Sunday, November 12, 2006

More first grade ficshun

M Girl made up a story for me tonight before bed. I can't recall how we got on the subject of rain and umbrellas but somehow we got to this:

Once there was a man who didn't have an umbrella. He was the only person in the whole universe who didn't have an umbrella. He never went out in the rain and he never bought an umbrella. One day he bought an umbrella and he went out in the rain and he died.

You can see from this story and this story that she has a slightly dark and twisted sense of humor, which I love. (Kind of like Alanis Morissette, I guess.)

Like a good neighbor

Late Friday afternoon we were treated with a torrential, start-building-the-ark, downpour. In keeping with our Murphy's law lives, one of the tires on our car blew out while my husband was taking M Girl to gymnastics. Lucky for us we have AAA but they said it would take two hours before they could get there. And two hours from then was the time A Girl needed to be at the theater where she's performing.

So I left the office a little early, made it home on the bus and contemplated the sheer impossibility of getting a cab to take me to the gymnastics place to pick A Girl up and then take us to the theater. I also contemplated the vast amounts of cash the long cab ride would cost at rush hour. Then I remembered that our neighbors had offered to lend us one of their cars if we ever needed it. Thankfully, they were home and were glad to help.

I drove more carefully than I have ever driven in my life. The last time I can remember driving someone else's car, I got into an accident on a California freeway. (This is something I'm surprised I haven't blogged about - but that's a long post for another day. Suffice it to say that the accident wasn't my fault - really.) Anyway, I drove slowly, not in a rush. I barely even swore at all the crappy drivers on the road! I didn't want my negative driving mojo to infect their car. I picked up A Girl, got her to the theater on time and was happy that the rain was down to a mere drizzle as I made my way home - with the neighbors' car still intact.

I got into our garage and wound my way up to the 9th level where they park. I had a little trouble finding their parking space (I met them in front of my building - I didn't have to get the car out of their space earlier.) Much to my dismay, their space is a bit tight, with a concrete wall on the right and someone's nice little Lexus on the left. Also, their car is a smallish SUV - I've never really driven an SUV so it's hard for me to know exactly how wide the car is. (You know where I'm going with this, don't you.)

I realize how small the space is so I back up, realign the car and slowly start to pull in and then I hear "SCRRRAAPPPPEEE!" from the right side of the car. Holding back tears, I pull back, adjust and pull in again without incident. I (carefully) jump out of the car and run to the other side where I see a huge scratch along the front passenger door. I stare in disbelief. I try to rub it out (yeah, I knew that wasn't going to work.) I briefly contemplate not saying anything and hoping they don't notice. (Yeah, I knew that wasn't going to work either and I enjoy being able to live with myself.)

I nearly start crying in front of the doorman when I leave the keys at the front desk. I ask for paper to leave a note. It says "L & J - Thank you so much for lending me your car. I'm really sorry but I scratched the door. Of course I'll pay to fix it. Please call me." I left a message on the wife's cell phone, amazed at my ability to do so without crying.

They called me around 10 p.m. and they were laughing. Yes, laughing. The husband (whose car it was) said "Are you sure you did that? I got a little scratch on that door awhile ago." Since I would never have called that scratch little, I said "No way. I heard it scrape on the concrete. It's a bad scratch." The wife told me that she's been in so many fender benders in the school parking lot that it's not even funny. She told me to take a look at her car next time I'm in the garage - which didn't make me feel any better because it was her husband's car that I scratched. They were unbelievably nice about it. They said they could care less about scratches on their car and they would let me know if they were going to fix it but in the meantime I shouldn't worry about it.

I felt a little better having talked to them but I couldn't help thinking they might be singing a different tune when they looked at it the next day. It was a serious scratch people!

In the afternoon they called, laughing again (these people laugh a lot). The husband says "Guess what! You scratched the step, not the door. I told you there was already a scratch on the door. There's a black mark on the wall where you scraped by but who gives a [hoot] about the step. Nobody gets the stepped fixed. But if you want to pay to repaint my door, you've got a deal."

Friday, November 10, 2006

Welcome to the neighborhood!

Sarah at Sarah and the Goon Squad wrote a post about her first experience with fall weather. She noted that when she didn't rake her leaves one week, her neighbor came and did it. And that reminded me of this story . . .

When I was a teenager, my dad remarried and we blended two families of three kids into one house (lots of stories for other posts). We moved into our new house at the beginning of the school year, just before the leaves started falling. Our parents thought - well, we have six kids living in this house, they'll rake and mow the lawn as part of their chores. (Yeah, maybe in a parallel universe where they actually had some semblance of control over the children in the house). Anyway, the leaves didn't get raked - for several weeks into the season.

Then one day a note appeared in our mailbox - type written, unsigned - that said: "The leaves from your lawn are blowing all over the neighborhood. Your neighbors spend lots of money maintaining their lawns. A pox on you for messing everything up." Or something like that. Clearly our neighbors weren't as neighborly as Sarah's neighbors!

So the next day my dad hired the landscapers that everyone else in the neighborhood used. (As I mentioned the last time I wrote about this story, it's entirely possible that it was the landscapers that left the note - excellent marketing technique, I might add). Nothing worked on my parents like a little neighborhood peer pressure.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Why I hate February

Here's my entry for this month's Blogging for Books contest. We're supposed to write something about the weather. This is a little difficult to write today because it is a beautiful, sunny and surprisingly warm fall day here in Chicago. But having lived through a few too many Midwest winters, I can summon the painful memories long enough to write this . . .

Why I hate February - specifically.

  • When I was a junior in high school, it got so cold that there was ice on the walls of our house. On the inside. I remember doing my homework in front of the fire with a crocheted blanket on my lap. Kinda like Little House on the Prairie in the suburbs.
  • In college I went to a toga party. Don't ask me why someone had a toga party in February in Michigan. We were 19, and apparently we weren't very bright. So, at this toga party I sprained my ankle. The very next day there was an ice storm. Picture me trying to "walk" on crutches across The Quad, on the ice, with a backpack.
  • In law school, for reasons that are now lost to me, I had to get up at Oh My God O'clock and serve coffee to my fellow law students a few times. One particularly lovely "morning" as I walked to school I felt the tears in my eyes freezing upon contact with the cold wind. When I walked into the over heated building, I felt those tears melting down my cheeks, along with my mascara.
  • Let's go back to college, shall we? Ski trip with the girls up to Boyne Mountain. There's so much damn snow piled up at the side of the road that the streets are no longer wide enough for two cars. When the driver of our car tries to slow down to try to navigate past an oncoming car, the rear of our car slides out into the street and collides with the oncoming car. Not only was the car nearly totalled, one of the girls in the back seat broke her pelvis. Seriously.
  • And finally, have you ever tried to push a 20 pound stroller containing a 10 pound child along a slippery, snowy unplowed sidewalk? How about trying to get that stroller across the street after the plows have been through and there's a foot of snow along the curb? So - don't use a stroller, you might say. Well, it's also not fun carrying your precious child in the Baby Bjorn while attempting to navigate around ice patches and over piles of snow all the while praying that you don't fall over and crush the baby. (Try while dangerously sleep deprived, that's when it's the most terrifying).

Did all these things happen in February, as opposed to January or December? Probably not. But I blame February for all of winter's ills. I like winter in December - it's essential to have a white Christmas. Otherwise how does Santa get his sleigh on your roof? (Forget for a moment that we live in a 50+ story high-rise. "Santa uses magic. That's how.") Also, I'm cool with winter in January. It's a new year, a new beginning. The cool air is rejuvenating and refreshing. Until February. At that point, winter needs to go away, but it hangs on and on and on. And that's why I hate February.

So after reading this, you're probably wondering why the hell I still live in Chicago. Partly because it's a vibrant city with lots of cultural and culinary delights. It's diverse, down to earth and still relatively affordable. But in part, I still live in Chicago because of days like today - sunny, 60 degrees, crisp and beautiful. When the weather is like this, there's no better place to live. So I guess just have suck it up and deal with the winter (at least until we're wealthy enough to be snowbirds).