bunt sign

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Cause or effect, I'm not sure which. The morning was dementedly busy, in that insert-Monday-here sort of way. Then this afternoon I was working along as best I could when suddenly I felt my eyelids droop. Since I couldn't keep my eyes open, I decided that writing thousand-dollar checks to suppliers would be a bad idea. It was the wrong time to make a fatigue-induced transposition error.

The Boss doesn't know I took a half-hour power nap this afternoon. He also doesn't know or care that I didn't make it to the post office this morning, thanks to all the hopping around on one foot he asked me to do. I'm sure there was a reason for it all, but it seemed like the same kind of hopping I did last week, and with approximately the same results. Maybe he just wanted to be sure I'd still hop on command.

One more thing the Boss doesn't know (and never will unless you tell him) is that I took off for a half hour this afternoon to do something I'd never done before. The list of skills I never acquired would make an impressive résumé, and I'm gradually making up for some of them. Nobody ever taught me how to maintain a garden, but I'm learning. Nobody ever taught me how to make anything with tools in a workshop, but— well, I probably will never learn that.

Nobody ever taught me about cars, either. I can't fix one, but that's okay because although I can open the hood, I have no idea what I'm looking at. Several people over the years have tried to teach me how to drive a stick shift, but the last time I tried was when I was nineteen and almost ran over a dog. It's a skill I wouldn't mind having, but it's by no means essential.

On the other hand, I've often wondered if my acting career was aborted because I couldn't drive an Aston Martin like Sean Connery or the General Lee like Bo and Luke. That probably wasn't the reason, but my lack of driving ability definitely prevented me from finding out if I had what it took to be the next Tom Cruise. Or rather, the last Tom Cruise before the current one. Maybe the one before that, even.

Action Hero runs down the bad guys in his Saturn Ion 3, then calls Triple-A for a tow. No, doesn't quite work.

Given all this background, it probably doesn't surprise you to learn that I've never pumped gas in my life. What? Seriously, I've never taken my car more than a full tank's distance from the nearest full service gas station.

It didn't matter at all in the old days, when you never had to get out of your car to get every bit of service a station had to offer. It didn't matter much as long as there were full service stations available almost everywhere. Now that I have to drive all the way to the other side of town to get someone to pump my gas for me, and pay an extra fifty cents a gallon for the privilege, it matters.

A couple of weeks ago I confessed this character defect to Suzanne, and she offered to show me how it's done. Yes, my little sister has not only pumped her own gas for many years, she can also drive a stick shift. And those aren't even the only areas where her skills far surpass mine. There's a lot I could learn from her. As Yogi said, you can observe a lot just by watching.

She promised to keep a low profile and make it look as if she just wanted to get out of the car and stretch her legs. I don't mind telling you, I was nervous. I never tried this on my own because (a) I didn't want to look bad, and (2) I didn't want to look really bad by pouring gasoline all over the asphalt, or dribbling on my shoes, or losing my credit card in the slot.

Anyway, today was the day and when she got off work I picked her up at her house and we went for my lesson. I found the most remote pump the station offered, and step by step I put gas in my own car for the first time in my life. Obviously, as every other person on the planet already knows, it was easy. It's not something I would have tried on my own except in a dire emergency, so I'm grateful for the hands-on tutorial with an experienced and sympathetic teacher.

Now that it's over, it's like getting my wings. I'll never again be afraid to drive too far from home. In fact, now I want to take off and drive until I need gas, just so I can do it again. Maybe I'll wait until the prices come down a bit, though, before I take off across the country in search of big adventures.

22 May 03

The center of the driveway is pocked with gopher holes and mounds.

I've never bagged my own groceries, either, but that's not because I'm afraid to. I choose to shop at stores where that service is provided. I suppose if the grocery companies manipulated prices the way the oil companies do, I'd go ahead and shop at one of those self-bagging groceries. My grandfather was a small town grocer, and the idea of a full-service store is wired into me somehow.

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It's frustrating when an umpire falls in love with a pitcher's delivery so much that he calls almost every pitch a strike, disregarding the fact that it never comes close to crossing home plate. I almost had to turn off the Giants game tonight because the Arizona pitcher was apparently being awarded style points, at the expense of the Giants' hitters. Because he was throwing almost underhand, the umpire decided his pitches were too pretty not to be strikes.

I should have turned the game off in the bottom of the ninth, when the Giants' best chance to win was thrown away by the worst base running it's ever been my misfortune to witness. First Ruben Rivera, the pinch runner, doesn't see that the ball is dropped in the outfield and starts to go back to first. Then when he realizes he can't do that, he forgets to re-tag second and gets halfway to third before going back to tag. Then, after he's lucky enough to be safe at third on a dropped throw, he for some idiotic reason tries to score and is thrown out easily at the plate, keeping the score tied, 2-2.

You don't think I really turned off the game, do you? I was still watching in the twelfth inning, when the Giants couldn't cash in on another great chance to win. And I was still watching in the thirteenth when they turned a 3-2 loss into a 4-3 win on a two-out, two-run double by Marquis Grissom. It was a miracle cure for the acid in my stomach that had been building up through four hours of torment and anguish.


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