Friday, July 08, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 226: A nice evening drive


Wednesday night, the house phone rang at 12:22 a.m. And then again at 12:23 a.m.

I don't answer the house phone. That's SH's line that he uses for work. His friends call him on his cellphone. Work, telemarketers and politicians who have exempted themselves from the Do Not Call list aren't we glad they are so considerate as to allow us to receive their robocalls? call the house phone.

The ringing woke me. I thought, Crap who on earth calls at 12:22 a.m.? Is someone dead? Well they'll still be dead in the morning so why the heck are they calling me now? Can't a person get some sleep?

The phone didn't stop. Then my cellphone rang.

That, I pay attention to. SH was out at Summerfest. What if he was dead? Only if he were dead, he wouldn't be calling, would he? But he could be unconscious by the side of the road and a cop could have dialed his cellphone. I wonder how I am listed on SH's cellphone. Is it obvious that I am the person to call? Need to check on that.

I got up. Found my phone, which is never so easy 1. in the middle of the night 2. in the dark. Answered. It was SH.

His old car - his '65 Corvair that usually sits in the garage and looks good but is rarely driven because what if something happened to it? - it fail. The headlights had ceased to work. Which is not a huge problem compared to having a bad starter or a broken drive belt (always replace your drive belt when you replace your water pump and vice versa because the part is about five cents and the labor to get to these two items, which are reached together, is about a gajillion dollars), but is a problem when one wants to drive after midnight any place south of the North Pole, even in the middle of summer.

His plan was for me to drive downtown and escort him to a ten-hour parking meter, for which I was supposed to bring a gross of quarters only he forgot to tell me until I was with him, then return today to pick up the car in daylight.

OK. This is one of the hazards of being a (mostly) one-car family. Technically, we are a two-car family, but the Corvair cannot be legally driven in January (condition of the antique license tags), not that SH would ever let his baby out in the snow and salt. Usually, having only one car between the two of us is not an issue, as SH works from home. When he travels, I drop him off at the airport. On the rare occasions in the summer when we have a conflict - I had a meeting at city hall right after my tennis class, he wanted to go to Summerfest early, he takes the Corvair.

But the Corvair refused to cooperate.

I got dressed, drove downtown, found SH. He was parked right across from a hotel. Which had a parking lot.

"Why not leave the car in the hotel parking lot rather than driving it three blocks to ten hour parking?" I asked.

SH rolled his eyes. "You want me to go ask them?" Because asking is the worst thing you can ever suggest that a man do. Ask someone something? That implies that the asker is an idiot for sure!

I have no problems with being thought an idiot. I am the one who will mime the words I don't know in French to accompany my horribly-accented French. SH had 30 hours of college French, but is reluctant to speak it unless he can say everything perfectly. Which means when we travel to a French-speaking place (doesn't that make us sound like the international jetsetters that we are!), I do the talking.

"I'll ask," I said, and marched across the street and through the parking lot to the lobby.

There was a sign on the door stating that parking was by permit only.

That sign unduly influenced me.

Not that I think a different approach would have made any difference.

It was 1:08 a.m. I had not washed the Retin-A from my face. Yes, it is invisible, but not washing face = no makeup, oily, blotchy, 47 year old wrinkles etc. My post-tennis class hair was yanked back in a ponytail. I had taken half a vicodin in an attempt to chase away an incipient headache. All it had done was give me puffy eyes. I still had the almost-headache. I looked so good.

The desk clerk was about 24 and balding with a greasy combover. His suit was three sizes too big. He was distracted by the lush and scarcely dressed young things behind me who were happily buzzed from their Summerfest mandatory beer consumption.

My original plan was to ask to park the car for free, throwing myself on his mercy that I had had to get out of bed to rescue my husband. Maybe flirting a bit.

But I was the wrong age.

I needed to be 25 years older or 25 years younger. Younger, I could have flirted with him. Older, I could have reminded him of his grandmother.

As me, I was just a middle-aged lady who might or might not have reminded him of his mother and maybe he doesn't like his mother.

So when I asked how much it would cost to park overnight, hoping he would tell me Oh park free poor woman who was pulled out of her slumber at midnight! I did not get the answer for which I had hoped. Even if I had asked if I could park for free, I doubt he would have let me.

Too old. Too young. Too middle aged to get free parking.

Instead, he chirped "Eleven fifty!" as he ran his hand through his thinning greasy hair and smiled past me at the three young, slightly inebriated, scantily clad women standing behind me, who giggled as they asked him where one could order pizza.

I sighed, pulled out my American Express, and held it in front of him, waiting for his attention to wander back my way. I wanted to slap his mother who had created in him an indifference to the plight of thrifty middle aged women who are yanked out of bed in the middle of the night.

He took the card without losing eye contact with the three women once. I was invisible. The computer wouldn't do what he told it to do, so he used the chance to make a joke about machines taking over the world to impress the women. He was reaching. Pretty young women have to be fairly drunk to be impressed by a 1. night clerk at a hotel who 2. is making techie jokes. Blesshisheart.

We finally completed our transaction. His hope sprang eternal. Good luck to him.

SH parked the car in the hotel lot. We drove home. Went to bed. I couldn't sleep. SH slept until 11:00. We had to retrieve the car by 2:00. At 1:00, I started suggesting that we might want to think about getting the car, even though it is only a 10-15 minute drive under ideal conditions.

SH demurred. He was in no rush.

SH: We don't have to get the car until 2:00.

Me: Is there a reason we can't get there before 2:00?

SH: We might as well get our money's worth.

That made me feel better: that the $11.50 and my sleep-shorted night had all been worthwhile. We got all the parking we paid for.

2 comments:

MrScribbler said...

Been there, done that...sorta. Didn't have someone like you to negotiate with the Greasy Desk Clerk, and therefore had to pay in cash.

Oh, and if SH's Corvair has a bad water pump, tell him to have the car appraised. It's a one-of-a-kind!

Class factotum said...

Mr S, the car might be for sale. Interested?

I wish I had offered cash upfront because 1. it wouldn't have taken as long and 2. there might not have been a record of the transaction (unless the passes are numbered and audited, which is what I would do if I were in charge) and I might have been able to get a discount. If you know what I mean.