Friday, November 07, 2014

Flashback Friday Is Like Throwback Thursday Only A Day Later Because I Forgot!

I thought about going with "Frowback Friday." That would've worked too, right?

It's weird to think that back in 2008 Obama, the Democrats, and speed dial were all a thing.  For everyone who didn't bother to go vote on Tuesday, THANKS! I appreciate your willingness to let an ignorant subset of our society pick our leaders, and I look forward to the continued transformation of our country into a science-denying, racist, militaristic plutocracy.  Anyway, here's a post from when I was slightly more optimistic.  It first ran on November 10, 2008.

Comments I added today are in red; note the helpful color coding in case you were unfamiliar with the color red! Thinking The Lions goes the extra mile for you.

Instant Karma Has The Boy On Speed Dial.

I cannot concentrate on a single thing right now and haven't been able to all morning because my shoelaces are unevenly tightened.

It's driving me so crazy that I can't even focus on whether or not The Boy might have been responsible for his car accident this morning. Sweetie thinks maybe I'm overreacting. To the car accident, not the shoelace thing. I haven't told Sweetie about the shoelace thing because I don't think that's a conversation I can have and still have Sweetie respect me. Imagine this:

Me: Sweetie, sit down, I have to tell you something.

Sweetie: What is it?

Me: (with a grave look on my face): This morning, when I tied my shoes while Mr Bunches was climbing on the bed and playing with your "Hello Kitty" stuffed animal, the small one, I tied the left shoe and then got my cell phone and took a picture of Mr Bunches because it was cute, and then I went and tied the right one, but they were uneven, so I had to re-tie the right one, but then I thought maybe the LEFT one was the problem because they were still uneven, so I re-tied that one, but now the LEFT one was a little too tight so I had to undo it and re-tie it to try to make it be in sync with the right one, which now was a little looser than the left one, but I was running late so I grabbed Mr Bunches and we went back downstairs and that's why I was distracted during the drive to work, the drive you had to do to take me to work because my car is in the shop making that FOUR cars in the shop in one week, what with the accident, but it wasn't the accident that was distracting me, it was the right shoelace, which was now tighter than the left one. So when I got to work, I re-tied each shoe several times and then finally I was just trying to live with it by loosening up the right shoe a great deal but the left shoe, then, which was tied the way shoes are supposed to be, not too tight and not too loose, now felt, comparatively speaking, far too tight because the right shoe was barely tied and I'm doing whatever I can to distract myself because I don't want to redo my shoelaces for the umpteenth time today because it's only a matter of time until someone at work notices me doing that, and also, "whatever I can to distract myself" clearly does not include "actually doing the work I'm supposed to be doing."

Sweetie: How much of the cold medicine did you take?

Also, I just now redid my left shoelace, so both of my shoes are now basically "tied" in appearance only; they're not really tight enough to count as "tied," but if you look at them they'll appear to be tied.

I'm never going to make it through the day.

The Shoelace Dilemma is at least distracting me a little bit from wondering whether The Boy is being honest with me about the accident he had this morning. He wasn't hurt at all in the accident, which is why I can say this as a loving, concerned, dedicated parent: It serves him right.

It serves The Boy right, getting into an accident, because The Boy only had his car available to get into an accident because he complained so much about my original plans to take his car to work today that I finally gave in and told him he could take his car (which we call "Vertie," that being short for "conVERTible")

This car was a convertible. We bought it for a thousand bucks from a guy on the other side of town.  I think the car was not a very great car.  I think the car was going to die in about five days, but as it turned out, the car got into another accident -- yeah I know The Boy should not have ever been allowed to drive -- and we made a deal with the guy whose son caused the accident and they paid us more than the actual value of the car so everyone was happy, except The Boy, who no longer had a car, and the guy who had to pay us for the car.  Anyway, I was happy.

 to school and I would have Sweetie drive me to work and I would take the bus home, because taking the bus home would let me start reading Infinite Jest, the new book I bought last night;

OH MY GOD I HATED THAT BOOK.  It is the only book I hated more than I hated Ulysses, and I hated Ulysses a LOT.  But Infinite Jest was worse.  As books go, Infinite Jest was the equivalent of a punch in the face. I read 70 pages, and I still regret it. David Foster Wallace's estate should give me $17.  In fact, they should give me $18, and then everyone would be happy. Or I would, at least. Actually, I wouldn't, because I would still remember (a) having wasted my always-meager book allowance on that book, (b) having wasted my always-meager time on that book, and (c) my regret over both which still carries on to this day.  I regret very few things in my life but trying to read Infinite Jest was definitely one of them.

I was going to start reading it no matter what today, so it's better that I take the bus because society frowns on people reading their new books while driving themselves through rush hour traffic.

Stupid society.  I mean that. Did you see who it elected this week? We could improve society a lot by allowing people to read and text all they want while driving. And by "people" I mean "the majority of the Senate and House."

I needed to do something to get to work because my car is in the shop to find out why the "check engine" light is on; my "check engine" light came on

I still own that car. I no longer take it to the shop for the "check engine" light. I took it twice last fall for the light and paid $1,200 between the two trips and the "check engine" light came on again in late December, when we always run out of money.  So I never got it fixed and 11 months later it's still on.  I like to think of it as a little beacon of hope, shining in the distance for me.  It's better than imagining that the engine is slowly building up to a thermonuclear explosion that will wipe out most of Western society but which could've been prevented if I'd changed the oil.  

Although I think the election on Tuesday already started the process of wiping out most of Western society.  Fine, I'll try to stop that.

shortly after Sweetie's "check engine" light came on last week, and because Sweetie is in charge, her car got to go into the shop first. Her check engine light, it turns out, was on because her gas cap was not on tight enough.

First of all, why is that even an alert? Why does the car need to notify the owner, via an ambiguous light that could mean "your transmission will die in 2 minutes" and could mean "Your husband didn't tighten your gas cap enough at the PDQ when he got gas because he was distracted by wondering whether he should pick up two of those "2 for $1 Beef Jerkies" 

Now I'm craving nitrates.

they only sell at convenience stores, which makes sense because beef jerky really is a very convenient food." Why does the car need to notify the owner of that at all? When I used to work in a gas station in the way-olden days (pre-2002), we were always finding gas caps laying around and putting them in a box and laughing at the people who left them behind, because, hey, we worked in a gas station and needed something to make us feel superior to all those people who would come in to buy gas and then go on their way to real jobs and interesting lives, jobs and lives that did not involve, as the high point of the day, seeing what it tasted like if you mixed all the sodas from the soda fountain into one giant mixture.

And now I want one of those, too. PS I went on a diet last week that lasted only 30 hours.

Were all those people who left their gas caps behind doomed to wander the earth with their "check engine" light on? I doubt it; that was the early 90s and in those heartier times, people didn't care if they screwed on their gas caps.

Man, these shoelaces are making me crazy.

So after Sweetie's car came out of the shop, The Boy's car had to go into the shop to see what was wrong with it -- the mechanic's diagnosis, I'm pretty sure, was this: It's a 1991 car that you bought for $1,000. What ISN'T wrong with it?-- and then, finally, my car got to go into the shop to see why the "check engine" light was on, only I didn't get it in there until late on Friday night, so it won't be done until at least tonight, so I was without a car this morning, and my options were to take The Boy's car or have Sweetie drive me, because she had errands to do and Middle had to be at work at 4 p.m. and so they all needed cars, too. But The Boy griped so much about my wanting to take his car, which is only "his" technically, given that he didn't pitch in any of the $1,000 I overpaid for Vertie, that I finally just had Sweetie drive me.

That's why it serves The Boy right that he got into an accident today, something that did not surprise Sweetie or me at all, since the Universe routinely doles out Instant Karma to The Boy, who routinely fails to learn his lesson. The Boy appears to be hooked into some kind of universal karma hotline, such that whenever The Boy does something wrong, he is instantly repaid by karma.

It all began when we were on vacation in California, and had gone to Universal Studios, where The Boy had picked as his souvenir a baseball hat. He was carrying it and Sweetie told him he should either wear it on his head or give it to her to carry because otherwise he would drop it or the wind would blow it, and he was resisting her, insisting that he could carry the hat and it would be no problem, and then it happened. The Boy said: I can carry it and it'll be ... OH! And the hat dropped out of his hand and skidded across the blacktop, driven by the wind.

Since that time, Karma has been keeping a keen eye on The Boy, and The Boy has steadfastly been refusing to learn from it. He'll refuse to do his homework earlier in the week or weekend, only to learn that the schedule has changed and his favorite football team's game is going to be televised on Sunday and he'll have to miss it because he's spending the day looking things up for his worksheet. Or he'll insist that he doesn't have to take the garbage to the curb on Thursday night because he can get up early and do it on Friday, and then promptly oversleep the next morning, having to rush to get things done.

That's why it did not surprise me when The Boy called midway through my Baby Workout

The "Baby Workout" was when I would go jog and push the boys in their giant double stroller.  *sigh* I miss jogging.

this morning to tell me there was a problem with his car. What did surprise me was the way The Boy withheld critical information and forced me to keep restraining my panic as he doled out the story in phrases followed by long pauses. Here's how the conversation went (with my accompanying thoughts in brackets):

Me: Hello?

The Boy: You know my car?...

[What happened to the car? Was he stalled at an intersection? Had it just stopped working?]

Me: Yeah...

The Boy: I was in a parking lot....

[Did he hit someone? Run them over? Did he hit someone, run them over, and then the car stalled so that it's actually stalled on top of the person he hit?]

Me: Okay.

The Boy: It wasn't my fault...

Me: Okay.

[God, it's been a long time since I did any criminal defense. Does Wisconsin have capital punishment?  Sweetie will kill me if I tell him to head to Mexico. I'll deal with that later.]

The Boy: And a guy hit my door...

[Why were you driving with your door open? How bad is the guy hurt?]

Me: What?

The Boy: And now it won't close properly.

[Let's review again. Are you saying someone's dead? Are you saying someone's not dead? Where ARE you?]

Me: So your door won't shut? That's it?

The Boy: Yeah.

Wouldn't anyone else in the world have started that conversation with A guy hit my door and it won't shut? Wouldn't that be a better way to start off that story? I felt like The Boy was getting me involved in a mystery or an episode of 24 or something, trying to keep me hooked until the end when the Shymalanian twist ending would occur and it turns out The Boy is his car, or something.

I feel like maybe Shymalan actually made that movie, but by then we had all stopped caring.

With the revelation that all that had happened was that a car driving through a parking lot had hit The Boy's open door and he couldn't shut it now, I gave him some advice: call the garage (where my car was, and I've got the number memorized, and that's not good. It's never good to have your mechanic's number memorized) and get the name and address and insurance company of the other guy.

"Should I give him my name and insurance information?" The Boy asked. Fair enough; he's never been in an accident before that day.

So I said: "Yeah, but it's not that big of a deal. His insurance company will have to pay." There was a pause, then, during which I picked up Mr Bunches, who I hadn't paid attention to in at least three minutes and who was feeling needy.

The Boy said: "What if it was my fault?"

[Is that my heart? Can I tell him he'd better head to Mexico before I get him? How could it be his fault that his door got hit? But it obviously could be because this is The Boy.]

I said, slowly, "Why would it be your fault?" and he said, too quickly:

"It's not!" and I said what I always have to say to The Boy, which is this:

"Why don't you just tell me everything that happened rather than letting it trickle out."

I always try that, and it always never works. It never worked, for example, when our mailbox was spraypainted with some descriptive terms. We woke one morning to see that someone had decided that our mailbox appeared to be one owned by people who were of a certain sexual orientation, even though we actually were not, and I asked either of the kids who still lived at home, Middle and The Boy, whether they had any idea who might have done it.

"No," said Middle.

"Why would you think I might know who did it?" asked The Boy, causing me to focus in on him in the exact way he'd likely hoped I would not. So I had asked him whether he was in a dispute with anyone at school or knew of anyone who might do that.

"Maybe someone got mad at me or something for something," The Boy said. That is a direct quote.

"Who might be mad at you?" I asked him. "And why?"

The Boy named a kid who lived nearby as the only possible person who could be mad at him and then said didn't know why the kid would be mad at him for anything. When I said "Why do you THINK he's mad at you?" The Boy hypothesized that it had something to do with some things his friends but definitely not him had been doing one night when The Boy was definitely not with his friends who were maybe doing something to the kid who might be mad at The Boy for no reason because The Boy had definitely not been around when his friends were doing whatever it was his friends might have been doing, which, honestly, The Boy had no idea what his friends might have been doing because The Boy was definitely not around them when they were doing whatever they were or were not doing.

We replaced the mailbox and over time, the story trickled out more and more (but always hypothetically.) Maybe the kid had said something to The Boy at school. Maybe The Boy's friends had overheard it. Maybe The Boy had been hanging out with his friends that night. Maybe his friends had spray painted something at the kid's house. The Boy certainly didn't know any of that.

So when The Boy this morning asked what if it was his fault, you can see why I immediately suspected he was not asking that question merely out of intellectual curiosity.

Especially because when I asked him why it might be his fault, he answered me with this: "Can we just talk about this tonight?"

I couldn't take anymore and Sweetie took over the conversation, while I started getting ready to have her drive me to work, preparations that consisted trying to get Mr Bunches to let go of me so that I could go take a shower and brush my teeth; he wouldn't let go of me until I took him into the bathroom and let him throw his little red ball at the toilet, which made him happy enough that he was distracted from his problem (his problem being "Daddy's not holding me") while I tried to distract myself from pondering just how The Boy could be at fault in an accident that involved him sitting in a parking space and someone else hitting his car door.

While it's difficult for me to picture how that would work -- did he get mad at a fellow parker and throw open his door at the last minute? --

That is actually what we all now assume to be true. The Boy will not admit this, to this day. But we've closed the case.

 I didn't doubt and I don't doubt that it could be his fault, and that if it is, I'll only learn about it hypothetically over the course of the next few months.

By which time, I might have finally gotten these shoelaces worked out.


Back in those olden days, I used to put ads for my line of t-shirts, which still is a thing, at the end of my posts.  This was the newest shirt at the time I wrote this post, 6 years ago:

ObamAmericA shirt
ObamAmericA by brianefp

*sigh* Remember optimism?

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