The Great Exploding Gila Monster

My Dad is, generally speaking, not a funny guy. I don’t mean that in a disparaging way, but he is known for his ability to spin tall tales & regale you with stories of a thought provoking nature. He is not the class clown, that was a job he left to some of his siblings. He also loves to drive (which is hilarious considering he is an airline pilot) which meant that for as much as we flew around the globe growing up, if there was a car trip to be had, we went on it.

Case in point: we drove across the country three times during my childhood. Once, in one summer, we drove from Virginia to California back to Alabama. This was before iPads, television screens in cars or satellite radio and during a period of time that no food or drink could be consumed in my parent’s new car. Not to get all “old” on you but my brother and I entertained ourselves with books, one Sony walkman with a headphone splitter and an assortment of “We Sing Along” and Jimmy Buffett cassette tapes. THE HORROR. (Actually, yeah, I don’t recommend it. Technology FTW.)

Anyway, at some point during one of our many drives (remind me to tell you about the time we drove from Germany to Finland, that was a real winner) we were driving through New Mexico, or perhaps Nevada. We were in a barren, barren desert of heat and as my parents were wont to do, my Mom pulled out some educational material concerning the area we were in. She was always annoying well prepared like that. We discussed the rock formations, the cacti and then we moved onto the creatures of the desert. One of these desert creatures is a gila monster, which is basically a really gross venomous lizard. Suddenly, in the midst of the discussion, a fun fact was brought up that gila monsters don’t poop. This was met with a lot of giggling from the backseat and my Dad’s total denial that this was true. As it turns out, gila monsters have a different (and ickier) way of getting rid of their waste, and technically speaking, do not poop. At this point my brother and I were downright beside ourselves with amusement because here we were, MAKING POTTY JOKES, OH MY GOD. Dad surmised that if gila monsters don’t poop then they all must just explode at some point. Sensing an inability to calm my brother and I down from this potty humor high, my Mom moved on to another desert creature: mice. BORING. Soon after we grew tired of our educational discussion and my brother and I went back to reading our books for another thirty miles or so.

And suddenly, without warning, we all heard a boom. Most likely it was some semi truck nearby that blew out a tire, or something equally unimportant but without missing a beat, my somewhat stoic father calmly announced “It must have been a gila monster.”

And that ladies and gentlemen is why no one in my family can drive through the desert without laughing uncontrollably at any unexpected noise.

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