If I were inclined to believe in some higher power manipulating my life, I would guess that my continuous car problems happen at least in part as a reminder to stay humble. The situation certainly serves that purpose. Perhaps I’d be unbearably conceited if I had money and therefore, means. Or maybe having to ask for help, seek rides and figure alternatives serves to keep me connected to people – as if I needed more connection? Not sure. What I do know is that not having a reliable car has been the single most consistent crisis-inducer of my adult life. Like a series of bad relationships, I’ve come to recognize the signs, acknowledge the feelings of betrayal, grown used to the frustration, despair and sense of failure that emerges every time the car doesn’t start or leaves me (often with children) stranded on the side of a road somewhere. It’s like this: I am too old to be bumming rides from people. This is not how a smart, responsible person lives; therefore I must be stupid and irresponsible, despite all my attempts to the contrary. And the series of breaking cars along with the lack of funds to fix them wreaks havoc in my marriage. Bobby and I have been together so long that any conversation quickly becomes about more than whatever issue is directly at hand. I told MD this morning that talking about the car and what to do with it reminds me of that early scene in Airplane! when the man and woman are giving instructions about the loading zones:
Male announcer: The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in a red zone.
Female announcer: The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in a red zone.
Male announcer: The red zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in a white zone.
Female announcer: No, the white zone is for loading. Now, there is no stopping in a RED zone.
Male announcer: The red zone has always been for loading.
Female announcer: Don’t you tell me which zone is for loading, and which zone is for unloading.
Male announcer: Look Betty, don’t start up with your white zone shit again. There’s just no stopping in a white zone.
Female announcer: Oh really, Vernon? Why pretend, we both know perfectly well what this is about. You want me to have an abortion.
Male announcer: It’s really the only sensible thing to do, if its done safely. Therapeutically there’s no danger involved.