Have you ever had a day that was so monumentally bad that you weren’t even mad because the screwed up series of events were so ludicrously set before you that you felt like you were witnessing it as a bystander instead of being directly involved? (No? Probably because that sentence was too long and confusing and you don’t really have any idea what in hell I’m going on about.)
Let me take you back to Monday, April 19, 2010. You’re probably wondering how someone so old and frail of mind can be sure of a specific date almost six years ago, but there are reasons that will make themselves clear as the story unfolds. You see, in and around Boston, Patriots’ Day is celebrated on the third Monday in April to commemorate the first battles of the Revolutionary War at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. This is the first Monday of public schools’ April vacation week and is also the day the Boston Marathon is run. My husband was home from work and, since our daughters didn’t have school, we planned to take them to the New England Aquarium in Boston, but only after I finished a couple of things that had to be done that morning. My older daughter was scheduled for an audition of sorts with a modeling agency (I feel like that sounds braggy but it never amounted to anything so don’t get all ‘God, she’s so braggy’ on me.) I loaded up the TomTom with directions — for those of you who remember this archaic form of navigation, it directed you to where you needed to be, but was really kind of a jerk if you deviated from its instruction, and it didn’t take into account any traffic issues — and piled my six-year-old into the Nissan Quest to get her to Newton to play with a battery operated fuzzy chick that made irritating, distinctly non-animal-sounding noises. (Had her picture been chosen, she would have been featured as the kid on the box looking deliriously happy to be playing with the stupid thing. She might be lacking a little in the delirious department like her mother.) On our way, the navigation is stubbornly trying to get us from one side of the marathon route to the other, but everything is blocked off. Like, seriously, everything. After swearing at every white and orange barrier I encounter (some repeatedly) I’m sweating with panic because we’re so late. By the time I manage to find my way to our destination, I’m hoping my daughter doesn’t need to include this in her growing list of incidents to discuss with her future therapist.
The appointment itself is fine and when we leave I’m calm enough to get us back to ‘our side’ of the marathon route. The other thing I needed to do was to stop at a nearby hospital to check in on my father who had been there for about a month after a botched surgery. This was his last day at this hospital before being moved to a rehabilitation center for another extended stay. We visit with him for a short while and go back to the car (the miserable mini-van that I hated so much but was so practical but I still hated so much) to get home so we could all go to the aquarium. Someone in the parking garage who shouldn’t have a license was doing a terrible and excruciatingly slow job of maneuvering his vehicle so, in an inpatient attempt to bypass him, I scraped my passenger side sliding door along an enormous concrete post, denting and scraping the right side of my stupid minivan. Awesome. At least I don’t have to take the time to exchange insurance information with anyone as the post remained unscathed.
I’m kind of numb at this point and have no one to blame but my fractious self, but I’m determined to get to the damn aquarium. We navigate back to the highway and I start to wonder why the car is driving so badly. I’m hoping I didn’t bend an axle grinding against the parking garage (because of how tremendously bad that would be) so I pulled slowly into a gas station to investigate. The car wasn’t driving poorly because of the axle, it was because of the flat tire on the rear passenger side, undoubtedly due to the post scrape. I start pulling all the junk out of the various areas of the stupid minivan that I hated to put the spare on the car. A couple of questionable-looking gentlemen (I try not to be judgmental but they would have been perfectly cast in Deliverance and didn’t have a full set of teeth between the two of them) take over and change the tire for me. (See — that’s why you shouldn’t be judgmental! They were incredibly helpful and super friendly. What is wrong with you??) I thank them immensely and, yet again, we’re on our way and finally make it home without further incident.
By the time we get home, my husband assumes that I’m junk and don’t have it in me to leave the house again – possibly for a month or two. But it’s just barely noon so I explain that now “it’s a quest” with the attitude of Clark Griswold’s “we’re all gonna have so much fun we’re gonna need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles! You’ll be whistling ‘Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah’ out of your a$$holes!” The rest of the day is lovely and, in distinct contrast to the morning’s events, all four of us enjoyed a leisurely afternoon in Boston. (Later that year, I ditched that stupid minivan for a small, white Honda Civic and have successfully navigated my way through numerous tight spaces since then. Stupid minivan.)