Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Driving Diane to hysterics

It's August and boring in  West Los Angeles. Diane had gotten her hair cut and colored at Studio 210 in Brentwood Gardens. The back bumper was dented when the valet pulled the car up.  She wanted to get rid of the thing, maybe now was the time. A BMW with better mileage came with full maintenance for something like three years. 

"Are you blind?" Diane snapped. "Couldn't you see how far you were from that other car?" She wanted to scream trying to figure what the repair would cost. Wait a minute. She wasn't liable. Diane had never been into math. She couldn't balance the checkbook, used cash, loved credit cards. It was her mother's fault for not insisting she learn. The teacher never tried to help her after school either. 

Diane had cheer leading then dance practice anyway. A math tutor might have been useful, who knows. For now, she was faced with a difficult decision right here in the garage at Brentwood Gardens. All she wanted to do was scream really loud at everybody within hearing distance, especially the parking attendants.

Diane remembered a little picture at home of her and her mother at Sandusky Point, or whatever it was called. The two of them building a sand castle. Her mother was in a two piece bathing suit, fashionable for the time, poised and smiling on bent knees totally at ease with her hands in the sticky sand pushing a stupid bucket upside down on a mound of what was surely disgusting imported dirty stuff.

Diane had stood there in little girl cotton panties either very happy or very bored. It had been a great day like finding a fancy watch buried in that watery mess. It had been so exciting to go back to their motel greasy spoon and eat fish with green beans, tomatoes and radishes. The waitress had been slow and brought her pizza with pepperoni by mistake.

"That's not what I ordered," Diane had said. She hated talking to strangers even way back then. But she wasn't eating pizza with pepperoni. 

The waitress had looked right at her and said, "Yes it is, but I'll be glad to get what you want."

A man at the next table said, "Don't be so impatient, cutie-pie. Relax. You'll get it soon enough." That made Diane feel like a fool. She sat there, but wanted to hide under a table, gross chewing gum wads and all.

"I am not impatient," Diane remembered saying to him. He was trying to pick a fight, that's all.

That day was a metaphor for her hysterical life. Panic mode was her usual state of mind. Yet she wasn't going to let a parking attendant get the best of her. Not today or any day. Diane looked around. A woman with two girls under six wearing bathing suits blathered about the heat and dance lessons. A matron with starched yellow hair and a St. John two piece suit leaned on her ebony cane. A companion kept asking the matron if she would like to sit down.

"No, no, no," the matron said. "I'm not that decrepit yet." She looked at Diane and smiled. "Don't you hate it when they ding up your car?" she asked. "Makes me want to scream, but then I think about who works here. Wouldn't want to do it in a million years. They have families to support, you know." 

Diane rolled her eyes waiting for the manager to show up. She was offered water and generic chocolates. "My car is dinged up," she said. Willing the corners of her mouths to turn upward only succeded in a twitch, her teeth hinged tightly at the jawbone.  "That's not going to repair it."

A Rolls Royce pulled up. The attendant opened the passenger door, the matron's companion helped her inside. The matron shook an arthritic finger at Diane, then stared straight ahead. 

On the way home, Diane pondered how she would tell her husband what had happened. He's going to be angry. What if he looked on the internet and saw housewife, 42, dinged up Mercedes in parking garage? Housewife rudely snapped at attendant at Brentwood Gardens. 

Everyone would know she colored her hair at Studio 210 and not at some hotsy-totsy place in Beverly Hills. Who would invite them to dinner after that? She could throw a party and no one would come. Her husband's business would be finished. How would they live?

Oh, for the life of an independent woman. Why hadn't she gone to law school like her parents wanted her to do? Or she could have written poetry and become a professor at UCLA, praised for her originality and verve. How she envied those industrious women. They didn't need a husband, so when the car got dented there was no one to care.

When Diane got home, her husband lounged on the sofa in the den reading The New Yorker magazine. The dog, Boxy, his beloved Boxer, on the ottoman at his side. Boxy was asleep, kicking one back leg and whimpering, obviously chasing some squirrel in the backyard.

"How was your day?" Diane asked.

"Fine," he answered. "How was yours?" He didn't look up from his magazine.

"Okay," she said. "The parking attendant dinged up the fender."

"What are you going to do about it?" he said, still not looking away from his reading.

"Get it fixed, I guess," Diane replied.

"There's an invitation to a Chaine des Rotisserus evening on the dining table. No charge, we're guests of what's-his-name at work, you know who I mean, " he said. "The food and wine should be great."

It was over. Diane laughed. "I love you," she said. The gripping in her chest let go.

"I love you, too," he said, looking over from his reading. "What's up with you?"

"Nothing," she said.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cruisin' to Calm with Chris

So, I've been dreading this. Anticipating it for at least a month. We've been having unusually hot weather for this time of year here in sunny Southern California, and neither me nor my lady want to have a brawl.

However, She has made an appointment for me with the veterinarian today. In the name of peace and sanity I hope she has a simple plan. She tip-toed out to the garage first thing this morning, pulled down that big old grey heavy carrier from the top shelf, wiped it down inside and out, then put a few soft old ragtag pieces inside. 

I sprawled out across the top of the dryer while she kept her back to me so I wouldn't see what she was doing. She's really a love, so I take it all with a few bits of dry food. Here's hoping she sprays that old thing with the Feliway stuff. It's to me what a couple of glasses of wine is to her. Meeoouw.

So far, the day's not going well for us. The phone started ringing at 8 AM, seemed everybody had something important to talk to her about. I wanted my time, too, so clawed her yoga pants until she picked me up.  "Stop that, you'll rip them," she says, right before she picks me up. Works like a charm.

She tells everyone about the vet appointment. Has herself all worked up about it.  I'm saying to myself something along the lines of every thing's going to be fine, that vet likes me, I like him. He's a good bud. We're cool. 

It's cool on the kitchen floor. I think it's nap time. Ah, feels so good to stretch out. Wish she'd cool it. Every time she starts to get something done, she looks around to find me. What am I going to do? Run away. Only a dog would do that.

I'm going in her office, get away from her craziness. I can see myself in there, kind of up against the glass on the wall. I'm a good looking big silver dude, fur all nice and fluffy, eyes clear and so yellow, tail moving just how I like it.They don't call me Christopher Columbus for nothing. This is the last place she'll look for me.

Oh great, now she's got that new ear piece on her head. She's shouting to someone how she's got to get used to it. She'll get a ticket if she doesn't have it in the car. Blahblahblah. She's doing the multitasking stuff, never works for her. When will she learn to do one thing at a time, relax, take it easy. The woman thumps around this house like an elephant, too.

Here she comes. I've been found out. She's got that stupid black cat, Merlin, on her shoulder while she juggles the cell phone. Guess the ear piece isn't working. Hah! He moved, scratched her shoulder and she dropped him, phone too. Good thing there's carpet. Okay, so maybe, while she sits at the computer, I can get some peace and quiet.

That pile of papers over there looks like just the place for me. First, I think I"ll pad on over to her and jump on her lap. She'll even let me walk on the computer keyboard. Then I can knock the phone off the desk while I jump to the top of the bookshelf. It's cozy up there. Easy to fall asleep. 

What, what, what's going on. She's creeping down the hallway. Oh no, she's going to put that carrier box right out of my sight so she can slide me in there before I know what's up. Well, I'm not moving. How's she plan to get me down from here? Puuurrr...

I give, I give, don't want her to cry or break something getting me down. Isn't this too sweet. She scoops me up, slouching around like some thief in the night, hustling me into that thing. "It's okay, scrumptious," she coos. "I'm not going to let that mean old doctor do anything bad to you." I'm getting a shot, I just know it.

Maybe I'll kick the door with my back legs just for good measure, right before she closes it. That felt good. Feels pretty good in here, for a big plastic igloo. Why can't she get me something nice? Meow, meow meow. She's not listening.

The rest of this big ordeal goes one, two, three. "Hey Chris," the vet says as he hefts me out of that cage, "you're looking really good today." I want to kiss him, so I lick him. "Let's see how much you weigh."  I hate the weigh-in. If I'm a little over, she gets all worried and wants to change my food.  I like my food. It's always the same, agrees with me, and in the bowl. I won't eat it if she changes it. She should know that by now.

"Healthy," my Mr. Fine Vet says. "I'll be quick," he says to me or her, I'm never sure. So, it sticks and stings for a second. Big deal. I'm a big guy. "That's it for today," he says and rubs me right behind the ears." He is a really cool guy with really cool paws.

But, I'll be walking myself back in that carrier, thank you very much. Ready to go home now. A seconds worth of sting for me, a morning's worth of anxiety for her. 

Wish I could tell her my affirmation every day. Move toward my intention smoothly and easily, eat and nap and play. She sure did waste a lot of energy. Her third chakra needs attention. 

Since she can't purr, why doesn't she try humming?