by Dana Starr
The subtle undertone of mint mixed with dark chocolate was so delicious on my tongue, and I was just about to ask my Mom if she would consider giving me her after-dinner mint when I noticed a tail out of the corner of my eye. Yes, I said a tail. A LONG GREEN TAIL. My mind went completely blank; however, I had the presence of mind to calmly pull the car over to the side of the road before I TOTALLY LOST MY SH*T.
I turned to Mom and asked her if she was looking at the same thing I was looking at and at that moment the long, lime-green gecko perched next to the steering wheel looked at me while I was looking at my mom who was looking at the gecko who was looking at me. It was like a moment suspended in time, but before I could take another shaky breath my Mom did the most incredibly NOT helpful thing ever ... she popped her after-dinner mint in her mouth and politely handed me the tiny wrapper and suggested I use that to rid us of the gecko. Really? What am I supposed to do with a tiny wrapper and a HUGE gecko?
Normally, I'm calm, cool and collected and can pretty much handle whatever life throws at me; however, I do NOT like critters who can crawl on me with their little tiny talons. I'm ashamed to admit this, but I froze on the spot. The gecko did too, but as I reached to lower the window with the hope the gecko would scamper out, it dive-bombed me and crawled under my seat. You have never seen an old, fat woman move so quickly. I unlatched my seat belt and was outta the car quicker than you can say Geico Gecko.
I couldn't just stand on the side of the road forever, and Mom and I decided that we couldn't possibly unload all the luggage, candy, souvenirs, CDs, books, newspapers, plants, baseball equipment, and female products from the car so we bravely decided to just climb in and continue driving. Do you know how difficult it is to drive a car wearing flip-flops while knowing that at any second a gecko could scamper across your toes???? It was nerve-wracking.
Mom kept referring to the little fellow as our hitchhiker, and I don't really think she was all that skeered. Of course, she comes from very, very hardy stock. She's a combination of a Melton and a McAnelly and that's pretty powerful stuff. I heard about the McAnelly side of the family all my life from my Mamaw, but I didn't know all that much about my Papaw's family, the Meltons. Apparently, they were a family of extremes. There were 13 kids and about half of them became devout men/women and the other half, not so much. Of course, the not so much half are the ones my Mom and I can relate to, BAHAHAHAHAHA.
During our epic road trip, we were able to visit with Mom's first cousin and his lovely wife. What great, great stories they recalled. In the picture below, there are 12 children with my great grandparents. The 13th child hadn't even been born when this picture was taken and many of the kids in the photo didn't even have on shoes. My grandfather is sitting on his Mom's lap, I think, or maybe he is the one on his Dad's lap. My Mom has told me a million times and I just can't keep it in my head.
Mom and I are finally back in Lubbock, Texas, 'Merica. After the gecko incident, which occurred after eating at Olive Garden in Weatherford, Mom kept saying how much she LOVES Texas and the wide open spaces, and she thinks that the gecko just wanted to come to Texas with us. She's probably right. She usually is.
The Melton Clan