My weekend story centered around the early Christmas gathering of Dorothea’s family.They have been doing this since 1992, the Christmas after Dorothea’s father died. Lets see if I can account for all sixteen Christmases. The first was at the AmericInn in Cloquet. Four weere at the AmericInn in Cold Spring. Seven were at The Inn on Lake Superior. (Those were the best years.) And the last four have been at Camp Courage near Annandale. Always in mid- to late-November or early December. Since they’ve been meeting at Camp Courage, and I didn’t like sleeping there the first year, ever since I have driven up separately for the day on Saturday. That is what I did this year. I had Liam with me on the way up–he is reading the book Eragon by Christopher Paolini. He was also navigator, reading off right and left turns from the Yahoo! maps printout from the backseat.
I left at 4:00 because I don’t like driving in the dark.One thing that I was looking forward to was going to buy a cigar at Stogies on Grand. I have one every month or two–when the family is away. I was in kind or a hurry because I knew that Stella was waiting for me. Not long after I pulled out of my parking spot on Grand, heading west towards Lexington, I heard a loud, unmuffled car suddenly. I looked around, but then realized that it was my car that was load. And there was a scraping noise. Muffler. I crossed Lexington and pulled into an apartment building parking lot on the right. Upon inspection, sure enough–my exhaust pipe was hanging down in front. The car looked like it had a penis hanging down.
Okay, I thought. I will take my cigar and catch a 63 and go home. Wait. If I leave the car in this parking lot, it will get towed. Ah, there is a spot near by on the street. I can hobble over to it. But, just as I started to back out, a Pizza Hut delivery car pulled into my spot, so quickly that the guy got out and the front passenger-side tire was up over the curb. I backed out, drove to the entrance of the parking lot, and began to wait, figuring that the guy would be back shortly from delivering, put I then saw that I was across the street from a Pizza Hut. Oh well. He’ll probably be out again soon. As he was. I slowly and loudly pulled around and into the spot. Looked good–no indication from the street parking signs that I would get towed.
But I could find my cigar in the car. I looked here, I looked there, from this angle, that angle, from the driver’s side, the passenger’s side, from the front seat, form the backseat–no good, no cigar. I gave up. I started to walk away from the car. just then, a 63 bus going my way pulled up the nearby stop. I hesitated–I wanted cigar. I let the bus go, and started walking back to Stogies. Stella was really going to be crazy by the time I got home.
I duplicated my Stogies purchase. My glasses again fogged up when I walked into the humidor. And I headed over to the next bus stop and decided to just wait. I figured that the 63 must still be running every 30 minutes this early in the evening. It is unnerving though to wait for a bus when you have no idea when the next one will come.
While I was standing there–outside the Jimmy John’s sandwich shop, a guy came riding up slowly on a bike on the sidewalk. A young black guy. He said something to me, I thought, though I couldn’t make out what. I figured it was the preamble to a request for money or a cigarette. I said “What?” crossly–I wasn’t in a great mood. I could hear him mumbling “sonofabitch”-something or other as he rode on down out of sight. But then he came back. Now he was walking his bike. He started to curse at me–saying I was a racist honky and he could beat my ass. I had no doubt of that. What’d I say to him? he wanted to know. I said I hadn’t heard him from before and had said “what?” This didn’t seem to help. He kept at it. I turned away. He was really wound up. He eventually started to walk away, still spewing angry epithets.
So, that was unnerving. My bus came, I got on it, and went home.
I spent Sunday looking up and calling places that would tow and fix the car.