Tag Archives: life

King for a Day

Today is National I Am in Control Day which makes me heady with the prospect of wielding an embarrassment of power from sunup to sundown (which, I imagine, is a lot like living in the delusional worlds of people like Charlie Sheen and Moammar Gadhafi). Admittedly, I’ve entertained such foolishness before, allowing the savory notion of a perfect day to wrap me in the cloak of whimsy. However, today, my indulgence is very nearly legitimate. I Googled it, therefore it must be so. I even went so far as to search for an official badge that proclaims I AM IN CONTROL TODAY, so that I might convince those with whom I reside to take heed to humor me so that I might feel a wee bit important.

Badge or no badge, I’m giving myself permission to plunge headlong into the aforementioned fantasy—to embrace the delicious possibility that I could actually manipulate the Universe, causing an abundance of things to go my way for an entire square on the calendar. For starters, I’d insist that the idiocy of daylight-saving time be declared null and void and I’d order everyone in the Northern Hemisphere to go back to rising with the sun instead of dragging themselves out of bed at dark-thirty. Even my dog recognizes the inherent stupidity of such behavior, judging by the bewildered look he wears each morning, right before my husband takes him outside to whiz in the lawn.

Furthermore, I’d wave my magic wand (or my blasted snow shovel) and voilá, blue skies and balmy breezes would prevail for the duration of this marvelous March day. You’re welcome, my dear friends and fellow members of the Winter Has Made Me Entirely Miserable Club. I would then ship Punxsutawney Phil straight to Siberia as punishment for the lies he’s told. Next, I’d likely target the many and varied idiosyncrasies present in my home—more specifically, Thing One’s penchant for imploding whenever I encourage her to try something new. Say, a bologna sandwich or something really exotic, like Spaghetti-O’s. In a word, her proclivity to refuse that-which-is-molecularly-unlike-chicken-nuggets would be rendered nonexistent for one solid day. I get giddy just thinking about it.

Likewise, I’d mumble some sort of gibberish and lo and behold, Thing Two would skip a goodly portion of the morning routine I know and loathe (i.e. that less-than-endearing wedge of time during which the child in question shrieks at anyone and everyone interested in rousting her from her cave-inspired lair in time to catch the school bus). In addition, she’d refrain from having a seizure over whatever the radio happened to be blaring, the apparent lame quality of the clothing I suggest or the intolerable nature of the wrinkles in her socks. Nor would she dream of dawdling over breakfast or eliciting all manner of rage within her sister, despite her uncanny ability to do so simultaneously.

Naturally, I’d demand that the rest of my day be soused in wonderfulness, too—free of worry or interruption, blissfully punctuated with productivity and totally devoid of the discovery of unflushed toilets. Moreover, when my brood would arrive home from school, I’d see to it that things would only improve. Not one complaint over the practicing of instruments would arise, nor would anyone go ballistic if and when someone’s music stand toppled to the floor, spilling folders and sheet music everywhere. Similarly, backpacks would be emptied without objection, homework would be completed with glee and the siren song of the Disney Channel would, incomprehensibly, fail to entrance those in my charge. Oh, and my oldest would actually answer her cell phone in a timely manner and (gasp!) deposit her shoes someplace besides the most heavily traveled paths in my home. I would need only to point to my imaginary badge or use my mind powers to convey such a powerful message.

What’s more, dinner would be an utter delight. No monumental arguments involving mashed potatoes, perceived injustices with regard to allotted computer time or debates over whose scooter was still in the yard would ensue. Dishes would be ferried to the sink without prompting or protest and the phrase, “I’m bored,” would rear its ugly head no more. Even better, at the snap of my fingers, my cherubs would say their goodnights and head upstairs to bed. Stranger still, not once would I feel an overwhelming compulsion to mention that the average shower depletes the earth of roughly 3.5 gallons of water a minute; because, of course, everyone in this household would already know that.

They would also be keenly aware of my fanciful status and (hopefully) eager to humor me this National I Am in Control Day.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (profoundly immersed in a delusion of grandeur).

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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The Purple of Penance

Lisa Belkin, of NYTimes Motherlode fame, suffered unmercifully this past weekend, breaking an ankle in numerous places while wreaking havoc upon a handful of ligaments and bones in the other. Her sons rushed to her aid and used a cell phone to hail an ambulance for her, as one might expect. However the irony with which the aforementioned debacle unfolded (and was subsequently documented and shared in all its digital wonder via text messaging and eventually the Motherlode Blog) might not have been expected.

You see, Belkin had made a solemn vow to “unplug” for 24 hours, to resist the urge to check e-mail or the status of anyone’s Facebook, to text or tweet to excess, to Google the bejesus out of anything and everything from sundown to sundown. Impressive, no?

Needless to say, her efforts were valiant as she attempted to reconnect with her family and to do so in a manner completely devoid of electronic devices. Lo and behold, the gods of technology laughed at such foolishness, perhaps causing said vat of horribleness to befall her and, hence, her reliance upon cell phones to surface. She’s scheduled for surgery to repair her ankle et al. on Tuesday. Be sure to visit Motherlode to wish her well now and during the sure-to-be memorable recovery phase.

I, myself, only ever broke a knuckle (in a shameful fit of rage) and a toe (in a deep chasm of stupidity), so I can’t wholly relate to the profusion of pain Belkin must have felt and is likely still feeling. In honor of that, I’ve re-posted “The Purple of Penance” for your (and hopefully for her) amusement…

It’s time to decorate Easter eggs—an age-old tradition symbolizing new life. An activity infused with color, the pungent aroma of vinegar and great swells of kid-inspired, eggshell-adorning creativity, all in the name of celebrating the long-awaited rebirth of the land. By contrast, I’ve been celebrating the rebirth of my stupidity.

More specifically, one of my toes—henceforth known as THE TOE—stupidly embraced this glorious festival of dyes and dippings, having adopted a whole host of hues this past week ranging from a lovely pool of blue/black at its base to the deepest and most profound infusion of magenta at its northern most tip—perfectly suited for the Lenten season, I’m told. The purple of penance.

My heathens, as expected, were beside themselves with glee upon learning of my unfortunate and infinitely obtuse shower-related toe incident (i.e. the whacking of said digit on the chair-like entity contained within, followed almost instantaneously by a profusion of swelling and an imbuement of color). “Kewl, Mom! It’s purplish and shiny and it has a really interesting texture!”

Yes, my third-grader used the word texture in a disturbingly appropriate manner. She also touched my toe. They both touched it. Again and again—compelled to poke and prod the bulbous head of my pitiful toe, thoroughly mesmerized by its curious and ever-changing medley of colors and reveling in its freakishly smooth feel. That said, it is perhaps the most repulsive-looking appendage on the planet. But it’s colorful. I’ll give it that. Just in time for Easter and its feast of pigmentation.

Barring divine intervention, however, I’ll likely be skipping Maundy Thursday’s foot-washing ceremony at my church, a spiritually stirring event I had planned to attend during Holy Week, that is, until THE TOE became such a huge and hideous issue. Indeed, it is a shameful spectacle and likely symbolic of the many and varied flaws present in my character. Besides, the mere thought of allowing someone to touch it—even someone who would exert the utmost of care and sensitivity given my sorrowful situation—makes me writhe in pain. Then again, my kids’ relentless pawing has been no picnic and somehow I’ve tolerated that.

I’ve also tolerated a vat of their foolishness.

Needless to say, Frick and Frack have been consumed with all that relates to my wretched toe of late, demanding comprehensive updates on its status the very instant they step off the school bus, insisting that I shed my sock and wave the horrible thing around like a flag. “Show Daddy!” they joyfully instruct. “It’ll gross him out!” Of course, I fear that one day soon THE TOE will surface in someone’s creative writing assignment, much to my chagrin and to their teachers’ collective horror. My weirdish children have even gone so far as to compose a song about my unsightly appendage. Tchaikovsky would be proud.

But not me so much. I’m embarrassed. And ungainly. And in agony (or some semblance thereof) much of the time. However, it can’t compare to what I felt at the moment of impact. And the sound—the UNSPEAKABLY HORRIBLE SOUND that reverberated all around when the bone actually snapped—made me slightly sickish within that tiny window of time sandwiched between the realization of what a stupid, stupid thing I had done and the onset (read: the MONUMENTAL EXPLOSION) of excruciating pain. Even still, I’m not quite sure which made me feel worse—knowing of my stupidity or suffering its ill effects.

As time goes on (and in my less-than-expert medical opinion), I presume THE TOE will not only heal, but undergo an impressive transformation of color, progressing from its current purplish state to various (and no doubt, vile) shades of green, yellow and, eventually, to the suggestion of ecru. With any luck, the nuance of crookedness it has adopted in the interim will abate as well. Otherwise it’s likely my kids will feel compelled to sing (and write!) about THE CROOKED TOE, serving as yet another reminder of my idiocy.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (with THE TOE).

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel

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The Protocol of Love

No one writes love letters anymore it seems—the carefully folded squares upon which fools in love used to pour their hearts and souls, wooing the socks off each other with amorous prose and flawless penmanship. There was something to be said for the renderings of hearts pierced with arrows, too, and the TOGETHER FOREVER proclamations that were scribbled in the margins, punctuating the sentiment that flowed from their pens. Never mind the curlicues sprinkled like confetti across the pages of so many heartfelt messages. The handwritten letter, it seems, is all but extinct.

And while Hallmark does its level best to provide us with a host of perfect wordages for every occasion and our love affair with the instantaneous nature of texting, et al. has blossomed beyond all imagining, somehow these methods of communicating fall short. That said, they lack a certain warmth and palpable quality that only handcrafted ink-on-paper love letters possess.

But it’s unlikely that generations from now any curious-minded descendents of my children will happen upon a bundle of yellowed envelopes in a forgotten corner of anyone’s attic. And even if someone did, said discovery certainly wouldn’t be as remarkable as the cache of a dozen or so letters my husband and I unearthed in recent memory—the ones that were affectionately penned almost seven decades ago by a man deeply in love with his future wife—a man who had joined the Navy and was stationed far from home—a man who would one day become my husband’s father—a man that I, sadly, never knew, but whose letters have helped me bridge the gap.

My mother-in-law, of course, had carefully tucked the aforementioned keepsakes away, and it was some time after her passing that we stumbled upon them in a dresser drawer along with war rations and assorted snapshots from their early life together. Call me crazy, but I can’t imagine anyone digitally preserving treasured emails and text messages for much the same purpose. Alas, the world’s collective mindset has become far too intent upon immediacy and the disposable nature of things for that sort of nonsense.

Indeed, the entire landscape of courtship is a different place these days—no thanks to technology. Evidently it’s no longer in vogue to spend a Sunday afternoon having dinner and getting to know the parents of one’s love interest. The youth of today can’t be bothered with idle chitchat or something as dreadfully dull as sitting around in front of a fireplace, tackling a project together or (gasp!) playing cards at the kitchen table. Never mind taking the time to become familiar with his or her family traditions, cultural background or getting a grip on the dynamics within the family unit itself. Evidently, Facebook is the place where those things are shared nowadays—unless and until messiness ensues (i.e. breakups and whatnot). “What then?!” I ask. Does the proper protocol involve un-friending the would-be significant other/potential mate of one’s child? For all intents and purposes, that seems completely gauche to me. And awkward at best. Needless to say, life’s muck-in-the-middle doesn’t translate especially well via social media. A Facebook fail, as it were.

Furthermore, since the advent of cell phones, parents are virtually removed from the day to day connecting with those who feel compelled to telephone ad nauseam. Personally, I like intercepting those calls for my daughters because it gives me a fleeting chance to become better acquainted with the gentleman caller—whether he happens to fit the profile of an axe murderer, he is the epitome of son-in-law-material, or perhaps the most charming fourth grade boy the world will ever know. That said, I’m in no hurry to add Thing One and Thing Two to our ever-expanding cell phone plan. Our land line is just fine, thank you very much.

Likewise, I will rue the day any daughter of mine announces she’s getting married—unless, of course, the aforementioned epitome of son-in-law-material with whom said daughter would be enamored had had the presence of mind to seek our blessing and approval first. As it should be. However, I fear that sort of creature is a dying breed. Even still, I hope he’ll craft an abundance of handwritten love letters—ones that she will save till the ink fades, but not the memories they make together.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (lamenting the changing face of love).

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Ice is Simply Not Nice

I abhor ice—underfoot, that is. It is a loathsome beast that feeds upon my vulnerabilities, senses my unsuspecting nature and seizes each and every opportunity to torture me. Often publicly. Until recently, I suppose I had forgotten just how greatly I detest the frozen miserableness that currently defines my world (i.e. the massive and merciless patches of tundra-gone-wild, slickening my driveway, my sidewalks, my lawn, my EVERYTHING). Then again, cracking one’s head upon the pavement (thanks to yet another cussed ice event coupled with an overly exuberant dog) tends to refresh one’s memory. No doubt, seeing stars served to further enhance my recollection of the hatred I feel toward this abominable aspect of winter.

Needless to say, I felt humiliated, too, wallowing there like a child in a pool of self-pity. Victimized. Insulted. Defeated. Lord knows the god of ice and snow came and conquered that day; mocking my misfortune, applauding my hurt, exacerbating my agony, cackling uproariously—indeed, thoroughly amused by my frantic and futile attempts to flap and flail myself back to the Land of Upright. To the place where my dignity was defended, my equilibrium restored and my composure, conserved. Where surefootedness was a given and where the coefficient of friction was friend, not foe.

That being said, the ruthless monster of which I speak plays no favorites. No one enjoys immunity. Anyone and anything that answers to gravity is capable of suffering the wrath of a frictionless environment—anywhere, anytime under the appropriate climatic conditions. In windswept parking lots. At bus stops and mailboxes galore. In lawns, sinfully glaciated and hopelessly impassable. And in sun-starved alleys, wrinkled and rutted with an impenetrable glaze of solid ice. Grok!

And let us not forget the drudgery, tedium and exhausting nature of ridding our worlds of said vileness. As I type this, every molecule of my entire being now throbs with pain as a result of hacking and hammering and chipping away at that which can only be described as a brutal and unforgiving entity—never mind, one that is seemingly devoid of any meaningful function. I mean really, what purpose does the aforementioned serve? I can think of none.

Quite frankly, my view hasn’t changed on the topic much since the fifth grade. Hated it then. Hate it now. Mostly, this stance stems from having been imprisoned by it one blustery day when asked to take out the trash. The traumatic experience unfolded thusly: The can itself (an incinerator, actually) was poised at the precipice of a rather steep, luge-like gradient behind our house. Naturally, every stinking speck of earth surrounding said incinerator was coated in a thick, glacier-like sheet of ice. Fool that I was, I failed to heed the warning signs that any half-brained nitwit would readily note. Like, “Geez, this looks pretty slippery—and there’s a FREAKING CLIFF on the other side of this Slope from Hell. Maybe I should take the stinking trash back inside and hoard it till March.”

But no. Common sense had evaded me yet again and my can-do attitude catapulted me far beyond the realm of stupidity. As I skidded down the hill at warp speed I had to have been thinking how dumb this had all been—and how entirely preventable. Needless to say, it was a long time before I came to rest and was able to assess the damages. And there were plenty. But the biggest problem I faced was not being able to climb back up the silly hill—which was getting slicker and slicker as the sun started to set. I recall pawing and clawing at the ice and searching around for sturdy sticks I could jam into its glassy surface in order to inch my way to the top. Of course, no one knew I had fallen. And cell phones were decades away.

In all honesty, I don’t remember exactly what eventually led to my successful assent that day (ideally positioned saplings, maybe?), but it certainly was a life lesson. Simply put, I learned that ice is not nice—which would have been a useful bit of information to have prior to the onset of my dimwittedness.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Snow Blows

“I remember well that January day back in 1987…”

The forecast was for a light dusting. At the most, three inches of the fluffy white stuff would fall. Like any sensible Northeasterner who had been transplanted to our nation’s capital, I listened intently as the monotone little man inside my radio told how this winter event, innocuous as it first appeared, would likely affect the metro area.

Even as a relatively inexperienced driver fresh out of college, I knew what to expect—or at least I thought I did. Having been raised in the rural hills of North Central Pennsylvania, I had spent the better part of an eon watching my parents navigate treacherous roadways and had logged bazillions of hours at the helm myself—spinning and skidding all over that infamous learning curve (i.e. it wasn’t pretty, but I managed). Who knew the D.C. area would be my proving ground less than a decade later.

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Barely a flake was in sight as I made my usual trek to work that morning; however, the crazies were out in earnest (i.e. those adversely affected by the so-called Snow Craze). Just about everyone I encountered had that characteristic white-knuckle-death-grip-hunched-over-the-steering-wheel look I knew so well. Faces were ashen and strained as if bracing for the worst. Same story, different chapter in the elevator. Anxiety hung in the air, thick and unyielding. Urbanites clad in high heels and snappy suits were in a virtual panic over the forecast, clutching their beloved briefcases and cappuccinos as if they promised protection from impending doom. Paranoia had officially arrived, never mind the actual storm.

“How LUDICROUS,” I thought. “Snow is falling, not the fucking sky.”

Upon reaching my floor and department, I went about my normal morning routine which included organizing my memo-littered cubicle, gazing out the wall of windows at the tiny speck-like people below, skimming through the USA Today and downing an ice-cold Pepsi—my less-than-nutritious, caffeine vice. Who knew it would serve as my entire caloric intake for the day?

Not long after I had settled in, a voice bellowed from our office intercom, “DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER, ALL EMPLOYEES ARE HEREBY ADVISED TO LEAVE THE COMPLEX IMMEDIATELY. ALL FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OFFICES HAVE BEEN DISMISSED. DELAYS MAY BE EXPECTED.” It was as if someone had announced a two-for-one wrap special in the deli. People delirious with panic bolted for the doors, still clutching those precious briefcases and clicking those three-inch heels. Naturally, I joined the mass exodus—sans Stilettos.

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Humongous flakes, the ones my kids revel in catching on their tongues and eyelashes, were falling hard and heavy now at the rate of several inches an hour. By the time I hiked to my car, everything was completely shrouded in white. Roads were beyond slick and fast approaching perilous. Just getting onto the highway was an adventure in and of itself. Droves of frenzied people, no doubt anxious to leave the city, careened through the streets as if tuned to Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds. Never before had I witnessed such pandemonium—not even during a blizzard back home. All because of a simple, little four-letter word—snow.

Great multitudes of vehicles were lined up bumper to bumper, snaking westward like a giant convoy of snails. The complex maze of roadways leading into and out of the capital had morphed hideously—into a tangled, slippery mess choked to the extreme with cars and trucks. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to escape the lunacy—not only instantaneously, but simultaneously—which was a recipe for disaster.

Ironically, an hour later I could still eyeball the building where I worked in my rearview mirror. So much for the mad dash to avoid the crowds. And so much for listening to that stupid little man in my radio. Blasted liar. Those measly three inches he estimated wound up being a foot. Worse yet, a second storm pounded the region just two days later, bringing the monstrous total to 20+ inches. It may as well have been 10 feet. No one appeared to know what to do with it or how to drive in it.

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As I inched along Route 50, snow crunched beneath my wheels and silently blanketed my windshield. I felt like a prisoner in my own mobile igloo—barely mobile, I might add. Every half hour or so, I was forced to get out and brush away the growing heaps that my wipers couldn’t reach on a bet. From there I gazed at an endless procession of cars hopelessly immersed within a sea of snow and decided there was but one befitting word to describe the ordeal: PATHETIC. Better yet, four befitting words: UTTERLY AND INCOMPREHENSIBLY PATHETIC.

Periodically everyone was standing outside, smack dab in the middle of the highway (which was more like the suggestion of a highway, really), sweeping piles upon piles of snow from atop their cars and off their windows. I felt like part of an enormous pit crew. We were family in a sense—in it together for the long haul. A unified bunch of derelicts with a common goal—getting home. No gallery was present, however, to cheer us on to the checkered flag; but plenty of those in attendance chipped in by filling the air with colorful language galore. As if cursing at the stormy skies or at each other would improve the situation.

Creative driving was in full force as well. People attempted to circumvent traffic snarls by using ENTRANCE ramps to EXIT the highway. Not surprisingly, most of those particular idiots got buried half-way up or down the ramps, which infuriated all the other drivers who had followed.

Stupid pills had apparently been the drug of choice that day.

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Ridiculous as it might sound, the scene itself was almost circus-like. The only thing missing: A ringmaster. Nervous Nellies and Neds putzed along at a painfully slow rate—and got stuck. Fools raced around like a bunch of deranged squirrels at an acorn festival—and got stuck. Tank commanders, who believed their 4×4 wonder machines could orbit the earth—also, got stuck. Competency, it seemed, was nowhere to be found. Common sense had unfortunately taken a hike as well.

Soon massive piles of snow clogged the roadway and the shoulder vanished completely. Route 50 became a narrow channel through which we were herded westward like cattle bound for the slaughterhouse. No one could enter. And no one could leave. Our only alternative: To continue rolling ahead millimeter by millimeter, hour after hour like the mindless drones that we truly epitomized. Gas stations, shopping plazas and convenience stores lined the route, but sadly, were out of reach. They served merely to taunt us with their warmth and coziness, hot coffee and clean restrooms. Never mind THOSE amenities. I wanted a one-way ticket to the Bahamas.

Or snowshoes, size nine.

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Abandoned cars cropped up left and right—planted like trees in the center of the lane. Cautiously, I made my way around them and peered inside the fogged over windows as if passing the deceased at a wake (saddened and stunned by the loss, but at the same time, thrilled that it wasn’t me). Perhaps those who had vacated were in search of snowshoe bargains nearby or for those tickets to the Bahamas. Both possibilities were entirely viable.

Apparently, people had been running out of gas and couldn’t pull over to fill up. So they just got out and walked away from it all, leaving behind their beloved yuppiemobiles. Damned quitters. I sat behind one such snow-covered vehicle for 15 minutes before deciding that maybe I should check inside it. Nobody home. Naturally, I felt like a blithering idiot as I stared at the empty seat, but quickly reminded myself that I still had plenty of fuel and front-wheel drive. What’s more, I had snow boots. Probably could have sold them for a grand that day. Maybe two.

By now our marathon driving session had stretched to several hours. Tempers had begun to flare, patience had all but disappeared and everyone’s bladder (including mine) had surpassed its natural limit. But what to do? Each of us could certainly employ a few anger management techniques picked up here or there and we could all try being a little more patient or perhaps even search for the hilarity in the whole wretched experience. But there was no arguing with urinary urgency.

I only wished I had skipped my morning Pepsi—just this once.

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Longingly, I gazed at the multitude of gas station restrooms I passed by, even the ones with less-than-desirable facilities. I wouldn’t have cared if mold were growing on the toilet seat and a BEWARE OF DOG sign hung on the doorknob. I needed to go. The dog would just have to fend for itself.

Eventually, I had to act. I was desperate, and desperate times often call for less-than-intelligent measures. So I threw my car into park, turned off the engine, got out and began trudging through the knee-deep snow toward what appeared to be a church. Of course, my bold move failed to go unnoticed. People angrily honked their horns, yelled out their windows and shook their fists at me, demanding that I get back in and “Drive, stupid!” I decided it would have been pointless to try and explain my dilemma to this very long line of irate folks. So with my face buried deep inside my coat and my teeth beyond the buoyancy stage, I plodded on toward the refuge I hoped would welcome me, ignoring the adamant requests that trailed behind me.

After circling the entire building and testing each and every door to no avail, I mulled over the alternatives. I could circle again and continue to bang on the doors, trusting that someone would eventually hear me. I could wade through the toe-numbing snow to another deserted building and try my luck there. Or I could return to my car—defeated. None of these options promised immediate relief.

Cautiously, I eyed some rather large shrubbery that framed an entranceway at the back of the church and thought, “Hey, what do I have to lose?” No one from the road would be able to see, the houses behind the building were fairly distant and not one solitary soul was in sight. Clearly, the benefits outweighed the costs and the risk of being caught was minimal—unless, of course, the Fairfax County police were busy citing people for yellowing the snow that afternoon. I banked on that being highly unlikely.

So I went about my business, safely tucked between the building’s brick wall and an enormous, shoulder-high hedge that was buried under nearly a foot of snow. Beneath it, however, not one flake had fallen. It was the most perfect makeshift outhouse I had ever seen. Then my glorious plan fell apart at the seams. Apparently my persistent knocking and rattling had paid off. Someone had heard me. And that someone was now less than three feet away. I listened intently as keys jangled together, a metal padlock snapped open and heavy chains slipped through the door handles, cascading to the floor in a thunderous heap.

Shortly thereafter, the door swung open and my heart sank. Surely, I’d die of embarrassment if not hypothermia. I didn’t dare move a muscle and could scarcely breathe. I prayed and prayed that whoever was standing there would simply go away, never having noticed me—or my pants, bunched at my ankles. The seconds that passed before he spoke seemed like an eternity, but I just couldn’t bear to turn around and face him—it was too humiliating.

Finally, I heard a deep voice, “Oh.” And it wasn’t the, “Oh!” of surprise (although I’m sure he was); it was more the “Oh, now I get it.” He may as well have said, “I got here as fast as I could ma’am, but I see you done solved it yerself. I’ll just mosey on back to work, then.” Sight unseen, he could have passed for James Earl Jones with a southern drawl. I wanted to disappear into a snow bank somewhere or crawl under a rock and die.

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At last, “James Earl” did go away. The heavy door clanged shut and I heard him walk down the hallway that I had been longing to enter just moments before. Now was my chance to gather my wits, regain my composure and escape with the mere shreds of dignity that remained.

Despite the mounding snow, the hike back to my car was remarkably short. No doubt, I was eager to put the past behind me. Besides, there was no sense lingering to hear peals of laughter echo throughout the church. I had suffered enough humiliation already.

As I neared my car (which amazingly enough, no one had smashed out of spite), I noticed that the irate folks who demanded I stay had been replaced by other irate folks. Joy. I had no time to be bothered by that, however. The sun had begun to set and soon it would be dark—making a bad situation worse. At this point, I was about six hours into the commute from hell—tired, cold and hungry—just like everyone else that day. My 20-mile jaunt had mutated into something utterly hideous—something virtually unimaginable—an urban Iditarod for the soon-to-be certifiable. “Next time,” I vowed, “I’ll sleep in my sillyass cubicle and eat computer chips before I’ll subject myself to this lunacy!”

For the life of me, I simply couldn’t comprehend the crippling nature of this storm. Never before had I remembered a foot of snow wreaking such havoc. Then it dawned on me; I had yet to see a single solitary snowplow. Not even so much as a cinder or salt truck had appeared since I had begun driving that morning—at least none that I had seen. What in God’s name had they been doing—waiting for a formal invitation?!

Snowplows or not, however, I persevered. So into my car I clambered one last time, hopeful that the plows had somehow managed to find the parking lot of my apartment complex—so I could end this nightmare. After plodding along for another hour or so, I did, in fact, reach my long-awaited destination. Surprisingly enough, those plows had been there and without question, I could have kissed one of the drivers (had I seen one). Instead, I settled for kissing the snow-covered earth beneath my feet—no longer a slave to my vehicle, my home-away-from-home, for what seemed an eternity.

Undeniably, I had learned plenty that day—particularly, about assumptions. Never again would I bank on what that monotone little man inside my radio prattles on about with regard to weather. Nor would I assume that each and every driver on the planet possesses a modicum of common sense or a reasonable degree of competency behind the wheel. Furthermore, I now realize there is at least one more reason not to drink and drive.

Copyright 2007 Melinda L. Wentzel

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