Saturday, January 25, 2014

"I only go in reverse"

So let me tell you what happened to me last Friday night. Mimosa and I had a jazzy evening planned; after I picked her up from recording the voice of the Giantess for her upcoming production of Into the Woods (she has two parts!), we planned to run a few quick errands (it was Handsome D's birthday on Saturday, I needed to get presents), then have a splendid dinner at Za and go see 12 Years a Slave — second attempt!

(The first time we tried, the pert ticketing cashier informed me, "It's not showing tonight — it's showing every other night this week." Then she gestured toward the likes of Lone Survivor and Anchorman 2 and The Chipmunks Save Chechnya and said, "Would you like to see something else?" Dude, we're here for 12 Years a Slave. What do you think?)

I get my shopping done, it's now 5 p.m., the Friday of a three-day weekend, and we're at the Fresh Pond Mall on the Fresh Pond Parkway — a four-lane strip that connects Arlington, Belmont, and Cambridge and where the traffic is heavy all the time but never more so than at rush hour, which begins at 3 on Fridays. The street is a parking lot, but no worries; our movie doesn't start till 7:10, we are only a mile or so from where we want to be, the night is ours!

I start the car and move forward to exit the parking lot — and my car promptly dies. I'm halfway blocking a parking "lane" now and trying to get over a speed bump. I start it again, put it in Drive again, and try to move forward. Instant death. And again. And again. And again.

I pull off my coat (I am now sweating like a working ox), take some calming Zen breaths, and try something different: Reverse. Eureka! My car will go in reverse! Now maybe I can work up some momentum to get over that speed bump!

Which I do . . . and then the car dies again.

And at this point I cry uncle. Even if I can successfully coax the car to move forward every 17 times I try, I don't want to be out in that non-moving block of rush-hour three-day-weekend traffic with those odds.

I reverse my way to a parking spot (and even with my flashers on, the other drivers around me did not seem to get that I was in distress; they thought I was simply being annoying, and they responded in kind) and call Triple A. "Where are you?" Ms. Triple A asks, and I reply, "At the Fresh Pond Mall, parked in the row between Sleepys and T J Maxx." "Okay," she says, "the tow truck will be there within 75 minutes, be sure to have your Triple A card ready." I thank her and settle in for the wait.

Fortunately, it was a temperate day, my phone was fully charged, and I had something to read. Husband was nearish and we were on his route home (his plan had been to pick up Li'l Martini and to go get matching haircuts and eat at Friendly's House o' Pain — boy night, girl night, in other words), so Mimosa elected to go with him. And then everything happened at once — Husband appeared to get Mimosa and my phone rang with an automated voice saying, "Your tow truck is here!"

I looked and looked around the vast parking lot . . . and saw nothing resembling a tow truck. And then my phone rang again.

"Where ARE you?" says my guy, in a thick townie accent. "Are you at the mall with Chipotle or . . . ?" I said, "Across the street, Fresh Pond Mall, the one with Whole Foods."

I'm not at Chipotle, I'm at Whole Foods. I think this is a metaphor.

"OK," he says, "be there in just a minute."

I look at the non-moving mass of cars that he will have to navigate across and think, Ha. See in 15  minutes.

But I didn't reckon with the mad skills of a professional tower; he was before my eyes within what felt like seconds. I obediently showed him my card. He ignored it and said, "Guess what?" I said, "?" He said, "There's a Sleepys on each side of the street."

Sho' nuff. There is indeed. Well, I guess you never really know when the urge to buy a mattress will strike you, right? You could be inbound, you could be outbound — and who wants to deal with crossing the street?

I showed him my card again, and he gave me A Look. "I don't care," he says. "So what's the problem here? You just need a jump?"

"No . . ." I say. "I only go in reverse."

He gave me another Look but then he laughed. "OK, then," he said. "Let's get 'er up. You can wait in the truck."

Inside the cab music was blaring and it happened to be a zumba song I know well, so, of course, I promptly began to do my routine (albeit while sitting comfortably in the cab). Tow Guy dealt with my car (while a small Chinese boy parked near us watched with great admiration — it was adorable) and then got in the cab and observed my smooth moves with bemusement.

I said, "My zumba teacher is very bossy, but she will be impressed to know that I did zumba to deal with my stress. If she doesn't believe me, can I have her call you?"

He said, "You're crazy." Then he thought it over and said, "Sure, have her call." And we were off!

He was a riot. We talked fast and furious and laughed hard as he sped through the back roads and byroads of Arlington, Cambridge, and Belmont. I saw alleys, I saw side streets, at one point I swear we crossed someone's back yard. He had me at my car place within 15 minutes (we also stopped for gas), and mirabile dictu, my car guy, Sweetie Louie, was still there. While Sweet Lou wrote up my problem ("She only goes in reverse") he asked if I needed any of my keys. I said, "No, my only plans for the weekend are to cry and drink," and Sweet Lou said, "Well, that's what I'm doing."

Bad-Ass Tow Guy, my new besty, drove me home, and we pulled into the driveway behind Husband and Li'l Martini. An adventure, to say the least. I plan to bring him some fresh-baked cookies and a six-pack of Sierra Nevada (the malted beverage of my hometown!), which I will do . . .

. . . just as soon as I have a car again!! It's been a week and a day, my car guys haven't even got to it yet, and I feel like I'm missing a limb. I hate not having my car! And of course I could rent one, but I also hate spending money when I don't have to, and we've been managing with one car (as many families do, I know). Poor Husband has done the bulk of the driving; he has been an angel.

Anyway — it's been a stressful week. And after that temperate Friday, Boston was slammed with a huge scary snowstorm again (snow mixed with ice) so we didn't end up celebrating with Handsome D and Mrs. Cynicletary after all, and his present sits on the bookcase by the front door.

And, if you're keeping track, this makes two aborted attempts to see 12 Years a Slave! I'm beginning to think that slavery is bad!!! (Seriously! Amy Poehler says she'll never look at slavery the same way again. I feel ya, sister.)

But in other news, I was diligent about exercise and eating lightly this week (so. many. apples!), even whilst embroiled in an editing job that had me glued to my work chair every day (as my flattened buttocks can attest), and finally, finally, my weight has returned to normal. Focusing on fiber and fresh produce has also seemed to help in the plumbing area (and that is the last I hope to speak of this), and while I still don't feel 100 percent myself, I'm less of a stranger — and that is something.

This week also saw the loss of two people I liked very much: Marlene, the hot-tamale wife of one of my former bosses, who has struggled with thyroid cancer almost as long as I've known her (we bonded over our thyroid surgery scars the night we met), and Dr. Angorn, the gentle, kind, and funny orthodontist who's overseen Li'l Martini's journey through palate expanders, retainers, tooth extraction, and Round 1 of braces. Both battled their respective illnesses for a long, long time. They were icons of courage and grace, and they will be deeply missed.

It's hard to know what to say after that.

I think . . . today I will be grateful for the life I have, for my relatively excellent health, and for the love that surrounds me. It's Chore Day, there's enough food in the house to scrape together a nice bag lunch for Mimosa (she has a full-day rehearsal — the show is next weekend!), my weight was down this morning, tonight we're having pizza and I don't have to cook. And I drank very little alcohol this week, so I can have a cocktail tonight. I have a new Maisie Dobbs book to read. All will be well.

Sending love and strength to anyone who is struggling right now, whether your concerns are spoken or unspoken.

Lady C


  1. oh sweetie, stay strong and live your life like you own it. sending lots of love xxx

  2. Right back at you, sweet friend. Sending lots of love and virtual *warmth* - I can't imagine the temps where you are. Hug a cow for me! xxx