This is going to be a story from my past. It’s a true story, about a nightmare trip I took with my ex husband and his parents. Now, for the most part I liked my in-laws. They were good people in many ways. In some ways, not so good. Let me start at the beginning…………
I had been married to my ex for about 6 or 7 years by now. I was truly under his control, all though no one thought so at the time, especially me. Foolish me. Anyway, his parents had heard me talk about Wisconsin and how beautiful it was in the fall, with the leaves changing. My ex and his parents were from Texas. They had never been to Wisconsin before, so they got it in their heads that they wanted to go. They also wanted my ex and I to go with them.
A road trip! With my in-laws and my ex. A 2400 mile, round trip, road trip. In a smallish car. With my ex and his parents. Shudder…...Still gives me nightmares.
Like I said, they wanted to see the colors of upper Wisconsin in September. September is also my birthday month. So they thought they would give me a grand birthday present and we would all go to Wisconsin, rent a cabin in the woods on a lake and enjoy a full week of relaxation and beautiful colors. I hadn’t been home in about 8 years, so I would also get to see my sister and my parents, as the cabin we were renting was not far from where they lived. I was happy!
It started out great. We got an early start and the weather was wonderful. So off we went! The first day was good. We drove with a few bathroom breaks and a lunch break. As soon as it started to get dark my in-laws insisted we find a motel. They hated traveling in the dark. No problem. We found a nice, clean, cheap motel and rented rooms for the night. We had dinner at the attached, fast food joint. It was a Hardee’s, remember that folks, as it comes into play during my story.
The next morning, nice and early, we get gas and are on the road again, after breakfast of course. At Hardee’s. I had a nice strong cup of coffee, I was good to go.
We travel a few hours, all was pleasant. Then my father-in-law (FIL) got into an argument with my ex. My ex was driving. My FIL thought he was driving too fast. They argued. Now let me clarify one thing. My FIL was a very argumentative man. He was a good man in many ways, but he would argue about just about anything. You could say the sun was yellow and hot, he would argue that it was more beige and that it was not just hot, it was hellish hot. Then he would go off on a tangent.
So for an hour or more they argued, with voices getting louder, language getting saltier. And neither one wanted to back down. The argument went off as they usually did with my FIL to other things. My mother-in-law (MIL) trying to calm the waters, I am just trying to tune it all out. And it’s not working.
Finally, it’s lunch time and my FIL demanded that my ex find someplace to eat. We were on the highway, in the middle of nowhere it seemed. Finally, my FIL spots a sign saying there was a turnoff coming up with restaurants. So he yells at the ex to turn off so he could get fed. My FIL was one that had to be fed 3 times a day. He hated to miss a meal and became quite irritated if he did. He told my ex to stop at Hardee’s.
So this went on for several days. My ex and his dad would take turns driving. Sometimes we would stop off and see the sights, most times we only stopped to eat or go to the bathroom. My FIL believed a holiday was only a good one if you put in as many miles as you could every day.
They drove, argued and we stopped at Hardee’s to eat. Every. Single. Day.
Finally we reach our destination of Upper Wisconsin. It’s gorgeous. Wisconsin truly put on her best colors for us that September. It was close to my birthday (the 12th) and the weather, though cool was sunny and beautiful. We empty out the car and explore our cabin. It’s great, has two bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen, the bathroom was small but usable. I thought as far as cabins go, it was really nice for the price. It sat close to a beautiful lake and we even had a boat to use if we wanted to.
Now, remember I said we were suppose to stay a week? Yes, we were, and we were suppose to meet my parents so I could introduce them to my in-laws. Now my parents are laid back people who like their beer now and again. Nothing wrong with that. The bars up in Wisconsin are pretty family friendly. I didn’t think nothing of meeting my parents in a bar. I practically grew up in one.
My in-laws were not tea totallers by any means, so again I thought nothing of meeting my parents in the bar. Neutral territory I figured. All good. Right? Um, no, apparently not.
The in-laws knew days before that, that we would be going to a bar to meet my parents, they never said a word. Till the time we drove up to the bar and my in-laws refused to get out of the car. Their reason? They didn’t go to bars. They didn’t think it was ‘respectable’ to meet my parents there. So nope, they weren’t going in. I was dumbfounded! Why didn’t they say something before this? So I was determined to see my parents. I hadn’t seen them in a lot of years. I was looking forward to seeing them again.
So my ex and I went inside, the in-laws went for a drive and said they would be back in an hour to pick us up. I was so upset. An hour? After years of being away??
There had been enough fighting and screaming and crap during the drive up, I wasn’t going to add to it, so I let it go. I had a great visit with my parents, in the bar. After an hour we hear a car horn outside. Yup, there are my in-laws beeping the horn for us. I tried to explain to my parents the reasoning of my in-laws not coming in to meet them. It didn’t go over very well, all though my parents didn’t say anything directly to me.
We go out and I’m pissed off. Majorly pissed off. I get in the car and hardly say a word. We go for a country drive. Find a place to eat dinner, as my FIL is run by his stomach. At least there was no Hardee’s in sight. To this day I can’t stand to eat at Hardee’s.
I get over my mad, sort of, and we have a nice day driving around and taking tons of pictures of the wonderful fall colors. All is good, or so I thought.
We get to the cabin and settle in for the night. No hurry, I thought, we got all week. The in-laws can meet the parents later that week. I was going to invite them to the cabin, maybe even cook dinner for them. No bars, just a nice evening together. We all go to bed early, as it had been a long day.
The next morning I am woken up by voices in the kitchen. My ex and his parents are all ready up and drinking coffee at the kitchen table. I decide to lay there for a bit, enjoying having the bed to myself, and listen to what they are planning for the day. The next thing I hear is my name. It’s my MIL.
“I know Jackie was planning on staying all week here. She can still stay, we’ll give her bus money to come home.”
What??!!! Bus money?? To go home by myself on the bus???
My ex, of course, wasn’t about to let me stay here by myself. I might decide NOT to go home to Texas again, he couldn’t have that.
“I’m not leaving my wife here by herself. We rented the cabin for a week, why not stay the week? We’ve only been here 2 days.”
My FIL piped in.
“We don’t want to stay all week son, we could be on the road, getting the miles in and seeing the sights!”
“Then why did you plan on staying a week if you weren’t going to stay?”
FIL: “We have a right to change our minds! We aren’t going in some damn bar to meet those people!”
MIL: “Just let her stay here son, she can get home on her own.”
The ex: “NO! She is NOT staying here on her own. I’ll stay with her then we’ll catch a plane back home.”
By then I was so angry I was seeing red. How dare they! Wait a minute….they are who they are, of course they would do something crappy like this. I get up, put on my robe, making noise so they hear me and go out to see if they would say something to my face.
Nope, they don’t. They are all ‘good morning’ and smiles. I wait, I get my coffee, sit down and wait. Nothing. Crickets could have been heard.
To make a very long story shorter. They left the cabin, my ex told me what was going on. We fight. I was going to stay there, to hell with them. In the back of my mind, I figured, if they leave me there, I wouldn’t go back. The ex wouldn’t have it. Either we both stayed, or we both left with his parents. The in-laws came back and put their 2 cents in. Between the in-laws and my ex, they beat me down enough emotionally that I just gave up and gave in. We packed the car that day and left. I didn’t even get to explain to my parents why.
One thing they did do, which they did promise to do, is we stopped in Milwaukee so I could visit my favorite Aunt for a few hours. They of course didn’t come in, my ex came with me. We had a great few hours together, then there were my in-laws beeping their damn car horn again.
We went the long way home, unfortunately. My ex and FIL arguing all the way back, me stewing in the back seat, my MIL trying to please everyone. It was the most gruelling, nerve-wracking road trip I ever was on. I never repeated it. And apparently never got over it.