You just never know when you will have an Epic Moment. They don’t announce themselves in advance. They just arrive all of a sudden. In a rush. Life is just going on in normal fashion with normal moments, and then, here it is.
We drove up to Billings, Montana to have a quick, two-day visit with our son Dylan, a sous chef at a very fine restaurant called Walkers. We drove straight there, nearly 10 hours, and had dinner prepared by Dylan himself. Very cool.
Dylan lives in a small town 1/2 hour from Billings called Ballantine, and he had to work till 10:30, so we undertook to drive to his place, some place we had never been before, but we had his address and GPS. No sweat, we said to ourselves. No worries. Piece of cake. Slam dunk.
That would have been true if we'd had the right address. We had 1635. It was 1653, as we found out later, as in, much, much too late. Those last two digits actually matter.
So as we are driving around, wondering why the house we found didn’t seem to be the house we needed to find, some little bit of taco that I had had for lunch decided to return in a bad bad way. This turned a casual search into a desperate race against time. There’s a reason they call it “Taco Johns”. “Taco Runs” would be more accurate but less attractive to potential customers. I personally would have called it Walking Dead Zombie Tacos, because they had returned from the dead in my colon in an unfortunate way.
I went running up to 1635, knocked on the door, and was told that Dylan did not live there, and they had never heard of him.
The colon clock was ticking. The Zombie Tacos were on the move.
We drove down the road, found a little zigzag extension of the road, and saw another house with the address 1653. We weren’t sure this was it. We guessed maybe that the numbers had been switched somehow, but it was a pure guess, and the house was pitch black.
Details are important. Dylan lives in the basement of whatever house he lives in. We were told that the front door was locked, but the side door into the basement would be open.
Dylan lives with a man and his kids. We had never met them. We’d never seen them. They’d never seen us. I wasn’t sure at all that they knew we were coming. Dylan had gotten his dates mixed up, thought we were coming the next week.
So I go up to this dark house apparently full of strangers and knock on the door. Nobody answers. House is dark.
I go around to the side door. It’s open. I go in. I’m in a strange kitchen in a strange house that potentially has strangers in it.
It’s after 10 pm. They could be here, asleep, in bed. This is Montana. Even babies keep guns in their cribs in Montana.
The colon clock is really ticking loudly. I’m doing the dance. The dance you do when if you don’t find a bathroom RIGHT NOW, it’s going to get ugly.
I go downstairs to the basement. Fast. I’m still not sure I’m in the right house. I have no clue yet whether I’m in the right house. And the clock is ticking and I’m dancing the dance.
There’s no light switch on the stairs. Top or bottom. There’s no light switch in the room at the bottom of the stairs. There is a cat. Dylan has a cat. But lots of people have cats.
There’s another room. No light switch. It’s really dark. Find a light switch. Doesn’t work. Find another one. Doesn’t work. I’m running around the basement of a strange house with strangers in it with guns in Montana, and the dance is nearing its inevitable tragic conclusion.
There’s another room, and this one has a light switch that works. But there’s nothing in the room. So I find a fourth room. No light switch. Is this like a Montana thing - no light switches so that you can put on your night-vision goggles, get out your massive guns and blow wandering burglars and their increasingly frantic colons all over the walls? And if I’m in the wrong house and if I’m not supposed to be in this house and this is Montana where even babies in cribs keep guns, then zombie tacos are going to be the least of my problems, although of course, as they are zombie tacos, the bullets won’t kill them.
I vaguely see a light bulb in the middle of the dark room with no light switches. I feel around - there’s a chain - I pull it - the light goes on. I look around for some clue that Dylan might live there. There’s a letter. It has his name on it. Success.
And now I really really really need to find a bathroom. I had this terrible feeling that I might be a bit too late already. If you know what I mean.
There’s no bathroom in the basement. I’m running around like an idiot. There’s no bathroom.
I have no choice. I tear upstairs, stick my head out the door to tell Kam that we’re in the right place, and look around the upstairs for a bathroom.
There’s a bathroom. In a strange house with strangers sleeping in it. Right next to the bathroom. With guns. I know they have guns. I don’t care.
I go into the strange bathroom in a strange house with strangers and lock the door. As though that would stop bullets. Didn’t care.
I mostly made it.
I didn’t wake anyone up. I snuck out and told Kam that we couldn’t stay in a strange house with strangers and me potentially needing to use their bathroom at regular intervals all night long without having met them. Sooner or later, they were going to run into me in the very very short hall and either scream and die or shoot me into tiny bits.
God is good. Just down the road in this tiny tiny town (3X4 streets), there’s a gas station (Tiger Town) with a tiny tiny motel (4 rooms). So we got a room. We watched the Tour de France on a Zenith 15-inch Space Command TV set from 1970. It even had remote control, and it was color. And nobody in the room has guns.
And in unrelated news, if you hit a deer in Billings, you can win a pig.