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Traveler Paul 2019

     If you hear a CD player rousting out "Supercalifragilistic" and a husky, energetic male voice singing lustily, you'll probably notice a green and black Starbucks cup in the cupholder of that black Mazda6 whizzing by you on the freeway. Starbucks is the first stop of the trip—always.

     Traveling with Paul is an Experience never to be equaled, complete with dozens of renditions of "Supercalifragilistic," each one ending with a loud shout-out, "Nailed it!" For the sake of sanity, it's absolutely necessary at some point to either a) turn off the CD player, or b) sneakily press the button that will mercifully start a different CD. Variety is the spice of life for most of us; for Paul, repetition is the spice of life.

     If you go for a) and shut off the CD, you'd better cover up with, "Let's talk for a while," or an honest, "I need a break, Paul." You might be sorry about the "Let's talk," though, because he will not stop. Talking. If he were content just to talk, you could relax and listen for hours. But that's not the way it is with Paul.

     He talks, you answer; he talks, you answer; ad infinitum—or until you turn the CD player back on. Paul reminisces about everything that's ever happened to him, especially the funny times, which get him chuckling merrily. "Remember that, Mom? Remember that?" If you don't answer, which is your privilege of course, you get, "Did you hear me? Did you hear me?" So finally you say that yes you remember and yes you heard him and then he says, "Guess what?" And you say, "I don't know," and he says, "Craig is fun to go to KISS concerts with. Do you know why?"

     Of course you know why; he's told you umpteen times already. You can either go with a) "No, why?" or b) "Yes." If you go with b) he's going to ask you why, so it's best to just say it all, "Yes, because he lets you wear KISS make-up." And then he'll say, "Guess what else?" And you say, "What?" and he says, "I love you, Mom."

     On long trips, his conversation—when the cruel witch has turned off the CD player—is about the passing scenery, which he finds "Awesome!" or "Beautiful!" Our trip to Borrego Springs included awesome, beautiful scenery, numerous repetitions of Supercalifragilistic and also his favorite "Dr. Altenau song"—the music's jolly rhythm reminds Paul of the cheery way his neurosurgeon enters the exam room, with a bounce in his step and a smile on his face.

     Time for another CD—my choice this time. As soon as the first song starts, his fingers reach out to move the selection to his favorite song on the CD. He has a favorite on most every CD and once he has it playing, you're going to hear it over and over and over and over and over. . . until out of desperation, you reach over and switch to the "Supercalifragilistic" CD, which by now sounds pretty good.

     "That was a really good trip, Mom," he says when we arrive home from Borrego Springs. In spite of the heat, the crowds and the restaurants being out of everything so that we had to settle for convenience store sandwiches in El Centro, Paul loved it all. Except—"We should have stayed overnight, Mom. When's our next road trip? Let's stay overnight next time."

     If you're looking for a travel companion. . .

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