Friday, August 31, 2012

Y2 Day 2: But I Didn't Turn to Drink

As previously mentioned, Husband is in Hyde Park till Monday and I'm single-parenting.

The day started nicely enough; Mimosa and I didn't take a walk, but I weighed myself and my weight is only up a pound from what it was before I left (a small miracle!), I convinced Mr. Critic's mom to let me drive the shift I wanted for the boys' LARPy class (I still don't really know what it is, but they are obsessed with it), Li'l Martini had his final math tutoring session, which went very well — his tutor looooves him and thinks he's such a smarty! — and the kids and I enjoyed a wildly delish breakfast at our favorite greasy spoon, Lunch Box Diner in Malden (thickest fluffiest freshest blueberry pancakes ever!). A lovely beginning to our lovely Labor Day weekend and official celebration of the End of Summer.

And then . . . we took a very wrong turn and found ourselves in the express lane to Stressburg.

First, a side note: I had no idea how many high school activities occur during the last week of August! School doesn't freaking start until September 6, but Mimosa has already missed volleyball team tryouts, Freshman Orientation, and School Picture Day. She can attend a make-up orientation with the foreign exchange students (color her so excited) and she'll have her picture taken on Retake Day, no big, but getting the volleyball coach to (a) return my e-mails and (b) schedule a different time for her to try out for the team has been the big challenge of July and August. In the meantime, there's some huge scandal in the high school athletics department and the person I'm semi-communicating with was just promoted to JV coach, so now I'm dealing with a new entity for freshman coach, and as of 9:45 a.m. today I hadn't heard from him.

Flash-forward to post-diner breakfast: As I dropped off our CSA basket at the home of the friend I share with, the battery light on my dashboard came on and wouldn't go off. Bad news, my car manual told me; go see your mechanic. OK, no problem, but I came in the house first to check my e-mail, and there's a note from Freshman Coach: Practice today is 1–3; Mimosa is welcome to join us! It was now 1:22. I hollered to Mimosa to get her workout clothes on, and we dashed to the high school . . .

. . .  when it occurred to me that I only know one H.S. gym, the Blue Gym where I do zumba, and I think there are at least three gyms, the locations of which are unknown to me. Fingers crossed, I led her on the Hansel and Gretel trail to the Blue Gym, which was securely locked, dark, and silent. We did our level best to find another gym, even driving all around the school, but it was not to be.

In the meantime my battery light continued to glow, as angry red and pulsating as a boil.

We bagged the idea of volleyball and pulled into Grey-Patti Sunoco, where my darling mechanic Mr. Cutie-Patti, who has cared for my cars since my Planned Parenthood days*, informed me that my alternator is dead. "But . . ." I stammered, "I'm driving two boys to Burlington today." "Not in this car," said Cutie-Patti, giving me a stern look. Yes, I get the message, Dad.

And besides Burlington: I've bought expensive non-refundable tickets to take the kids to Coco Keyes tomorrow, an indoor "resort" that they've been looking forward to all summer. (We're doing this in lieu of our craptastic Seaport, N.H., motel, where we traditionally spend Labor Day weekend. But I've already traveled so much this summer, packing yet another suitcase held no appeal, and the kids loved the idea of doing jazzy day trips instead.) Coco Keyes is in Danvers, a fur piece away. What to do, what to do.

What I really really really wanted to do was crack open a bottle of wine, grab a straw, and down that baby.

But I didn't. Instead, I mustered my wits.

<<cue John Williams's Indiana Jones theme music now>>

Enterprise Rental Car to the rescue! A nice young man picked me up at my house and took me to the car place, where another nice young man asked me about the features that were most important to me. "Cheap," I said. "Well . . ." he answered, "you rented our Economy model — but if you got a mini-van, that's actually ten dollars cheaper."

Honestly, this gave me pause. I have never driven a mini-van in my life, I drive tiny cars (I drove a Festiva for years, the auto equivalent of a skateboard), and I started to say no. Then two things occurred to me: I will save forty bucks and For the last five days I've been driving a freaking Volkswagen bus** with no trouble, how much harder can this be? So I said yes and am now tooling around in a sporty bright red behemoth, which I have already parallel-parked, thank you very much. Oh, and my transformation into suburban soccer mom is now complete. It's all Mom jeans and hands-free headsets from here.

Mr. Cutie-Patti will fix my alternator on Wednesday, but I am giving serious thought to sending my 1998 Honda Civic to "live on a farm." It's been a great car for a long time (and still doesn't have 100K miles on it!) but maybe it's time to cry uncle. We'll see.

And in other news, Freshman Coach e-mailed me, and he sounds like a perfect peach; he apologized profusely for not telling me where practice was (which, he said, occurred to him at 2 p.m.) and nicely invited Mimosa to come to the next two practices, which will serve as her "tryout." This sounds great to me and will give her ample time to deal with any butterflies she has.

So, all's well that ends well, I guess. Except for having to spend $170 I hadn't planned to spend — but it is a million times better to know about the alternator now, when I have good options, rather than on the road to Danvers on Labor Day, when I am totally hosed. God is good, and life is sweet.

Oh, and I did have a glass of wine, but much later, when everyone was safely home and fed; we settled down with BLTs and fresh fruit to watch a marathon of Gravity Falls, an animated show we all love. Then Martini went upstairs to watch wrestling, and Mimosa and I watched three episodes from Season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. An excellent Friday night, all around.

I didn't exercise, but I think the stress wore off at least a pound. We'll see what the scale says tomorrow.

Hasta la vista, babycakes.

—Lady C, habitual stress drinker, possibly turning over new leaf

* When I worked there, I mean — 1987–1991.

** The bus is Mom's second baby; we've had it since, I think, 1972, and she has lovingly restored it many times. It's the car each Chardonnay kid learned to drive in — and dude, if you can drive a 1972 VW bus, you can truly drive anything. (I learned this during a Candy Striper car wash, when a trucker left his dirt-encrusted rig for us and went out to lunch; we finished way earlier than he expected, and I was the only one capable of moving it. Seventeen years old, and I drove that truck like I was born to it.)

(Well, I was their president. That's just good leadership.)


  1. MR. Lady Chardonnay (aka Husband)September 1, 2012 at 1:59 AM

    Oh my God! Honey! Do you need me to come home? With my car? I'll do whatever you need!!

  2. "That's just good leadership" indeed! You are a beacon of hope to us all! I'm glad you home and blogging again!