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Tuesday, May 26, 2009


You know that summer is here when:

the kids come to visit for Memorial Day weekend! Nick and Rachel were here, bringing sweetness and light and laundry to our doorstep.  And they took away . . . the Passat!  OK, that was my idea.  Those of you who have been reading this blog for years upon years will remember that back in 2006, my first two posts dealt with the Saga of the 1998 Subaru, which turned inside out and then exploded as Nick was taking care of Jamie while their parents attended the 2005 MLA convention.  So of course we bought a new car, and . . . refused to accept the ridiculously low trade-in offered on the Subaru (meaning, of course, that Janet refused to accept the ridiculously low trade-in offered on the Subaru), so we kept the Subaru in the spare parking space for a few months, which was a bad idea, since Firestone had screwed up the seal on the rear left tire, leaving it with a slow leak, so that by April I had to get out the bicycle pump just to fill the tire enough to get it to the nearest gas station and fill it with a real air hose. Eventually, we got the tire all fixed, and then we sold the car.  No, wait, we didn’t.  We gave it to Nick for his final year of college, and he drove the wheezing, rattling old thing around St. Louis until we showed up for his commencement last May and sold the car.  No, wait, we didn’t.  We piled all of Nick’s belongings into two cars and strapped his bicycle to the back of the Subaru, thinking that Nick and Jamie would drive that car while Janet and I luxuriated in the Toyota for the 800-mile drive home.  Except that when I took the Subaru down the road apiece for gas and (of course) air, I realized there was no way I was going to let both my offspring drive this wheezing, rattling thing across one-third of the continent, so I volunteered to drive it solo while the other three luxuriated in the Toyota, since Nick had to get back to State College the next day for a Crucial Appointment and I didn’t think the Subaru would be able to go more than 45 mph.  The good news is that the Subaru performed wonderfully at 70 mph the whole way and we made it back that night; the bad news is that this performance convinced Janet that Nick should take the Subaru with him to New Haven, where it has lived these past twelve months.  But the wheezing, rattling old thing needs all kinds of work, and we can’t ask Nick to spend that kind of money on car repair, so we sold it.  No, wait, we didn’t.  First we thought about getting Nick a new car, and then we thought about getting Nick a used car, and then a few weeks ago as I was spring-cleaning the Passat I realized we should simply give it to him.  So even though I dearly love that car, I took it to the local Deeply Incompetent Dealership, where they fixed the routine trouble with the rear left door and replaced a headlight while somehow killing the battery, so then we got a new battery, so Nick and Rachel drove off yesterday in a seven-year-old Passat with only 60,000 miles on it and a brand new battery, and we kept the Subaru, which we’re going to donate to charity.  No, wait, we’re not.  Even though that was the plan up to about 4 pm yesterday afternoon.  Now, apparently, we’re going to keep the wheezing, rattling thing for one more winter because it’s such a good snow car.  Even though Janet has been saying for two years that we have to get a Prius because otherwise the Earth will die, and even though I finally agreed and began checking out hybrids a few weeks ago.

So: Nick has the Passat, and I will not worry about his safety anymore because he is not driving a wheezing, rattling old thing.  And I wind up with the Subaru I’ve been trying to get rid of for three and a half years now.  To sum up:

Sometimes I think back to the years I lived in an urban hell hole and owned no car, and I say to myself, you know where you stand in a hell hole.

I go out golfing with the Bérubé Boys and shoot a 38 for nine holes! Yes, nothing says “summer” like pampered, golf-playing college professors bragging about the 20-foot par-saving putt they holed on 2, followed by the 15-foot birdie putt on 6 and the insane, steeply-downhill par-saving 25-footer on 9, unless it’s pampered, golf-playing college professors complaining that they would have shot even par 36 if they’d hit the six-footer on 5 after nicely blasting out of sand with an impossible downhill/sidehill lie and the steeply-downhill-and-sliding-right five-footer on 7 after nicely chipping from that impossible place where the first cut of greenside rough meets the second and you can’t get your clubface on the ball.  OK, well, at Nick’s suggestion, Jamie, Nick and I took a couple of hours on Sunday at Ye Olde Penn State white course.  Nick managed a crafty scrambling par on nine by driving well right, hacking an iron to within 50 yards, then bumping-and-running a difficult pitch to six feet and hitting the putt; Jamie outdrove us both on nine, hitting his best shot of the day, and also picked up a very nice bogey on five by lacing a drive into a greenside bunker, then using his brand-new sand wedge to pop the ball within 20, whence he two-putted.  Have I mentioned that Jamie is doing Special Olympics golf as well as swimming and basketball?  And that Special Olympics golf practices are Wednesdays at 5:30, just before our Tang Soo Do classes at 8?  And that Jamie got his brown belt in Tang Soo Do last week?  Well, now I have.  Maybe I’ll remember to put up a pic of Jamie in his brown belt uniform.

Anyway, this reminded me that (a) I last shot a 38 about 24 years ago, and (b) the last time Nick and Jamie and I all played together, Nick holed an insane 60-footer for birdie from the fringe on the first hole.  “You bum,” I cried.  “Thirty-something years I’ve been playing this game and I’ve never been under par.  Not once.  And you just show up and drain a putt that changed time zones on its way to the hole.  What is this, the first hole you’ve played all year?” Yes, it was the first hole he’d played all year.  He then proceeded to par number two, which made him an extra extra bum (and led Jamie to claim, erroneously but understandably, that he himself had eagled number three).

we see a Very Silly Movie! After Nick and Rachel left, Janet, Jamie and I took ourselves to Ye Olde Moving-Pictures Emporium to see Angels and Demons (Jamie’s insistence).  I have two things to say about Angels and Demons.  Thing one:  it may be the finest film ever made, if by “the finest film” you mean “the only film that features both a professor of religious symbology and an expert in bioentanglement physics.” And what’s not to like about a movie whose thriller/suspense scenes are drawn from a famous Monty Python bit?

Ah, I see commenter “Zelo77” on Ye Olde You Tube Threade had precisely the same thought I did!  Now that’s bioentanglement.

Thing two: it occurs to me that I have actually mentioned Angels and Demons on this blog before, in the seventh paragraph of this post about more serious matters:

Though Jimmy was barely able to walk, he and his brother Martin were bantering hilariously about the novels he’d been sent to keep him “occupied” during his hospitalization: someone had given him Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code, apparently unaware that the Crofts family is ridiculously well-read, having memorized most of everything from Spenser to Flann O’Brien, and Jimmy and Martin had us howling about the Dan Brown Howlers.  At one point the two brothers decided that the books were so bad that, on some level, they were aware of how bad they were, and had to be watched lest they slip off the shelf, wander into the back yard, and shoot themselves.

I get tired of blogging alla time! Sometimes that’s a sign that my appendix is about to burst, and sometimes it’s a sign that can only be read properly by a professor of religious symbology.  Anyway, I’m taking the rest of the week off.  I might be back on Friday with a song, but if I’m not, just remember this: it’s been 25 years since the Stanley Cup finals consisted of a rematch.  The Oilers crushed the Islanders in five after having been swept the previous year.  Go Pens!

Posted by Michael on 05/26 at 09:13 AM
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