My Mother, the Penguin

My mom and me at a Minneapolis event (no, she didn't drive to it herself)

I am a complete penguin when it comes to directions; I can get lost driving to the grocery store. My mom is even worse. Even though she grew up in St. Paul and lived in a nearby suburb until she was nearly forty, she always hated driving in the Twin Cities, especially Minneapolis.

About twenty-five years ago, she and my dad took a trip to Minneapolis, an hour or so from their home in St. Cloud. It was a brutally cold winter day, around thirty below. My dad had to run into a magic shop to pick up some props for a talent show. Since there were no parking spaces available, he asked my mom to drop him off, drive around the block and he’d be right out.

Reluctantly, my mom took the wheel, dropped off my dad, took a right turn and promptly found herself on the freeway heading God knows where. Instant panic. To her credit, she managed to turn the car around and find her way back to the general vicinity but she had no idea where the magic shop was or how close she was to it.

Reasoning that she’d find the magic shop faster on foot, she parked the car and approached a police officer directing traffic in the middle of the intersection. He directed her to a magic shop a few blocks away where, sure enough, my dad was shivering outside the entrance. He had planned to just dash in and out so he hadn’t bothered putting on his winter coat. Pretty ironic: My dad walks into a magic shop and my mom disappears!

My dad sees my mom and says, “Where the hell were you and where’s the car?” Oh-oh. She has no idea where she parked. So here’s my frostbitten dad and my disoriented mom wandering around the frozen tundra of downtown Minneapolis looking for their car. My dad has to duck into Woolworth’s for a few minutes to warm up before renewing the search. Finally, eureka! There’s the car. My dad mutters, “Never again will I ever ask you to drive in the cities.”

And he never did.

My mom with my dad at the nursing home where he happily spent the last few years of his life

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10 Responses to “My Mother, the Penguin”

  1. Kim Wencl Says:

    And I bet your Mom was pretty happy about that! Great story!

  2. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Yep, Kim, I showed my mom the post and she laughed out loud!

  3. Serena Says:

    I’m in very good company then. I have no sense of direction and can get easily lost in a shopping mall.

  4. Phil Bolsta Says:

    You and I would make a great couple, Serena. We’d aimlessly wander shopping malls until someone showed pity on us and led us to the exit.

  5. Serena Says:

    Can you imagine? Someone would lead us to the exit but then we’d be faced with finding the car!

  6. Phil Bolsta Says:

    An excellent point, Serena. That would take another hour or two!

  7. Nicke Says:

    Phil, don’t worry, you’re not alone! I, too, suffer from acute spacial challenges. I constantly forget where I’ve parked the car because I have no sense of direction. I can drive to a place many times and still have the occasion to take a wrong turn and end up going the wrong way.

    If I have to go somewhere I’ve never been to before and it is an important appointment, I make myself drive there just to familiarize myself with the area. But even that does not guarantee anything except that I might recognize the building when I eventually find my way there.

    An old friend of mine was incredible. If I moved house, she always found her way to my new address without any problem the first time. Then, the second time she’d visit me, she’d find a short cut without even trying. Makes me mad!! No fair!

  8. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Yes, we are two peas in a misplaced pod, Nicke. I know what you mean. Some people just seem to have a built-in radar. When someone says, “Go north for a mile, then west . . .” I stop them and say, “Please say ‘right’ or ‘left’ instead of ‘north’ or ‘west.’ I’m not one of those people who can look at the sun and instantly know which way is north. People who can do that naturally look at me like I’m an alien. *sighs*

  9. Gaetane Garieoy Says:

    Yeah! I found my flock!!!!

  10. Phil Bolsta Says:

    *nods vigorously, waddles away aimlessly*

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