We carpool with my daughter ‘s friend Lilly. It’s just two twelve-year olds, but the morning chatter runs from amusing to why didn’t I take that codeine. When you drive to school, you are invisible. You are a pair of hands on the wheel. But you do sprout extra ears, and everything I know, I learned in carpool. This year, as sixth-grade girls, the yakking took a decidedly shallow turn. I tune out cute boys, mean girls, and lip gloss – but once in a while, they turn in something good.
Our family has played “Last Meal” many times – what would you eat, and how would you choose? How many courses do you get? Lilly was intrigued, so Josie quickly showed her hand.
“I would start with dim sum,” she said.
“What?” said Lilly.
“You know, the Chinese appetizers. Dumplings and stuff.”
“Oh right! I would have dumplings too. Chicken.”
Josie continued. “Then, a big sausage and mushroom pizza from Lou Malnati’s. And their salad.”
That’s my girl. The tomato-gorgonzola salad is to die for.
Lilly swung in. “Sushi,” she said, “that Crunchy Munchy roll from Yokohama.”
“I LOVE that! Crunchy Munchy is so awesome.”
“I like the Crunchy Munchy roll, ” I said, turning left, “the spicy crab is good, huh?”
Silence. Okay, shut up and drive.
“What should we drink?” Lilly said. “I love ginger ale. Not too much ice, though.”
“Yeah,” Josie said, “we should have ginger ale. Do we get an after-dinner thing? Hot chocolate?”
Lilly thought they could have an after-dinner thing. Why not? It was their last meal.
“Okay then,” said Josie. “I want a big chai latte.”
I turn up the radio, boring NPR. Wow. Precocious darlings, or spoiled brats?
“BUFFALO WINGS!” Josie screamed. “We forgot WINGS!!”
“Wings!!!” Lilly shrieked, “but with mild sauce.”
“I want mine super Buffalo hot,” Josie said, “we’re getting different meals.”
“So for dessert I want tiramisu,” said Lilly. “Isn’t that like, made from cheese?”
Yes, it’s cheese. Red light. Christ, can this meal end?
Josie picked key lime pie, “a whole one.” As we turned toward the parking lot, she wrapped it up.
“Okay. We’ve got sushi, pizza, dim sum, dessert, drinks – did we miss anything?”
“But it’s all from different places,” Lilly said, “will we be able to get all that stuff together?”
They looked at me. Oh sure, now they need me, now they need the driver because she knows the rules.
“You can get anything for your Last Meal,” I said, putting the car in park, “from anywhere. Do you guys want to hear mine? I’d have deep dish pizza too, and…”
They grabbed their bags and jumped out.