The evening’s plan started off with high expectations: leave work a bit early with Monica, pick up my son and my niece, and head over to the Zoo for the ZooTunes show of the Pink Martini’s. A little picnic outside with two 3-year olds in front of a live band on a sunny day. Sounds like a great plan!
In actuality, yesterday night totally sucked beyond belief. And it was all due to a bowling ball.
Monica picked me up from work at around 4. I was about 10 minutes late, which wasn’t that big of a deal, but it did add a little "we’re a bit behind schedule and it’s my fault" vibe to our commute, which had me looking to make up for lost time during the rest of the journey to the zoo.
Then, even though we were on the road at 4:15, we got stuck in the total nightmare of the evening rush hour on westbound 520. Crap! But hey, if you lose your cool about traffic in Seattle, you’ll have an ulcer in no time. So, we just hung out and caught up on life as we waited it out. No biggie.
We got home, picked up Max, walked and fed the dog, got picnic supplies, and out the door in 10 minutes! Excellent, lost time re-acquired. Next stop: over to my brother’s house to pick up our niece Audrey to join us for the picnic.
This is where the evening took an unrecoverable dive for me.
As we pulled into the alley behind Brian’s house, a saw a small blue ball sitting in the middle of the alley. I was driving rather slow, since I was in an alley and about 5 houses away from my destination, but I still felt I was a bit behind schedule. So, I drifted the car a bit to the side so I would run over the ball in the middle of the car, gently passing over it. Sure, I could have stopped the car and moved the ball myself. But hey, I’m in a hurry.
What I heard next was the most ungodly crunching and scraping that I have ever heard any car make, let alone my car. I hit the brakes and stopped the car. I could see my sister-in-law and niece a couple houses down waiting for us outside, and they obviously were wondering why we stopped where we did. As they walked over to us, and got down on my hands and knees and tried to figure out what was going on.
That damn blue ball was a goddamn bowling ball, and it scraped and crunched everything in it’s path on the underside of my mini-cooper. Then, it lodged itself into a small well on the underside, where it was completely stuck. On top of that, some weird fluid was leaking out of the bottom of my car. That’s just great. People that know me all understand one weird thing about me: somehow, I managed to get to the age of 36 without any basic understanding of how cars work. This is mostly due to me not getting my first car until I moved to Seattle at the age of 23. I skipped that whole teenage phase of most boy’s lives where they get interested in cars and figure out how they work. If there is anything more severe then running low on gas or needing an oil change (which I pay other people to fix for me), any problems with my car become completely debilitating because I don’t know how to fix them. Great. So, the liquid leaking of of my car could be coolant or windshield wiper fluid for all I knew. No clue.
At this point, my focus was dislodging this ball, and the easiest thing to do would have been to jack up the car. I’m sure I have a jack in my car somewhere. But, no, of course I didn’t do that. I was in a hurry. We were late for the show.
Two neighbors popped over and asked if they could help, so I asked them to help me find some big rocks. The idea was to put a big flat rock in front of the front tire, and drive the car up onto the rock, and then kick the bowling ball out of the way. I found a big paving rock in a neighbor’s backyard that I pried out of his lawn, put it in place, and drove the car up on top of it.
The result of this: the ball now was lodged into a different spot under the car, but directly under the exhaust pipe. And, if I drove off the paving stone, the ball would crush and destroy a large section of the exhaust pipe (among other things that looked important under there). I now had to make sure the car did not come back down, or things would break even worse, but I also needed to get it higher.
So, another paving stone and some other large rock were promptly found. One was put in front of the existing paving stone, while the other was put in front of one of the rear tires. The goal is to move four inches forward, and get both tires up (and keep them up).
This worked! The ball rolled away. One of the friendly neighbors took it from me and said they would dispose of it. This was good, because if I had to deal with that ball, I was going to do something very unconstructive like throwing it at something.
Threw this whole ordeal, I had this ticking clock in the back of my head, because we were on a course to massively be late for the show. So, I was sweating bullets on my hands and knees kicking a stuck bowling ball and hauling big rocks around, but I was also getting all stressed out about the show. There were two three year olds running around, some neighbors trying to help, and some goddamn mystery fluid leaking out of my car. This all turned into a poisonous cocktail that fouled my mood for the rest of the day.
So, although we dealt with the frustrating traffic on 520 with style and grace just an hour earlier, the next set of mundane hiccups to the show become overwhelming burdens.
Dealing with crosstown congestion on the way to the zoo: infuriating!
Finding a parking spot near the zoo: infuriating!
Trying to find a spot to sit down at a sold-out show that we are arriving late to: infuriating!
I tried to hide my moodiness from my lovely wife and two three year-olds that were excited about playing outside and dancing and jumping to music. But, after we finally wedged into a spot and sat down, the kids played and wrestled and giggled too loud (apparently, kids can giggle too loud, I did not know this), so some grumpy people behind us politely pointed out that the kids were distracting them from seeing the show. Christ Almighty. There were about 300 kids here doing the same thing as our kids were doing. These grumpy people were lucky I didn’t have that bowling ball in my hand at that moment.
The rest of the evening was a blur. I tried to get out of my funk, but it didn’t really happen.
On the trip home, I was peppered by some good questions from the kids.
"Uncle Mike, why did you drive over that bowling ball?"
"Daddy, driving over bowling balls is dangerous. You shouldn’t do that."
After not being able to answer these questions to their satisfaction, my only retort became "Uncle Mike doesn’t want to talk about the bowling ball anymore. The bowling ball is in Uncle Mike’s past. Uncle Mike is moving on to other things now".
I went home, had one beer, and went to bed. Day, be gone!