I just called Jed to rant, as I do.
“I’m being punished,” I wail into the phone and drag Eleanor away from a pile of dog shit.
“Jed, I’m being punished… the, the universe… I must have been something really bad in a past life. Like Genghis Khan. Stalin. Hitler.”
“Well,” he laughs into the phone, “You are a dictator.”
I bought a new car this week. It’s 1998 BMW convertible, and I bought it because it reminded me of the green Saab I adored through college. That car ended up being stolen by a less-than-trustworthy janitor from the YMCA, but that’s a story for another time. I loved the Saab and I was certain that my new, fine automobile would likewise win my everlasting affection.
Friday night, driving home from Eat, Pray, Love, the car beeped at me. An ugly, mechanical, old-car beep. A red light indicated that I should “check controls.” I find the control button and push it. Another red light indicates “Tail light failure.” Superrrrb.
I make it home without anyone rear-ending me (hahahaha). Saturday morning, Cole and I tromp out of the house for an early-morning trip to Dunkin Donuts. I open the car door and stare, mouth agape, horrified. Half an inch of rainwater has puddled into the back floorboard. Five towels and two breakdowns later, I gulp my coffee and consider my options. We decide (because you know I confer with the four-year old) that it makes sense to open the top and let the sunshine help dry out the back.
For two hours, we spend joyous time together flying all over Greenville, the wind in our sweaty hair, Gatorades in hand. We return to the parking lot and the Kaiser fiddles with a Lego car as I work on putting the top back up. Everything goes swimmingly — a snap here, a pull there. And then the storage bin at the back of the car latches back into place. On top of my left middle finger. The realization hits before the pain does — that it is very, very tightly clamped onto the last joint of my finger. My nervous system kicks in, and my first thought is that I need to immediately saw off said digit with a dull car key. Strange animal noises escape my throat.
“Mommy?” Cole tries to turn around in his car seat. “Mommy, what’s wrong?”
“Aaaaaaghmyfuck….oh. Oh. Shit. Motherfuuuuuuuuuck. Aaaaaaabahhhhhh!”
“Mommy, you said the ‘f’ word.” Cole glares at me.
“Appropriate situation, Cole. Appropriaaaaateohmygod.” I groan.
I try to pry my right hand under the hard leather to lift it. No luck. Not even a tiny chance of luck. The release handle for this hellish contraption is on the other side of the car. I’m pinned five feet from sweet release and my child is buckled into his seat.
I look around the parking lot. An Indian couple disappears over the hill.
“Mommy?” He stretches around
“Cole. Mommy’s finger. My finger. Myfingermyfinger. Oh my GOD.”
And then, like a knight in gorgeous shining, sexy armor, my neighbor appears from behind his car. He runs to me, and I fumble for the words to describe the location of the release latch. He frantically runs his hands all over the car trying to find it.
“No, no. Noooooo. Over there. By the seatbelt. No, not the fucking car seat. The seat belt.”
My incoherent directions eventually lead him to the latch. My finger throbs and I crumble to the asphalt.
“Thank you,” I whisper and tears threaten.
Now that I’ve wallowed in pain and humiliation, I must decide what to do with this car. (Do NOT give me advice unless you’re a mechanic, because you very well know that I’m not going to listen.) I think I’m going to keep it, perhaps for pride alone. I’m not going out like that. This car… this car isn’t going to beat me.