Monday, May 25, 2015

500 Hundred Words, Day 5, 6, and the Bulk of 7 -- In Which I Drain My Car Battery Charging My Cellphone

When I get a spare couple of hours, I like to hike.   I call it hiking but let's face it, it's really more like walking.  There are hills involved though, and the footpath is not paved. I have learned to take some ibuprofen before I start which is just humiliating even to admit but fuck it I’m 52 and life’s too short to be proud about such things.    So let's just call it strenuous walking and tell hyperbole to take a hike.  Haha.   

Memorial Day, May 26, 2014.   It’s a day to honor our war dead, never forget, and I do honor and I don’t forget.  I've always said that I may not agree with our reasons for going to war, but I have massive respect and admiration for people who make the decision to put themselves in harm’s way for a cause they believe in.  And supreme sympathy for those whose government wrestled away their right to make that decision for themselves.  

Now, imagine the (station) wagons circling

I figured the best way I can honor these patriotic men and women of principle is to spend the day in Nature.  Thousands of my affluent suburban homies (the former two terms being redundant and the latter two oxymoronic) appeared to have had the same idea.  The parking lots at the Nature Preserve (five of them, because overkill and unintentional irony are the hallmarks of affluent suburbs everywhere) were full to capacity, and when I arrived, the second or maybe even third wave of the day's cars are circling, watching, waiting to pounce on the elusive parking spot.   I spied mine open up and secured it by recklessly shooting into the lot through the exit, something I would never ordinarily do because, and you may not know this about me, I’m incapacitatingly rule-bound.

You would think, having jostled and maneuvered and finagled my way one step (haha again) closer to my objective, I’d have jumped out of the car and laced up my walking slash hiking shoes (they’re called “trail-runners” actually, to further confuse the nature of this activity), eager to be on my way through the unpaved but well-worn trails of the Open Space.  
What the flip would you call these, then, eh?

But you'd be wrong.  

Social media addiction is a killer disease.   “Oh look a notification, let me just take a quick sec to see what’s doing in my online world.”   I began to scroll, smirking at Facebook, giggle-shuddering at OkCupid (MrCunnilingus4U omg are you serious right now?), scowling at email from my not-even-close-to-being-my-ex-yet.  

Oblivious to the other would-be hikers who must have been peering, then glaring at me through the windows of their minivans and SUVs.

(hey lady why are you sitting there in your car when you’re supposed to be hiking or maybe walking hey lady are you leaving or waiting for your ibu to kick in or what)

Engrossed in my phone and how it transports me to a world where people think I’m hilarious and inspiring and to whom I relate better than virtually (haha) anyone I know IRL.  

Aware that the battery was low when I left home, I had hooked up the car charger for the perhaps twelve-minute drive to the Open Space, figuring that some’s better than none, which is a guiding principle for life if ever there was one.   However, I had failed to notice that I had only partially executed that task, and that the key was now merely pointing to the place on the starter marked “Access” which means “Hey. Dummy. That’s not all the way off.”

But a phone charger won’t drain the battery in and of itself, you may be protesting.  True, but let us not forget that in addition to being compulsively rule-bound, I also am a slave to routine.   Which in this case included turning on my headlights even in the daytime because (more irony) the trip from my house to Nature involves six minutes on the freeway, and I like to be safe.   

Add to this incipient clusterfuck the fact that when engaged by something that particularly interests me, I can hold the breath of my attention and swim under the water of absorption for upwards of an hour without noticing.   In this case, the car battery gave out before my metaphorical lungs did.

I heard that funny noise my phone makes when it begins recharging, and somewhat more important, when for whatever reason, say oh I don’t know, like THE CAR BATTERY HAS GONE COMPLETELY DEAD, it stops.   The phone battery was full to capacity, but the car battery was the collateral damage.  Once again, Irony, never far from my heart, was on the spot with a rueful grin:  I had a ton of charge available to call Triple-A (for a jump in an Open Space Nature Preserve on a Federal Holiday), to call my son to let him know I would be late picking him up (from the tutoring session that I had forced him go to on a Federal Holiday), and to call my ex (gulp) to confess what happened (gulp) and ask the favor (gulp) of picking up our son in my place (gulpitty gulp gulp gulp).

In what can only be described as cinematographic timing, the couple who had parked their car in the spot next to mine returned seconds before the arrival of the Triple A guy.  This to the consternation of the family in the waiting minivan who had had their signal on and everything (dear god please let them not be the same people from an hour ago how did they seriously not either find
Don't forget to ground yourself from all that negativity
a place to park or give up and go home).  The Triple A guy, a BAMF and a mensch, as those dudes tend to be, jumped my car with a sympathetic smile, and gave me the obligatory spiel about driving around for at least 20 minutes to perk up my electrical system and nurse it back to health.  

I called my ex back to give him an update, it was a good thing I did.  It turned out he had lent his car to our daughter, Troubled, although I had forbidden her to drive as a consequence of a some pivotal events of The Nightmare Years™, the story of which involves drug trafficking and pathological parental irresponsibility, and can be found elsewhere in these pages.  The 50-Teen Formerly Known as Mr. K. had only remembered after he went out to the driveway to discover, with what I imagine was much head-scratching and consternation, that the vehicle in question simply wasn’t there.   

With a stab of resentful glee, I un-gulpitty-gulp-gulp-gulped.  Yes!  Vindication was mine.  Every single time I have ever needed that man-boy-person ever in the history of evereverever, he has let me down.  Once again, the bad news was that my son would be inconvenienced, once again, the good news was I could be the hero(ine) who saved the situation I had unwittingly created in the first place.  

I pulled into the parking lot of the tutoring center (noting with a rueful grin the enormous selection of spaces) and, leaving the motor running (good remembering!), texted my son that I was here to pick him up after all.  He came out to the car and I explained what happened.  He didn't ask why I was there instead of dad, and I didn't volunteer because I’m nothing if not magnanimous.  I dropped him at home, told him to enjoy the rest of his Federal Holiday, and headed for the freeway where, with my headlights on in the daytime, I spent the rest of both the afternoon and a tank of gas breathing life into my old tired battery, and regretting, but only for a fleeting moment, the waste of a perfectly good dose of pre-ambulatory ibuprofen.  

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I'm only 40 and I need the ibu. I need some right now, actually...
    Amazing writing, as always my dear. I love the 500 Words a Day experiment (cuz science, yo) because I get more Klonnie.