The Adventures of
Garlic Man and Wedgie Woman
Let’s start at the beginning
I am Michelle Lovato. Vince Lovato is my husband of more than 25 years now and we raised three beautiful girls together.
Though it may look to those outside our immediate nucleus that Vince and I spent that time creating a close, perfect relationship from the time we met, that little misnomer is not quite true.
Between the two of us and our unique, unfiltered personalities, Vince and I accomplished two important goals in the past quarter century: We loved our children and each other boldly, creatively and without conditions.
We gave up fame for family, fun outside with friends for fun found in the little personalities that would one day grow up and pass our legacy of love along and become the pavement on our road to the future.
Vince and Michelle Lovato are “Mom” and “Dad,” “Lovey” and “Pie.” In this world we are “God’s children,” “Genuine” and “Imperfect.”
Let me share my life with you through a column I’ve been writing for 16 years, “The Adventures of Garlic Man and Wedgy Woman.”
The following first appeared in The San Bernardino County Sun during August 2001. The girls were in elementary and middle school. Vince and I worked at the Sun as reporters.
So what’s the big deal about football?
By Michelle Lovato, Wedgy Woman
Picture this. A 330-pound madman driving a cheap foreign car at an unreasonably high rate of speed down pocked rural roads with only a “Hello Kitty” shoulder-strap cover for protection.
His mania was inspired by a combination of the year’s first Rams pre-season game being showcased on a big-screen TV, and the 40-minute drive had only 30 minutes to make.
I don’t have to picture it. I lived it.
Our three girls were super glued to the back seat, hair being sucked out the windows, eyes open wide, and mouths silent – dead silent – from fear of what father might do if distracted from driving.
Had inertia not wedged my eyes into the top of my head, they would have rolled up there anyway out of disgust for the madman’s exaggerated effort to catch a silly pre-season kick-off.
Vince’s white-knuckled hands strangled the steering wheel as he leaned forward in a juvenile attempt to increase his speed. We took a set of railroad tracks airborne and landed with a double thud; one thud for Vince and the car and one thud for the rest of us, with the exception of Brandie, our youngest child, who is considerably smaller than her sisters.
Brandie was momentarily detained by the flip that landed her back-first atop the rigid knees of her sisters.
In season, rural Route 66 (in the desert of Southern California) can offer lovely landscapes, vistas of grassy alfalfa fields burgeoning with life and begging for harvest.
But the most attractive aspect about this trip was the fact the steaming tar ribbon is usually empty of – and is blessed with – an absence of stop lights. The only real driving challenge is avoiding car sickness and looking out for the teeming population of endangered desert tortoises.
In times past, our car has actually traversed the harmoniously gentle dips and hills that texture the old road with wheels set firmly on the ground.
But during this particular experience, we simply hopped from peak to peak, thud-thud to thud-thud.
A smile replaced my frightful stare when the Mother Road gave way to the city of our destination – Barstow.
The determined madman was not enjoying his serendipity while enduring an inordinately long stop light at the bottom of a mammoth hill that had claimed the life of at least one other power-challenged economy car our family had the pleasure of owning.
Admittedly, in the past, some concerned and loving friends have witnessed our family in motion and mentioned that watching our, well, slightly rotund family, while piled into our, well, slightly gutless car, was like watching a Shriner ride a Tonka truck while carrying an elephant on his back.
That’s okay. Now is the time for us all to lean forward.
So with the pedal to the metal we sped inches up the long incline at an unclockable rate of speed. A quick decision was make about which of us would jump out and push. Brandie lost. After all, she was out of her seat belt and closest to the door. Luckily for her, just as the littlest girl began exiting the car, we were rear-ended by a desert tortoise, which gave us a jolt strong enough to advance us a few yards and motivate our nearly-dead horse to huff it to the top.
It wasn’t long before we found ourselves dangerously close to missing the kick-off on mother’s TV. We rounded the last corner by Mom’s house, and Vince, with quick reflexes and impressive maneuvering dislodged himself from the “Hello Kitty” should strap cover, opened the door and began to survey the possible pain to be incurred by exiting a moving vehicle. Shock washed over me. Surely he would park the car! Wouldn’t he?
God loves a chicken, and so do I. Thankfully, Vince chose to avoid the jump, pulled the car to a screeching halt steps from one of Mom’s prized almond trees and leaped, head and leg, arm and belly, out of the car.
The girls giggled as the madman, finding himself on the one-yard-line going in for the touchdown, abandoned the keys, the parking brake and the family, grabbed an imaginary football in his arms and took off across the front yard. Barreling through the wrought-iron gate with body crouched, shoulder forward and veins protruding attractively in the setting sun, Vince pressed on to score.
Through the courtyard, through the door, and through the dining room, the madman was determined to see the first play of the game.
Knowing her son, Mom was prepared with her TV tuned in and the volume tuned up.
Vince tackled the couch like a teenage boy on his first date, scooping up two pillows and a bag of chips for replenishment. As he looked toward the giant, glowing wonder before him, Brandie burst through the door.
“That was cool, Dad. Can we do it again?”
Vince was just in time for the pre-game show.