Wednesday, March 19, 2014

the scooter.

We’ve all had those days where one thing after another goes wrong and you can’t catch a break. Like dominoes, one bad thing leads to another, before you know it, your day is in shambles. Then, there’s that last crappy event – be it large or small, that just pushes you over the edge. There is nothing left for you to do but freak the hell out. This is the story of one of those days.

It was the beginning of August 2007, and my junior year of college was about to begin. It had been a rather unusual summer – I’d had a miserable few months with Hipster Boyfriend, during which time I’d tried to break up with him, felt really bad and told him it was a huge mistake, endured much shame from family and friends for not being able to man up and just do it, and finally took the easy way out by doing it over the phone. Things with Hipster Boyfriend had gotten progressively worse during the school year, but things really deteriorated that summer… thanks mostly in part to me spending a lot of time with my friend James, whom I had a big fat crush on. Whenever I spent time with James, I couldn’t help but think about how much better life would be if HE was my boyfriend. James was happy-go-lucky, and he’d never cry in a car on my birthday and guilt me into buying my own birthday dinner. (But that’s a story for another time.)

Obviously, things worked out – James my college crush is now James my husband – but breaking up with someone SUCKS, especially when you’re gutless weenie like me.

Life was looking up as August 2007 began: I had started dating James the week before, and I had spent the summer working at the county courthouse – a job that would prove to look fantastic on my resume and open the door for future employment.

But even though I had a great summer job and I’d rid myself of hyper-emotional Hipster Boyfriend, I hadn’t done it in the best way, so I was feeling kind of slimy. What would be a great way to get me out of my funk? A trip to Minneapolis, of course. (Side note: to this day, a road trip is a sure way to rid me of said funk.)

Months ago, I had been looking at schedules for plays in Minneapolis, and – joy of joys – Spamalot would be in town at the beginning of August. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Spamalot is the musical version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I had wanted to see it ever since I heard of its existence, and THIS WAS MY CHANCE. It’s no fun to go to these things by yourself, so I recruited a friend of mine to go with me. (Said friend was thrilled.) I shelled out $200 for two tickets, which was (and now that I think about it, still is… to me, anyway) a gut-wrenching amount of money for play tickets. But this was my chance to see Spamalot, and the $200 (well, $100, for my friend was sure to pay me back… right?) would be a small price to pay for a great experience.

The play was scheduled for Saturday, August 4. My friend and I would drive up that day, see the play, stay with a college friend of mine, and come back Sunday night. Short and sweet.

A few days beforehand, something awful happened: the 35W bridge collapsed. It was tragic and horrible, and even though I hadn’t lived in Minneapolis by that point, it already felt like a second home – and it hit too close.

So what were we to do? The bridge collapsed on Wednesday – do we still go to our play on Saturday? I am terrible with directions, but I was aware of Minneapolis’ layout enough to know that we didn’t need to go anywhere near the 35W bridge in order to get where we were going. However, my friend no longer wanted to go, and on short notice on a Saturday in the summer, I could find no one else to go out of town with me. I was stuck with $200 in useless Spamalot tickets.

(You’ll be happy to know that these tickets actually did NOT go to waste! At the time, I had cousins living in Minneapolis, and they loved theatre. One quick fax – yes, fax – and my tickets were now their tickets, and they had a great time.)

Suddenly, my weekend schedule was wide open. I called a few of my friends, but they were a.) busy, or b.) were free, but flaked out on me that morning. I was feeling more than a little abandoned.

My parents, along with their good friends Don and Carol, had gone to the summertime outdoor concert at the Redlin Art Center in Watertown. While they were en route, they called me to see what my plans were – when to expect me home and all that. I moodily explained to them that my social calendar had taken a turn for the sucky. They said, “Well, come to the concert! It’s a beautiful night. Just grab one of the fold-up chairs from the basement so you’ll have a place to sit.”

Though I was awfully crabby, this was my best chance to save the evening. To the concert I would go. The fold-up chairs my parents were referring to were the fabric ones that fold up into a long skinny bag, and I grabbed the first skinny chair bag that I saw.

Once I got to the Redlin Center, I was dismayed to find that the nearest parking was – no kidding – A MILE AWAY. I parked in the middle of a field, slung my chair bag over my shoulder, and hoofed it to the Redlin Center lawn. (Thinking that my walk would not have been so long, I had worn less-than-sensible shoes.)

I found my parents, siblings, and Don and Carol in the middle of the lawn. By the time I finally arrived, I was tired and dirty, and my legs were scraped up from the weeds I’d tramped through on my way across the field. My audience listened with sympathy as I told them about my crappy day, and as I wove my tale of woe, I unzipped my chair bag… only to find a folded up scooter inside.


That was the straw that broke the shitty day camel’s back, and I snapped. I was defeated. I slammed the scooter on the ground and wailed, “I WANT TO GO HOME!”

Mom, Dad, Darrah, Mitch, Don, and Carol broke into uncontrollable laughter. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that they had tears running down their faces.

It has been six and a half years since the Scooter Incident, and Don and Carol still talk about it. – especially when we’re at the lake and there are fold-up cloth chairs about. (They even gave me a fold-up chair of my very own.) And to this day, I still feel a twinge of rage whenever I see one of those scooters.

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