Last week I was a passenger in a carload of 75 year-olds traveling to Bend to visit friends. I was disqualified from driving when my last post went viral. I was further relegated to the seat-beltless luggage area whenever five geezers were in the Tahoe. Driver Duke pulled to the front pump at a gas station in The Dalles while preoccupied with the visual of drivers now pumping their own fuel in Oregon. My wife Mollie gave her credit card to Duke along with her rewards number. But Duke chose the option to save points when we were trying to use them before they expired. Suddenly he noticed the three options for the grade of gas were missing. I started yelling that he was at the green handled diesel pump. So we cancelled the transaction. The driver behind us was pinned in by a huge oversized vehicle in a growing line behind him. He asked if we had actually put diesel in the Tahoe. We assured him we were merely making a case for professionals to pump gas. Mollie and Duke began debating where the credit card went. He suggested we leave and find the card later. I insisted we find the card now since it had to be within three feet of our vehicle. After an extensive search of our vehicle, Mollie found it in her pocket. As we drove away, a lady in the long line for the other side of the pumps gestured and pointed. Duke retrieved the gas cap we left behind and we headed to the other gas station but their lines were worse. So we returned to the line we created at the original station and redeemed our rewards discount while I wore a pillowcase over my head.
Month: September 2022
Confessions of a Bad Driver
Recently a fire engine was poised to leave the station with lights flashing. I sped up to get past the driveway and out of the way but the fire engine turned left and began tailgating me. The driver’s vengeful honking rattled me into swerving back and forth across three lanes, accidentally slowing his progress. My passengers were too judgmentally incredulous to even listen to my justifications. Unfortunately, I have never been able to learn from mistakes because of an allergic reaction to medicine for my RAMBO (Rarely Admit Mistakes, Blame Others) medical condition.
Tuesday’s traffic snarl was caused because the Seattle Mariners were playing a meaningful game in September for the first time in decades. So I rushed out early for a dinner party with my toothbrush in my mouth while talking on my cell phone. I buckled my seat belt with my right hand while maneuvering the steering wheel with my forearms and elbows. Everything was under control for the minute we slowly drove down our quiet street. But I could not hear the person on the phone because my wife was screaming to be let out of the car and something about divorce. No way a witness could be allowed to exit the vehicle in her hysterical condition, so I tossed my cell phone in the backseat, demonstrated my buckled seatbelt, and explained through toothpaste foam that everything was totally under control thanks to my almost 60 years of driving experience.
My wife threatened, “What are our sons going to say about you driving while simultaneously brushing your teeth, using the phone, and buckling your seatbelt?” It sounds bad when she says it like that but I am hoping for: “Wow, Dad, you are amazing!”
Birthdays: Dead or Alive?
Mom’s 100th birthday was last month although she died at age 94. She celebrated her birthdays without fanfare, once refusing a party and then spending her birthday alone to avoid favoring any of her children. She relented for a 90th birthday bash at the Space Needle with over forty family members but it was billed as Fifty Years in Seattle and her age was never mentioned. She refused to save money on a Senior ski ticket because she would never wear one. At age 72, when she skied down black diamond runs with my three sons while I snowplowed down green cat tracks, son Dustin wondered why I was not humiliated. But Mom was always a better skier than me. Big deal. She was smarter and kinder than me too. I suggested we emphasize Mom’s remarkable skiing, rather than my shortcomings. But Dustin felt we could celebrate both those attributes.
A few years after my brother Jamie died, I organized a 65th birthday party at his gravesite where we roasted marshmallows, drank Jack Daniels, and smoked cigars, basically consuming all the things that killed him. I tried to arrange a posthumous Sixty Years in Seattle party for Mom but my sister Mary staged an intervention by generously hosting my own 75th birthday party in an effort to distract me from arranging parties for dead people. I awarded $75 prizes to the attendees who came closest to guessing my weight and the steps on my Fitbit. I know Mom would be horrified at such vulgarity because even my wife was. But I was not bragging because I actually gained four pounds since my last birthday. At that rate, I will be sixty pounds heavier at my 90th birthday party. By then we will be guessing my IQ when I died.
As a student, my identity was based on my major (which was selected to best avoid 8:00am classes). As an employee, my occupation defined me even though Administrative Coordinator seemed meaningless. Labels oversimplify but can be useful. Retirement introduced “what I used to be.” Sometimes I choose “famous Blogger,” tempting doubters to visit and view my posts. Class Clown is my default self-descriptor. It outlives being a student and hints at what I am not: jock, artist, intellectual, technology nerd, ladies man. And claiming “Class Clown” validates the assertion.
At a party hosted by a Renaissance Man (doctor/winemaker/author/sculptor) I have known since high school, I introduced myself to a couple who knew him when the husbands worked together as doctors and socialized as hunters. I mentioned that our host was Student Body President when I was Class Clown and praised him for remembering the little people as he climbed the ladder of success. The host rotated into our group and his doctor friend repeated my words without my witty inflections. Renaissance Man denied I was Class Clown and named the person who was in a hushed tone that suggested it was not an honor. He may have been teaching me a lesson about fishing for compliments with self deprecation because he did not offer anything “more” that I was. So I graciously and apologetically conceded to being merely a Wannabe Class Clown. Our mini-group quickly dispersed.
I learned survivors tell the stories when I once referred to being class Salutatorian to a distinguished fellow alum who did not recognize it as an outrageous joke. I also had no idea who our Salutatorian was, so if I can outlive enough people, one day I may even become Student Body President. I will appoint my best friend Class Clown.