I often find myself agog at my own stupidity. The following is one of those moments in which I have to laugh or I'd blush from mortification, though I usually do both anyway.
Finally! There’s light at the end of the tunnel! Due to numerous concerts and music festivals, I hadn’t really slept or been home regularly since the middle of March. I was absolutely exhausted, but thrilled that I was going to finish the year with an exemplary recorder program.
I had prepared for Murphy’s Law to the best of my abilities, but still had a busy day ahead. Have you ever herded 45 fourth graders onto risers without anyone falling off, puking, breaking their instruments, or bleeding? I’m convinced it can’t be done. To complicate things even more, Aaron and I needed to drive different cars to work because he had to be there at the butt-crack of dawn. I elected to sleep a little longer and drive my ‘87 Mercury Grand Marquis, a car, at least until that day, I loved probably a little more than was entirely healthy.
When I was ready to leave for school, I was really proud of myself. I had remembered to dress in my favorite spring pastels. I had gotten the program to the secretary to print a few days beforehand. I had sent notes home every week with how many practice minutes had not been turned in. I was pretty organized, considering how crazy things get by the end of May. Emboldened by my copious preparation, I practically skipped to the door, running perfectly on time as long as I immediately got into the car and drove off without stopping to do so much as fart. I stepped outside, locked the front door, turned around, and eyed my gleaming land yacht with dismay. A flat. Shit! Somehow, my husband walked right past it and didn’t see my car leaning more steeply than the streets of San Francisco.
I think, Ok, I’ve changed more flat tires than Mario Andretti. Farm Girl, you can handle this! I unlock the door, intercept the escape artist (Dinah, the cat), and run inside to put on my winter coveralls. Hot, yes, but essential to protect the spring pastels, even if they left me smelling like a stockyard. I run back outside and immediately begin monkeying with the hubcap, which is steel and has an intricate locking system to prevent it from being stolen. As I worked, I remembered with longing the farm vehicles that hadn’t had hubcaps in twenty years. Reminiscing aside, ten minutes and several swearwords later I was jacking up the front end and removing lug nuts, now with a full understanding of why Andretti has a pit crew.
The second I got the last lug nut off, I jerked the flat free of the axle and rolled it toward the trunk. Not a good idea, I soon found out, when some exposed steel sliced into my hand. I’m cussing, rolling, and bleeding, not necessarily in equal quantities. I check the time. I’m already going to be about 20 minutes late. SHIT ON A STICK! I whip out the spare, which turns out to be almost as bad as the flat. I slice my hand again and roll it over to get it mounted, grunting and grousing all the way. I put the tire on and really had to wrestle the lug nuts on, which I thought was weird, but I didn’t think about it because I was so FUCKING LATE! I took it off the jack, and viola, the spare goes almost completely flat as soon as the jack is all the way down.
Now I’m royally pissed. So pissed, in fact, that I couldn’t really relish the intrinsic comedic value of the situation. I called the school and told the secretary an abbreviated, G-rated version of my story. She sends my husband home to get me and I get to school about 40 minutes late. Thankfully, my principal thought it was hysterical.
Ha. Ha, ha, ha.
Despite the events of the morning, the recorder program goes off without a hitch. Go figure.
Two weeks later, my darling husband, the man who has burned two engines to death because he’s completely incapable of checking the oil, noticed that the tire I had changed wasn’t turning. Thank you, God! He can be taught! We couldn’t drive it anyway because of the state of the two flat tires, so we had it towed to the garage to fix the problem and install new radials. I’m relieved. I don’t use the old girl very often, but when I need her, I need her badly.
My relief came a little too soon. My brother stopped by later that day because his youngest had a doctor’s appointment in town. The phone rang and my husband answered it in another room while Devon and I visited. A few minutes later, he walked back into the living room, hanging up the phone and snickering. He said, “Shall I tell you this in private or embarrass you in front of your brother?”
I, thinking he had gotten a call from my gynecologist, said, “What?”
“That was the garage. Jack said you put the tire on backwards. He said he’s never seen it happen before and really didn’t think it could be done. Congratulations, honey.”
My brother thinks this is hysterical. Devon wasted no time calling my entire family to tell them all about what the flaky baby of the family did this time.
I’m twenty-nine years old. I’ve worked in law, agriculture, medicine, education, and now I'm wrapping up my second novel. I’ve got degrees in anthropology and music education, and a Master's of Fine Arts. I sing or play in three different bands and choirs; in fact, I’m one of the founding members of Billing’s first professional-level choir. Hell, I even taught myself the concertina accordion with no help whatsoever, and I can play about 200 beats-a-minute on the damn thing.
“What’s your point?” you may ask? When my family reminisces, what do you think they bring up? The backward tire. The time I shaved the shower curtain. The time I told a dirty joke IN CHURCH to elderly Mrs. Lynn, possibly contributing to her death a few weeks later. Yup. Scooter, the flake.