On The Road (Prologue)

A guy, a gal, and a dog set off to see a large chunk of this great nation.

Full disclosure: This could be a major mistake. After giving The Most Beautiful Girl in The World the hardest pine in the forest, she's agreed to give The Kid a shot. Only one chamber of the revolver's loaded, and it's a bit of Russian Roulette. Love is a lot of things, but complicated ain't one of them. It's messy, it's smelly, it's jelly. It jiggles and giggles and falls down, often only to be raised up by the way someone smells behind their ears and a little bit of clinical therapy. Somehow, after a long Sissyphusian roll up and down, we've decided that it's time to go all-in, lay this clown down. What you're about to witness could be a nationwide disaster, or this Gideon's own Sword. Gracie and I are taking a road trip. If we don't kill each other by the time we get to County Line, there could be a future for us. Either way, y'all are in for quite the ride.

Grace: I've never been much of a journal-er, but I've ordered a monocle and drafted everything in a large-lettered angry sprawl, because pretending to be Veronica from Heathers is the only motivation I ever needed. It has also been good for Noah's ego, as he thinks he's Christian Slater in the mid-80s when he doesn't think he's Skinny James Spader.

Over the next few weeks, no fewer than fifteen of the finest States in these Uniteds will be Graced by her, myself, and The Good Dog, Hildy. The pup's named for Rosalind Russell's character in His Girl Friday. She's a fast-talking reporter, Grace recognized early on, and she's the logical excuse for the trip. See, it wasn't that we ran out of toilet paper three days ago, thus making the entire apartment a wash. Gracie's going out of town for a while, and with my busy schedule of cigarette smoking and crosswording, I won't be able to give The Good Dog the attention she deserves. The original plan was to deposit Hildy with her grandfolks and uncle in the Sorrowful Midwest, as Connor puts it, and hightail it back to The Coast. It turns out that flying with a young pup is a little hectic, so the road came calling. There's a rub. There always is. It turns out that most of Gracie's family is holidaying down in her home-country of Texas, her dad going to visit them just after we get to Cincinatti in time to see the Reds get creamed by the Dodgers. So after a stop in Ohio, it's down to that old Lonestar, and then back in a loop through the Great Southwest, just like that Wilco song. We're basically taking a big chunk out of the middle of the country, just barely avoiding Oklahoma, which is good, since I owe a guy there $13 and a new lawnmower belt.

Grace: The Trip was born as a timid-sweet-nothing-turned-toe-in-the-water-turned-triple-dog-dare-turned-5,500-mile Odyssey. The two of us still breathing by the time we get back to our own zip code will do as Ithaca. Austin, TX is obviously land of the Lotus-Eaters, where members of our party will need to be forcibly retrieved (and sobered up) before we set back to the Aegean Sea. The role of Athena will by played by various audiobooks. I'm sure the place we'll stay in Utah will qualify for the Island of the Cyclops, if only for the reason that there's bound to be sheep "herders", right?

On the practical side, Hildy doesn't seem to get carsick. After that realization, everything else is easy-peasy. I drive a medium-sized Jeep, and the back seats fold down for the pup to have a little nest, plus load up weeks worth of luggage. We're not roughing it completely, we'll be staying in motels, so packing is on the normal side, mostly just sex toys and back issues of Spy Magazine. The goal is about 600 miles a day, with luxurious stops at some attractions, local dining and maybe some prison visits to old pals along the way, coming in at about eight hours of driving. We're giving ourselves the freedom to go a little further or not depending on how we feel. We've got a list of pet-friendly inns and some waypoints mapped out, and we'll be sticking to the safety and efficiency of Dwight Eisenhower's brilliant freeway idea. We think that thing might catch on. As with most endeavors, timing is everything. What with our recently finishing a film we coincidentally did together, her upcoming gig and the pending Disability Claim on my career, taking a few weeks off made sense. The Phipps' nation-trotting simply added to the length of The Trip, both of us playing a bit of Chicken with each other, a test of our mettle. Spoiler alert: Grace will always win. It turns out that "mettle" is a reference to what someone's made of, in other words, how big their balls are. And her's are giant, shiny and brass.

Somewhere along the way to getting along the way, we decided to share it with you, either because we're egomaniacal movie people, or because it's a fun adventure that everyone should be inspired to do. Our very supportive friends at Badass have given us this space, our pals at Leica gave us a camera, and Roadtrippers has helped us plan a few stops along the way.

Grace: I would also like to thank my agent, who is obliged to 10% of all gas station sunglasses I accrue. If I don't murder Noah by Albuquerque, where we can't stop because I owe a guy $17 in loose change and a replacement children's tricycle, then I'll keep the pad of paper with our running Gin Rummy score. But we reserve the right to trade in the Jeep for a light-blue '66 Thunderbird convertible. Obviously, in that situation, I'd be Thelma.

Of course, none of this is really about the dog. Don't tell her we said that. She's sensitive. It's a GoldenDoodle thing. This is about us, about a journey together, the only two folks in the car with opposable thumbs and iPods.

Grace: It is a bit about the dog. Also, we really did run out of toilet paper three days ago, so this is really the only option.

The trip's about whether we make it or break it, if there's a dynamic duo, a team that runs on NPR and Whataburger and Regular Unleaded. It's a journey all about a journey. This Great American Road Trip is as much about how we go as it is about where we go. It's the precipice between ragged youthful folly and grownup capability. It's Captain America and Billy The Kid, which we guess makes the dog Jack Nicholson. We want to be on The Trip together, so we're taking a trip together. Come along dear reader, get on the road. Except you. Could you check our mail every few days and water the ficus?

Grace: We should be so lucky.

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