Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The most expensive dinner/weekend ever


The following is based on actual events. Names have been changed and any likeness to real people or places is merely coincidental.


This is the tale of The Most Expensive Dinner Ever that turned into The Most Expensive Weekend Ever.

It started off just like any weekend should when you are heading to Kentucky to see your son win a Student Production Award. The babysitter arrived at 4:30 in the morning and we were on the road by 5:00. We did have a slight complication the day before when we realized that the best-running car in the King collection needed new brakes so we would have to go with Choice #2. But at least we didn’t have to take the King Bus.

We were enjoying the conversation with our New York City-traipsing eldest when, with only an hour and a half to go, we heard a noise, something seemed to be lodged in the right brake for a brief moment, and then the noise stopped. We briefly discussed the situation, all three of us deciding that it was no more than a branch that had been caught under the car, and continued our conversation.

And then The Good Doctor announced, “Battery light is on.” Then, “I’m overheating.” (He meant the car was overheating but within moments I’m sure he was starting to do the same.) Soon after, “All the lights are lighting up here.”

I’ve made this trek to Kentucky before. I know that there are miles and miles of nothingness with nary an exit in sight. There was that time Andrew and I were driving to college and the car needed gas. When we finally did locate a gas station (according to the GPS), we got off the exit and drove 5 miles before finding out that the gas station had closed years before and was already overgrown with brush.

But that was not our fate this time. Olive Hill was just around the corner and up the hill (obviously). By this time driving without power steering, we drove into the first  gas station where we found it was, indeed, no longer in operation (seemingly a common occurrence in Kentucky where presumably fewer and fewer people are needing gas for their vehicles?) but just up the hill a little farther there was a bp.

We pulled in with high hopes that lifting the lid and pouring a little of this here and a little of that there we’d soon be on our way, and a bathroom break for the humans for good measure. No problem. This is why we left at 5AM. We have a few hours to spare.


But The Good Doctor, pastor extraordinaire-turned car mechanic wanna-be, lifted the hood, ran a King’s Diagnostics Test and declared, “We’re gonna need a rental.”

Without smart phones, in the middle of Nowhere, Kentucky, at the only gas station without indoor plumbing, a knowledgeable attendant, or wifi.

Andrew taking over the typing: The attendant wasn’t the most friendly, either. The conversation went something like this.

Us: Excuse me, what exit are we on?

Attendant: I don’t know.

Us: We just need to know to tell the towing company.

Attendant: I don’t know.

Us: There is a major US highway that direction right?

Attendant: Yes.

Us: You get a lot of visitors driving through?

Attendant: Yes.

Us: What exit do they get off of to get here?

Attendant: I don’t know.

Us: Did you watch the baseball game last night?

Attendant: Yes.

Us: Who’s on First?

Attendant: I don’t know.

Us: Third base.


At that point, Dad and I went inside to check for rental and tow truck info. We got a bunch of numbers, went outside and began calling every Enterprise and Rent-A-Car in the area (including U-Haul, we were desperate). You know those Enterprise commercials that say “Pick Enterprise, we’ll pick you up,”? They should be replaced with the line “We’ll pick you up, unless you are in Olive Hill, Kentucky on a Saturday afternoon, then you’re on your own and you better remember where your friends in Kentucky live, if you even have friends in Kentucky.”

Fortunately, I have friends in Kentucky. Unfortunately I didn’t remember where they live. I started by calling famous celebrities in Kentucky, but J-Law was filming something in LA, William Shatner was out on a horseback ride, Josh Hutchinson was trying to grow taller and Johnny Depp was getting into character for his next Tim Burton role. With all the celebrities busy, I started calling as many KY Asbury students as I knew. I played phone tag for a while, calling Kentucky friend after Kentucky friend who couldn’t help but could point me to other Kentucky friends.

Me again: I prayed. God, let us get there in time for the red carpet. That’s all that matters here. In the meantime, send us a miracle that will get us there.


Spotting these men on horses coming down from the olive-less hills, I thought our miracle had arrived. Maybe we could start a new tradition of nominees arriving at the Emmys in and on unique transportation devices. At the least, we could be the subject of someone’s winning entry for next year. But alas, they bought their cigarettes and left. Without us.


About this time it was a toss up as to which one of us would take up smoking ourselves and use the conveniently placed gas station ash tray. Since we were in KY though, we took up dip instead.


It was time to start considering how I was going to look unshowered, with baseball cap, and fancy schmancy dress.

The miracle showed up in an Escape driven by the very handsome, winsome, chivalrous, courteous, muscular, Dwayne Johnson look-alike, film connoisseur we’ll call simply, “Coop”. Because that was his name.

About this time we received a text from the babysitter who had braved Chocolate World with one world class runner, one rule follower, and one very difficult yet adorable visually impaired blind child. It seems as if she had misplaced her keys and was wandering around the Hershey parking lot with formerly named crew in tow. Yeah, it was one of those days.

Coop ushered us into his Miracle Mobile and provided lively and entertaining conversation as he drove us the hour and a half where we could pick up our rental at the Lexington airport, the only place where we could find an Enterprise in all of Kentucky that does operate on a daily schedule, even on Saturdays.

(The Good Doctor assures me that we will call AAA and get signed up first thing in the morning.)

With all of our belongings now transferred into the very modern rental car (It doesn’t have a key. Who knew such a thing even existed?), and Coop sent on his way with a gift of gratitude for his services and the promise of a flowery recommendation if he should ever consider chauffeuring as a career, we were all set to head to our hotel to shower and change.

Except it was too far away and not enough time remained if we wanted to make it to what the email described as “the red carpet experience.”

So we found a McDonald’s. We entered as three disheveled, unshowered, weary travelers. We exited as three disheveled, unshowered, weary yet dressed up travelers.



We got that red carpet experience.

We also found ourselves at the most expensive meal ever. Minus air conditioning.

We should have eaten in the rental car.

But hey, we were here. We were dressed up. I even found a dress that cost me nothing. Well, actually it did cost me something when I bought it for my daughter’s prom but since she found it cheap on ebay and since we never thought it’d be worn more than once, well, I guess you could say it didn’t cost me anything. Except for a tow, car repairs, a rental…You get the picture.

We hobnobbed with the elite. Andrew got a lot of feedback from professionals in the field. He even discussed a possible internship with a professional but after asking for the man’s card, realized that he had applied for said internship and was turned down. That’s okay. Andrew’s now in New York. This guy’s still in Kentucky.



He got his award. He thanked his parents – because they were in attendance. And Coop.




We were proud. Very proud.

And we even got to hear a speech by Nick Clooney (yes, father of George) who was inducted into the Gold Circle of the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.



For the record, Andrew would like it to be known that he did suggest we leave a day early. “Just in case we have car trouble or something like that.”

A good time was had by all.

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