Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Day of the Locusts.

Before I begin, a note -- nothing in the following account has been made up or exaggerated. This is, in fact, the day I have had…

But first, here’s how it was supposed to work:

First thing in the morning I had to be across town to have some stitches removed from a small and not-worthy-of-blogging-about procedure. Since the doctor had exactly one window of opportunity between now and Easter I seized it, even though it meant I couldn’t drive Daughter to school. No great loss, since this entire week at school seems to be dedicated to rehearsing for the holiday recital. Being the avatar of multitasking, I begged and whined until I got an appointment with her dentist, whose office is about a mile from my doctor.

I was a cascade of efficiency. My stitches out. Daughter to dentist. Home by lunch for a free afternoon of brain-enhancing play and magazine style mother-daughter bonding. Someone give me a Merit badge.

Now, let us discuss how this day actually flogged out:

The day actually began last night at about 11:30. Consort and I had been watching TV and yawning for an hour, saying listless things like “we really ought to go to bed” and “I’m too tired to walk to bed”, when I suddenly realized the next day was street-cleaning day. Consort, being as he was wearing shoes, graciously offered to move my car to the other side of the street. He was gone for about ten minutes during which time I had almost motivated myself up off the couch, when he came back in.

“You want to call the tow truck now or in the morning?”

I sighed in dark irritation. The car had suddenly died two weeks ago and visited its dear friend Chris the Mechanic. Chris the Mechanic determined that: a) the car was completely dead; b) it might be this cheap part which needed replacing but wasn’t sure so c) it should be sent to the dealership to have it double-checked. Of course, once back in its home soil it perversely refused to manifest any symptoms whatsoever, ergo it was fully recuperated and should run perfectly forever. The cheap part did the trick.

Stupid Quinn. It’s never the cheap part.

And let us not forget, the car was still on the wrong side of the street, ticket-wise. Were we having it towed to Chris the Mechanic? No doubt. Would the tow truck get here before eight AM, when the street-cleaner threatened to arrive preceded by a phalanx of evil ticket-writing minions? Doubtful. Would I get a ticket? Assuredly. Would I be prepared to write the fifty-seven registered and notarized letters from Chris the Mechanic to the City of Los Angeles, attesting to the car’s inability to move, thereby clearing said ticket? Oh, goodness no.

So this is how we ended up pushing a twenty-seven thousand pound car around the corner to the non-cleaning side of the street at 12:30 in the morning.

Actually, we didn’t push. I sat in the driver’s seat, steered, and discovered first-hand how my car would respond without power steering. Consort, God love him, pushed, along with a young man who happened to be bicycling home from his job at Trader Joe’s at 12:30 in the morning and saw our plight. Including a few back-and-forth maneuvers to get close enough to the curb to avoid the “you’re too far from the curb” ticket, the entire process only took about fifteen minutes, but there is something about moving an unwieldy mass in the middle of the night to conjure up a certain sympathy for grave-robbers.

We thanked our tattooed helper profusely, offered him a six-pack and money (he declined both), and went inside to create Plan B.

Plan B: We would get up early and arrange to have the car towed. Consort would drive me to the rental-car place on his way to work. Daughter and I would continue from there.

What I hadn’t foreseen was vomit.

Daughter has the constitution of her father’s healthy genetic stock. She hardly ever gets sick, but when she does it changes her personality completely. Normally a cheerful little trouper, when ill my daughter becomes agitated, illogical and stubborn – which, ironically enough, describes her mother when healthy. When she started weeping over her sore throat and insisting the cardigan touching her neck was making it worse, I knew she was truly sick. When she started wailing “I just want to go to BED for a few minutes!...” I suspected the worst.

All right, Plan C.

I couldn’t postpone getting the stitches removed. We had already gone many days longer than the doctor wanted, and if the skin grew over them, that would create yet another “complication”. I have had quite enough of those, thank you.

The child had to stay home. The car had to be towed. I had to move. Plan C involved Consort staying home for the morning. He quickly rearranged his schedule as I popped Daughter into bed. I would take Consort’s car. He would arrange the tow. We’d get the rental car when I got home.

Already running late, I hit the road and immediately called Daughter’s doctor. Good luck. They could see her within two hours. I called Consort, feeling just a bit smug -- sure, I’m leaving my sick child at home in order to attend to my selfish need to be able to wash my hair without touching nylon filament, but even while traveling, my Daughter comes first. Look, see, I’ve arranged her doctor’s appointment!

“But, Quinn, you have the car.”

Oh, that. Consort called back in a few minutes. He’d arranged for the tow truck to come within an hour. He and Daughter would get into a cab and hitch a ride to the doctor’s office. From there it was a short walk to the pediatrician. I called the dentist and cancelled.

Fifteen minutes passed. Consort called to tell me Daughter had thrown up and was feeling much better. Her sore throat was completely gone but did he need to worry that the vomit was blue?

No, I assured him. She had masses of blueberries last night for dessert. If the sore throat didn’t come back in an hour, it probably wasn’t strep and didn’t require a trip to the doctor’s office. A stomach bug had been going around the school which ran its course without intervention. We hung up, and I relaxed a little bit. The dead car and the sick kid were a bit of a spanner in the works, but calm parenting and a certain Zennish luck had prevailed.

Another fifteen minutes passed. I was enjoying the upgrade in car audio when my phone rang. It was Consort. His voice was pitched about an octave higher than usual.

“Uh, Quinn, do you have your car key with you?”

I shrieked in horror. I did have my car key with me. My dead car was locked. They couldn’t tow it without… wait!

“Don’t you have a duplicate of my key?” I asked, desperately.

“I do,” he said flatly. “It’s in my car, with you”.

I popped open the ashtray. There was his second key-ring. There was my car key. I wailed.

Consort cut me off, mid-wail. “I’ll have him come back later. I have to go. She needs the bucket again. Just get back as quickly as you can”.

I made my way to the doctor’s office. I gave my name to the receptionist. I sat. I paged through Architectural Digest twitchily. I needed to get home. I had to get home. I was just grateful all the doctor had to do was sit me down and snip out five stitches. His assistant told me it would take no more than ten minutes, then I could make the hour-long trip home.

“Ms. Cummings?”

The receptionist motioned me over.

“The doctor has been called away on a family emergency. He said to tell you he was sorry. He just had me page another doctor here in the hospital to take the sutures out.”

“How long do you think it might take to get this doctor up here?” I said in the overly-even tone I take when screaming seems unfriendly.

The receptionist looked into my eyes a second too long.

“Fifteen minutes. Maybe thirty.”

Then he dropped his voice to a you-and-me whisper..

“I wouldn’t want you to be overly optimistic.”

Buddy, that’s not going to be a problem today.

I was summoned thirty minutes later. Give the assistant credit, the actual de-suturing took ten minutes. The doctor walked me out of the room and I darted towards the first opening resembling an exit. He trotted up behind me and said, “The exit is over there”. I turned to look at the door to my immediate left and felt a searing heat followed by a blinding stripe of intense pain shoot up the side of my neck. I clapped my hand under my ear as if the patient in exam room 5 just hit me with a poison dart. I clamped my eyes shut, and waited for the pain to subside.

The doctor asked, “Are you okay?” This was awfully sporting of him, considering I was clasping a body part for which he wasn’t legally liable.

I said through gritted teeth, “…Rrrgmph…Had it before…Heat…Then pain…Then terrible headache for several hours…I’ll be fine in a minute,” I lied.

“Oh, that’s a pinched nerve,” he piped. “It can be aggravated by stress. You can take Aleve for that.” And with a cheery wave I could only feel because my eyes were still clenched shut, he was off.

Tomorrow; more of today. Oh, yes, more.


Blogger Melissa C Morris said...

I believe the expression 'when it rains it pours' was invented for days like this. Yikes!

6:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow!!! That is worse than the day my mother called me up because she thought she was dying and when I rushed to the car to get to her house, someone had broken the back window. Doctors, police, insurance agents, auto repair... just the way my kids wanted to spend spring break.

I can't wait to hear the rest.


8:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The dead car reminds me of having to move my car with little to no transmission for street cleaning. It was having a good day, I decided to turn around in someone's driveway. The transmission gave out and I was stuck in the driveway. Then that person came home! Argh! I had it scrapped within the week.

Sorry your day is the hell of all days. Hopefully tomorrow will be better!

8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second Mel....Luckilly it doesnt rain much in Los Angeles. Sunny days ahead!!!

9:08 AM  
Blogger Melodee said...

What you need is . . . uh, a magic fairy?

Hope your daughter's feeling better by now!

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to say it, but your writing about such challenging days is so exquisite that I fear I may start wishing calamities on you and your loved ones just so I can read how you write about them. But don't worry, I'm too terrified of the Evil Eye (Jewish version of karma) to go through with it.

8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

girlie - when it rains, it's El Nino (at least here in Mostly Smoggy So. Cal.). although you lived through hell, at least the rest of us can find entertainment in your hell!

can't wait till tomorrow!

8:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

O.k.. trying not to be a pest... but "tomorrow" is now yesterday, and we have no update. I'm anxiously awaiting more of your calamity!

8:01 PM  

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