I’ve penned some thoughts about what us writers and readers should maybe think about…
I’ve penned some thoughts about what us writers and readers should maybe think about…
This morning, I woke early to continue work on “Destruction.”
Ironically, it has nothing to do with a grotesque, ginger-haired pathological liar of a dark prince whose empty promises and business ties somehow turned his practical joke into an actual job (of running a wealthy country).
Not too long ago, on a sunny Wednesday, I sat waiting a few seconds for the freeway on-ramp signal to let me on with a green. I had a trunk full of groceries and I was in a hurry to pick up my daughter from school. Let me say it now: I have no trouble driving a Swagger Wagon (my ego having been shredded long before fatherhood). It’s my job.
Next to me was a shiny black Camaro. It could’ve been brand-new, or not. I don’t pay attention to muscle cars. But it looked good.
When the Camaro’s driver got the green ahead of me, he stomped on the accelerator. However it works, his wheels started going too fast–I sensed what was going to happen–and the car spun out of control. A hundred feet from me, it curled across the ramp and hit the concrete barrier head-on. Sparks, debris flying, blue smoke from the tires, everything. The driver hadn’t been ejected. At 30 m.p.h., it seemed unlikely he was unhurt any more than his air bags and seat belt would allow.
Like I said, I was in a hurry, and I didn’t think this guy would be hurt. Off I went.
For the next hour, questions popped in my mind. Who was this fellow? (The car suggests a white-male occupant in his 30s to 50s. I can say that, as I’m well aware of my own demographic.) Was that an ego show for me (in a hard-to-miss minivan) or someone else? How do you explain this one to your car insurance company? Is this what police always mean when they respond to ‘single-car accidents’?
More than anything, I wonder what this dude was thinking. Sunny day, dry pavement, big engine. Why not see what this baby can do? (Getting onto a Seattle freeway, which is usually too crowded for anything above 75 m.p.h.) Yup, the whole thing seems idiotic, the driver as immature as a motorist can be. Especially considering this was a total pooch-screw, as in the car was totaled. (Those sparks weren’t just gratuitous fireworks for my benefit.)
The aftermath, I imagine, would include two hours of delays on the ramp, a police report, a flatbed driver trying not to show amusement (that was one shiny piece of scrap metal he’d be hauling off) and lots of explanation. A staggering blunder had happened. There was wreckage. There would be cost (how much to be determined by who’s paying and how the driver sold whatever story). Some people would know the truth.
All in all, this was a minor event. Nobody hurt, not too many people affected, only expensive in relative terms.
Still, it made an impression on me. And why is it I’ve thought of this wreck every day since 11/8/2016?
I’m the Duke of Disappointment
Rolling down Regret Ave.
Making a left onto Mistake Way
The King of Cock-it-up
Keeps showing his hand
To ruin your holiday
–Justin Edison (who’s so proud of himself for crafting song lyrics)
[The following should be read the way I’m thinking it, which is in my friend’s Manchester, UK accent. Don’t ask me why.]
Awake at 1:10 am after three hours of crappy sleep. On my son’s lower bunk. Yay.
The year of 2017 is not off to a bang, shall we say. Let’s review.
On Sunday the 1st, I played so-so in soccer (one decent shot on goal–blocked–and three or four muffed passes). Not stellar, but okay. Getting back to the car, I realize I’d somehow locked my keys in. You’re not supposed to be able to do with with a 2014 Toyota. Regardless, I found the magic. My keys were, naturally, in a Ziploc bag with my phone and wallet. Awesome. This is also 15 miles from my house, and probably 13 miles from where my wife took the kids to the hospital to hang out for a bit. So this moment, by the way, was a blend of hopeless despair, stupidity and wondering which elves or Leprechauns I’d pissed off (to deserve such a fate).
After pacing about pondering and then attempting an act of violence against my car–the tree branch wasn’t heavy enough against the passenger window–I asked a pedestrian if he had a phone. He didn’t, but he kindly let me use his house phone just up the way. AAA to the rescue. The neighbor and his wife offered me coffee and a warm place to wait (I was still in sweaty soccer clothes) but I declined. Good time for me to ponder some more. Back to the car, 34 degrees (1 degree Celsius?) but sunny, I paced until the locksmith rolled up. Nice guy. He gave me his card, got out his doohickies (Can I still say that in 2017?) and popped the lock in less than two minutes. Amazing.
The rest of the day got better. Kids back home, everyone fed and entertained. We had the neighbors’ kids over for pizza and a movie so they could go out and be adults (Wouldn’t that be nice?). I’m already a week into a carbs-are-Satan eating regimen (Dare I use that other word?) so I got my pizza fix by mutilating a few slices. Rather than the cardinal sin of old, cheese is very okay for my current plan. I’m not a cheese fan, but okay.
Yesterday, Jan. 2nd, I made my daughter Erin cry twice. Super-awesome.
First, my son went with a friend and his mother to ski up at Snoqualmie Pass. They’re going to be on the ski bus together, so this was a familiarity run. My daughter loves snow, but she’s been fighting a nasty cold, so I had no inclination to take her up as well. Besides, she starts ski lessons on Saturday, five days away. Not big deal. Wrong. To her, a very big deal. Snow is special. And her brother will get to the white stuff twice before she does.
Sometimes, it’s very very difficult to launch into my “Suck-it-up, Buttercup” routine. I’ve made Erin cry many times (though this was kinda circumstantial) and I have sympathy. To my nine-year-old, many things are special. Either way, a half-hour cry fest ensued, with her curled up behind the couch and ripping through tissues. (Anyone remember that Sideshow Bob line from The Simpsons? “Son, if you don’t clean that up, I’m gonna tear you up like a Kleenex at a snot party.” With her, it’s like that.)
I did remind her she was probably overtired from the break, when she’d stay up until 10:30 or 11pm every night (and not catch up on sleep the next morning). This despite the countless times I told the kids they weren’t getting enough sleep. In our house, I’m Bad Cop. It’s my job.
So, okay. All cried out, Lego Pirates of the Caribbean to the rescue. Then lunch and the real movie–the first one–while I got to work taking down Christmas tree ornaments.
That afternoon, about 40 hours into the new year, Erin accidentally drooled toothpaste slobber onto her new favorite shirt. It’s a green WWF sloth T-shirt (very cool) I got her for Xmas. Truth be told, my daughter is a klutz. I don’t say that in a mean way–it’s simply the ironclad truth. Freddie Mercury could sing. Serena Williams hits a wicked tennis ball. My daughter, she does things that make me sigh or groan on a daily basis. Luanne and I have already started a list of occupations and settings for which said child will not take part.
Once again, she’s nine. And I’ve been witness to so many of these careless errors countless times that I’ve gotten on her before, once or twice, about correcting her ways. For example, my son’s place at the dinner table is pristine compared to hers, and he’s anything but a neat freak. If we ever took part in the rent-a-pooch program (to clean up after meals) it would only be for her side.
So this time, when Erin got drool on her new favorite shirt (maybe the fifth time she’s done so) my temper got the better of me. The shirt was probably ruined. Toothpaste (I know from previous incidents) is unforgivable. So I reminded her how she doesn’t learn from her mistakes (this is true) and how she wouldn’t be able to wear the shirt to school with a big white splotch on the front.
Crying fit number two. Swish.
A half-hour later, hugs and snot while sitting on the bathroom floor, episode concluded. My wife decided not to drop a piano on my head, probably on account of the inconvenience. Hard to arrange these things on a Monday afternoon. Instead, the girls decided to end the break with something special, and engage in Evil. This is what we call it when they make chocolate-chip cookies.
Luanne would be the first to admit that her cookies are not out-of-this-world delicious. Though quite good, they contain no magic ingredients other than the Nestle Tollhouse recipe. And, I should note, she is not particularly evil herself. She’d also like to slim down via starvation disguised as a restricted eating regimen, so this wasn’t just about sticking it to Dad. But she and Erin like making cookies and there we go.
By the way, if you’ve never had to face down the temptation of forbidden cookies (and scraps of cookie dough) it’s not fun. For me, this was after damned-near 168 hours (yup, I’m counting) of eating no chocolate or sweets or villainous carbs of any kind. I can’t even sub for it by gnoshing on apples. Not allowed.
In September, while I was out raking leaves, somebody drove by in a beautiful black Ferrari. The car was close enough for me to touch. Not for me.
“Pirates of the Caribbean” is set in a tropical world that would be super-cool to wander about for a while. But it’s not what I really want (I’m neither pirate nor maritime man.)
Instead, I want a cookie. I want my kids and wife to be happy. I want my novels to sell well (increasingly unlikely). I want some kind of success.
Fat chance, Daddio. Too busy holding out Kleenexes and committing acts of stunning klutzery for anything else.