Freeing the voices in my head

Posts tagged ‘Driving’

Vignettes

I love words and vignette is a favorite of mine.  “A short, graceful literary sketch.”  “A brief, appealing scene, as in a movie.”  I don’t know how graceful or appealing my blogs are; they usually aren’t short or brief, that’s for sure!  To me, a vignette is a glimpse or an anecdote of  mine or someone’s Life, a quick story told on the fly, usually at the dinner table, almost always resulting in laughter.

I’m outnumbered here, gender-wise, and men don’t tell stories the way women do.  A woman will go into great detail, she’ll add sub-plots and side-way tangents; she will regal you with rich observations that would fill a book.  A man will say three to five sentences and be done.

But, oh, my men have the most interesting stories, um, tidbit tales!  My brother hasn’t been able to write down his Woodstock adventures (he’s in a great deal of pain, barely managed by his pain meds).  We’re hoping he can get that Dragon program and just speak into his computer and have it type it for him!   The only parts of the Woodstock story I remember are that he smoked that funny stuff, camped out, played in the mud, and got the station wagon stuck in the mud.  Someday, I’ll get him to tell me the whole story again.

When they had the Woodstock reunion in the 90s, I was the manager of a Pizza Hut, just off the New York State Thruway.  We were mobbed and so not ready for it.  We had people five deep at the counter, starving, filthy campers, eagerly pressing forward, watching the ovens, hoping I was cutting their pizza to be boxed.  Amidst the chaos was one … woman.  Yes, I’m being polite.  She insisted that no meat, meat substance or meat oil touch her pizza.

We tried.  My main cook made her pizza on a clean board and used fresh gloves to place the garlic sauce (no tomato marinara sauce for her, no sirree, it might have meat products in it!  Gack!) and cheese on the dough.  She was right up front, and could see everything.  Before he placed her pizza in the oven, she saw the other cook grabbing cheese from the bin…”Wait!  That’s the cheese you ALL use?  It’s tainted with meat substance!”  Oh, god…

We apologized and Ted trotted to the walk-in, pulled out a new bag of cheese, and used it for her new pizza.  Good, pizza now in oven.  I was lifting pizzas out as fast as I could to keep the ovens from backing up and burning them.  The slightest pause meant disaster.  I grabbed her pizza, slid it out of the pan onto the cutting board… “Wait!  That board just had a sausage pizza on it!”  Oh, god (and the twenty people behind her groaned, too)…

I apologized and Ted made her another new pizza.  I swiftly dealt with a few more pizzas, making sure a clean cutting board was at hand for the vegan lady.  Her pizza rolled to the front, I expertly slipped it onto the clean board and sliced down… “Wait!  That’s MY pizza and you just used THAT slicer on a pepperoni pizza!”   Oh, god (and the thirty people behind her didn’t just groan.  They bitched, they told her to give up, they looked at her with murder in their eyes…but, wonder of wonders, they did NOT blame me and my crew!)…

We apologized, again, and started over.  Now, we had a backed up oven, pizzas burning, rhythm disrupted.  Hurry to box her pizza and cash her out, whirl back around and zip, zip, slice and box three more pizzas.  I turned to cash those people out and noticed the crowd was watching the front door.  When it shut on vegan lady’s exiting behind, the mob cheered, applauded, and thanked me and my crew for our patience!

We had a bunch of extra mistake pizzas and breadsticks.  I had my waitresses pass out slices to everyone and comped all sodas as my thank you to the crowd.  Ah, the Woodstock legacy of “Peace and Brotherly Love” blossomed again for the rest of the night!

Heh, see what I mean?  I’m sure my brother’s story is longer than the tiny bit I recall, but it took a whole page for me to tell my Woodstock reunion story!  🙂

Some of the funniest, oddest, best stories I’ve heard from my menfolk aren’t stories at all.  They are mere vignettes, a few sentences at most.  I have to pull more details out like a cat giving birth to an elephant…yeah, improbable at best, impossible most of the time!

For example:  Hubby’s ship went through a corner of the Bermuda Triangle.  I was fascinated and wanted to hear if anything weird happened.  His response?  “Well, it got foggy and the radio wouldn’t work for a few minutes, but everything cleared up on the other side.”

That’s IT?!  Really?!  Can you elaborate at all?  Nope, that really was it, delivered in a bored nothing-unusual-today tone of voice.  GACKKK!!!

Or this one, from my oldest son:  Walks in the house all sweaty, without his car (a 1967 Mustang, runs good, maybe, sorta, kinda…)…  I asked, “Where’s your car?”  Brian said, “Oh, the drive shaft for the tranny fell out.  I had to push it over to Midas.  I got a ride home with Matt.”  And heads for the shower.  “Wait!  What?” I frantically call out, instantly on the alert, knowing that the Midas shop he uses is at one of the busiest intersections in our part of Tucson, AZ.

He paused, returned to the kitchen and got a soda.  “I’m really hot, tired, and sweaty, Mom.”

“Please?”

So, here’s the REST of the story…  He was at the intersection of Ina and Thornydale, in the far left lane, got to the light and started through.  In the MIDDLE of the intersection, in the middle of his turn, in the middle of rush hour traffic, the Mustang drops her tranny (transmission), and comes to a dead stop.  With cars whizzing by in all directions, my son got out and single-handedly pushed that ton or so of car across a gazillion lanes of traffic, up a slight hill and into the parking lot of Midas.  He received assistance only at the end, when a mechanic saw him and came over.

Think on it:  a 1967 Mustang, weighs a lot, probably almost a thousand pounds because it’s made of METAL not fiberglass, no power anything — brakes or STEERING.  One guy pushing AND steering it…oh, good lord, my mind seized up.  Eh, Brian assured me, once he got her moving, it wasn’t so hard…and off he goes to the shower.  GACKK!!!

Then there’s the tale of the pallet of ammo that didn’t exist and the one bullet, “What bullet?”…but that’s a real tale to tell and not a vignette, so…

Later, my lovies!  heh heh… 😀

 

Terror Alert: RED!

No, not “terrorist,” no one is attacking the USA.  It’s just Life attacking me and the people I love.  What is the most terrifying thing that can happen?  Well, if you’re a parent, it’s anything regarding your child.  Doesn’t matter how old they are, when something bad approaches or happens to your kid, you feel it – that heart-wrenching, gut-twisting, knee-buckling sensation: Terror.  At the same time, because you are the parent, you are not allowed to collapse screaming on the floor (which is what part of you wants to do).  Nope, you must act strong, calm, and deal with the situation.

About two weeks ago, we got a phone call late in the afternoon from our daughter’s ex-boyfriend.  She had been in a lot of pain in June from a pinched nerve in her shoulder that numbed her right hand and left her with fumbling fingers — yes, you can have pain and numbness at the same time; it’s happened to me.  She did go to a clinic, but not a chiropractor.  She has no insurance and little income because she only has a part time job.  By July 4th, she was better, but her hand was still kind of numb and tingly.

For the next two weeks, unknown to us, she battled a painful infection.  She did go to Urgent Care and took the antibiotic and pain meds they gave her.  The next day, she tried to call her friend for help.  By the time he could get to her, she was incoherent and having seizures.

We have a number of wonderful angels in our lives, most of them are our adult children’s friends.  Her ex-boyfriend has been through so much with her and she can trust him with some frightening issues, so she called him.  Then, he (thank you, son), called us.  When he got her to the hospital, two more angels went into action: our “other” son and his partner – paramedics.  They called us, too.  And then, the one angel I am most grateful for: the sweet wife of our “other” son, who works at the hospital, called.

Now, fed regulations protect private patient info so the hospital couldn’t tell me anything over the phone, but from the little info our friends gave us and the tone of their voices, we knew a parent had to go be with our girl.  When you hear that one piece of info – “They’re sending her to the ICU.” – you jump in the car and drive.

Now, we got lucky in a few ways and unlucky in others.  The bad part was her dad HAD to leave for South America the next day for work and would be gone for an unknown length of time.  There was no money for a plane ticket and no way to get one at 9 pm, plus, no one to pick me up at the airport and no money for a rental car.  We live in the middle of Texas (bum-f@ck Houston), daughter is in Arizona – it’s a 15 to 17 hour drive.  And I suck at long drives…and dealing with authority figures like doctors…

But…I’m retired and could go to her.  Our younger son is here with us, still getting all his papers together for his job, so he isn’t working yet, and we could do the drive together in a really good car.  Hubby has a good friend who took the dogs, the cats were left with a huge bowl of food…and we all headed out to our assignments.

Once in Arizona, in the hospital, I learned more – they will tell a parent things in person, thank goodness, maybe, sorta…It is terrifying to hear your child (I don’t care if she’s an adult, she’s still my baby!) was “Code Yellow” – which is just a step below “critical.”  Terrifying to learn she continued having seizures and stopped breathing at one point, terrifying to see her hooked up to a breathing tube and in a chemically-induced coma…looking like she’s 12 yrs old…and weighing under 100 pounds when she’s 5’6″ and should have at least 20 more pounds on her.

We can joke about it now (ah, morbid humor  it’s the only thing that keeps us sane), but it took a four-point restraint and two burly staff to hold her down to keep tests done before they doped her.  The boys related how the ER staff was talking about the 90 pound girl throwing all the men around the room.  Our paramedic boys also told off the people who were speculating with disrespect regarding our girl’s behavior because she’s “our sister-friend.”

Ah, validation when the test results came back clean – no drugs or alcohol, but very low potassium level, electrolytes, nutrition values, etc.  Perhaps a reaction to the antibiotic or previous pain meds?  No one knew for sure, but she did, indeed, have a nasty raging infection in her body.

It took a few days before they allowed her to awaken.  And, of course, we all wanted to know what had happened, what she could tell us.  But her first words were “What the hell happened?”    She doesn’t know, either.  She took the proper doses of meds and went to bed, then woke up unable to control her body and fingers and frantically tried calling her friend.

We may never know what happened.  I believe it was a combination of everything.  I have seen a low potassium episode before – my mom was found wandering around her yard late one night in her pjs, yelling for my dad – who had been dead for six months.  She was confused and didn’t know me or my brother (this was way before she slipped into dementia).  She fought the paramedics, then flirted with them (75 yrs old and still feisty!).  An infusion of potassium and voila!  All better.

Our girl is also allergic to penicillin and some of its derivatives.  It’s possible the antibiotic – one she had never taken before – is another one she is allergic to; she did have trouble breathing.

Then, there was the infection and the fact that she hadn’t been eating much for almost two months…

Well, I took care of her once they released her, feeding her, fussing over her, and left her with lots of proper food, juices, and a clean apartment (!).  I’m back in Texas now, but I’m still gonna worry, that’s a given, that never ends.

Is the terror over?  Can I lower the alert from red to green?  Nope, never.  Maybe yellow?  No, I’m Mom – the terror alert remains at Orange, a constant gnawing bug I hide deep inside and try to ignore.

So please remember – if you have a friend who is a parent, no matter what age their child is, don’t ever call them late at night.  Because before she/he sees who is calling, the Terror Alert jumps to Red: “My child is in trouble!”

Hey, it’s a parent thing…  🙂

 

Pain on the Brain

Or, the Brain on Pain? Either way, being in pain pretty much short-circuits any proper brain function.

Another year over, whoop-dee-do, whatever. No resolutions for me; I fail at everything, every day, all day, don’t have to add more, thank you very much.

Two weeks til next dentist appointment; maybe this time they’ll get it right – they have incentive, no more insurance & my bank account is so empty even spiders won’t live there, but the cobwebs look so pretty I don’t think I’ll deposit any more money into it for the bank to steal when I’m not looking. Honestly, I only drive 2 miles down the road for groceries, don’t go anywhere else ‘cept maybe karaoke on Wednesdays once or twice a month, how the hell can my bank account be empty?! No, I’m not agoraphobic (or however the hell ya spell it), I have no problem leaving my house, but, I live in Houston.

That doesn’t explain it? Ah, you’re lucky. I’ve driven in almost every major city of the USA – even Los Angeles & Vegas! I refuse to drive in Houston unless it’s absolutely an emergency. Out here, everyone is on a cell phone and thinks “Green light, stop; Red light, GO!” Very dangerous, scary place…I wanna go home, ah, New York, I miss you. Even Tucson, AZ would be better!

Um, hmmm, stream of ranting thoughts fading. I think the pretty pink pain pills are kicking in, maybe they’ll help me sleep for more than THREE friggin’ hours!

Oh, by the way, all grumpiness aside:
May you all have a Happy New Year! 😀

Red Car, Blue Car

I did it again today.  I have a legitimate excuse because I’m running about on two hours of sleep, a middling-to-high fever, not much solid food in the past two days, but I HAD to get some Christmas shopping done.  I’m using the mind over matter method of healing – I do NOT have bronchitis, there is no money for doctors (After the fiasco last year, I’ve vowed to go to a doctor or hospital again only if I’m DEAD!), it’s Christmas, stupid Body, so, behave!  Except excuses don’t wash; I done this before when healthy, rested and normal.

I tried to get into the wrong car.

I love cars.  So does hubby.  Our respective Love affairs began in our teens.  Randy (hubby) lucked into the Pink Lady, a 1964 pastel pink Thunderbird with white vinyl roof.  Sweet car for a 1970s high school kid and bought with money he earned working two jobs while still making Honor Roll every semester in school.  My dad worked at a car dealership and got me my first car.  It was a 1971 LTD Ford station wagon, seven feet long, a lumbering hunk of metal, and, important for Dad, rated a safe family car.  In 1976, the Black Beast got me and my best friend cross-country and back, was our shelter when the tent we brought turned out to be rotted through from the previous year’s banana food fight, but I gladly traded it for the first car I fell in love with – a 1969 Buick Skylark Sport Coupe, gold with a rag top, 350 horsepower V-8 engine, and automatic stick.  Lark could do 120 mph down the Thruway, her engine singing a solid middle C the whole time, but we only tried that once, honest!  She had over 200,000 miles on her and ran great when we gave her to my mechanically-challenged mother.  Lark died the next month, never to run again.

We grew up, married, went through more cars, and knew we had “made it” when we bought a Lexus.  Very nice, dependable car and at 99,000 miles the only thing wrong with Beauty was the power control or computer thing died for the driver’s window.  (Yes, I named all our cars.)  The kids enjoyed our largesse and their dad’s quirk of getting a different car every three years.  Brian received a 1965 emerald green Mustang.  “Needs work, runs good!”  Ripped upholstery, a steering wheel that might (and did!) come off while you were driving, cracked windshield, manual steering, manual brakes – Yikes!  But, ah, when you hit the gas, the Green Bitch GROWLED her way out into the world.  Me and a ton of steel roaring down I-10 at 75 mph; you betcha nobody got in our way!

This past year, we traded in two cars (yeah, bonus checks helped).  Hubby got a silver Dodge Challenger, loaded, powerful, great car.  A bit intimidating to me – it was a lot bigger than my sweet little Baby – a blue G37 Infiniti.  I loved my car, I knew how everything worked and could program the GPS.  And then, he saw IT online and said, “You like Audis, right?”  Oh no!  I hurried into the office.  “Yes, I like Audis.  No, you cannot trade my Infiniti for one!”  (He got our younger son an older Audi A8, black, of course – Jim rarely acknowledges any other color – 200,000 miles, running great, full of luxury; I like that car, too, but…)  I stamped my foot, I pouted, I got in the passenger seat of my baby and allowed hubby to take us to the Audi dealership.  We (Baby and I) were doomed.

Hubby liked a white four-door Audi A6.  We test drove it and, eh, blah…mind you, I was still pouting, determined to hold tightly to my sporty blue darling.  And I loathe white cars.  The silver two-door A2 was almost identical to my G37, so why trade into the same kind of car?  We stood outside, me caressing Baby’s hood while the salesman tried to tempt us (me) into buying something.  Key in hand, other hand on driver door, casual and relaxed, hubby said, “Where’s the red A4 that was online?”  He grinned at me.

Yep, truly screwed.  The bastar-er-sweet man knows me well.  Hit my visual buttons – colors, jewel tones, dark, luscious blues, greens, reds…I sighed in relief when the salesman answered, “That’s out on a test drive.  Would you like to wait?  We have coffee and cookies – oh, here it comes!”

She purred into the lot with a tight turn and flirty swing, bold, sassy, gorgeous.  Her grill was a saucy grin, her slanted headlights sporting tiny under-liner lights.  Baby was adorable, SHE was sensual, glam-rock haughty, and I clenched my fists, knowing I was beyond tempted by this bright red siren with her flash and class.  “It’s a four-door, it might be too big for me, I don’t need a big car, I don’t want–”

“Let’s test drive it,” the traitor insisted.

The dealer drove us to a park with a long road that looped back around to the main highway.  It reminded me of a racetrack – perfect to prove a big four-door couldn’t maneuver as well as Baby.  I sat in the back when hubby drove, pretending I wasn’t impressed with the comfy seats, the smooth ride, the fact that I wasn’t getting sick (I usually get motion-sick in the back seat of cars).  When my turn came, I drove her like the men did – hit fifty-five and owned that curving loop.

I giggled.  And tried to stop giggling.  Giggled some more.  She was fun!  She was so much fun to drive that I knew I had screwed us out of getting any kind of discount.  No one giggles on a test drive, and the daughter of a MANAGER of a CAR DEALERSHIP should know better!  But…I giggled.

Parting with Baby was difficult; I had to sit in her for awhile, but my eyes kept straying to Ms. Luxury-Plus-Muscle-Plus-Prestige sitting next my little Infiniti.  I wouldn’t have to worry about a Texas Edition Dually pick up driven by some ignorant drunk trying to run my placid blue sweetie off the road anymore – how can you ignore a bright red bitch of a car that screams MONEY and CLASS?

We bought her.  We got her home and discovered a few things.  The new Audi came with THREE books, a CD and a DVD.  Another book and CD were sent to us in the mail a few days later.  Two of the books explain the Navigation System (GPS).  We still haven’t figured it out six months later.  None of the manuals, CDs, DVDs, whatever – nothing contains any info on how to set the clock!  I hate Daylight Savings Time; now I have a moment of fear as I think I’m an hour late until I remember the Red Queen won’t tell me how to change her clock over!

Love is never perfect.

Today’s Christmas shopping went well and as my body floated out of the store on a puddle of fever-sweat, I was happy to be done.  I took a deep breath and focused.  Shopping was easy, getting out of the parking lot, through the traffic and home was gonna be Hell.  The parking lot was mayhem and I hurried across it, eyes darting about because here in Texas, parking lots are as dangerous as the roads.  Folk out here climb in their pick-em-ups, vans, or Stupid Useless Vehicles, jam their phones to their ears and race off – all without looking to see where they’re going or who might be in their way.  Two said vehicles were in jousting positions, revving their engines, their supah-mom drivers waiting to do battle over my parking space.

I grabbed the door handle, juggling my bags, cursing the fact that the remote key in my purse wasn’t unlocking the door…oh.  I lifted my gaze from the blue Infiniti’s door and sheepishly trotted over to my big red bitchin’ Audi.  Horns honked in frustration behind me.  I ignored them and slammed my door shut.  Silence.  Push the start button and with a muted purr and silken whisper – as if she knew I wasn’t at my best yet forgave me for still loving small blue Infinitis – Queenie got me safely home.

Still, you were right, Body.  Today, we should have stayed in bed.