I got into my car, turned the key, and the old Civic coughed like it had emphysema.
I know what you're thinking: What a waste of shampoo.
This car problem didn't surprise me. It hadn't started earlier in the day, either, and so I had called my former landlord for a jump. He is my go-to for car troubles, naturally, because his fingers are wider than they are long and his head is thick and square.
He pulled up in an old white beater, 2-year-old daughter swaddled in puffy pink, out cold in her car seat; Older brother inexplicably sporting a walking boot on his right foot, the toe of a grayed tube sock poking out the front. Something something Achilles tendon, he told me.
The whole electrical transaction took about 2 minutes, and he sped off into the afternoon. I drove the car around for awhile, then went back home. Four hours later, it wouldn't start again.
Back on the couch, I called my former landlord again to see if he was planning on going to the party. I didn't imagine he was, as I doubt Pickwick sells anything by the pitcher. He's the sort of coupon cutter that lets the venue, not the birthday subject, dictate whether he attends. I was right. But he agreed to give me a ride anyway, thus saving the day again even though the day's first save didn't take.
Ten minutes, he told me. I have to finish this pitcher.
Faster than that, he was out in front out the house. Parked the wrong direction, car idling. It is not like him to be early, and it is especially not like him to be early without going apeshit on the car horn. Still, I put on my coat, zipped my boots, jumped over a few snowbanks, and walked around to the passenger side of the car.
I'd just about reached the door handle when I realized: Hey! That's not my landlord!
There had been a winter formal last night. I'm assuming because the girl next door had left the house looking like a bridesmaid from the mid-1980s. Now, hours later, it was the 15-year-old old's boyfriend parked in front of our houses. Slouched low in the driver's seat. Giving me an anti-authority sneer. I backed up, waved my arms, sign language for "Oh! I'm a dipshit. Sorry, dude." Then I yelled, exaggerating my annunciation, "I. THOUGHT. YOU. WERE. MY. RIDE." He just looked at me dully. Although I doubt these teens have any sort of cool cred among their peers, I often seem to do something in front of them that says: I may be 35, but I love that song "Firework" by Katy Perry! And these pants are from American Eagle! in a really pathetic way.
Back in the house I collapsed into an extended remix of snorts and giggles. My landlord picked me up a half hour later.