I just got back from jumping the battery in a Buick and then pushing it two blocks up a very slight incline. That was almost invigorating, except that it's 1:00 A.M.
I spent the day trying to keep my eyes open but desperately wishing I could sleep for about 15 minutes. That wasn't going to happen, and nobody cares if you have the flu.
The Love of My Life had the van, and I had the truck. The 1986 Chevy with the butterflies on the carb wired open to let it start in warm weather, and a highly efficient 2-55 air conditioning system (ask your dad.)
Somehow I got through the school day without either falling asleep in the middle of a lesson or leg-kicking anybody into submission, and that was good. Then the school day ended.
The Love of My Life had to do Parent/Teacher night at her school tonight, and so the plan was that I would go to her school and we would trade vehicles. I would take the van home so that I could pick up the twins and the baby from the babysitter on time.
It was a good plan. Simple, solid. I liked it. I believed in it. Then I got to her building and found that she wasn't there. Neither was the van, and it was at this point that I began to find it worrisome that I had left my cell phone and wallet in her van the night before. I attempted the old school payphone call, but I had only fifty cents, and the local call costs a buck. You can't make a collect call to a cell phone, either. I could have made a credit card call, but my wallet was in the van, remember?
I had a choice to make. I could wait there, hoping she came back, or I could take off toward home on the assumption that she'd changed her mind and decided to make the hour-long round trip before Parent Night. I decided to head for home on the theory that I had only about an hour before I had to pick up the kids anyway, and since I was at least half an hour from home, I couldn't wait at the school for long.
(Later, I found out that The Love of My Life had simply forgotten all about trading cars and gone out for dinner with her coworkers to our favorite Thai place.)
So, I book it home, and I find . . . an empty driveway. This is not good.
I am now confronted with another choice, like a MUD player. You see, there are two vehicles at the house. The van is with my wife (somewhere.) The Camaro is at the dealer because I didn't have time to pick it up last night after they told me it needs over $1000 worth of work. That leaves me with a 1986 pickup with seat belts for three people, or a Buick with a transmission that comes and goes, often leaving the engine revving up towards 6,000 with no discernible power to the wheels.
This is what the kids call a quandary. I elected to use my lifeline. I used the home phone to call my lovely wife, who informed me that the Thai was good, she'd be home by ten, and our son's teacher called to say that he's got six (6!) zeroes in Social Studies already. I make a mental note to kill him later and hang his head from the swingset as a warning to his brothers, then resolve upon my course: I will take the Buick and hope for the best. It is now 5:00, time for me to be at the babysitter's house picking up my kids so the babysitter doesn't fire our asses, but first I have to toss the house like Rex Kittenstompen, Hero of the BATFE, because I need the base for the baby's car seat so I don't splatter him across the windshield. I mean, he doesn't have any zeroes in Social Studies.
By 5:20, having literally growled through the house and called my wife again, I locate the baby seat and install it in the Buick. I leave. I get about a mile and a half before losing all impetus on the highway in town. I pull over onto a side street, but I can't get out of traffic. I'm pretty sure I'm about to die. I put it in neutral and get out to push, and before I've made it the twenty feet to safety, four people have stopped to help. I pushed the car myself, but I gratefully accepted a ride. Jim, if you ever read this, thanks, man.
Jim and his son drop me off at my house, and I run to the pickup. I drive it to the Buick, transfer the baby seat base, and take off to the babysitter's house. I enter the house with head bowed and wrists displayed for beating; my apology is accepted.
I herd the twins into the truck, allowing them just this once to share a seatbelt because frankly it beats putting them in the bed. Those 1986 bench seats were not designed for modern baby seats, I'll tell you that. Mucho crammo.
It's now almost 5:50. I drop off one twin at home to get his homework started, but Social Studies boy and I need to have a talk. He was supposed to be at football practice at 6:00. He's terrible at football, afraid to get hit and afraid to hit anyone, but he always wanted to play and I wanted him to have the chance. The thing is, we told him that if he didn't do his homework and keep his grades up, there'd be no football. There's also the small matter that he told us last week, and over the weekend, and last night that he was all caught up. Hell, last night I took him to his football game, then out for ice cream, because both twins told me they had "NO HOMEWORK!" Yay!
Well, that was all just a tissue of lies, and by now I am in no mood. I interrogate him briefly; he admits he has one zero, then three, then back to one. Then he says he has no idea how many zeroes he has. I inform him that his teacher says it's six; he informs me that she is a notorious liar. Apparently all the kids know that she just makes this stuff up. By now we're pulling up to the football field. I send him to walk across that field and tell his coach two things:
1. He won't be practicing tonight because he didn't do his homework, and
2. He's off the team unless he turns in all the missing assignments by Friday afternoon.
The coach has never impressed me, being of the Yelling At Children Builds Character school, but he has the good sense to say "School comes first, buddy." Maybe he can feel my eyes on him.
Then it's off to the old homestead for a few hours of being screamed at by the young delinquent, feeding the baby (who, judging by his expression, is enjoying all this immensely, the little sadist) and basically being tired, angry, hot, angry and tired.
At 8:50, just when I've gotten the baby to sleep, The Love of My Life walks in and I take off to recover the vehicle.
Did you know that the emergency flashers will kill a battery in less than six hours? I didn't.
So I jumped the fershlugginer thing and, in a fit of optimism, thought maybe I'd drive it home and walk back to the van. It's a nice night, right? Sure.
Only, as any chimpanzee could have predicted, when I DO get the thing into forward motion, it doesn't last. I am forced to ditch it again. This time I determine to push it to a safe place so I can leave it until morning. I push it two blocks away from the main drag, to a quiet spot the local tow-truck driver will know. We went to high school together, but we didn't really bond until he started towing my POS cars.)
There it will stay for tonight. In the center console is a blank check made out to Wiseman's Towing Service, along with the keys to the car. The doors are unlocked. I almost hope somebody even dumber than I am tries to steal it; that should be good for a larf.
Now, if you'll excuse me, thunderstorms are predicted and I have to go push my piano back into the garage.
No, I am still not kidding. I 'll let you know if I start. I did have to leave some stuff out, though. It didn't all go that well.