15 March, 2005

Life Speed

...all the things that I used to know/ have gone out the window....

It's unusual, but I watch the keyboardist rather than the drummer. He's fascinatingly dynamic, and reminds me of someone. It's unusual, but I even know who. Something in the curl of his fingertips, the shape of his head. My mother and I are attending a performance of Two Gentlmen of Verona, the musical adapted by Galt MacDermot (Hair), and John Guare (Six Degrees of Separation). It's flat-out wonderful, and my enjoyment is only enhanced by the extreme situation that preceded it.

I would have liked to tell her about it, if she'd only been in a mood to listen. But she sits, oblivious, humming to the music. Most people prefer to talk, so she's far from unusual in that.


At four-thirty, I realize I need to get my decorative ass in gear. Fluffy's dance class is at 5:30, and I've not fixed dinner, my face or my hair. I do my hair as the macaroni boils. Fluffy changes clothes. I grab a skirt, but can't get into it (quelle suprise) so I settle for a fancy shawl atop my black turtleneck and leather trousers. Thank you, Spencer.

I hurry the children out the door, plastic bowls of mac and cheese in hand. I carry my makeup case.

(slow down)

The fuel tank is near empty. I'll drop the kids at the arts center, and buy gas on the way to Mother's house. We arrive at the Center. His dance class has not yet started. However.

(slow down)

Fluff has left his dance bag at home. Off I go, gas gauge on E for Empty, as I am on Empty. I haven't been sleeping but a couple of hours between 5:30 and 9 am for five nights running, and eating? What's that?

I retrieve the bag, gas gauge on E, and hurry back to the Center. They've been working with recital costumes, and he hasn't missed a thing.

(would you slow down?)

To the gas station, later by an hour to get my mother than I had planned. I pull in to the one near her house, looking at traffic in three directions from its position atop a hill. I kill the engine, and head inside, cash in hand.

(slow the FUCK down)

"Ten on two, please."

She hands back a rumpled ten, which I stuff in the pocket of my trenchcoat as I walk to the pump.


"Miss, was that your car?" a scruffy Glen Burnout-type asks me. My car is not visible at pump two. The scrawny woman with him points in the direction of the westbound road. "It just went rolling down that hill, musta been in gear or sumthin...." His words trail off behind me as I race across the lot, down the spongy hill to a little copse of trees in which my car (my car oh gods my car) has buried her nose.

I trip, falling face first, glasses flying. I am still two yards away from my car (my car my car my car) I scramble up and hastily wipe my glasses, feel my hairsticks working themselves loose after my mad run. I lost one yesterday, no sense destroying another pair. I pull them out, stow them in my pocket. There goes the hair.

I walk to the front of the car (my car my car my car my car) to see if she's hurt. Is she? I love this car. Please, don't let her be hurt. Please, please.

She appears unhurt. I give the nose a gentle nudge. The front wheels seem wedged in soft mud. I get in, turn the key. Is the engine slow to kick over? Must be my heightened sense of time. There is no terrifying rasp, no ominous rattle. It starts. It starts. It has started. I hit Reverse, proving to myself that the front wheels are, indeed, stuck in the mud. There is gentle rocking, but no actual backward progress.

I get out, reasses. "Would you like me to try to push your car?" A teenager with a skateboard has come down to investigate. Does he have piercings? What's his hair like? I don't notice. His eyes are concerned.

"Would you? I'd be so grateful. I can't stop trembling."

The man and woman who alerted me have made their way down the hill. "You'll prolly need a tow," he says. He doesn't offer to push.

The teen has put down his board and moved to shoving position. I engage Reverse and nod to him. Glory! the car moves. I am on flat, dryish ground, with evidence of a way to gently bump off the curb and into traffic. "Don't forget to get your gas," reminds Mr. Glen Burnie. "There's something hanging down in the front," mentions Board Boy. I look. It's the plastic piece that's always getting hung up on concrete parking bumpers. Good riddance.

(slow down. slow down)

I thank the teenager effusively. He seems apprehensive that I might hug him, so I restrain myself. Board in hand, he wanders back up the hill. I seek the flattish place leading to the curb, wincing as I bump down into the road, needle on E.

(slow down)

Traffic pauses enough for me to merge, turn around, pull back into the station, where an irritated woman at the counter wonders why she's being stymied in her attempt to get gas from Pump Two. We work it out after a brief recap of my last few adrenialine-filled minutes.

I pull away from the pump, notice the beautiful clouds, hanging like rose and coral nosegays in the sky.

(When It's Over; Sugar Ray)

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