when the van is one-third full, I warn the Pearl, “Gad! I doubt I can squeeze in more than three more items.”
“Well, you’ll just have to leave some of your computer and camera junk behind,” she shoots back.
This woman fights dirty, but I know a trick or two and deliver a really low blow.
“But I need all that stuff so I can work on our income tax return so we’ll have it all finished long before we get back and there’ll be no danger of the government bureaucraps bugging us,” I explain.
The Pearl is terrified of government bureaucraps. It works like a charm.
And so it goes, I pile and re-pile the boxes and bags. The springs on the van bottom out and the tires squat. Another 10 pounds of air pressure in the rear tires solves part of the problem, but the low beams still will be aimed about right for coon hunting.
Finally with six inches of clearance on the top of the stack and the backseat crammed, the Pearl announces we are finally finished . . . “except for a few more clothes and a couple of bags I’ll put by my feet.”
My only concern is the stack of boxes and crates piled over the top of the rear seat. If we ever have to hit the brakes, the risk of an avalanche decapitating both of us is very real.
Maybe I’ll bolt the two opposing seat belts together as a safety cable? Hmmm?
I wander back in the house to get the last “two small bags” of clothes. There they are lying on the bed. Two plastic bags—each the size of a small beached whale.
“Are you crazy? I’ll never get those two bags stuffed in that little space on top,” I moan as another muscle spasm races across my already insulted back.
“Oh nothing to it. Watch this,” breezes the Pearl as she cranks up the shop vac and applies the suction to a valve on one of the bags. In about 30 seconds, it’s sucked down flatter than a pancake—four feet by six feet by three inches.
The second bag gets the same treatment and my mouth drops open in complete surprise.
“Whaddya know! Cryovac’d underwear!” I murmur, admitting the Pearl has come up with a neat trick.
I lug the flapjacks out to the van and, as best I can, stuff them into the last remaining space. It’s a tight fit, but I get them both in and slam the tail gate.
I push the tops of both bags behind the seat to one side to put in one more piece of computer equipment. They both catch on a hanger sticking up out of one box.
“POP!” is followed by a larger “Whoosh!” as a giant sucking sound makes my eardrums pop.
The bags expand like a bloated carcass lying in the hot sun for a couple of days, but in a period of about two seconds.
They expand up against the roof, and the metal strains and snaps a bit to accommodate the pressure. My formerly Cryovac’d underwear suddenly takes on a more normal shape, but seems to be handling the strain.
With a good deal of trepidation I gently poke the now straining plastic. It holds. I breathe a sigh of relief. At least now I won’t have to worry about that load shifting.
Now if only the Customs officer doesn’t insist on doing an in-depth inspection, we’re good to go. As for flat tires, who needs a spare. Might as well use that Auto Club insurance we paid for.
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